11 Jun

In 2002, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation began Canada Reads, Canada Reads, a literary program in which celebrities champion books that are  voted “off the bookshelf,” one each day, until one book is chosen as the title the whole country should read this year.

This year’s crop was, as always, amazing and I am working my way through the titles.


This weekend I finished American War by Egyptian born Canadian author Omar El Akkad, who, like me, lives in Portland, OR.


Publisher’s Summary: An audacious and powerful debut novel: a second American Civil War, a devastating plague, and one family caught deep in the middle—a story that asks what might happen if America were to turn its most devastating policies and deadly weapons upon itself.

Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, and that unmanned drones fill the sky. When her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she begins to grow up shaped by her particular time and place. But not everyone at Camp Patience is who they claim to be. Eventually Sarat is befriended by a mysterious functionary, under whose influence she is turned into a deadly instrument of war. The decisions that she makes will have tremendous consequences not just for Sarat but for her family and her country, rippling through generations of strangers and kin alike.

This one isn’t for kids, but I was so riveted I couldn’t stop. The story builds in such a way that, before you realize it, you are so wrapped up in Sarat’s life that you feel as though you have always known her. The world El Akkad creates seems terrifyingly possible. That also kept me riveted as I ponder how we might get from here to there.

And it has a map. My students know I LOVE books with maps!


American War wasn’t the Canada Reads winner, but it is definitely one adults should add to their summer reading list.


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