Spring is a great time to read a humorous yet poignant title, and I have several to fit the bill. Try Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns, an oldie but goodie. With a definite southern sensibility, this story is told through the eyes of 14-year-old Will Tweedy. His Grandpa Rucker scandalizes their small Georgia town, not to mention his family, by marrying a much younger woman barely three weeks after Grandma Rucker dies. It’s a hilarious and moving story. Helen Simonson uses wry humor in her very British Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand to gently prod the reader to take a look at their own entrenched habits and petty prejudices. It’s also a love story and who doesn’t want to read a love story in spring?
If you can only choose one from this list, pick The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg which examines hope in the midst of despair. Arthur Truluv visits the grave every day of his deceased wife where he meets and strikes up a relationship with teenager Maddy, who is dealing with her own trials. It doesn’t sound like it, but this intergenerational coming-of-age story is a feel-good story. You will find yourself recommending it to friends.
If you like more serious books, one of my top ten favorites is One True Thing by Anna Quinlan. It’s about a daughter who always idolized and felt much closer to her father. In fact, she kind of looked down on her “unaccomplished” mother. Ellen is called home by said father, because he can’t cope, to take care of her terminally-ill mother. Through their two-person mother/daughter book club, she becomes closer to her mother and begins to see her, and her parents’ marriage more realistically. It’s touching and insightful. And then, there’s Larry Watson’s Montana 1948. It’s quintessentially western and explores the reality that people are not always rewarded for choosing the right and moral action. Like Cold Sassy Tree, it’s told from the perspective of a young boy and Watson captures beautifully how mixed-up and partial a child’s view of serious events can be. It’s a perfect book to share with a teen.
Not a fiction reader? One of my favorite nonfiction writers is Erik Larson. I would suggest any of his titles, but if you’ve never read him, I would suggest starting with: The Devil in the white city : murder, magic, and madness at the fair that changed America by Erik Larson. It’s about a serial killer that operated around the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. Lest you think the topic is too gruesome, Larson, as always, focuses on larger events to give context. There is lots of Chicago and World Fair history included and the reader can see how the general hubbub around the fair allowed this criminal to continue for a long time in his activities.
I hope you find a title here to your liking!