24 Hour Library

A Library Blog by Abby Hargreaves

Tag: fiction re

Fiction Re: Sibling Loss

*This post will be updated with books as I become aware of them, so keep checking back!

In July 2016, I lost my only sibling in a car crash. As no one is probably surprised, much of how I’ve handled this is by reading, both to better understand my situation and what I was and have been feeling and to escape. A few weeks after he died, I attended an event at the Arlington Public Library at which author Hannah Barnaby spoke about her new book, Some of the Parts, which features the story of a girl whose brother dies in a car crash and how she works through the grief she experiences. Barnaby spoke of her own sibling loss and I was grateful that she took the time to speak with me after, waited while I purchased a book, signed it, and spoke with me a while longer despite others waiting to meet her. A few weeks later she got in touch on Twitter to check in on me. We’re a strange little club, those of us who have lost a sibling.

I only just recently started reading Some of the Parts, not having felt ready until now. And even now, I keep another book — A Separate Peace, something old and familiar and in my favorite niche genre of books ever — by my bedside so I can choose not to read Barnaby’s novel if I’m not feeling up to it in the moment. But it occurred to me others might find comfort in reading stories that reflect their own. So I went to work putting together this list.

Most of these books were selected by doing simple keyword and subject header searches on the library catalogs for Arlington Public Library and Alexandria Public Library, both in Virginia. I de-selected any books that seemed to sensationalize the topic — things like mystery thrillers or procedural novels. There’s a time and a place for those, but they didn’t fit the concept of this list. Incidentally, there were few adult novels who took the subject “seriously.” Those that do appear on the list below are starred. Everything else you see below is typically categorized as young adult. Because the loss of a young child is, in my mind, very different from the loss of a teen or an adult sibling, I did not include juvenile reading materials (though they certainly exist).

Various kinds of relationships and deaths are represented in the list below. Some are about the loss of a brother, others of a sister (I haven’t yet seen any loss of non-binary siblings or otherwise-identifying siblings; please comment if you know of some!). Some are about the loss of an older sibling, others of a younger sibling. Some characters have other siblings, others are left as only children. Some are twins, some are not. There are far too many dimensions to note all of them, so I’ve linked to Goodreads pages for you to view summaries, most of which indicate a good amount of this information. The list is in no particular order. While I considered it, I did not do research on the authors of the books to determine whether or not they have lost a sibling (and I do think it can make a difference).

If you’ve lost a sibling and want to find commonness in literature or if you simply want to better understand what it’s like to lose a sibling, I hope this list will help you find what it is you’re looking for.


Image courtesy of Photo Pin


Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Some of the Parts by Hannah Barnaby

Eleanor by Jason Gurley*

You Were Here by Cori McCarthy

The Telling by Alexandra Sirowy

The Sister Pact by Stacie Ramey

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

Untwine by Edwidge Danticat

The Way Back from Broken by Amber Keyser

Breakaway by Katarina M. Spears

The Good Sister by Jamie  Kain

Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night by Barbara J. Taylor*

After Iris by Natasha Farrant

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher

Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams

All Rivers Flow to the Sea by Alison McGhee*

Dangerous Neighbors by Beth Kephart

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Lost for Words by Alice Kuipers

Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe

The Anatomy of Wings by Karen Foxlee

Saving Zoë by Alyson Noël

Choices by Deborah Lynn Jacobs

The Other Shepards by Adele Griffin

For This Life Only by Stacey Kade

Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner

Pieces by Chris Lynch

Dr. Radway’s Sasparilla Resolvent by Beth Kephart

Personal Effects by E. M. Kokie

Gemini Summer by Iain Lawrence

The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander

Displacement by Thalia Chaltas

Then I Met My Sister by Christine Hurley Deriso

The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver

Dead Little Mean Girl by Eva Darrows (step-siblings)

The Sun and Other Stars by Brigid Pasulka

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood*

Coaltown Jesus by Ronald Koertge

No One You Know by Michelle Richmond

Sister by Rosamund Lupton

Dear Zoe by Philip Beard*

Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen-Fernlund

The Second Sister by Marie Bostwick*

The New Normal by Ashley Little

A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell

Someone Else’s Summer by Rachel Bateman


Show Off: Retellings

With a new film adaptation of Anne of Green Gables recently broadcast on PBS (which you can stream on the PBS website until December 22, 2016) and the upcoming adaptation of Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson, it felt like the perfect time to showcase some of the Alexandria Public Library’s access to retellings of classic novels and fairy tales in the young adult fiction section. I was surprised at how many were available in the stacks. Not only were there retellings that stuck fairly strictly to the original material, but there were plenty that only followed the originals loosely. Below are the results of the display for the first week, though it needed significant restocking throughout its display life. I’ve included a list of the titles I used on the display.

The flyer posted with the display explaining the theme also included a list of other titles available throughout the system, which patrons might place a hold on to come to the Duncan branch or pick up at its owning branch after searching the catalog for the item.

Each book sat with a bookmark encouraging browsers to check them out and with a secret message lower down, hidden in the pages of the book. I always found as a browser at public libraries when I was a teenager that I was never sure if the books on display could be checked out or not. In fact, I was convinced they could not be checked out because doing so would disturb the display and leave a gap! Knowing what I know now, this sounds ridiculous. I’m inclined to believe, however, that plenty of people who browse my displays have the same feelings of uncertainty now, so I feel it’s really important to indicate somewhere on the display that patrons are allowed and even encouraged to check out items on the display.

