Just Kids

By Patti Smith

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Harper Collins, 2010

Genres: Nonfiction, autobiography, biography, memoir

ISBN: 9780066211312

Audience: Adults

Number of pages: 279

Settings: Mostly New York City – Manhattan & Brooklyn – but also Paris & Charleville, France & Camden, NJ

Time period: The bulk of the story is set between 1969 – 1978.

Description:  Patti Smith describes her life growing up in NJ and aspirations to become an artist.  At a young age she moves to New York City where she meets a kindred soul, Robert Mapplethorpe.  The heart of this book is about their journey together as friends, artists, and lovers.  They support one another and each other’s work until they are both firmly set on their own artistic pathways. Continue reading

Nobody’s son: notes from an American life

By Luis Alberto Urrea

Place: Publisher & Year: Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1998

Genres: Non-fiction, autobiography, memoir

Series: Camino del Sol

ISBN: 9780816518654

Audience: Adults

Number of pages: 189

Setting: Various locations in Mexico and the US,  including Tijuana and San Diego

Time period: late 1950s – 1990s

Description: Urrea describes key moments of his life in regards to growing up as a child of both the US and Mexico.  Written in a non-linear fashion, the book is divided into chapters which focus upon places and themes. Continue reading

Warriors Don’t Cry: The Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock’s Central High

By Melba Pattillo Beals

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Simon Pulse, c1995, 2007

Genres: Non-fiction, autobiography, memoir

ISBN: 9781416948827

Intended audience: Young adult

Number of pages: 226

Setting: Little Rock, Arkansas

Time period: 1950’s – most of the story takes place during the school year of 1957-58 (includes an epilogue from 1987 and an introduction from 2007).

Description: Three years after the US Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education, Melba Pattillo was chosen to go to Little Rock, Arkansas’ Central High School.  She and eight other students became the Little Rock Nine; they were the first Black students to attend this previously all White school.  Every day of the school year, Melba faced some form of violence and hostility, transforming her from an everyday teenager to a warrior.  This is her story in her own words. Continue reading

Sastun: My Apprenticeship with a Maya Healer

By Rosita Arvigo with Nadine Epstein and Marilyn Yaquinto

Place: Publisher & Year: San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1994

Genres: Non-fiction, ethnobotany, anthropology, autobiography, biography, traditional medicine

ISBN: 9780062502551

Intended audience: Adult

Number of pages: 190

Setting: San Ignacio, Belize

Time period: 1980’s (1981- 1993, most of the book’s story is 1981-1987)

Plot summary: When Rosita moves to San Ignacio, Belize with her husband and daughter, they have dreams of establishing a farm along with their medical practices, but find life quite challenging.  When Rosita meets Don Elijio Panti, a well known Mayan healer in the area, she asks to become his apprentice.  She has a thirst for knowledge about the local plants and his healing techniques; she also recognizes that Don Elijio’s knowledge was in danger of becoming lost to the world if he didn’t pass it on to someone else.  Don Elijio, however, politely denies her request thinking that the Mayan spirits would not accept a gringa.  She also had no sastun.  In spite of his rejection, Rosita regularly visits Don Elijio, helping and learning from him.  Eventually, Rosita receives a sastun, and her apprenticeship begins in full. Continue reading

Cancer Vixen: A True Story

By Marisa Acocella Marchetto

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006

Genres: Non-fiction, autobiography

Format: Graphic novel

ISBN: 9780676978247

Intended audience: Adult

Number of pages: 212

Setting: NYC- lower Manhattan

Time period: 2001- 2005

Plot summary: “What happens when a shoe-crazy, lipstick-obsessed, wine-swilling, pasta-slurping, fashion-fanatic, single-forever, about-to-get married big-city girl cartoonist with a fabulous life finds a lump in her breast?” (p. 1).  Marisa Acocella Marchetto tells her own true story about fighting cancer and living life to the fullest. Continue reading