A stroll down a dusty road.

A Long Way from ChicagoTake time to enjoy stories that have remembrance of an earlier, harder time. Both of my parents experienced the depression of the 1930’s and the stories they told about the depression always interested me. Their enthusiasm for life was not shattered by the difficult living conditions, but it did form their values of home, family and entertainment.  Many books reflect this resilience of spirit, but my favorite is A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck. Two young people leave the big city of Chicago to go visit their Grandma Dowdell somewhere in the back country of Illinois. This cantankerous woman has a heart of gold, and her grandchildren are in for an education of another kind! This book and it’s sequel A Year Down Yonder can work as a great read-aloud for children, teens, adults and seniors. Don’t hesitate because this book is placed in the children’s collection, it is just a great book. Before you leave that area pick up Bud Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis.  Orphan Buddy heads off on his own to find the man he believes to be his father -the renowned 1930s bandleader H.E. Calloway.  Curtis has a gift for getting inside a young man’s mind, you will laugh, cry and commiserate with the characters in his books.  In the Young Adult collection, pick up Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse. This book is in the form of a series of poems written by a young girl who has had more than her share of tragedy. Her resilience of spirit, her search for acceptance and empathy makes her spare writings very moving. If you enjoy memoirs, read Too Close to the Falls by Catherine Ann Gildiner. This takes place in the 1950’s but is Too Close to the Fallsevocative of an earlier time and is the story of a bright young girl who helps delivery prescriptions for her pharmacist father. Her guide is an illiterate older man whom she guides by reading the map. He takes her to wealthiest and poorest of homes giving her a glimpse into a world beyond her own. Two more titles that are reminiscent of the 30s are Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg.  Redolent in the times, first of the circus world of 1932 and then of the small town café in Alabama, each novel will convey you to a time filled with darkness and with hope.

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