Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson
Pete’s own family is spinning out of control, but he concentrates on helping other disturbed families in the middle nowhere Montana. His eye is on Benjamin Pearl, a feral eleven-year-old boy living in the wilderness with his very disturbed father, Jeremiah. It doesn’t help that Pearl's weird activities have caught the attention of the FBI, putting Pete in the middle of a massive manhunt. A sad, but iconic American novel.
Funerals For Horses by Catherine Ryan Hyde
By the author of Pay It Forward, Funerals for Horses is a heartbreaking story. Ella’s brother Simon has disappeared. His possessions found abandoned near a freight line track in Central California. Ella takes off on foot across California and Arizona, thinking she can find Simon. She is befriended by three Native Americans and an aged paint horse named Yozzie.
Lucky Us by Amy Bloom
Brought together by death and weird relations, Iris, the star and Eva the sidekick, set off on their own through 1940s America. Iris’s ambitions take them across America in a stolen station wagon, from Ohio to Hollywood, and to the jazz clubs of Long Island. A novel about success and failure, good luck and bad, and the creation of a family from bits and pieces. The characters are lovable and sad, you cheer for them and then you want to slug them in the face.
The Virtues of Oxygen by Susan Schoenberger
Inspired by the true story of Martha Mason, a young woman who spent the majority of her life confined within an iron lung that would breathe for her when polio robbed her of that ability to do so for herself. Schoenberger invents Vivian Markham, a sixty three year old woman who has spent her entire life since the age of six living in an iron lung. Even though advancements were made in the medical field, they would pass her by, because after so many years her body had atrophied and she would not be able to breathe on her own. Looking at the world horizontally and making the best of her life and the lives of those in the small town who vowed to care for her, is inspiring -- and one can only hope that a magical town like that would actually exist.