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For the month of September, Jenna Bush Hager selected “Beautiful Country” by Qian Julie Wang as her Read With Jenna book club pick.
The debut memoir from Wang tells the story of her life growing up as an undocumented immigrant in New York City’s Chinatown.
“‘Beautiful Country’ was one of those remarkable books that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading it,” said Jenna. “I love memoirs and I particularly love beautifully written memoirs that read almost like novels.”
If you enjoyed “Beautiful Country” as much as Jenna did, the author has five recommendations for books to read next.
Boasting more than seven years on the New York Times bestseller list, Jeannette Walls’s captivating story of resilience and redemption comes highly recommended from fans in the Read With Jenna book club.
Walls tells the story of her life, growing up with a brilliant father who suffered from alcoholism, a free-spirited mother who shied away from the responsibility of raising a family and her three siblings who learned to care for one another when their parents could not.
The book is an honest and compelling look at a peculiar but loyal family. Walls’s gift for storytelling shines as she shares the intimate details of her unconventional upbringing.
Maya Angelou’s autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” tells the story of the early years of her life. She talks about experiencing bigotry, feeling loneliness as a child and overcoming trauma. This beloved coming-of-age story has become an American classic.
The Pulitzer Prize–winning memoir “Angela’s Ashes” is Frank McCourt’s story of growing up in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. He writes about enduring poverty, starvation and cruelty from neighbors and relatives as his mother struggles to keep her children alive. Despite the hardships, his writing is imbued with humor and forgiveness.
In her book, Karla Cornejo Villavicencio tells the stories of undocumented immigrants from across the country. She highlights individuals who worked to clean up ground zero after 9/11; Flint, Michigan, residents who had no state ID to receive clean water and many more, to shed a light on what it means to live an undocumented life in America.
In this semi-autographical novel, Ocean Vuong writes a letter from a Vietnamese American narrator to his mother, who cannot read. He writes about themes of race, class, sexuality and gender with brutal honesty. The book reads almost like a poem as Vuong shares moments, ideas and memories in snippets throughout the novel.
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