5-Star Book Reviews: Nonfiction

We continue our series of posts featuring some of the best books in the CA Library collection — today’s featured titles are all in the Nonfiction section, including biographies and even some graphic memoirs. Follow the links for each book to learn more from the CA Library catalog!

If an eBook and/or audiobook is available, links are also provided (Sora login is required).

Accused! The Trials of the Scottsboro Boys: Lies, Prejudice and the Fourteenth Amendment by Larry Dane Brimner — Presents court documents and eyewitness accounts that looks at the Scottsboro case, in which nine young African-American men were arrested in Alabama in 1931, convicted of raping two white women, and freed years later. “This masterly account of an egregious episode in American history is (and will remain) vital reading. An essential acquisition” (School Library Journal).

Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir by Robin Ha — Moving abruptly from Seoul to Alabama, a Korean teen struggles in a hostile blended home and a new school where she does not speak English before forging unexpected connections in a local comic drawing class. “With unblinking honesty and raw vulnerability, Ha’s debut graphic memoir captures her often excruciating journey toward creating ‘a new identity that I now love'” (Booklist). Get the eBook

Call Me American: The Extraordinary True Story of a Young Somali Immigrant by Abdi Nor Iftin — An adaptation for young adults that looks at the life of Somalian refugee Abdi Nor Iftin and how immigrated to America. Abdi shares every part of his journey, and his courageous account reminds readers that everyone deserves the chance to build a brighter future for themselves. “This remarkable, nuanced story facilitates a deeper understanding of immigration today. A triumphant memoir that offers hope for Somalia’s and, indeed, America’s futures” (Kirkus Reviews). Get the eBook

The Cat I Never Named: A True Story Of Love, War and Survival by Amra Sabic-El-Rayess — In Bihac, Bosnia in 1992, sixteen-year-old Amra and her family face starvation and the threat of brutal ethnic violence as Serbs and Bosnians clash, while a stray cat, Maci, provides solace. “A hopeful story of a girl’s survival and ultimate success. A must-read nonfiction addition to all libraries” (School Library Journal). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook

Dancing At The Pity Party: A Dead Mom Graphic Memoir by Tyler Feder — Feder shares her story of her mother’s first oncology appointment to facing reality as a motherless daughter in this frank and refreshingly funny graphic memoir. “Grief can be crushing, but this heartfelt memoir will comfort those who have known it and gently show those who haven’t how to help and what to expect” (Booklist). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook

Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang — In his latest graphic novel, Yang turns the spotlight on his life, his family, and the high school where he teaches. The Bishop O’Dowd High School boys varsity basketball team, the Dragons, is having a phenomenal season. Each victory brings them closer to their ultimate goal: the California State Championships. Once Gene gets to know these young all-stars, he realizes that their story is just as thrilling as anything he’s seen on a comic book page. “Using a candid narrative and signature illustrations that effectively and dynamically bring the fast-paced games to life, Yang has crafted a triumphant, telescopic graphic memoir that explores the effects of legacy and the power of taking a single first step, no matter the outcome” (Publishers Weekly). Get the eBook |

From A Whisper To A Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial That Galvanized the Asian American Movement by Paula Yoo — America in 1982. Japanese car companies are on the rise and believed to be putting American autoworkers out of their jobs. Anti-Asian American sentiments simmer, especially in Detroit. A bar fight turns fatal, leaving Vincent Chin — a Chinese American man — beaten to death at the hands of two white men. This is the searing examination of the killing and the trial and verdicts that followed. “Chin’s story is an important parallel to today’s societal strife mirrored in the rise in racism and violence against Asian Americans who have been unfairly blamed for the COVID-19 pandemic” (School Library Journal). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook

Just Mercy: A True Story of the Fight For Justice by Bryan Stevenson — In this young adult adaptation of his bestseller for adults, Bryan Stevenson details from his personal experience his many challenges and efforts as a lawyer and social advocate, especially on behalf of America’s most marginalized people. “Compassionate and compelling, Stevenson’s narrative is also unforgettable. Classrooms and book groups will find plenty to discuss and debate” (Booklist). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook

Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir by Nikki Grimes — Author and poet Nikki Grimes explores the truth of a harrowing childhood in a compelling and moving memoir in verse. “This nontraditional memoir from a long-working and highly acclaimed author will speak deeply to young readers harboring their own interest in writing or otherwise squeezing art out of life’s spiky fruit” (School Library Journal).

Playlist: The Rebels and Revolutionaries of Sound by James Rhodes — Open your mind to some of the most breathtaking and magnificent pieces of music ever created, and find out why the rebels and revolutionaries who wrote them are responsible for every track on your phone today. Discover their backstories and how each one shaped and defined classical music. With jaw-dropping artwork and avant-garde design, this visually exquisite celebration of classical music is a surefire hit for both first-time listeners and longtime fans. “This dynamic and infectious introduction to classical music is sure to capture a new generation of musicophiles” (Kirkus Reviews).

Shout: A Poetry Memoir by Laurie Halse Anderson — In this memoir in verse, Anderson shares details about her life, including her rape at thirteen, her difficult early childhood, and her experiences surrounding the publication of her bestselling YA novel Speak. “More than a gifted writer, Anderson is an advocate for anyone who feels alienated. Her sensitive, incisive book is essential for all young people” (School Library Journal). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibrim X. Kendi — A history of racist and antiracist ideas in America, from their roots in Europe until today, expertly adapted from Kendi’s National Book Award-winning adult book Stamped from the Beginning. “Readers will undoubtedly experience a mixture of feelings after finishing this book, but the encouragement to emerge as critical thinkers who can decipher coded language and harmful imagery stemming from racist ideas, which still linger in modern society and popular culture, will be the most empowering result” (Booklist). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook





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