Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva

A tragedy that is worthy of an opera. Svetlana Alliluyeva lost her mother to suicide and was cared for by her father – Joseph Stalin. He called her his ‘Little Sparrow.’ She then committed the biggest act of treason for a Soviet in 1967, renouncing her citizenship and seeking asylum in the United States. We meet Stalin – a man who so terrified his team of doctors that when he lay dying of a stroke no one dared try to save him. Daddy issues of monstrous proportions follow Svetlana as she travels all over the world seeking spirituality and/or absolution.

The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story

Escaping North Korea isn’t even the hard part. Surviving in China as a North Korean is the hard part. Hyeonseo Lee grew up playing near the border of China and North Korea, forever taunted by the question of what would happen if she crossed to the other side. She escapes at 17 which begins an absolutely astounding story of survival. She lives in secrecy, learns new languages, changes her identities, she climbs her way out of poverty in the hopes of one day getting to South Korea and receiving asylum. Then after all that, she’s committed to going back and saving her family. She’s a total BADASS.

Station Eleven

A pandemic has devastated the world, our companions during these dangerous times is a traveling theater troupe dedicated to the preservation of art. A fabulously structured novel that goes back and forth through time, connecting characters in unexpected and clever ways. The troupe makes their way through the Great Lakes region searching for hopeful survivors…and escaping from dangerous ones.

Women Who Run With Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes a series of myths and fairytales of the ‘wild woman’ archetype. The tales are inspired by conversations with farmers, shepherds, horsemen and horsewoman from the Old Countries and her qualifications in Jungian psychology. Each tale is then deconstructed, like a dream, in an extremely unpretentious way that blows your mind every time. This paperback always felt biblical to me and I’ve carried it with me in every city I’ve lived in.

My Sister’s Keeper

I am sneaking this in even though I read it when I was in elementary school. This book changed everything about storytelling for me and how perspective can be such a powerful tool. Daughter has leukemia, parents genetically modify another daughter so she can donate bone marrow, that daughter grows up to sue her parents for rights to her own body. Each chapter changes perspective between different members of the family, leaving you dumbfounded every time you try to point the finger. Poetic, Intellectual, Sharp, extremely well done. Don’t watch the movie.

Jenny Robbins is an English teacher, comedienne and CNF Editor for @Heroin_Chic_Mag

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