Masterpiece
*****
Excellent
**** 1/2
Very good
****
Good
**** 1/2
Just okay
***
Not for me
**
Definitely not for me
*

A Death in the Family


A Death in the Family by James Agee

1957, 310 pp.

1958 Pulitzer

Rating: 4.5

Jay Follett, a dutiful husband and father, travels to his parents’ home because his father is dying. On his way back to his wife and children, he is killed in a car accident. The reaction to this tragedy by his family is told with heartbreaking prose. I was especially moved by the thoughts, feelings, and actions of his son, Rufus. This novel was largely autobiographical for Agee as his father died in a car accident when he was six years old. Sadly, Agee himself died of a heart attack at the age of 45, leaving behind young children of his own.

This novel profoundly touched me as my own father died of heart complications at the age of 44. The death of someone so young affects a family very deeply for many years. It is a tragedy I hope few people have to experience.

My AR points for the year

accelerated.jpgI have at least 222 AR points this year–ha! I’m probably one of the few who like Accelerated Reader. My older son is going to public school for the first time and will have an official reading class. I thought it would be fun to see which books that I’ve read this year are on the AR list at my son’s school. The first number is the reading level and the second number is the number of points received if the student passes the test. I’m a little surprised The Handmaid’s Tale is on the list. That seems above high school in maturity level. Here is the breakdown:

1. Angle of Repose**** by Wallace Stegner
2. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency****1/2 by Alexander McCall Smith 5.9 10.0
3. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan***** by Lisa See
4. Atonement***1/2 by Ian McEwan
5. Peace Like a River****1/2 by Leif Enger 6.3 18.0
6. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane****1/2 by Kate DiCamillo 4.4 2.0
7. The Birds**1/2 by Arisophanes
8. The Black Pearl****1/2 by Scott O’Dell 6.5 4.0
9. Silas Marner****1/2 by George Eliot 10.0 15.0
10. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde***** by Robert Louis Stevenson 9.4 10.0
11. To Kill a Mockingbird***** by Harper Lee 7.4 19.0
12. Walking Across Egypt **** by Clyde Edgerton
13. The Woman in White****1/2 by Wilkie Collins
14. Heart of Darkness***** by Joseph Conrad 10.8 8.0
15. The Book Thief ***** by Markus Zusak
16. The Echo Maker**** by Richard Powers
17. The Road ****1/2 by Cormac McCarthy
18. The Myth of Me and You***1/2 by Leah Stewart
19. Everyman* by Philip Roth

20. Fahrenheit 451****1/2 by Ray Bradbury 5.2 7.0
21. Inkheart**** by Cornelia Funke 5.4 23.0
22. The Giver****1/2 by Lois Lowry 6.6 7.0
23. Grendel** by John Gardner
24. March ***1/2 by Geraldine Brooks
25. The Princess and the Goblin****1/2 by George MacDonald
26. The Inheritance of Loss***1/2 by Kiran Desai
27. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter****1/2 by Kim Edwards
28. The Translator**** by Leila Aboulela
29. Eat, Pray, Love**** by Elizabeth Gilbert

30. The Handmaid’s Tale ****1/2 by Margaret Atwood 5.4 14.0
31. The Stone Diaries****1/2 by Carol Shields
32. Amos Fortune, Free Man**** by Elizabeth Yates
33. Broken for You**** by Stephanie Kallos

34. The Color Purple**** by Alice Walker 6.9 15.0
35. My Sister’s Keeper**** by Jodi Picoult 5.3 18.0
36. Phantastes**** by George MacDonald
37. The Eyre Affair**** by Jasper Fforde 5.8 16.0
38. A Severe Mercy**** by Sheldon Vanauken
39. A Wrinkle in Time**** by Madeleine L’Engle 5.5 7.0
40. Number the Stars**** by Lois Lowry 4.5 4.0
41. Wide Sargasso Sea **** by Jean Rhys
42. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell****1/2 by Susanna Clarke
43. New Testament*****
44. Coraline****1/2 by Neil Gaiman
45. The Bone People**** by Keri Hulme

46. Wild Swans****1/2 by Jung Chang
47. The Sea** by John Banville

48. The Door in the Wall**** by Marguerite de Angeli 7.0 4.0
49. Gathering Blue****1/2 by Lois Lowry 5.0 7.0
50. Messenger**** by Lois Lowry
51. The White Stag**** by Kate Seredy
52. Stardust**** by Neil Gaiman
53. The Higher Power of Lucky**** by Susan Patron

54. The Blind Assassin ***1/2 by Margaret Atwood
55. The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books***1/2 by Peder Zane
56. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

57. The Secret Life of Bees****1/2 by Sue Monk Kidd 5.7 15.0
58. Stargirl**** by Jerry Spinelli 4.2 6.0
59. A Death in the Family by James Agee

I was also interested in which titles had the most points and the highest reading level. Here they are, but keep in mind there are many more titles available. These are the ones just at my son’s school.

These are the titles that are 11th grade reading level and above:

Anna Karenina Tolstoy, Leo 11.0 73.0
Arrowsmith Lewis, Sinclair 11.0 37.0
Crime and Punishment Dostoyevsky, Fyodor 11.0 41.0
Grapes of Wrath, The Steinbeck, John 11.0 41.0
House of the Seven Gables (Unabridged), The Hawthorne, Nathaniel 11.0 22.0
Jude the Obscure Hardy, Thomas 11.0 34.0
Last of the Mohicans, The Cooper, James Fenimore 11.0 29.0
Lord Jim Conrad, Joseph 11.0 26.0
Main Street Lewis, Sinclair 11.0 37.0
Native Son Wright, Richard 11.0 36.0
Pride and Prejudice Austen, Jane 11.0 27.0
Purloined Letter, The Poe, Edgar Allan 11.0 2.0
Tender Is the Night Fitzgerald, F. Scott 11.0 25.0
Tess of the D’Urbervilles Hardy, Thomas 11.0 29.0
Turn of the Screw, The James, Henry 11.0 6.0
Vanity Fair Thackeray, William M. 11.0 69.0
Brave New World Huxley, Aldous 11.1 18.0
Twenty Years at Hull-House Addams, Jane 11.1 22.0
Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the… Sobel, Dava 11.3 9.0
Fall of the House of Usher, The Poe, Edgar Allen 11.4 2.0
Of Human Bondage Maugham, Somerset 11.4 56.0
Profiles in Courage Kennedy, John F. 11.4 13.0
Temple of My Familiar, The Walker, Alice 11.4 36.0
War and Peace Tolstoy, Leo 11.5 130.0
Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, The Franklin, Benjamin 11.8 15.0
American Tragedy, An Dreiser, Theodore 12.0 79.0
Death of a Salesman Miller, Arthur 12.0 5.0
Mansfield Park Austen, Jane 12.0 35.0
Moby Dick Melville, Herman 12.0 46.0
Persuasion Austen, Jane 12.0 19.0
Return of the Native, The Hardy, Thomas 12.0 25.0
Scarlet Letter, The Hawthorne, Nathaniel 12.0 18.0
Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation Ellis, Joseph J. 12.8 22.0
Don Quixote Cervantes/Smollett 13.2 91.0

These are the titles that have 50 points or more:

Exodus Uris, Leon 10.2 50.0
Of Human Bondage Maugham, Somerset 11.4 56.0
Roots Haley, Alex 9.3 57.0
Debt of Honor Clancy, Tom 7.2 57.0
Pickwick Papers Dickens, Charles 8.9 61.0
Andersonville Kantor, MacKinlay 7.8 62.0
David Copperfield Dickens, Charles 9.8 65.0
Way We Live Now, The Trollope, Anthony 8.9 67.0
Bleak House Dickens, Charles 8.8 67.0
Gone with the Wind Mitchell, Margaret 6.2 69.0
Vanity Fair Thackeray, William M. 11.0 69.0
Winds of War, The Wouk, Herman 8.4 72.0
702 EN Anna Karenina Tolstoy, Leo 11.0 73.0
Executive Orders Clancy, Tom 7.2 77.0
American Tragedy, An Dreiser, Theodore 12.0 79.0
Don Quixote Cervantes/Smollett 13.2 91.0
War and Remembrance Wouk, Herman 8.8 95.0
Les Miserables (Unabridged) Hugo, Victor 9.8 105.0
War and Peace Tolstoy, Leo 11.5 130.0