Challenged Accepted: Read Harder 2017
A new year means new year resolutions and challenges. One reading challenge that I love to do is Book Riot's 2017 Read Harder challenge. Instead of having people focus on a specific number of books, Read Harder challenges people to read different genres or authors that they may overlook. This year, there are 24 prompts for readers, and a complete list may be found here on the Book Riot Goodreads page. Today, I will address the fourteenth challenge: to read a book about war.
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson (YA)
This trilogy is based at the beginning of the American Revolution, or as Isabel knows it: the War for American Independence. Isabel and her sister, Ruth are enslaved in Rhode Island, but instead of being freed upon their owner's death (as her will stated), her greedy son sells them to a British loyalist family in New York. Isabel is smart and realizes that the emerging conflict between colonies and the British can provide opportunities for the freedom she and Ruth were promised, but which side will follow through on their promises?
Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
Set in Chechnya during the first Chechen war in the mid-1990s, Anthony Marra focuses less on the facts and figures of warfare to give the reader a more human experience of war. Focused on Sonja, the last doctor in a barely functional hospital; Havaa, a young girl in hiding after her father is abducted; and her neighbor Akhmed, who finds Havaa in hiding. Akhmed decides that he and Havaa will go to the city and hide in the hospital. The three characters intersect over five days while the novel shifts in perspective but keeps the uneasiness at a constant.
Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan
The Manhattan Project is best known by Robert Oppenheimer, the lead scientist on the project, but hundreds of people contributed to the project and helped realize the dreams of Oppenheimer and his fellow scientists. Denise Kiernan explores how a secret city in the Ozarks of Tennessee helped assemble the weapons that would determine the course of history. Oak Ridge, Tennessee was created from scratch in 1942 and was constructed for the purpose of assembling this weapon, and called on young women to assist in this purpose. Women served as technicians, engineers, assistants - they were integral to the success of the project, but had almost no idea of the overall scope.
Goodbye to all of that by Robert Graves
The oldest book on this list, Robert Graves's memoir is about his life up to his decision to leave England forever in 1929, but focuses on his time in World War I. Graves gives powerful descriptions of life in the trenches: the boredom that came come from waiting, the anarchy of a raid, and the desire for recreation. Graves also aptly describes the combating feelings of those enlisted and the intersection of those feelings with the feelings of their loved ones at home. Though Graves's experiences are more than a century old, his wit keeps the memoir accessible and easy to read.
Hiroshima by John Hersey
Written and released five months after the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagaski, John Hersey's short book is an unflinching account of what happened in the city of Hiroshima right before and in the days after August 6, 1945. Whether or not you are for the use of atomic weapons or against it, Hiroshima is essential reading for accepting the consequences of warfare. At only 152 pages, it is not an easy read but it is a necessary one.
Miracle at St. Anna by James McBride
Another World War II book, James McBride's novel is about the famous “Buffalo Soldiers” an African American squadron. As four members of the 92nd Division enter the small Tuscan village St. Anna di Stazzema, they are battle worn and unsure of their position. Who can they trust in enemy territory? But they, with a boy of the village, experience a miracle that will change their lives.
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