If you are anything like me, I actually have less time to read now than I did in the “before-time”. So give yourself a win or two and check out these shorter, but wonderful books. Each clocks in at about 200 pages.
Nickel Boys – A fictional account based on true events and a real place, Nickel Boys takes place at reform school in Florida, set during the last days Jim Crow. Two boys enter the academy for dubious reasons, and are subject to terrible treatment. Colson Whitehead packs an incredible emotion punch in this brief novel. It’s a heartbreaking book that saves its final wallop for its revelatory ending.
Red at the Bone – Author of Brown Girl Dreaming and Another Brooklyn, Jacqueline Woodson offers another poetic, and tender look at family, class, and time. It opens on Melody’s 16th birthday, as her parents watch her descend the steps of their Brooklyn brownstone to her party. Melody’s mother, Iris, never got the 16th birthday her daughter is getting because she was pregnant with her daughter. Red at the Bone flips back and forth in time revealing the characters’ struggles, failures, and moments of joy. Woodson swirls sadness and beauty together to create a novel that shows sympathy to all that suffer in their own way.
Exit West – Two lovers are in the midst of a brewing war in an unnamed country in the Middle East. Nadia and Saeed’s relationship itself is a scandal in their socially strict city, so they decide to take matters into their own hands. The two then flee, becoming refugees. But Nadia and Saeed have been hearing rumors about magical doors that have been appearing, hidden, often in people’s closets, or entryways. And others are helping those refugees find the doors before the authorities find them. There is a magical element to the doors, of course, but Mohsin Hamid uses them as more of a device to whisk the characters to new countries and new experiences as refugees. He uses the closing of the doors to represent the realization that once you’ve left, you can really never go back.