Staff Picks

Growing Up Hard: Memoirs of Poverty During Childhood

The books in this list celebrate people who have started life in poverty and survived the odds to become leaders and examples to many around them. Our early life situations should not make us despair of success. For as Martha Graham said, "Fire is the test of gold; adversity, of strong men."

Keith C.
Liar's Club     Liar's Club    
Mary Karr
    800.92 Karr Kar

Growing up in Leechfield, TX. poet Karr looks at her sometimes unbearable childhood with humor and sympathetic understanding for her dysfunctional parents.

Little Heathens     Little Heathens    
Mildred Kalish
    921 Kalish Kal

Life on a farm during the Depression was a life of hard unending toil. Small things, like a fresh picked tomato, made the author aware of the abundance of life and lead to mostly happy memories.

Next Stop     Next Stop    
Ivan Sanchez
    974.727 San

The late 1980's early 90's Bronx was a neighborhood of drugs, violence and crime. Sanchez is the only gang member who is not dead or incarcerated. With support from his girl friend and mother, he graduated from college and escaped the violence.

Ties That Bind     Ties That Bind    
Bertice Berry
    800.92 Berry Ber

Raised by a single mother of seven, Berry was determined to be educated and successful. Her research for her first novel, Redemption Song, changed her feeling toward, race, history and slavery. Her ancestors had lived on a plantation in Delaware owned by an abolitionist Quaker, who risked his life on the Underground Railroad.

When Montana and I Were Young     When Montana and I Were Young    
Margaret Bell
    921 Bell Bel

Born in 1888, Bell spent most of her long life in the new state of Montana. Her mother died when Bell was eight years old leaving her with three sisters, a stepfather and a hard life of ranching, horse breaking, cattle herding and housekeeping. Her manuscript covers her young years to age 18, the story of a survivor.