Book Discussion Kits

Book Discussion Kit Home

Sno-Isle Libraries and the Sno-Isle Foundation are proud to offer book discussion kits.

Each kit includes 10 copies of a single title. Resources for book discussions may be found at publishers' websites, bound into some editions of the book, or at www.bookreporter.com or www.readinggroupguides.com (Download a printer friendly list of book kits.)

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Wanderers, The

Howrey, Meg

A private space exploration company is mounting a manned mission to Mars. To prepare for the actual event, the company plans an elaborate training program to match the conditions and potential problems the team might face. The ordeal, though simulated, is no less dramatic for the astronauts, their families, and the crew. The lines cross between fiction and reality and none of the participants is left unchanged. Part literary fiction, part sci-fi, all amazing. -- Marie Byars

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Science & Nature
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Wangs Vs. the World, The

Chang, Jade

A wealthy but dysfunctional Chinese immigrant family has it all, only to lose every last cent. Mad at America, Wang, a brash but lovable immigrant businessman takes his family on a cross-country road trip that, despite a few harrowing twists and turns, eventually brings them back together again. Outrageously funny and full of charm, The Wangs vs. the World is an entirely fresh look at what it means to belong in America--and how going from glorious riches to (still name-brand) rags brings one family together in a way money never could. -From the publisher

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Coming of Age Family Not so Grim
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Warlight

Ondaatje, Michael

Two siblings are abandoned by their parents, left in the care of mysterious guardians who operate in the dark and the murk. They look for answers where none are forthcoming. In the aftermath of the London Blitz, the city struggles to rebuild itself, one relationship at a time. Written with spare prose, Ondaatje’s story prompts readers to wonder the best way to protect a child when understanding may put them in greater danger.

Man Booker Prize Longlist
Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee
Walter Scott Prize Longlist

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Awards Coming of Age Crime Family History International WWII Youth
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Warmth of Other Suns, The

Wilkerson, Isabel

In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life. From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America.
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Washington Black

Edugyan, Esi

Told with nuanced prose, this is a searing, unforgettable novel following a young slave on a strange and fascinating adventure.


Scotiabank Giller Prize
ALA Notable
New York Times Notable

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Coming of Age History Underrepresented Authors
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Water Dancer, The

Coates, Ta-Nehisi

A Virginia slave narrowly escapes a drowning death through the intervention of a mysterious force that compels his escape and personal underground war against slavery. Book Club: Oprah's Book Club (Nov 2019) Award winner: ALA Notable Books - Fiction: 2020 BCALA Literary Award: First Novelist Category LibraryReads Favorites: 2019 Loan Stars Favourites: 2019

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Awards History Society & Culture Underrepresented Authors
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We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Fowler, Karen Joy

Coming of age in middle America, eighteen-year-old Rosemary evaluates how her entire youth was defined by the presence and forced removal of an endearing chimpanzee who was secretly regarded as a family member and who Rosemary loved as a sister.

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Animals Awards Coming of Age Family Youth
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We Are Water

Lamb, Wally

After twenty-seven years of marriage and three children, Annie has fallen in love with Viveca, the wealthy, cultured, confident Manhattan art dealer who orchestrated her professional success. Annie and Viveca plan to wed in the Oh family's hometown of Three Rivers, Connecticut, where gay marriage has recently been legalized. But the impending wedding provokes some very mixed reactions and opens a Pandora's box of toxic secrets--dark and painful truths that have festered below the surface of the Ohs' lives. We Are Water is an intricate and layered portrait of marriage, family, and the inexorable need for understanding and connection. It is also a portrait of modern America, exploring issues of class, changing social mores, the legacy of racial violence, and the nature of creativity and art. With humor and breathtaking compassion, Wally Lamb captures the essence of human experience in vivid and unforgettable characters struggling to find hope and redemption in the aftermath of trauma and loss.

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Family
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We Should All Be Feminists

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi

In this personal, eloquently-argued essay--adapted from her much-admired TEDx talk of the same name--Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, award-winning author of Americanah, offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author's exploration of what it means to be a woman now--and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

Amelia Bloomer List

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Wealth of Nature, The

Greer, John Michael

John Michael Greer has re-thought economics, starting from its fundamental premises, giving it a basis in ecological reality rather than political fiction... The result is perhaps the most important and readable book on economics since Small Is Beautiful. Richard Heinberg, author of The End of Growth

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Society & Culture
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Weight of Blood, The

McHugh, Laura

The town of Henbane sits deep in the Ozark Mountains. Folks there still whisper about Lucy Dane's mother, a bewitching stranger who appeared long enough to marry Carl Dane and then vanished when Lucy was just a child. Now on the brink of adulthood, Lucy experiences another loss when her friend Cheri disappears and is then found murdered, her body placed on display for all to see. Lucy's family has deep roots in the Ozarks, part of a community that is fiercely protective of its own. Yet despite her close ties to the land, and despite her family's influence, Lucy--darkly beautiful as her mother was--is always thought of by those around her as her mother's daughter. When Cheri disappears, Lucy is haunted by the two lost girls--the mother she never knew and the friend she couldn't save--and sets out with the help of a local boy, Daniel, to uncover the mystery behind Cheri's death.

