Little Bee by Chris Cleave
Ms. Dow, WHS Humanities teacher, chose this book for the Faculty Favorites library book display at the start of the school year. I was intrigued by the description of the story and listened to the audiobook version (CD F CLE). It is a wonderful story and very well read by an actress who has previously won an AudioFile Earphones Award. When it comes to listening to books, the reader makes all the difference. She moves easily and believably from a British accent to a Nigerian accent.

Little Bee is the story of a British couple, Andrew and Sarah O'Rourke, who come across Little Bee and her sister while vacationing in Nigeria. There is a horrific confrontation with machete-wielding soldiers and life changes dramatically for everyone involved. Andrew never recovers from this experience. That's all I'll say so I don't give away too much of the plot. Andrew and Sarah have an adorable 3-year-old son, Charlie, who is so obsessed with Batman that he won't ever take off his mask and cape. Enjoyably, he has a big part in the book.

Washington Post reviewer, Sarah L. Courteau, (Wednesday, February 25, 2009) writes, "In restrained, diamond-hard prose, Cleave alternates between these two characters' points of view as he pulls the threads of their dark -- but often funny -- story tight. What unfolds between them in a few short weeks as they struggle to right worlds turned upside down is both surprising and inevitable, thoroughly satisfying if also heart-rending." I couldn't say it better than this. I was moved to tears as I listened to the conclusion.
(Ms. Stalteri, October 25, 2010)
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
"Dead girl walking," the boys say in the halls. "Tell us your secret," the girls whisper, one toilet to another. I am that girl. I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through. I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame."
This book is the story of Lia and Cassie, the "wintergirls," frozen in matchstick bodies. They are best friends, or were, before Cassie died. They are anorexic. Lia moved in with her dad, stepmom, and half-sister after a stay in rehab for her eating disorder. She convinced her dad that her mom contributed to her illness and said she would do better with him. However, that is not the case. Cassie dies mysteriously in a motel room and Lia is convinced that Cassie's ghost is speaking to her. Lia's struggle with starving herself is palpable. She tricks her stepmom at weigh-ins by layering clothes and sewing coins in the pockets. This deception doesn't last long and her mom asks her to move back in with her as well as return to the hospital for treatment.
This is a fascinating study of the mind of someone with anorexia. The author really did her research and talks about it at the end of the book. Ms. Anderson also talks about what inspired the writing of this book - her fans who had read Speak. They shared their trials and tribulations. On the audiobook version she shares a beautiful poem that she wrote in response to this phenomenon. (Ms. Stalteri, November 1, 2010)