Hillbilly Elegy : A Memoir

By J.D. Vance

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
May 26, 2018

Hillbilly Elegy is unlike anything I've ever listened to. J.D. Vance grew up in the rust belt of America and was the first from his nuclear family to graduate from college. He speaks about growing up there and tells you extensively about the journey his family (grandparents and mother) made before today. 

He details some gritty stuff like an alcoholic grandfather and an abusive mom. I congratulate Vance for working so hard to create something for himself despite coming from a family that was torn apart by some challenging circumstances and, at the same time, held together by a grandparents'

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

By Matthew Desmond
Star Rating

Rated by Colleen O.
Apr 1, 2016

In this work of non-fiction, Matthew Desmond, a Harvard sociologist, takes us to Milwaukee where we become intimately engaged in the lives of eight impoverished families. Among these families are both renters and landlords, both points of view are represented. I’m not a huge fan of non-fiction, but this book reads like a novel, while also providing significant background information regarding the laws around food stamps, eviction processes, and the inaccessibility of resources for some of our cities’ most impoverished residents. 

I encourage readers to continue on to the section at the end

Necessary Lies

By Diane Chamberlain
Star Rating

Rated by Jackie M.
Mar 11, 2016

Set in Grace County, North Carolina in 1960, Necessary Lies parallels the lives of Jane Forrester and Ivy Hart. At first glance, fifteen-year-old tobacco-farm worker Ivy appears to live in a completely different world than Jane, a newlywed married to a doctor, but both struggle for control over their lives. Ivy is the glue that holds her family together since her father died. And when her mother was institutionalized Ivy, her grandmother, her sister Mary Ella, and her nephew must rely on one another, as well as the tobacco farmer on whose land they live and work.

As a piece of historical

When I Was the Greatest

By Jason Reynolds
Star Rating

Rated by Helen H.
Feb 21, 2016

It’s a tale as old as time: teens going to parties far beyond their years. For this Johnson County reader, the interest in Jason Reynold's When I Was the Greatest lies in the microclimate of Bed-Stuy in New York City.

For Ali and his friends Needles and Noodles, an invitation to one of MoMo’s infamous parties must be accepted, for it may never come again. At fifteen, the boys don’t belong there, and they realize it in short order when a fight breaks out and they all, but especially Ali, end up on the most wanted list of some dangerous dudes.

The ensuing events bring Ali and his family closer

The Art of Crash Landing

By Melissa DeCarlo
Star Rating

Rated by Helen H.
Dec 2, 2015

Despite her best efforts, I love Mattie Wallace. She often behaves badly, and she knows it. But it’s who she believes she is, so she behaves badly.

Finding herself in a delicate condition with nowhere to turn, she embarks on an impossible journey to collect an unlikely inheritance. Immersed in the secret lives of her mother and the grandmother she never met, Mattie unwittingly starts to heal. The wounds of her past begin to scab over, and the broken places start to mend. As she skitters down the road of her family history, she drags an entire town, bucking and skidding, along with her.


We Never Asked for Wings

By Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Star Rating

Rated by Colleen O.
Sep 2, 2015

At sixteen, Letty Espinosa has everything going for her – she’s young, pretty and smart with a handsome boyfriend who loves her. Only the sky is the limit. When she discovers she is pregnant, all her hopes and dreams are suddenly dashed. Now a 33-year old single mother of two, working several menial jobs to bring in money for her family, she has been living somewhat irresponsibly while her mother has been raising her two children. When her mother decides to return to Mexico to join her husband in their country of origin, Letty is suddenly faced with the responsibility of being a mother – a

Salvage the Bones

By Jesmyn Ward
Star Rating

Rated by Helen H.
Jan 22, 2014

In the days before Hurricane Katrina is to hit Bois Savage, Mississippi, families are preparing their homes for the event as they’ve always done. Young Esch and her brothers have been left to their own devices since their mother’s death as their father is usually too drunk to care for them. One brother struggles to win a coveted scholarship to basketball camp, one dotes on his Pit Bull who has just birthed a liter of valuable puppies, Esch reaches a startling and unwelcome epiphany, and the youngest just gets in everyone’s way.

This is a very difficult book to read, and thus this review isn’t

The Pursuit of Happyness

By Chris Gardner

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Sep 7, 2013

Chris Gardner and his toddler son spent a year living on the streets of San Francisco, in and out of shelters and run down hotels. All while working in the financial district to get a job that would provide them with enough to live on.

Ultimately, Chris becomes the Chief Executive of Gardner Rich & Company, a multimillion-dollar brokerage. Today, Chris is an avid philanthropist and motivational speaker.

Born in the south to a father he never knew, and a loving mother who was jailed twice by an abusive partner, Gardner not only survives, but succeeds, where so many with similar backgrounds

Oct 12, 2012

Laurel’s life is going according to plan.  She has come a long way from her trailer- trash beginnings in the hills of Alabama.  Happily married with an adored 12-year-old daughter, she lives in a “perfect” gated Florida community.  She hasn’t seen her uncle’s ghost since leaving Alabama and she has managed to shield her husband and daughter from a past she longs to forget.  But her world begins to fall apart when she finds her daughter’s best friend in Laurel’s pool – after the girl’s ghost appears to Laurel.  Police investigate and find the drowning to be accidental; but Laurel doesn’t