Genre Study - Books with Unusual Narrators or Perspectives

Thursday, November 17, 2022
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Whether it is Budo, the imaginary friend in Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, or the recently deceased Susie Salmon in The Lovely Bones, the presence of a great narrator or unusual perspective makes for a better read. Some authors choose the story within a story like Princess Bride where you and a character are being told the story. Other authors use a journalistic account of part of someone’s life such as in Time Traveler’s Wife. Buck, the dog from Jack London’s Call of the Wild, or the humanized rabbits in Watership Down are great examples of animal characters which are given just enough of a human quality to make them relatable to the reader. Child narrators always pull at the heart strings, their natural frailty ensuring the reader’s concern for their well-being. Regardless of who guides us through a story or whose eyes we see the world through, it is their company that makes the trip worthwhile.

 

Book Thief by Mark Zusak

Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel--a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

Despite his overwhelming fear of interacting with people, Christopher, a mathematically-gifted, autistic fifteen-year-old boy, decides to investigate the murder of a neighbor's dog and uncovers secret information about his mother.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

"My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973." So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on earth continue without her — her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling. Out of unspeakable tragedy and loss, The Lovely Bones succeeds, miraculously, in building a tale filled with hope, humor, suspense, even joy.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

William Goldman's modern fantasy classic is a simple, exceptional story about quests—for riches, revenge, power, and, of course, true love—that's thrilling and timeless. Anyone who lived through the 1980s may find it impossible—inconceivable, even—to equate The Princess Bride with anything other than the sweet, celluloid romance of Westley and Buttercup, but the film is only a fraction of the ingenious storytelling you'll find in these pages. Rich in character and satire, the novel is set in 1941 and framed cleverly as an "abridged" retelling of a centuries-old tale set in the fabled country of Florin that's home to "Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passions."

Big Fish by Daniel Wallace

The classic novel that inspired the beloved Tim Burton film and the Broadway musical. In his prime, Edward Bloom was an extraordinary man. He could outrun anybody. He never missed a day of school. He saved lives and tamed giants. Animals loved him, people loved him, women loved him. He knew more jokes than any man alive. At least that’s what he told his son, William. But now Edward Bloom is dying, and William wants desperately to know the truth about his elusive father—this indefatigable teller of tall tales—before it’s too late. So, using the few facts he knows, William re-creates Edward’s life in a series of legends and myths, through which he begins to understand his father’s great feats, and his great failings. The result is hilarious and wrenching, tender and outrageous.

Room by Emma Donoghue

The award-winning bestseller that became one of the most talked about and memorable novels of the decade, Room is "utterly gripping...a heart-stopping novel" (San Francisco Chronicle). Held captive for years in a small shed, a woman and her precocious young son finally gain their freedom, and the boy experiences the outside world for the first time.To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world. It's where he was born, it's where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it's the prison where she has been held for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in this eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But with Jack's curiosity building alongside her own desperation, she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer.Room is a tale at once shocking, riveting, exhilarating — a story of unconquerable love in harrowing circumstances, and of the diamond-hard bond between a mother and her child.

Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer

She is the missing girl. But she doesn't know she's lost. Carmel Wakeford becomes separated from her mother at a local children's festival, and is found by a man who claims to be her estranged grandfather. He tells her that her mother has had an accident and that she is to live with him for now. As days become weeks with her new family, 8-year-old Carmel realizes that this man believes she has a special gift... While her mother desperately tries to find her, Carmel embarks on an extraordinary journey, one that will make her question who she is - and who she might become.

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks

A tale imparted from the perspective of long-time imaginary friend, Budo, traces his awareness of his advancing age and constant thought of the inevitable day when eight-year-old Max, an autistic boy, will stop believing in him.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm, one of the great social satires of our century, is based upon modern Eastern European history. First published in 1945, it is the classic fable of the utopian dream and the corruptive influences of power. When the animals at Manor Farm revolt against their master, Mr. Jones, their goal is to take over the farm and establish an ideal community based on hard work, honesty, and the equality of all animals. Guided by the memory of Old Major's utopian vision and the seven commandments, Animal Farm, as the animals have renamed it, briefly fulfills the ideal. Memories are short, however, and soon-through manipulation and aggression by those who assume power-the farm's founding principles are slowly eroded and abolished. Decades after its debut, Animal Farm is still a relevant and powerful tale of how blind allegiance to political leaders leads to ruin.

Watership Down by Richard Adams

WINNER of the Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Class Animated Program Now a Netflix animated miniseries starring James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult, and Oscar and Grammy award-winner Sir Ben Kingsley. A worldwide bestseller for more than forty years, Watership Down is the compelling tale of a band of wild rabbits struggling to hold onto their place in the world—"a classic yarn of discovery and struggle" (The New York Times).Richard Adams's Watership Down is a timeless classic and one of the most beloved novels of all time. Set in the Hampshire Downs in Southern England, an idyllic rural landscape, this stirring tale of "suspense, hot pursuit, and derring-do" (Chicago Tribune) follows a band of rabbits in flight from the incursion of man and the destruction of their home. Led by a stouthearted pair of brothers, they travel forth from their native Sandleford warren through harrowing trials to a mysterious promised land and a more perfect society. "A marvelous story of rebellion, exile, and survival" (Sunday Telegraph) this is an unforgettable literary classic for all ages.

White Fang by Jack London

White Fang is the story of a wild dog's journey toward becoming civilized in the Canadian territory of Yukon during the Klondike gold rush at the end of the nineteenth century. White Fang is a companion novel (and a thematic mirror) to Jack London's best-known work, The Call of the Wild, which concerns a kidnapped civilized dog turning into a wild wolf. The book is characteristic of London's precise prose style and his innovative use of voice and perspective. Much of the novel is written from the viewpoint of the animals, allowing London to explore how animals view their world and how they view humans. White Fang examines the violent world of wild animals and the equally violent world of supposedly civilized humans. The book also explores such complex themes as morality and redemption.

Call of the Wild by Jack London

Jack London wrote this celebrated novel in 1903. It's considered one of his best stories and has become one of the world's most popular American classics. The Call of the Wild is the thrilling story of Buck, a domestic dog from California kidnapped and thrust into the harsh, physical world of the Yukon, a land of danger and ferocity, a land of wolves, blizzards, and treacherous frozen rivers that swallow up entire dog teams. Here is where Buck must learn to survive. He must become as wild and vicious as the wilderness that surrounds him...or die!

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

A dazzling novel in the most untraditional fashion, this is the remarkable story of Henry DeTamble, a dashing, adventuresome librarian who travels involuntarily through time, and Clare Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Henry and Clare's passionate love affair endures across a sea of time and captures the two lovers in an impossibly romantic trap, and it is Audrey Niffenegger's cinematic storytelling that makes the novel's unconventional chronology so vibrantly triumphant.

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