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Awards Crime Family Youth
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Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube

Braverman, Blair

"A revelatory memoir of the author's efforts to develop the strength and resilience to survive in the demanding landscapes of Norway and Alaska describes her physically exhausting survival endeavors on a ruthless arctic tundra marked by violent natural and human threats. A memoir of arctic adventure that goes deeper into self-discovery and finding a home. It's what happens internally that both sets this memoir apart and gives it universal resonance. Indelible characters, adventurous spirit, and acute psychological insight combine in this multilayered debut.-- from NoveList & Kirkus Reviews.

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Bio & Memoir Society & Culture
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Welcome to Utopia

Valby, Karen

Utopia, Texas: It's either the best place on earth, or it's no place at all. In the twenty-first century, it's difficult to imagine any element of American life that remains untouched by popular culture, let alone an entire community existing outside the empire of pop. But Karen Valby discovered the tiny town of Utopia tucked away in the Texas Hill Country. There are no movie theaters for sixty miles in any direction, no book or music stores. But cable television and the Internet have recently thrown wide the doors of Utopia. Valby follows the lives of four Utopians--Ralph, the retired owner of the general store; Kathy, the waitress who waits in terror for three of her boys to return from war; Colter, the son of a cowboy with the soul of a hipster; and Kelli, an aspiring rock star and one of the only black people in town--as they reckon, on an intensely human scale, with war and race, class and culture, and the way time's passage can change the ground beneath our feet. Utopia is the kind of place we still think of as the "real America," a place of cowboys and farmers and high-school sweethearts who stay together till they die. But its dramatic stories show us what happens when the old tensions of small-town life confront a new reality: that no town, no matter how small and isolated, can escape the liberating and disruptive forces of the larger world. Welcome to Utopia is a moving elegy for a proud American way of life and a celebration of our relentless impulse toward rebirth.

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Short (less than 250 pages) Society & Culture
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What Alice Forgot

Moriarty, Liane

What would happen if you were visited by your younger self, and got a chance for a do-over? Alice Love is twenty-nine years old, madly in love with her husband, and pregnant with their first child. So imagine her surprise when, after a fall, she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! she HATES the gym!) and discovers that she's actually thirty-nine, has three children, and is in the midst of an acrimonious divorce. A knock on the head has misplaced ten years of her life, and Alice isn't sure she likes who she's become. It turns out, though, that forgetting might be the most memorable thing that has ever happened to Alice.

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Family International Not so Grim Youth
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What the Eyes Don't See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in An American City

Hanna-Attisha, Mona

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha was a pediatrician in Flint, Michigan who noticed that something was wrong with the water in her city. There was plenty of circumstantial evidence of a mounting health crisis, but there was no proof. When she announced her conclusion that city drinking water was the source, city officials challenged her data and her credibility. This 2018 book is a firsthand account of the Flint water crisis, Hanna-Attisha's research into its origins and effects, and the ongoing struggle of Flint advocates to secure clean water. In it, Hanna-Attisha personalizes the crisis by telling the stories of her patients: Flint's children and their parents.

New York Times Notable
NPR's Best Science Book

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When the Emperor was Divine

Otsuka, Julie

Otsuka's commanding debut novel paints a portrait of the Japanese internment camps unlike any previously written--a haunting evocation of a family in wartime and an unmistakably resonant lesson for our times.

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Awards Family History Short (less than 250 pages) WWII Youth
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When They Call You A Terrorist: a black lives matter memoir

Patrisse Khan-Cullors

"A poetic and powerful memoir about what it means to be a Black woman in America—and the co-founding of a movement that demands justice for all in the land of the free."

