Books for Dealing With Your Challenges

I grew up thinking there was something wrong with me. Maybe it was because I'd heard Hitler say that Jews were so bad that they all needed to be killed. Then, after a harrowing escape, I lived in an entirely Italian, Catholic neighborhood where I felt like a fish out of water. Many years later, I read about others who had similar feelings, for different reasons, and who also were challenged to overcome their adversities. Here are just a few:


Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

by Anne Frank

A teenage Jewish girl must go into hiding in Nazi-occupied Holland during the Nazi occupation. She struggles to make peace with her identity, to get along with the small group of others whose behavior is difficult under the extreme stress they experience, and her own physical and emotional changes as she grows into adolescence.


Black, White & Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self

by Rebecca Walker

This author offers painful childhood memories of straddling two different cultures — black Bohemia and Jewish suburbia.


Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language

by Eva Hoffman

When her parents brought her from war-ravaged Krakow in 1959 to Vancouver, Eva was thirteen years old. She endured the painful pull of nostalgia and struggled to express herself in a strange new language.


The House on Mango Street

by Sandra Cisneros

Esperanza Cordero does not want to belong to the rundown neighborhood of harsh realities in which she lives. Dismissing the low expectations the world has for her, she invents a different life for herself as she comes into her own power.


The Glass Castle

by Jeannette Walls

A young girl grows up with an alcoholic father, brilliant, charismatic and destructive. Her mother, a free spirit, abhors domesticity and responsibility. It is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption within a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant.


The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream

by Barack Obama

Born of a black father and white mother, a boy must face the challenges of being abandoned by his father and whose mother, though caring and loving, moves to Indonesia to establish another family. Shuttled between his mother and grandparents and struggling to understand his identity, this boy becomes the president of the United States.


Tea and Green Ribbons: Evelyn's Story

by Evelyn Doyle

In the slums of Dublin in 1953, Evelyn Doyle's mother ran off with a lover, abandoning her family and leaving Evelyn's father to care fir six children. Placed in church-run industrial schools, Evelyn discovered the crisp, clean joys and lonely sorrows of life in the care of nuns.


The Book Thief

by Markus Zusak

A young foster child in Nazi Germany scratches out a meager existence by stealing when she discovers something she can't resist — books. It is an unusual story about the ability of books to feed the soul.


Helen Keller: The Story of My Life

by Helen Keller, edited by Candace Ward

A very young child loses both her eyesight and hearing. Her remarkable story of learning to deal with these challenges made her one of the most famous people of her time.