16. Rita book #4
Excellent, unique, and moving. I hope the other judges agree with me and it earns a place in the finals.
17. Without You, There Is No Us by Suki Kim
For whatever reason I find North Korea endlessly and horrifically fascinating--something about how it's endured and tightened its hold on its people's lives and minds as other totalitarian states have collapsed or at least become more open, especially with South Korea and Japan and China right there surrounding it, with all their prosperity, vibrance, and, you know, plentiful food. This memoir by a journalist who teaches for two semesters in a school for the sons of Pyongyang's elite is a bit of a different view insofar as these boys aren't dealing with hunger and physical privation...but in a way it makes their intellectual, political, and spiritual deprivation stand out all the more.
18. Tomboy by Liz Prince
This is turning into quite the year for memoir reading for me so far. This one is a graphic memoir/nonfiction comic borrowed from my 10-year-old daughter, who's read it multiple times. Miss Fraser has never been a girly girl--I vividly remember the day when she was just learning to talk and I offered her a choice of a plain denim jumper or pink floral print overalls and she pushed away the latter, saying "No flowflers! No pink!" A vow she's pretty much stuck to ever since. She found this book tremendously helpful as Prince relates her childhood and adolescence and how she eventually found her own "tribe" and identity in her late teens. And I'm glad she has books like this, and the confidence to be herself even when that means looking and acting different from the norm.