The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls
Even the most dysfunctional families seem to rally around each other in hard times, and this is definitely the case for the Butler family in Anissa Gray’s stunning debut. After the death of her mother, young Althea had to step up and raise her siblings. Years later, after she and her husband are arrested, she finds the roles reversed, as she must rely on her siblings to raise her teenage daughters. A raw and brilliant story of family, sisterhood, pain, redemption and healing, the story will stay with you for a long time to come.
Big Little Lies (Movie Tie-In)
While it is the big and little lies weaved into the fabric of each family in this Australian saga that keeps you reading well into the night, it is the support and loyal bond formed between the five women that makes this book so inspiring. Added bonus: when you are through reading this crowd favorite you can binge watch the women, now transported from the fictional town of Pirriwee, Australia to Monterey, California, in the HBO series. It may be one of the few examples of the show being as good as the book.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Movie Tie-In Edition)
Mary Ann Shaffer
A remarkable tale of an island in the English Channel before and after the German occupation during World War II. Under the duress of wartime, a society of acquaintances soon becomes a close family, forging affections and loyalties, fostering resilience, and incubating some unexpected love interest. The equally delightful and uplifting movie adaptation is on Netflix this month.
From the first line, “We didnt believe when we first heard because you know how church folk can gossip,” we know we are about to enter a tight-knit world, and the “mothers” of the Upper Room Chapel don’t disappoint. Long after leaving their small town, the main characters, Nadia, Luke and Aubrey, are still very much tied to their tight-knit community. This novel, about young love and a big secret will not disappoint. I’m looking forward to reading Brit Bennett’s new novel, The Vanishing Half, next.
E. B. White
The perfect example of a close community rallying around someone in need can be found on Zuckerman’s farm. If you can’t remember this childhood classic, it may be time to pick it up again and read it out loud to your children, or in keeping up with the theme of this article, your neighbor’s children. It is a story that seems even more relevant today. Charlotte the spider is an activist, drawing attention to her barn-mate’s predicament by weaving SOME PIG in her web. Perhaps she puts it best when she says, “By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”
And that is the truth. Helping others, whether it is standing side by side in protest, against institutional racism, wearing a mask to protect others in your community or simply taking a latchkey kid who just lost her dad to buy her first bra, feels as good, or possibly better, for the giver as it does the recipient.
Eliza Starts a Rumor
Jane L. Rosen
Small, tight-knit communities and how they rally around those in need may be more relevant than ever in the current environment, but I have always been an old-school believer in the idea that “it takes a village.”
When I was eleven years old, my father died in an accident and my life changed forever. My mother, bereft and burdened with the task of running his small motel in Brooklyn, handed me a key to our house in the suburbs. She put it on a brown leather key chain stamped with flowers and my name, but we both knew there was no dressing up the situation: I would have to grow up overnight.
It sounds like the makings of an awful childhood, but even with this eternal cloud of loss hovering over me, it wasn’t. Instead, I learned that, if you let them, friends, family and neighbors are there to lift you up and help you get through an unfathomable challenge. From inviting me over for dinner when my mom couldn’t make it home, to shuttling me to Hebrew School or the orthodontist, and even taking me to Bloomingdales for the purchase of my first bra, good people stepped in and stepped up. Their acts of care and kindness shaped how I think about my responsibility to others, and how I portray that responsibility in my books.
When writing Eliza Starts a Rumor, I revisited the feelings of comfort and support I experienced in my suburban upbringing by creating a community of women who have each others’ backs simply because of their shared humanity. Even though the book tackles some hard topics, I am told that the theme of women supporting other women leaves readers feeling quite uplifted in the end.
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Below are five of my favorite books by other authors who write about the importance of community and of coming together to help one another get through hard times.