Sunday, August 21, 2016

Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbitt

Tired of her family, ten-year old Winnie Foster starts to consider running away from home.   One day, during a walk in the woods, she meets a teenage boy named Jesse Tuck.   Jesse and his family lead her deeper into her family’s land, where a magical spring puts forth water which has granted them eternal life.  As Winnie begins to find herself falling in love with Jessie, she becomes sorely tempted to drink the water herself.  All the while, a mysterious stranger from the Tucks’ past is following, offering a temptation of an entirely different sort…

This book was written in 1975 and I originally read it as part of a grade school curriculum, but I was amazed to find that the story is just as good today.  The theme is very thought provoking:  would eternal life be a blessing, or a curse?   “Tuck Everlasting” is a suspenseful page-turner, and well worth the time that any young man would spend reading it.    

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

This story centers around the life of Liesel Meinger, a nine-year-old girl living in Germany during World War II.  After her brother dies, Liesel is taken in by a set of foster parents who’re also hiding a Jewish man from the Nazis.  This man, Max, teaches Liesel to read in secret.   Entranced with the power of the written word, Liesel begins to steal a number of banned books in order to save them from being burned by German censors.

Even though the hero of this book is a girl, I’d flag it as a must-read for all young men.  While Anne Frank’s diary might provide a more intimate view of what it was like to hide from the Nazis, I found “The Book Thief” to be a more accessible story.  The book is narrated by Death himself (who remarks that World War II was a very busy time for him), so it’s actually very easy to take a peek into these characters’ challenging lives.  “The Book Thief” has definitely earned my highest recommendation.