Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling (Scholastic, 2007)
In order to be "spoiler-free" this will be necessarily brief. Suffice to say, I felt this was one of the better books in the series. Rowling did a very good job of tying up most of the loose ends. I did feel she moved too quickly through the last parts of the book, breezing through points where I wished to linger. My harshest criticism of the book is the Epilogue--I found it incredibly juvenile (it brought Harry Potter back to the level of mundane chidren's literature) and unnecessary.
What Is The What by Dave Eggers (McSweeney's, 2006).
To call this a "novel" might underestimate its truth and urgency. This is very much a work of non-fiction. The life of Valentino Achak Deng is representative of thousands upon thousands of lives in Sudan in its tales of struggle and oppression. While the book sensitively addresses a topic that is hurendous and heartbreaking in and of itself, the narration is not overly sentimentalized. Eggers and Deng weave in humor, joy, and small victories through the tragedies of the Lost Boys of Sudan.
Valentino Achak Deng is both evidence of the resiliency of the human spirit and a beacon of hope for the future. There are moments in the book that call us out of our comfortable existence, and there are moments when we recognize that from which we also seek refuge. It is a compelling read about the human condition and should be compulsory reading for anyone wishing to remain ignorant about the struggles of Africa. To ignore Sudan is to ignore humankind.