Summer might not last forever, but a good book does. So, check out these three books that have received high praise and acclaim from readers. In fact, I found them to be not only the top books of the summer, but also the top books this year. I encourage you to check them out as you enjoy the warm, golden days of August.
Code Silence by Allie Burton
(Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoir)
Code Silence is a captivating book from start to finish – a courageous triumph that left me speechless and transfixed. Written by Allie Burton, its pages convey her bravery, strength, and remarkable life story. In the memoir, Allie breaks her “silence” and shares the heart wrenching psychological, spiritual, and physical abuse she suffered after her Mormon family sent her away to a foreign teen behavior school. But amidst the pain and struggle, she learned how to cultivate friendships and find beauty in the darkness.
For Allie, growing up in Alpine, Utah was anything but normal. Everyone was expected to live a certain way – the Mormon Way. Like others, her Mormon family believed that families carry a permanent bond and support system. However, she realized that the conditions of “families are forever” are only granted when you live a very certain way. Throughout the book, you’ll see that Allie never wanted to disappoint her parents, but she was suffocated by their way of life. They were unbearable, controlling, and she felt trapped – gasping for air.
Like any other teenager would do, she rebelled. As her parents pulled the reigns tighter, she pushed back harder. Eventually, she found herself sent to a foreign country – imprisoned alongside hundreds of other teenage girls. Throughout the memoir, she recounts her experiences at the behavior modification school – and shares what helped her survive and become the woman she is today.
I was completely blown away by her story – captured by her vulnerable writing. Her experiences were oftentimes heartbreaking, but also enlightening in the grand scheme of her survival and growth. Although this is a story about Allie’s life, you’ll find that her experiences and perspectives inspire you to think about your own life. A sheer testament of determination and strength, this is a book that everyone should read throughout their lifetime.
Who Am I? by Michelle Rice-Gauvreau
(Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoir)
There is so much depth and complexity to this memoir and when describing it, it’s difficult to know where to begin. Poignant and deeply moving, Who Am I? shares Michelle Rice-Gauvreau’s remarkable journey from her abusive upbringing in the United States to rediscovering her Mohawk roots in Canada.
Born in a Mohawk Reservation in Canada, Michelle was illicitly adopted and raised in an abusive home in the United States. Amidst the harsh backdrop of the 1960s and 1970s – a time when discussing mental illness was both taboo and forbidden, Michelle’s story displays remarkable resilience and courage.
By reading her breathtaking story, you will see that Michelle’s life is a testament to the enduring spirit of her Mohawk bloodline – as she navigates the trials of coping, understanding, and forging a path without the core foundations of familial love, support, and belonging. Much more than a personal narrative, the book also shines a spotlight on an issue plaguing indigenous communities worldwide, especially in North America. A tremendous tale filled with tenacity, humor, and a relentless search for identity, this is a book that you will never forget.
I admire so much about Michelle – and I was deeply impressed by her honest, captivating writing style. She writes with both strategic purpose and heart. She manages to chronicle her compelling life story while also covering far-reaching issues that have plagued and continue to plague lives. If you’re looking for an inspiring, meaningful work of non-fiction, I highly recommend you read this memoir.
Die Bäckerei by Charles Birmingham
(Fiction / Historical)
Beautifully written by Charles Birmingham, Die Bäckerei is a thoughtful, powerful, and timely novel that takes you on a journey through the most significant moments in history from the 20th to the 21st century. Fundamentally, it’s a tale of rare courage and resistance in Nazi Germany – but also a prologue to our 21st century stories.
The book chronicles the journey of a reluctant hero who, with a compelling array of historical figures, resists political extremism in Nazi Germany. Although a work of fiction, the book is filled with relevant themes that leave you with a powerful message – the forces that brought Hitler to power still lurk in the shadows today – and it’s not only in Germany.
Both a thrilling adventure and a timeless coming-of-age story, Birmingham’s novel displays the bravery of the everyday men and women who populated the German resistance to Nazism. The author’s ability to connect the demons that tormented Germany to the modern-day shadows lurking close to home today left me both haunted and compelled. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, I highly recommend this engrossing story that is driven by complex characters and an extraordinarily relevant plot line.