Books for Mature Teens and Adults

Theme: Grandparents

Caramelo - (ISBN: 978-0679742586)

by Sandra Cisneros

This epic family tale follows the unraveling organization of the grandmother's "caramelo" or fringed rebozo (shawl), weaving in and out of history, personalities, conflicts, and redemptions. The Reyes family travels from Mexico to the U.S. as its members mature but remain connected to their roots. Cisneros' writing style includes narrative, historical information, vivid character portraits, and notes to the reader for better understanding. What personal item in your family history has the potential to tell its story: a quilt, perhaps, or a sports trophy?

Everything is Illuminated - (ISBN: 0060529709)

by Jonathan Safran Foer

In a search for his grandfather’s history in Ukraine, a young Jewish man returns to his ancestral country and many humorous encounters with the characters in the historical landscape. Told in a series of letters, this multi-narrator tale unfolds as a personal history of the Holocaust, the Ukrainians, American survivors, and “shtetl” life in the old country. What does Jonathan find that surprises him?

Losing Battles - (ISBN: 978-0679728825)

by Eudora Welty

The author uses a grandmother's 90th birthday party/family reunion as a focal point to reveal the family history. The grandmother's desire to see all of her grandchildren, great grandchildren, great great grandchildren, and her son, recently released from prison, brings up past events much easier to retrieve from memory than present day events. What type of "reunions" does your family have?

The Probable Future - (ISBN: 978-0345455918)

by Alice Hoffman

Three generations of women, all born in March, discover each has a special gift on her 13th birthday. When the youngest daughter misuses her gift of clairvoyance, she seeks out a grandmother she has never met and explores the ancestral home full of hints of magic. If you enjoy mild doses of magic realism, author Alice Hoffman is one of the best.

The World Below - (ISBN: 978-0345481061)

by Sue Miller

A young woman returns to sort out her life in her grandmother's house, the home she grew up in. She delves much more deeply into her grandmother's and mother's lives with the help of the discovery of diaries and records that slowly reveal a more complete story than she learned as a child and teen. What material documents do you have of your family, and how do they help you understand your family legacy?

Angle of Repose - (ISBN: 978-0141185477)

by Wallace Stegner

The Zigzag Way - (ISBN: 978-0-09-947208-7)

by Anita Desai

Activities for this Theme

Keep an online journal (you can keep it private if you want). If multiple generations of your family all use the Internet, invite them to read and comment, if you wish.