Sweet Home Chicago

By Jennifer Rodriguez

The city is as much a part of the story as any of the characters. Whether in the background or center stage, Chicago is intricately woven into these titles.

  • Coffee Will Make You Black

    1994 by April Sinclair

    The setting is Chicago circa 1965, eleven-year-old Jean Stevie Stevenson is caught between being cool and being a square. Influenced by Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, Stevie begins to liberate herself from the confines of her upbringing and her fear of being different. Stevie soon finds herself rejecting prejudice on every front, be it color, faith, politics, or sexual orientation. Thus, taking the first genuine step toward adulthood.

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  • After Visiting Friends : A Son's Story

    2013 by Michael Hainey

    Haunted by his father's mysterious and sudden death when he was a young boy, Hainey decides to learn who his father really was. Through research and interviews Hainey pieces together a picture of the prestigious professional and questionable personal life of the father he never knew.

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  • The Good Girl

    2014 by Mary Kubica

    Mia Dennett returns months after being kidnapped. She does not remember her abduction or what happened during her captivity. Told from different perspectives in a before and after structure that keeps the reader guessing until the very end.

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  • Divergent

    2011 by Veronica Roth

    In a future Chicago, a new way of life has emerged. On her sixteenth birthday, Beatrice Prior must select from five predetermined factions that will shape her life forever. A difficult decision made even more so when she discovers she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group.

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  • My Bloody Life : The Making of a Latin King

    2000 by Reymundo Sanchez

    A former member of the Latin King gang describes his search as a young Latino for a place to call home. Sanchez discusses his abusive childhood and the ways he chose to escape his reality: drugs, alcohol, sex, and the streets of Chicago. These decisions ultimately lead him to join one of the largest street gangs in America.

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  • Gang Leader for a Day : A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets

    2008 by Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh

    As a graduate student, Venkatesh went to the housing projects on the south side of Chicago to survey people on urban poverty. He never thought he would befriend a gang leader, let alone be under his protection. With unfettered access, Venkatesh was able to witness first-hand how drug dealers functioned in real life. His seven year-study is a fascinating look into the complex world of the Windy City's urban poor.

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  • Native Son

    1940 by Richard Wright

    "Tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Richard Wright's novel is just as powerful today as when it was written—in its reflection of poverty and hopelessness, and what it means to be black in America." (NoveList)

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  • The Jungle

    2006 by Upton Sinclair

    A glimpse into the Chicago Stockyards of the early 20th Century. Jurgis Rudkus, a Lithuanian immigrant, is lured to America with promises of good wages and instant wealth. Yet, the reality Jurgis and his family find is drastically different.

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  • The House on Mango Street

    1994 by Sandra Cisneros

    "Told in a series of vignettes—sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous—it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become." (Goodreads)

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  • Sin In the Second City : Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America's Soul

    2007 by Karen Abbott

    "A history of America's most famous brothel, Chicago's Everleigh Club, which catered to some of America's leading moguls, actors, and writers from 1900 to 1911. It profiles its aristocratic proprietors and their efforts to elevate the industry to new heights." (NoveList)

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  • The Devil In the White City : Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

    2003 by Erik Larson

    Last, but not least, the title that captivated the nation. The World's Fair, the White City, and all its magic hiding a sinister serial killer on the south side of Chicago. Larson's detailed descriptions of the undertaking to create the city we know today, and the horrifying menace lurking in its shadows, are mesmerizing.

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