What retellings do you love?







Titles Used on Display

Dark Companion Acosta, Marta
Everneath Ashton, Brodi
The Looking Glass Wars Beddor, Frank
Jekel Loves Hyde Beth Fantaskey
Antigoddess Blake, Kendare
A Curse as Dark as Gold Bunce, Elizabeth C.
Abandon Cabot, Meg
The Goddess Test Carter, Aimee
Oh My Gods Childs, Tera Lynn
Sweet Venom Childs, Tera Lynn
Goddess of Yesterday Cooney, Caroline B.
Black Spring Croggan, Alison
Entwined Dixon, Heather
Prom & Prejudice Eulberg, Elizabeth
The Sea of Trolls Farmer, Nancy
Bewitching Flinn, Alex
Towering Flinn, Alex
Nobody’s Princess Friesner, Esther
Masque of Red Death Griffin, Bethany
The Fall Griffin, Bethany
Just Ella Haddix, Margaret Peterson
If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where’s My Prince? Kantor, Melissa
Enchanted Kontis, Alethea
Tender Morsels Lanagan, Margo
Catherine Lindner, April
Ash Lo, Malinda
A Court of Thorns and Roses Maas, Sarah J.
Throne of Glass Maas, Sarah J.
September Girls Madison, Bennett
Eyes Like Stars Mantchev, Lisa
Wildwood Dancing Marillier, Juilet
Spindle’s End McKinley, Robin
Cleopatra Confesses Meyer, Carolyn
Cinder Meyer, Marissa
Prophecy Oh, Ellen
This Dark Endeavor Oppel, Kenneth
Dorothy Must Die Paige, D. M.
East Pattou, Edith
Fathomless Pearce, Jackson
Sistes Read Pearce, Jackson
Life After Theft Pike, Aprilynne
Withering Tights Rennison, Louise
Cleopatra’s Moon Shecter, Vicky
A Long, Long Sleep Sheehan, Anna
The Madman’s Daughter Shepherd, Megan
Her Dark Curiosity Shepherd, Megan
Alice in Zombieland Showalter, Gena
Enthusiasm Shulman, Polly
Man Made Boy Skovron, Jon
Nameless St. Crow, Lili
The Chaos of Stars White, Kiersten
Briar Rose Yolen, Jane
Sass & Serendipity Ziegler, Jennifer

Fiction Re: 23 Animal Narrators for Us Critter-Lovers

You could say it’s straight from the horse’s mouth. Animal narrators aren’t just for children. You’ll find plenty of stories told by the creatures with whom we share the planet. Though a perhaps-risky endeavor, writing from the perspective of a non-human animal can provide a unique and poignant point of view. The trials of the world may seem far less important from an ant’s eye view while a dog feels, acutely, the pain of his person. Take a gander at these options if you’re an animal-lover who craves a different take on the human condition.

Please note that I have not personally read all of the titles myself. You’ll find the list in alphabetical order by author with links to purchase items in the titles. The narrating animal is indicated in parentheses following the title and author. Goodreads links are provided as well for further information. I encourage you to recommend additional materials or ask questions in the comments.Picture1

Fiction Re: Gun Violence in Schools

With the government and the American people at an impasse regarding gun control laws and a seemingly unending list of schools experiencing violence, finding the right words, if there are such things, can be challenging. Political feelings aside, many of us can feel helpless in the aftermath of a shooting, such as the events of yesterday at Umqua Community College in Oregon. I by no means believe that books alone can stop future school shootings, but I do believe they can help.


Courtesy of PhotoPin

Many years ago, I read Give a Boy a Gun by Todd Strasser, which was inspired by the events of the Columbine massacre. My middle-school self felt strongly that the book should be included as a part of the local curriculum (and, if I had my way, imposed nationally). I wrote a letter to the district once I’d finished, explaining that the book gave examples in empathy and understanding, taking care to address a turbulent topic in a moving way. I don’t recall if I sent the letter; if I did, I did not receive a response.

As I work toward becoming a librarian (and, perhaps, a librarian with a focus on young adult services), I now have slightly more influence, and will continue to have greater influence still. If you are already in such a position, I hope you find the list below to be helpful. Alternatively, if you are not a library professional but are looking for something to mitigate the process of, well, processing, fictional looks at gun violence in schools, such as the ones below, may assist you.

While the items in this list are strictly about gun violence (before, during, after, and perhaps even preventing), there are a myriad of published novels about school violence beyond guns, including bombings, fist fights, and other methods of hurting others. It goes without saying that the books in this list may be upsetting or triggering. I recommend proceeding with caution should you feel any of these might be detrimental to your psyche or well-being. Many of these books are written for teens; you’ll find this material appropriate for teenagers and adults.

Please note that I have not personally read all of the titles myself. You’ll find the list in alphabetical order by author with links to purchase items in the titles. I encourage you to recommend additional materials or ask questions in the comments. The intent of this post, however, is not to incite a political debate. I thank you for respecting the intent of this list and refraining from such discussion.

Be well.


*Not gun violence, but related.

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