By: Eileen Cronin
In this memoir, Cronin describes her chaotic childhood as one of eleven children in an Irish-Catholic household in Cincinnati. What made her different from her siblings was the fact that she was born without legs. During Eileen's childhood, her mother suffered several nervous breakdowns. The younger children in the household were raised without structure by overwhelmed and exhausted parents. In her twenties, Eileen struggled with alcoholism, as did several of her siblings. Ultimately, Eileen earned a doctorate in clinical psychology, married her soul mate, and gave birth to a healthy baby girl. This is a captivating read.
By: Helen Peppe
Helen Peppe grew up as the youngest of nine children on a rural farm in Maine in the 1970's. Visits to doctors were rare. Because the family's well often ran dry, bathing was limited to once per week. Helen had never been to a restaurant until she was twelve years old. As a teenager, she was befuddled by the simple act of buying something in a convenience store. Several of her older sisters either married as teens or had children out of wedlock. This memoir depicts a hardscrabble existence far from the tourists' path.
By: Nancy Horan
In 1875, Robert Louis Stevenson and Fanny Osborne meet at a rural French inn. He has a degree in law but his interests lie in writing. She is a mother and is estranged from her philandering husband. Eventually, Fanny divorces her husband and marries Stevenson. They travel the world and ultimately settle in Samoa. This meticulously researched novel tells the story of their lives together. Fans of both historical and biographical fiction will delight in this book.
By: Sonali Deraniyagala
The author lost her parents, husband, and two young sons in the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004. In this memoir, she describes the events of that terrifying day and their excruciating consequences. She emerged from the first few days hoping to die. Gradually, over several years, she begins to find peace in her memories. The journey to peace, however, is long and hard.
By: Cheryl Strayed
Cheryl Strayed plunged into a self-destructive, downward spiral when her mother died in the early 1990's. She felt alienated from her loving husband, and she dabbled with heroin. One thing saved her -- hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. In this brutally honest memoir, Strayed describes her life and relationships, and, of course, her adventures during her hike. She discovered her own strength, courage, and resilence.
By: Rebecca Skloot
This engrossing book puts a face to the conflict between medical research and patient privacy. Henrietta Lacks, a poor black woman originally from the tobacco fields of Virginia, died at age thirty from an aggressive case of cervical cancer. Samples of her tissues and cells were taken by doctors at Johns Hopkins without her consent. These cells ultimately became the basis for an enormous body of medical research some of which led to the polio vaccine. Henrietta's family never understood exactly what had happened to her until the persistent author, Rebecca Skloot, gradually won their trust. Skloot describes Henrietta's life, death, and the monumental contribution her cells made to modern medicine, all in a fascinating work.