Shuggie Bain to Room: 6 Degrees of Separation

6 Degrees of Separation from Shuggie Bain to Room

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6 Degrees of Separation from Shuggie Bain to Room

Hosted by Books Are My Favourite and Best on the first Saturday of every month, this meme asks us to start with one title and create a chain of bookish connections to see where it takes us. This month we’re starting with Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart and I’m ending at Room by Emma Donoghue.

I haven’t read Shuggie Bain but when I read the description, I immediately thought of Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. I considered going down the path of memoirs featuring difficult childhoods but I didn’t want to start with fiction and go down a nonfiction chain. So instead I formed a chain of emotionally-difficult fiction titles featuring children as narrators.

According to the synopsis, Shuggie is a child who has to care for his beautiful, alcoholic mother. That made me think of…

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman. Ceecee’s mom is an aging beauty queen who seems to have a mental illness. Ceecee does her best to take care of her. This book is definitely more lighthearted than the others I’ve chosen but this unstable mother came to mind as I read about Shuggie’s mom.

That’s the initial connection I formed but there’s more of a theme than a chain connecting the rest of these titles.

This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash–Twelve-year-old Easter Quillby is one of several narrators in the book but she’s another girl who has to care for her addicted mom and her younger sister. Things only get more complicated when their deadbeat dad shows up.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee–Scout is a well-loved little girl but she shares the story of a Black man’s unfair trial in Alabama. She can see the truth of the matter and doesn’t understand why adults are muddying the waters with their prejudices.

The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew–June Bentley “Jubie” Watts is a 13-year-old growing up in a segregated South but she’s innocent enough to question why her family’s Black maid, the most stable, caring adult in her life, is treated differently because of her skin color. This book does not shy away from the reality of racial violence.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer–Nine-year-old Oskar Schell lost his dad in 9/11 and he’s still reeling from the loss two years later. Viewing that event through the eyes of a grieving child makes it even more heart-breaking.

Room by Emma Donoghue–Jack and his mother have never left Room in his five years of life, through no fault of their own. Piecing together the snippets of Jack’s observations to realize exactly where they are and why is emotionally devastating.

Where do your connections take you? Link up at Books Are My Favourite and Best!

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  1. It’s always interesting to see other chains. Especially if I find books I have read. Well, who hasn’t read “To Kill a Mockingbird”? LOL

    My Six Degrees of Separation led me to Dreams of a Red Chamber by Xuequin Cao.

      1. I know. There are just some book where you assume that everyone has read it. And I have those books that I must have mentioned more than a dozen times in my lists.

  2. What an interesting chain – I’d never even heard of The Dry Grass of August, and although I had heard of CeeCee Honeycut, I for some reason thought it was a cosy mystery.

    Some children do have the most challenging lives; it’s awful to think that their childhoods are taken up with caring for their own parents, and I think it is far more common than is widely known. These children often miss a lot of education through no fault of their own, and are allowed to slip through the cracks in society.

    In one of the books in my own chain, Divided City, the widowed father of one of the two schoolboys suffers from depression. Joe has to look out for his Dad and make sure he remembers to eat, goes out for a walk, etc. It’s not the central theme of the book, but it’s nicely handled.

    1. I agree that children caring for parents is a much more pervasive problem than most people realize. It might not even be a long-term situation (such as grief after the loss of a spouse), but it can still have lasting effects on the child.

  3. I’ve read Room and To Kill a Mockingbird, and I can totally see the connection there with Shuggie Bain. For the others, those are some tough reads, but all very relevant based on your descriptions.

  4. Of these, I’ve only read and enjoyed ) Room. But as you’ve gone down the Dark route too, I’ll have to take a break before reading any of these …. but I will TBR them!

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