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Fiction that Inspires

By Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati

Last week I talked about the three biographies on the WOW Recommends list and how inspiring they are for young people. This week I want to talk about a few equally inspiring fiction pieces. Those three books are The Stars at Oktober Bend (2018) by Glenda Millard, Speak: The Graphic Novel (2018) by Laurie Halse Anderson, and Escape from Aleppo (2018) by N.H. Senzai. While I suggest these books are inspiring, that does not mean they are without tragedy. In fact, all three chronicle an overwhelming tragedy for each of the protagonists. And it is their battle to overcome despite the tragedy, their hope for their futures and their ultimate victories that are so inspiring. The readers are with these characters as they encounter or struggle through the aftermath of each of their individual horrors. Let’s take a look at each one in turn. They deserve this second look!

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Re-Introducing 2018 WOW Recommends

By Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati

Each year, members of the Worlds of Words community recommend monthly books for readers to consider through the WoW Recommends feature. The main criteria is that the book must have a publish date within the last two years. Taking a look back at the 2018 list, I was interested in finding out what had been recommended so that I might read these books and think about how they may or may not resonate with me. I was also curious about what themes were discussed so that I might share my own thoughts about these texts.
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MTYT: Escape from Aleppo

This week we discuss Escape from Aleppo by N.H. Senzai as one of the books that present situations of pain and bravery. Each book we looked at this month offers surprises and controversy. Each is thought-provoking. As we said when we recommended Escape from Aleppo as our book of the month, the novel seems right out of the headlines.

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WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Escape from Aleppo

Escape from Aleppo by N.H. SenzaiEscape from Aleppo by N.H. Senzai serves as a primer on the horrible war that has raged in Syria for 7 years. The novel seems right out of the headlines, but also gives the reader a background of the history of Syria and why its people cherish their country. The story is about 14-year-old Nadia who is separated from her family after their home and neighborhood is bombed. She knows that her family is trying to escape to Turkey, but she is not certain how to get there through the destroyed city. The family leaves messages that help her. Senzai fleshes out the story with flashbacks that fills in Nadia’s background and experiences. I marvel at the characterizations, especially the elderly, mysterious man, Ammo Mazen, who takes on the responsibility of guiding Nadia to find her family. Ammo makes stops as they travel through the city that are intriguing. In one place, he and Nadia encounter people trying to save and preserve artifacts from the city’s libraries and museums. Nadia’s character is also well-drawn. Her growing grit and courage make the reader root for her. In spite of the difficulties Nadia suffers, she helps other–even protecting and taking along on the journey an orphaned 8-year-old boy she finds abandoned. Continue reading