Shutterstock Book Club: 4 childhood favorites we reread in May

By Yvette Cruz, | Posted - May 31, 2020 at 11:31 a.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — There's something comforting about the familiar. Rewatching our favorite shows for the umpteenth time. Watching movies we already know the endings to over and over again. And rereading books we enjoyed as kids.

Welcome back to the Book Club. It’s a book club with a twist where some of the team members read a different book and then recap our picks at the end of each month. For this month's book club we decided to go pick a theme: childhood favorites.

We each picked a book we read as kids or teenagers to see if our favorite books still hold up as adults — and most of them did.

This month's Book Club features book picks from social media manager Yvette Cruz, news director Whitney Evans, breaking news writer Jacob Klopfenstein and copy editor Jordan Ormond. If you think of a book one of us might like based on our book choices and reviews, feel free to let us know!

Yvette’s pick: "Walk Two Moons" by Sharon Creech

“Walk Two Moons” is a story within a story. The main character Salamanca (better known as Sal) embarks on a cross-country road trip with her grandparents on their way to see her mother, whom Sal hasn’t seen since her mom left to Idaho more than a year before. On the way, she entertains her grandparents with the story of her peculiar friend Phoebe Winterbottom. While Sal tells her grandparents Phoebe’s story, her own story begins to unravel.

I first read “Walk Two Moons” in the 5th grade and it easily become one of my favorites. Nearly two decades later, it still holds up.

Sal’s storytelling not only entertains her grandparents, but the reader as well. She makes a great narrator and through memories she shares about the people in her life, the reader also gets to know Sal better.

This book is filled with colorful characters and relatable emotions. While Sal is a 13-year-old girl, the subtle way she describes loss and grief was relatable to me as an adult. Throughout the book, she perfectly captures various emotions: getting butterflies for the first time, missing a person or a place, feeling rejected and guilt, among others.

I found “Walk Two Moons” to be a captivating read with several messages that could apply to anyone no matter the age. It’s makes for a perfect escape.

Genre: Young Adult, Fiction

Who would like this book? I think “Walk Two Moons” is especially great for teens coping with change but really, this book is for everyone. It has several messages that anyone could relate to at any age.

My next read: I haven’t decided yet, but I’m thinking true crime or a memoir.

Whitney's pick: "The Giver" by Lois Lowry

I LOVED this book as a kid. I remember thinking Jonas was super cool, and wanting to be someone who "sees beyond" like Jonas. Reading the book as an adult, I was still entertained, but found it much less compelling.

Jonas lives in a future community where everything is controlled and regulated for maximum efficiency and minimum harm. It's a dystopian look at life with all risks removed.

When people turn 12, they're assigned to a career based off their competencies and skillsets and begin their training. Jonas is assigned to a rare career, to be the community's next "receiver," and basically receive all the memories from the time before everything got so bland. As you could imagine, he begins to see a contrast between life as we know it and life as he knows it, which provides the book's main tension.

Reading this as an adult, I realized some of the more euphemistic themes were a lot darker than I'd remembered. For instance, the community has rules, and if you break major rules three times, you are "released," to presumably, live outside the community. Over time, you come to see that getting "released" is the same as taking the dog to a "farm" where it can be happy and live out its old age. (Read: They just kill these people.)

Some plot points didn't quite make sense to me. For instance, Jonas receives memories by taking off his shirt, laying on a bed and then waiting for "The Giver" to put his hands on his back. And then somehow the memories transmit into Jonas' consciousness. There's no attempt to explain how this works. You just kinda have to believe that it works.

Also, this book was clearly written in a simpler time: There were a lot of behaviors that look a lot like what we would describe as grooming that the reader is supposed to accept was just 12-year-old Jonas being mentored by a man several decades his senior. That was hard for me to get past.

Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Dystopian

Who would like this book? I would recommend this book to tweens and teens who are interested in dystopian novels.

My next read: My next read will be a recommendation from a colleague "The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You and How to Get Good at It."

Jacob’s pick: “Holes” by Louis Sachar

The same copy of this childhood classic I read as a kid has been sitting on my bookshelf for years. Since the libraries have been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and I haven’t been able to check out new books, I’ve been making my way through copies of books I own but haven’t read, or revisiting classics I haven’t read in years.

“Holes” holds up extremely well going back to it as an adult. The complex plot is exciting even when you know what’s coming, and it’s beautifully written even at an adolescent reading level.

The flashback scenes with Kissin’ Kate Barlow and Sam the Onion Man are especially wonderful. Sachar miraculously manages to tell a rich, deep, emotional love story in just a few pages.

The novel’s themes are as vast as the desert in which it takes place. Racism, illiteracy, homelessness, arranged marriages and forced labor are among the heavier topics, but perseverance and standing up for yourself are also major players.

Genre: Young Adult, Fiction

Who would like this book? There is something for everyone — kids and adults alike — in “Holes.” For that reason, it seems like a perfect book for parents to read to their kids. It was one of my favorites as a kid, and it remains a great read in adulthood.

What else I'm reading: I’m currently reading “Fahrenheit 451,” another book I own a copy of but haven’t read in many years. After that, hopefully libraries will be opening up and I’ll be able to check out some new titles.

Jordan's pick: "The Doll People" by Ann M. Martin

I just reread "The Doll People," a book I happened upon a couple of years ago when I was searching the library for audiobooks my little girls would enjoy. The book was available, so we thought we’d try it — and boy, are we glad we did!

"The Doll People" is the story of Annabelle Doll, an 8-year-old who was created over 100 years ago, and her search for her Auntie Sarah. Annabelle lives with her family in their dollhouse, which is in Kate’s room (Kate being the 3rd generation owner of the Doll family). The family lives by "the doll code," only moving around and talking at night when all the humans are asleep. Should a human catch them moving, they are immediately put into "doll state" — where they become an actual doll that can’t move or talk for 24 hours. Get caught too many times and a doll risks "permanent doll state."

Due to the above-mentioned doll code, no one in the Doll family has been brave enough to go looking for Auntie Sarah, a member of their family who went missing several decades ago. That is until Annabelle finds Auntie Sarah’s journal and the clues she needs to start looking. She and her new friend, Tiffany, set out on a journey to find her long-lost aunt in an adventure fraught with all the dangers a giant house can hold, including humans, enormous spiders, and the family cat.

Genre: Children's Fiction

Who would like this book? This book had me and my girls laughing the whole way through. The writing is so clever, and the characters so well developed, I think you and your family will love it too.

My next read: I’m heading back to one of my favorite fiction series of all time: The Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. Come back for my review of its first book: "The Eyre Affair."

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