Pic Credit: Amazon.com
Author: Allan Hollinghurst
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (2005)
Setting: The story is set in the 1980s in Britain, during the period when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, which was also the time when the AIDS epidemic began.
Main Characters: Nick, Leo, Wani, Toby, Catherine, Gerald
Summary: The story revolves around Nick, a homosexual Oxford graduate who lives with his college mate’s (Toby) family in Kensington Park and Toby’s father is Gerald Fedden, a Member of Parliament. Nick has a crush on Toby but never expressed it because Toby is heterosexual. Toby’s sister, Catherine, is the only person in the household who knows of Nick’s sexual preferences and they are each other’s confidants. She is also neurotic and has a tendency to inflict harm upon herself but Nick is often able to manage her emotions better than anyone in her family.
Pic Credit: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/128029.A_Thousand_Splendid_Suns
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Publisher: Penguin Group (May 22, 2007)
Setting: The story is set in Afghanistan from the early 1960s to early 2000s.
Main Characters: Mariam, Laila, Tariq and Rasheed
Summary: The story revolves around two women, Mariam and Laila, who hail from entirely different backgrounds, but whose lives intertwine when Laila, the younger woman, marries Rasheed as his second wife. Mariam is an illegitimate child of a successful businessman, Jalil, who grows up with her mother in the suburbs, and is married off to Rasheed at the age of 15, after her mother commits suicide as a result of her running away from home. She carries this guilt with her throughout her life and her marriage. After she suffers from her first miscarriage, Rasheed turns violent and abuses her. Despite several attempts, Mariam is unable to conceive and at this point, Laila is introduced into the picture. Laila is Mariam and Rasheed’s neighbour who grows up in a decent household and whose father is a firm believer in education for his daughter. Her character is also introduced alongside Tariq’s character, her childhood friend and love. Along the way, Laila’s brothers are killed in the war and her mother goes into recluse, causing her parents’ marriage to hit the rocks. At this point, Laila learns that Tariq’s family decides to leave Kabul for Pakistan to escape the war between Afghanistan and the Soviet. To preserve their memory for each other, Tariq and Laila make love for the first time, a forbidden act for an unmarried couple in Afghanistan.
Pic Credit: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39999.The_Boy_in_the_Striped_Pajamas
Author: John Boyne
Publisher: Oxford University Press (January 5, 2006)
Setting: The story is set in WWII – Auschwitz Concentration Camp, also known as “Out-With” in the text.
Main Characters: Bruno, Shmuel, Gretel and Father
Summary: Bruno is a nine-year-old German boy who happens to be the son of a high-ranking officer and the right-hand man of Adolf Hitler. Having displayed exemplary work for Hitler, Bruno’s father is promoted to Commandant of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp and the entire family leaves Berlin. Bruno is upset about the move as he no longer has the opportunity to hang out with his friends. At Auschwitz, he is home-schooled with his sister, Gretel, and basically has no playmate. However, he notices that there is a compound near his house with “boys, fathers and grandfathers” all dressed in the same “pair of grey striped pyjamas and grey striped cap” – he often wonders who those people are but no one would tell him.
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Author: Gene Luen Yang
Illustrator: Thien Pham
Publisher: First Second (June 7, 2011)
Setting: The story is set mostly in the United States of America, in Ouyang’s home and school.
Main Characters: Dennis Ouyang, Father, Four Angels
Summary: Dennis Ouyang is an American born Chinese whose parents moved from China to the US when they were newly weds. As a kid, Dennis was always attracted to video games and he pestered his parents to buy him a set but they never obliged because they wanted him to concentrate on his studies. His father died of liver cancer after his high school graduation and feeling depressed, he got himself a game set and became addicted to gaming. His addiction resulted in him getting expelled from college but four angels appeared on that fateful day to tell him that his destiny was to become a gastroenterologist. They got him re-enrolled into college and made him study day and night to qualify for medical school, which he did.