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Bio & Memoir Social Justice Underrepresented Authors
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Where Women Are Kings

Watson, Christie

From the award-winning author of Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away , the story of a young boy who believes two things: that his Nigerian birth mother loves him like the world has never known love, and that he is a wizard Elijah, seven years old, is covered in scars and has a history of disruptive behavior. Taken away from his birth mother, a Nigerian immigrant in England, Elijah is moved from one foster parent to the next before finding a home with Nikki and her husband, Obi. Nikki believes that she and Obi are strong enough to accept Elijah's difficulties--and that being white will not affect her ability to raise a black son. They care deeply for Elijah and, in spite of his demons, he begins to settle into this loving family. But as Nikki and Obi learn more about their child's tragic past, they face challenges that threaten to rock the fragile peace they've established, challenges that could prove disastrous.

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Family International Short (less than 250 pages) Youth
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Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Semple, Maria

When her notorious, hilarious, volatile, talented, troubled and agoraphobic mother goes missing, teenage Bee begins a trip that takes her to the ends of the earth to find her.

Alex Award

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Awards Family Not so Grim Pacific Northwest Watch It Youth
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While the City Slept: A Love Lost to Violence and A Young Man's Descent Into Madness

Sanders, Eli

"A Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter describes our failing mental-health system through the story of Isaiah Kalebu, who invaded the home of an engaged Seattle couple. In this riveting, probing, compassionate account of a murder in Seattle, Eli Sanders, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his newspaper coverage of the crime, offers a deeply reported portrait in microcosm of the state of mental health care in this country--as well as an inspiring story of love and forgiveness. It shows what can happen when a disturbed member of society repeatedly falls through the cracks, and in the tradition of The Other Wes Moore and The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, is an indelible, human-level story, brilliantly told, with the potential to inspire social change"-- Provided by publisher.

Edgar Award Nominee for Best Fact Crime

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Crime Pacific Northwest Social Justice Society & Culture
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Whistling Season

Doig, Ivan

"Can't cook but doesn't bite." So begins the newspaper ad offering the services of an "A-1 housekeeper, sound morals, exceptional disposition" that draws the attention of widower Oliver Milliron in the fall of 1909. That unforgettable season deposits the ever-whistling Rose Llewellyn and her font-of-knowledge brother, Morris Morgan, in Marias Coulee along with a stampede of homesteaders drawn by the promise of the Big Ditch--a gargantuan irrigation project intended to make the Montana prairie bloom. When the schoolmarm runs off with an itinerant preacher, Morris is pressed into service, setting the stage for the "several kinds of education"--none of them of the textbook variety--Morris and Rose will bring to Oliver, his three sons, and the rambunctious students in the region's one-room schoolhouse. A paean to a way of life that has long since vanished, The Whistling Season is Ivan Doig at his evocative best.

ALA Notable Book
Alex Award
Booklist Editors' Choice

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Awards Coming of Age History Not so Grim Pacific Northwest Youth
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White Cascade: The Great Northern Railway Disaster and America's Deadliest Avalanche

Krist, Gary

In February 1910, a monstrous blizzard centered on Washington State hit the Northwest, breaking records. Near the tiny town of Wellington, high in the Cascade Mountains, two trainloads of cold, hungry passengers and their crews found their railcars gradually being buried int eh rising drifts. For days, an army of railroad employees worked to rescue the trains. Panic and rage set in as snow accumulated on the cliffs overhanging the trains. Finally, just when escape seemed possible, the earth shifted and an avalanche tumbed from the high pinnacles. Donated by the East County Senior Center.

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History Pacific Northwest Science & Nature
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White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

DiAngelo, Robin J.

"In this groundbreaking and timely book, antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility. Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, DiAngelo explores how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively." -- Publisher's description.

Regional Author

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Short (less than 250 pages) Social Justice Society & Culture
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White Houses

Bloom, Amy

"Lorena Hickok meets Eleanor Roosevelt in 1932 while reporting on Franklin Roosevelt's first presidential campaign. Having grown up worse than poor in South Dakota and reinvented herself as the most prominent woman reporter in America, "Hick," as she's known to her friends and admirers, is not quite instantly charmed by the idealistic, patrician Eleanor. After she takes a job in the Roosevelt administration, promoting and protecting both Roosevelts, she comes to know Franklin not only as a great president but as a complicated rival and an irresistible friend, capable of changing lives even after his death. Through it all, even as Hick's bond with Eleanor is tested by forces both extraordinary and common, and as she grows as a woman and a writer, she never loses sight of the love of her life."--Provided by Publisher.

