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There is nothing permanent except change – Heraclitus

Debut Books from 2009

By Jillian Bietz

2009 debuted quite a collection of fresh, engaging literature. As the year comes to a close, here are just a few new books from 2009 which will quickly become bookshelf favorites.

Amen, Amen, Amen: Memoir of a Girl Who Couldn’t Stop Praying (Among Other Things) by Abby Sher

When her beloved Aunt dies, ten-year-old Abby becomes obsessed with repeating Jewish prayers. Not long after that, her father falls ill. When he dies, Abby blames herself for the tragedies, believing she is a murderous monster. The only cure to her deviance, Abby believes, is to repeat prayers and mantras and to perform irrational rituals multiple times a day.

The OCD follows Abby into adulthood. The only time she is not plagued with her compulsive thoughts is when she is performing improv comedy in front of a crowd. But offstage, Abby’s OCD is taking a major toll on life. She becomes far too dependent on other people; especially her mother. As an adult, she lands up in a hospital with anorexia.

But that is not the end of it. Through tragedies and triumphs, love and loss Abby is ruled by her obsessions. Abby’s story is relatable and never lacking in wit and humor among heartfelt, often painful depictions.

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Although Elspeth never knew her estranged twin sister Edie’s twin daughters Julia and Valentina, she leaves them heir to her London apartment after she dies of cancer. The only instructions being the girls must live on the flat for a year before selling it, and that their mother must never set foot in the place.

Now 20-years-old and living a typical existence outside of Chicago, the inseparable but troubled sisters move to London. They explore their new city, including the Highgate cemetery next to the apartment building where Elspeth has been laid to rest. But not long after the girls’ arrival, Elspeth’s ghost begins to haunt them.

Hoping to learn about their enigmatic aunt, the sisters get tangled up in the eclectic, lives of some of their new neighbors including Elspeth’s heartbroken former lover who may have the answer to all the questions. Her Fearful Symmetry is a story of family secrets, of sisterly attachment in life as well as in life after death.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Set in New York City in 1978, Miranda is a typical sixth-grader. She is obsessed with the book and in typical pre-adolescent style, grapples to sustain friendships, school and life. However, when Miranda starts receiving anonymous letters and hidden messages, she draws from her favorite novel

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine Le Engle and begins to investigate the possibility that the odd notes may be coming from another point in time. But who is sending them? And why? Through her encounters with various characters like the fanatical homeless man living on the corner, the class bully who possesses a secret, Miranda pieces together the possibility that time, in fact, may not really exist at all.


Jillian Brietz

Jillian is a fashion design and journalism student.

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