This week’s picks of realistic fiction that you must read:

A Painted House

Author: John Grisham

Seven-year-old Luke Chandler who is also the narrator, lives in an unpainted house with his parents and grandparents. All Luke wants to do is to play baseball for St Louis Cardinals. His love for the game consumes him. The year is 1952. The cotton harvest is hit due to lack of rain. To reduce the workload, his family hires a crew of migrant Mexicans and hill people.

Luke has no problem, except for the camp set up by the hill people in the middle of his playground. One of them constantly reminds him that while his family lives in an unpainted house, they live in beautiful painted houses. Trouble starts when the Mexicans and the hill people clash. Luke witnesses a brutal murder that forces him to choose between his love for baseball and friendship. By then, the floods arrive. Will the Chandler family escape or is this their ticket to doom?

No Guns at my Son's Funeral

Author: Paro Anand

Aftab is just another teenager in Kashmir who loves playing cricket, thinks his parents are a little behind the times and knows that school is interesting only because of friends. Nonetheless, he has friends outside school. One of them is Akram, the leader of a terrorist group. Neither his family nor his friends know about this. As time goes by, Aftab crosses the line from fascination to belief when he is recruited to carry out a dangerous mission. The story depicts the teenager’s struggle to balance his family’s beliefs about peace and harmony and his desperation to prove himself to Akram. Soon, Aftab decides to follow Akram's orders despite the warnings from his friends and family. Where will his choice lead him?

The Outsiders

Author: S.E. Hinton

Ponyboy is walking out of a movie theatre when members of Socs, a rival gang, attack him. Fortunately, his own gang members, the Greasers, are nearby and they rescue him. They live in a poor neighbourhood, where strife leads to violence, guns, and domestic abuse. Narrated by Ponyboy, the novel takes a close look at teenage gang rivalry. “Nature's first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf's a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay,” Ponyboy is hiding from the Socs when he recites these lines from a poem by Robert Frost.

S.E. Hinton was in high school when she started work on this book. It is often on the list of banned books in libraries and schools.

Courtesy: Book Lovers’ Program for Schools (blps.in)

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