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Novellas

Fri, 10/30/2020 - 2:19pm by ncurtis

Between the short story and the novel is the novella; a work of prose sometimes overlooked. Novellas range widely in style as well as content and are often poignant in their brevity. Below are a few superb examples.

In Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson, Woodson’s lyrical prose carries readers through the narrator’s memories of growing up. The story begins with adult August seeing a friend from childhood, which triggers a flood of memories from youth and adolescence. The writing captures the beauty of life, even within painful experiences.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros tells the story of Esperanza, a girl growing up in a Hispanic neighborhood in Chicago. Set over the course of a year, the novella shows the changes and observations of a young adolescent. Esperanza experiences joys and disappointments through relationships with family and friends. She seeks a world beyond the confines of her home, while understanding the important connection she has to the people around her.

Hunger by Elise Blackwell captures the ethical dilemmas facing people in times of war. The narrator looks back on his life during the siege of Leningrad, as a scientist helping to build a seed bank that will outlast World War II. His marital affairs and professional choices push the character to grapple with his morality. The historical context heightens the emotional pull of the novella.

Although often considered a children’s book, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry  can be especially meaningful to adult readers. The novella reflects on the meaning of life and love through the story of a pilot meeting a boy who has traveled far from his home on a tiny asteroid. In its simplicity, the allegory has the power to evoke laughter and tears.

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