1. What Child is This?
A heart-tugging story with an upbeat ending, told in alternating chapters by the young people involved. Eight-year-old Katie, an emotionally starved foster child, writes a wish on a paper bell that will be hung on a Christmas tree in a local restaurant. There, members of the community can choose a request and give a gift to a needy child. However, Katie doesn't ask for toys or clothing?she wishes for a family. Although the social worker says her request is inappropriate, Matt, a high school student who lives in the same foster home and works in the restaurant, hangs the bell on the tree. Liz, Matt's classmate, is upset when her uncaring father reads the wish, calls it ridiculous, and tears up the bell. Meanwhile, Liz's older sister struggles with her grief over the recent death of her baby. When Matt tells Katie on Christmas Eve that her wish will not come true, the devastated girl runs out into a blizzard, setting off a chain of events that brings about a resolution befitting a holiday tale. Showing her flair for adolescent angst, Cooney allows the characters to speak for themselves, eventually weaving their lives together into a fitting climax. A moving, fast paced novel, sure to appeal to Cooney's fans.
2. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife. She may go out once a day to markets whose signs are now pictures because women are not allowed to read. She must pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, for in a time of declining birthrates her value lies in her fertility, and failure means exile to the dangerously polluted Colonies. Offred can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name. Now she navigates the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life in breaking the rules.
3. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens