Book covers: The Pigman by Paul Zindel, I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier, The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb, A Conspiracy of Paper by David Liss

6 Degrees of Separation

It’s time for another adventure in Kate’s 6 Degrees of Separation Meme from her blog, Books Are My Favourite and Best. We are given a book to start with, and from there we free associate six books.

This month’s assignment is to start with the book that we ended with last month.

That was The Pig Man by Paul Zindel, which I described as a “seminal work in the movement to portray teenagers and their lives realistically (well before the designation young adult literature came into use).”

first degree

Another author who wrote about teenagers before young adult literature became a thing is Robert Cormier. His 1977 novel I Am the Cheese is one of the most chilling novels I’ve ever read. 

second degree

Although I Am the Cheese made a lasting impression on me, Robert Cormier is more widely known for his earlier (1974) novel The Chocolate War.

third degree

Ah, the sweetness of chocolate. It reminds me of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, the first entry in his Flavia de Luce series (and the only one I’ve read, because I found little Flavia utterly unbearable).

fourth degree

A particular pie becomes a significant plot element in The Help by Kathryn Stockett (scroll down to #5 on the linked page). 

fifth degree

The Help describes the lives of the Black women who work as maids, housekeepers, and nannies for white families in Mississippi. The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb includes a young Black man’s experience driving through another place in the deep South in the U.S. (Baton Rouge, Louisiana).

sixth degree

We hear about lots of conspiracies nowadays. A Conspiracy of Paper by David Liss informs us that conspiracy is not a new concept. This novel centers around the stockmarket in London in the 18th century.

Where did your 6 Degrees of Separation journey take you this month?

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

8 thoughts on “6 Degrees of Separation”

  1. Wow, it is a long time since I have thought of Paul Zindel and even longer since I read this book! My first boss in NYC had him as a science teacher on Staten Island, if I recall correctly. I was not a big fan but then I did not really like what came to be called problem YA.

    I think I read The Chocolate War (and found a disappointing lack of chocolate) and never read I am the Cheese.

    Although two separate people gave me The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie I simply could not get past the first chapter. I kept it in my car so long I think I sold the car before I gave up on it, I did like The Help and am pretty sure I own that David Liss although have not yet read it.

    A fun chain with lots to consider!

    1. Mary Daniels Brown

      Thanks, Con. I remember being slightly disappointed in The Chocolate War, probably because I had such a strong reaction to I Am the Cheese. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Yes, the YA label didn’t come about until fairly recently. Strangely enough, I don’t think I actually read many books for younger readers when I was young. No Nancy Drew novels, no Beverly Cleary, or Judy Blume books, either! Hm… great chain!

    1. Mary Daniels Brown

      Interesting comment, Davida, because I, too, don’t think I read many of today’s standard books for young readers. I don’t know if I didn’t read them or just don’t remember reading them. I don’t have many memories from before the age of about 12, so that could be why, although I always read a lot as a child. Thanks for commenting.

    1. Mary Daniels Brown

      Thanks, Terrie. I always feel vindicated when someone agrees with me about the insufferable Flavia. I’ve never understood why it’s such a popular series. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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