Just a quick drive North and we’ve made it to our very last stop on our Summer Passport tour: the one, the only…CANADA! Welcome to the true North, strong and free where hockey is not a sport but a way of life and poutine is its own food group.
Richard Ford is going to start off our tour with his novel entitled (appropriately) Canada. The novel begins: “First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then the murders, which happened later.” Largely set in Saskatchewan, Canada is the story of a young boy named Dell Parsons forced to flee from the US into Canada because his parents chose to become robbers. Dell struggles to adjust to his life of hard work and encompassing solitude on the lonely flats of the Prairies.
Susan Juby will be our next guide with her novel: The Woefield Poultry Collective. A twenty-something year-old New Yorker named Prudence Burns has just found out that her uncle has left her his farm on Vancouver Island. Full of back-to-the-land ideals, Prudence packs up her things and moves out to the farm, only to find out that the bank is on the verge of foreclosing Woefield Farm. Prudence, together with Earl, a seventy-something year old man, Seth, the alcoholic and celebrity blogging boy whose life has been shut-in by scandal involving his high school drama teacher and Sara, an intelligent go-getter eleven year-old looking for a home for her prize-winning chickens, dig their heels in to save the farm.
From the Rocky Mountains, to the Prairies, to the lushness of the Maritimes, Canada has something to offer everyone. Click here to get your piece of Canada by entering to win copies of these books!
Wave goodbye to the anacondas because we’re heading north, just a hop, skip and a jump over the Caribbean and we’ve hit our next stop: The United States of America! More than the land of the free and home of the brave, USA has been the setting for a multitude of great books.
Courtney Miller Santo is going to start us off on the West coast in a small town in Sacramento Valley in Northern California. In The Roots of the Olive Tree, Santo introduces us to the Keller family where 5 generations of first-born women live in an old house on their olive grove. Anna, the family matriarch, is 112 years old and determined to be the oldest person in the world. For a woman her age, Anna is in impeccable physical and mental shape. Anna’s age has caught the attention of a geneticist who believes that the Keller family may hold the key to slowing down the process of aging. As the geneticist digs deep into their DNA the Keller women find themselves digging deeply within themselves to try and keep their secrets hidden from each other, a task made exponentially harder when the youngest Keller woman, Erin, arrives back home alone and pregnant.
Hold on because we’re zipping across the country to the East coast, North Carolina to be more exact, where Wiley Cash’s novel A Land More Kind than Home is set. Jess and his older brother Christopher – a mute that everyone in town calls Stump – love to spy on grown-ups. Their mother has warned them not to snoop but they just can’t help that they’re curious. That is until one day when Christopher sees something he’s not supposed to and it shatters his and Jess’s worlds. The discovery thrusts Jess into adulthood unprepared and confused, but he now knows that a new understanding can bring not only a growing danger and evil—but also the possibility of freedom and deliverance as well.
There’s so much to discover in the large and diverse country of USA. Click here to start your American adventure by entering to win a copy of these books!
Not sure if you can handle any more excitement? Well you’re going to have to try, because this week we’re hitting up the exotic, the beautiful, the mysterious continent of South America! From the heights of the Andes and Machu Picchu to the deep, dark depths of the Amazon, South America is fascinating from all angles.
To start off our South American journey Ann Patchett is taking us to Brazil with her novel, State of Wonder where everything is not as it seems. Dr. Annick Swenson has disappeared into the Amazon while working on a valuable new drug for an American pharmaceutical company. Dr. Marina Singh has been sent to find her mentor, but the assignment is not that easy since the last person who was sent to find her, Marina’s research partner Anders Eckman, turned up dead. Marina hesitantly sets off into the depths of the rainforest in an attempt to find her mentor and answer some troubling questions about her friend’s death.
Our next guide is Gabriel Garcia Marquez, author of One Hundred Years of Solitude. Marquez introduces the mythical town of Macondo, which is thought to be based off of his hometown of Aracataca, Colombia. One Hundred Years of Solitude follows the rise and fall of Macondo through the history of the Buendia family, whose patriarch, Jose Arcadio Buendia, founded the town. This multi-generational story is loaded with truth, compassion and a lyrical magic that strikes the soul.
Get started on your South American vacation by entering here to win copies of these books!
“Sensible commanders always grab whatever weapons are easiest at hand, and no weapon is easier to get or control than children.” – Former Burundi Commander
This is a powerful quote at the beginning of Allan Stratton’s novel, Chanda’s Wars. Chanda’s Wars follows a young girl recently orphaned by the death of her mother and left to take care of her two younger siblings. Struggling to keep her family and herself together, Chanda decides to try to put aside an old family feud and she takes her siblings to a remote rural village where they still have some relatives. The village however, is close to the border where a civil war is brewing. Rebels led by General Mandiki are attacking under cover of darkness and are stealing children for their cause. When both of her siblings are kidnapped, Chanda, with the help of a young tracker named Nelson, risks everything to find the rebels and rescue them.
A very powerful story in both its subject and its research. Stratton’s research gives immense authenticity to the psyche of the child soldiers he portrays and what it’s like for a young person caught in the middle of a devastating war.
Chanda’s Wars can be read individually, but it was written as a follow-up to Chanda’s Secrets because Stratton wanted to know what would happen to his characters. This is a teen novel that adults should read too.
We’re heading west and it should be no surprise that we’re making a stop in Africa! There’s so much going on in Africa that we couldn’t focus on just one country, so we’re doing the whole continent!
Our first African country is the Democratic Republic of the Congo where Tamar Myers’ novel takes place called The Boy Who Stole the Leopard’s Spots. The book is set in the 1950s when the country was still called the Belgian Congo and is the third novel in a loose series following The Witch Doctor’s Wife and The Headhunter’s Daughter. A decades-old murder, a strange superstition, an enormous snake, and one giant secret are about to rock beautiful Belle Vue to its core. The country is in an upheaval and a strange disappearance brings up the past for the denizens of the village. Strangers are coming to their village and a storm divides their village in half – literally. Amanda, a young American missionary, Captain Pierre Jardin of the police and Cripple, the local witch doctor become involved in solving these evil omens and strange happenings before more lives are lost and before the true killer is unmasked.
Next we’re going to stop by Sierra Leone. Lawrence Hill brings us The Book of Negroes which follows a woman named Aminata Diallo and her journey through slavery. When she was 11, Aminata was abducted and forced to walk for months from her village in West Africa to the sea in a line of slaves yoked together. She was sent to South Carolina where she was a slave for many years before she served the British in the Revolutionary War and registered her name in the historic “Book of Negroes.” This book, an actual document, provides a short but immensely revealing record of freed Loyalist slaves who requested permission to leave the US for resettlement in Nova Scotia, only to find that the haven they sought was steeped in an oppression all of its own. Aminata eventually returned to Sierra Leone with 1,200 other former slaves, crossing the ocean and watching as many ships packed with slaves headed towards America.
There are 56 countries in Africa to visit and we’ll help start you off with your first 2! Click here for your chance to win copies of these books!