Books for Mature Teens and Adults

Theme: Family History, Family Legacies

Cutting for Stone - (ISBN: 978-0375714368)

by Abraham Verghese

When the missionary mother of twin boys dies in Ethiopia, the boys are raised by a kindly hospital assistant. Their father, an English doctor, disappears as soon as the babies are born. The boys become doctors and immigrate to the U.S., growing up to lead very different lives. Years later, the secret of their births and discovery of their living father have a profound effect on them.

Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir - (ISBN: 978-1580053341)

by Jessica O’Dwyer

O’Dwyer’s account of the interminable process of adopting a baby from Guatemala makes for an engaging read. The author bravely details the hurdles she meets during an adoption that ends up taking twice as long as predicted. Obstacles include a lax adoption agency, shady attorneys, a money-grubbing foster family in country, and the requirement that the author move “permanently” to the host country in order to claim the baby. What advantages are there for parents who chose to adopt, despite such challenges?

No Biking in the House Without a Helmet - (ISBN: 978-0374223069)

by Melissa Faye Greene

A well-known reporter and her husband raise four children of their own and five multi-national children. Although this book entertains with personal anecdotes, it also shares encyclopedic information on the pitfalls of the adoption process and the subsequent arrival of the new children in a culturally different home.

The Joy Luck Club - (ISBN: 978-0143038092)

by Amy Tan

Tan explores the relationships of two groups: mothers who have immigrated from China and their American born daughters. Friendships between the mothers continue much as they might been in China. The daughters are tied together mostly through meetings at the mothers’ Mahjongg games. The daughters’ lack of understanding of the mothers’ lives left behind in China generates a complex tension. Although the daughters are American, they need to know about family heritage in two cultures. What differences exist between the children of recent immigrants and those who have lived in the U.S. for many generations?

Things Fall Apart - (ISBN: 978-0393932195)

by Chinua Achebe

Despite Okonkwo’s family past and slacker father, he tries become a success in a pre-Colonial African village. Though he must strong arm members of his family, he is a sympathetic character. Readers gain a glimpse of the Africa that used to be. One of Okonkwo’s sons seems follow in the slacker grandfather’s footsteps, and Okonkwo’s attempts to stay strong prove his undoing. How important are family characteristics in a person’s success or failure? Is it possible to overcome some “inherited” weaknesses?

My Mom Is a Fob: Earnest Advice in Broken English from Your Asian-American Mom - (ISBN: 039953640X)

by Teresa and Serena Wu

The Butterfly’s Daughter - (ISBN: 978-1439170618)

by Mary Alice Monroe

The House of the Spirits - (ISBN: 978-0553383805)

by Isabel Allende

Activities for this Theme

Listen to Amy Tan talk about her writing, her own mother, and their stormy relationship


Enjoy Stories from Other Cultures Through Drama and Theater


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