24 Hour Library

A Library Blog by Abby Hargreaves

Tag: pathfinders

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: If You Liked Thirteen Reasons Why…

Thirteen Reasons Why is now not only a wildly popular tough-topics book for teens, but a Netflix series, too. There are so many similar novels out there, it wasn’t hard to pull together a list. I started with NoveList, but made use of subject headings including “suicide” and “grief,” too. While most of these novels don’t have the nifty cassette concept or an equivalent, many of them deal with topics many teens face daily. Whether they find comfort in these fictionalized versions of events in their real lives or enjoy the inherently high drama of these stories, teens will likely find at least one book to interest them in this set. Check out pictures of the display below along with a list of books I used.


Just after this I got straight to work on straightening the YA graphic novels.


The Good Sister Jamie Kain
Please Ignore Vera Dietz A. S. King
Wintergirls Laurie Halse Anderson
Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia Jenny Torres Sanchez
34 Pieces of You Carmen Rodriguez
The Lovely Bones Alice Sebold
Ghostgirl Tanya Hurley
Love Letters to the Dead Ava Dellaira
Boy Proof Cecil Castellucci
The Spectacular Now Tim Tharp
Teach Me to Forget Erica Chapman
The Memory of light Francisco X Stork
The Last Time We Say Goodbye Cynthia Hand
When Reason Breaks Cindy L. Rodriguez
Falling into Place Amy Zhang
And We Stay Jenny Hubbard
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock Matthew Quick
Fall for Anything Courtney Summers
All the Rage Courtney Summers
By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead Julie Ann Peters
Suicide Notes Michael Thomas Ford
Stay with Me Garret Freyman-Weyr
The Beginning of After Jennifer Castle
After Kristin Harmel
The Beginner’s Guide to Living Lia Hills
A Map of the Known World Lisa Ann Sandell
It’s Kind of a Funny Story Ned Vizzini
Challenger Deep Neal Shusterman
Saving Francesca Melina Marchetta
Waiting for You Susane Colasanti
Before I Fall Lauren Oliver
If I Stay Gayle Forman
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac Gabrielle Zevin
The Body of Christopher Creed Carol Plum-Ucci
Willow Julie Hoban
Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone Kat Rosenfeld

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.

The Write Stuff: A Snail Mail Pathfinder


Handwritten correspondence. Snail mail. Post. Letters. With the advent of the Internet, snail mail may be a less common way to communicate, but it is in no way dead. Just as society continued to use letters post-telephone as a way of communicating, so it continues to do so now. Whether you’re writing a meaningful note to an old friend or starting a new friendship with a pen pal, you’ll find plenty of resources here to get you started. Items are divided by the following categories: History, Memoirs, & Prose (nonfiction about letter-writing and the experiences of letter-writers), Collections (collected letters written by individuals both famous and unknown), Ideas & DIY (crafty ways to have a little fun with your correspondence), and Pen Pal Resources (how-to’s, where to find pen pals, and other tidbits). Some items may be cross-listed and noted with an asterisk (*). Electronic materials will be noted with a double asterisk (**). Items are listed in alphabetical order by title. When available, links to items for purchase will be presented. This is not to advocate for or endorse any one store or brand over another, but to offer some of the many available options. Materials listed are appropriate for teens and adults. Questions? Leave them in the comments of this resource guide and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

This pathfinder was created as an assignment for INFO 210-10 (3U), for the Reference and Information Services course at San José State University in Fall 2015.

About the Creator

Abby Hargreaves is a student in San José State University’s Master of Library and Information Science program. She plans to graduate in May 2016 and looks forward to a career in a public library, working with teens and adults in reference and programming services. Abby lives, reads, and writes in Arlington, Virginia. She has three pen pals and regularly corresponds with other individuals in her life.


Want to know about real people writing real letters for the love of mail? Here, you’ll find some excellent options for just that topic. Discover the benefits, feats, and connective power of snail mail.


collectionsCurious about what famous individuals such as C.S. Lewis were writing their friends and acquaintances about? Or maybe you’re more interested in the lives of children in the Great Depression’s Dust Bowl. Either way, you’ll find curated collections of real letters in the titles below.


ideasdiyYou’re committed to writing, but what to write? This section will guide you on your way to fun and meaningful missives with plenty of ideas on not only what to write about, but how to design it, and unusual items to send.


penpalsDon’t have a pen pal, but want one? Want to know shipping costs? Solutions to those problems and more below. Sites for finding pen pals are denoted with a caret (^). Letter writers should always use caution when engaging with pen-pal-finding services and are responsible for their use of any of the listed sites.



Want to know about letter-writing and pen pal relationships in the news? Check out some of these articles below.

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