BIC Book Reviews – February 2015

The Mockingbird Next Door by Marja Mills

MBNDLooking for a way to bring a classic book into perspective for your community? To Kill A Mockingbird has been a mainstay on high school and college campuses for years, not to mention a diehard following among book lovers. Now there’s a fresh perspective on the author. Marja Mills’ new memoir, The Mockingbird Next Door, tells the story of the 18 months she spent living next door to Nelle Harper Lee and her sister, Alice. As she explores the Harper sisters’ hometown of Monroeville, AL, Marja Mills is able to bring the elusive Harper Lee into sharper focus, and shed light on some of the discussion points and topics that have made To Kill A Mockingbird a classroom must-read for decades.

This book is a great addition to any program, whether it includes To Kill A Mockingbird or not. The Mockingbird Next Door touches on many teachable themes including American history, civil rights, southern culture, race, religion, politics and fame.  Mills’ reflection opens up the opportunity to discuss the many changes the American South has gone through, and how race is viewed today through the eyes of Nelle and Alice Lee.  “Though segregation has ended, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a terrific social stratum still in place.” How would your community respond?

Prudence by David TreuerPrudence

David Treuer’s upcoming novel, Prudence, follows people involved in a tragic act of violence on a fateful summer day in 1942, and the 10 years that follow in a story of love, loss, race and World War II. In the center of the tragedy is Frankie Washburn, a young man visiting his family’s Minnesota resort before he leaves for war. The characters around him include his mother, the Native American handyman/father figure, his distant father and his childhood friend as they all deal with the impact of that fateful day. David Treuer beautifully describes each character’s inner-struggle with his/her own desires, wishes and perceptions that shape their actions throughout Prudence.

Prudence has many teachable themes and discussion points including prejudice, racism, Native American culture, social privilege, family, sexual identity, masculinity, friendship and American war culture during World War II. Prudence is ideal for All Campus Reads or First Year Experience programs, but would be a great selection for Community Reads as well.

13 Hours in Benghazi by Mitchell Zuckoff

13-hours-in-benghazi-coverSeptember 11th, 2012: terrorists attacked both the US State Department Special Mission Compound and the CIA station in Benghazi, Libya. Award winning journalist and #1 New York Times bestselling author, Mitchell Zuckoff interviewed and researched the people involved in protecting the U.S. Compound for his book, 13 Hours in Benghazi. He presents the most legitimate account of the September 11th account and what actually happened during the attack by the Libyans on the U.S. compound in Benghazi. It’s an action-packed narrative by those who were on the ground in harm’s way, without all the rhetoric from politicians or media. 13 Hours allows you to form your own opinions on the events that occurred that night. This fast-paced, true tale brings home the fact that “war truly is hell” even when we are not calling it a war.

Many different Common Reads programs can use 13 Hours for discussions on politics, religion, media, military, and more. The attacks in Benghazi are still fresh in the memories and minds of many Americans, which makes this book a perfect starting point for current discussion.

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