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Awards History Short (less than 250 pages)
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White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide

Anderson, Carol

As Ferguson, Missouri, erupted in August 2014, and media commentators across the ideological spectrum referred to the angry response of African Americans as 'black rage,' historian Carol Anderson wrote a remarkable op-ed in the Washington Post showing that this was, instead, "white rage at work. With so much attention on the flames," she writes, "everyone had ignored the kindling." Carefully linking historical flashpoints when social progress for African Americans was countered by deliberate and cleverly crafted opposition, Anderson pulls back the veil that has long covered actions made in the name of protecting democracy, fiscal responsibility, or protection against fraud, rendering visible the long lineage of white rage. Compelling and dramatic in the unimpeachable history it relates, White Rage will add an important new dimension to the national conversation about race in America.-- From the publisher.

National Book Critics Circle Award
New York Times Notable Books
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Widower's Tale, The

Glass, Julia

In a historic farmhouse outside Boston, seventy-year-old Percy Darling is settling happily into retirement: reading novels, watching old movies, and swimming naked in his pond. His routines are disrupted, however, when he is persuaded to let a locally beloved preschool take over his barn. As Percy sees his rural refuge overrun by children, parents, and teachers, he must reexamine the solitary life he has made in the three decades since the sudden death of his wife. No longer can he remain aloof from his community, his two grown daughters, or, to his shock, the precarious joy of falling in love.

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Family Not so Grim
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Wind Is Not A River, The

Payton, Brian

A gripping tale of survival and an epic love story in which a husband and wife - separated by the only battle of World War II to take place on American soil - fight to reunite in Alaska's starkly beautiful Aleutian Islands. While John is accompanying a crew on a bombing run, his plane is shot down. He survives only to find himself exposed to a harsh and unforgiving wilderness, known as "the Birthplace of Winds." There, John must battle the elements, starvation, and his own remorse while evading discovery by the Japanese. Alone in their home in Seattle, Helen struggles with the burden of her husband's disappearance. Forced to re-imagine who she is and what she is capable of, she plots to find John and bring him home; a quest that takes her into the farthest reaches of the war, beyond the safety of everything she knows. A powerful, richly atmospheric story of life and death, commitment and sacrifice, The Wind Is Not a River illuminates the fragility of life and the fierce power of love.

2016 Whidbey Reads Selection
LibraryReads Favorite

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History Pacific Northwest WWII
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Without You There Is No Us

Kim, Suki

Every day, three times a day, the students march in two straight lines, singing praises to Kim Jong-il and North Korea: Without you, there is no motherland. Without you, there is no us. It is a chilling scene, but gradually Suki Kim, too, learns the tune and, without noticing, begins to hum it. It is 2011, and all universities in North Korea have been shut down for an entire year, the students sent to construction fields--except for the 270 students at the all-male Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), a walled compound where portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il look on impassively from the walls of every room, and where Suki has gone undercover as a missionary and a teacher. Over the next six months, she will eat three meals a day with her young charges and struggle to teach them English, all under the watchful eye of the regime.

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Bio & Memoir International Politics
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Wolf Hall

Mantel, Hilary

In the ruthless arena of King Henry VIII's court, only one man dares to gamble his life to win the king's favor and ascend to the heights of political power. England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years, and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him...In inimitable style, Hilary Mantel presents a picture of a half-made society on the cusp of change, where individuals fight or embrace their fate with passion and courage. With a vast array of characters, overflowing with incident, the novel re-creates an era when the personal and political are separated by a hairbreadth, where success brings unlimited power but a single failure means death.

Baileys Women's Prize
National Book Critics Circle Award
Man Booker Prize

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Awards History Watch It
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Woman of No Importance, A: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win WWII

Purnell, Sonia

Traces the story of mid-twentieth-century spy Virginia Hall, detailing her pivotal role in coordinating Resistance activities in Europe that helped change the course of World War II. Award winner: Plutarch Award for Best Biography

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Awards History WWII
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Women in the Castle, The

Shattuck, Jessica

"Three women, haunted by the past and the secrets they hold. Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined..."-- Provided by publisher.

Donated by the Edmonds Lutheran Book Club in remembrance of friend and fellow book lover, Betty Neidhardt.


Booklist Editors' Choice
LibraryReads' Favorite
Goodreads Choice Award Nominee

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Awards History International WWII
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Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl

Egan, Timothy

The dust storms that terrorized America's High Plains in the darkest years of the Depression were like nothing ever seen before. In The Worst Hard Time, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Timothy Egan tells the epic story of this environmental disaster and its impact on the communities stricken with fear and choked by dust in the 'dirty thirties'.

Donated by the Mukilteo Library Evening Book Club in honor of Sheila Nesse on her retirement.

National Book Award
Western Heritage Award

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Awards History Youth