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St. Catharine College's Freshman Read


Broken by William Cope Moyers

2014 St. Catharine College Freshman Read

" 'We want the white guy, just the white guy. We know he's in there. He comes out now and there's no trouble for anyone later.'

I was the 'white guy.' I knew in that instant that my family's desperate search to track me down had ended at this decayed two-story apartment in a violent pocket of Atlanta's inner city. Terrified, I rushed around the room, trying to warn the other crack heads to sit still and keep quiet.

'Don't panic,' I whispered. 'They'll go away.' But nobody was listening because everybody was as high and as scared as I was. We bumped into one another as we tried to find a way out, but there was nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. We were like wild animals trapped by a wind-whipped forest fire."

Unlike some popular memoirs that have fictionalized and romanticized the degradations of drug addiction, Broken is a true-life tale of recovery that stuns and inspires with virtually every page. The eldest son of journalist Bill Moyers, William Cope Moyers relates with unforgettable clarity the story of how a young man with every advantage found himself spiraling into a love affair with crack cocaine that led him to the brink of death—and how a deep spirituality allowed him to conquer his shame, transform his life, and dedicate himself to changing America's politics of addiction. (Penguin Books, 2006)

Mr. Moyers plans to visit campus in Sept. to talk with us about drug addiction and the potential for rehabilitation. As he brings us his message about the issues of rehab for all addicts, he wants to connect not only with SCC campus, but with our surrounding community as well.


A Pearl in the Storm  by Tori Murden McClure

2013 St. Catharine College Freshman Read

“In the end, I know I rowed across the Atlantic to find my heart, but in the beginning, I wasn’t aware that it was missing.”  Tori McClure

Set on the rolling, often angry Atlantic Ocean, A Pearl in the Storm lures the reader into one woman’s  discovery of her own humanity.  Tori McClure faces the exquisite glory of life one minute and the brutality of impending death at the next.  She rows the ocean and takes you on her journey for 3,400 miles of mind bending, soul searching experiences.   Students in a common reading program will find elements of intense beauty and terror in this story.  It is an adventure book,  the biography of an explorer, and a compelling look at caring for a loved one who is handicapped.  It is also a book about courage and persistence, even in the face of failure, just to mention a few avenues readers can explore during book discussions. 

In the words of author Sena Jeter Naslund, “If you want to be inspired, read this book.  You won’t stop till you’ve finished.”

A Pearl in the Storm by Tori Murden McClure

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

2012 Freshman Read

In Hannah Coulter, renowned Kentucky author, Wendell Berry, brings us another story in his Port William series. Published in 2004, Hannah Coulter continues the tale of "membership" in a community that is deteriorating from pressures of the modern world and a lack of care from its inheritors. Hannah reminisces about her childhood, her marriages, her children, and her home. All the while, she keeps us positioned in the alluring landscape of north central Kentucky. Students discussing this novel will profit from the strong character and implacable values that make life worth living to Hannah. She finds membership in her husband's family, her community, and in her own life. She reveals wisdom that hardship, sacrifice, and grief have brought her. Finally, she imparts a realistic picture of a life well lived by a woman of integrity and grit.  

Eli the Good by Silas House

2011 St. Catharine College Freshman Read

“I thought that I might truly hate him….One day I wrote this in my composition book: Daddy scares the hell out of me.”

Eli the Good by Silas House presents the story of a ten-year-old boy who learns about the destructive after effects of war. In a story set in 1976, yet relevant to the climate of the 2000’s, House opens the reader to a world of confusion and violence brought into a formerly safe, loving home by a father returning from the horrors of the Vietnam War. Eli moves through this seemingly endless summer in a landscape of lush rural mountains, an environment which sets a memorable contrast to the dark terror growing within his family home. Here, he must learn to deal with issues of living with post traumatic stress disorder, protesting government decisions with respect, creating families, defining patriotism, and accepting differences in others, all the while discovering the value of true friendship. Discussion leaders and students can look forward to a captivating read that explores how we define family and nation in the United States.

Eli the Good

2010 Freshman Read

BLEACHERS by John Grisham

2010 St. Catharine College Freshman Read

In Bleachers , John Grisham leads readers on a nostalgic trip to 1960’s-‘70’s high school life in the Deep South.  Speaking to the power that football exerts in a small town environment (where there is little else which rivals the excitement of football), Grisham weaves love/hate relationships between coach and player, town and team, and athletes and nonathletes into a memorable story of winning and losing at both football and life. 

As a common read, Bleachers addresses the adversarial relationship between athletics and academics, thus engendering spirited debate among college-age readers who are living in just such a world.  Moreover, Grisham’s protagonist, Neely, must face his conflicting feelings for his former coach, his hometown, and even his long lost love.  In short, Neely must finally grow up and accept accountability for his decisions.  Such topics as responsibility for personal actions and decisions and the role of a coach or teacher in one’s life make for intense conversation with readers.  


RESTAVEC by Jean-Robert Cadet

2009 St. Catharine College Freshman Read

Jean-Robert Cadet tells a brutal, yet compelling, story of life in Haiti as a slave child.   Cadet uses his own experiences to inform readers of the wretched conditions (subhuman, to be exact) that over 300,000 children of Haiti suffer through daily.  He extends his story to his years in the U. S. Army, where he meets a new type of racism while simultaneously finding his first “home.”  Restavec  is a strong contender for common read programs as it offers readers a powerful story that leads to in-depth conversation topics ranging from global issues to personal views on abuse.  These discussions help students to  focus on our need to help those who face such desperate hardship and poverty.   



2009 Freshman Read
2008 Freshman Read

THE PACT by Davis, Hunt, and Jenkins

2008 St. Catharine College Freshman Read

The story of three resourceful young men who grew up in a drug and crime infested neighborhood, The Pact resonates for all readers who know of or have experienced failure due to drug use and its accompanying cultural decline.  These three teens are not immune to falling prey to peer pressure, yet it is the strength of their pact that pulls them through trial after trial.  Telling their stories with simple honesty, they compel readers to turn the page and discover how they overcome all odds to enter college and to eventually graduate to become successful doctors. 

For the purpose of a common read, The Pact elicits conversation on individual, parental, and community accountability.  In addition, the book speaks clearly to brotherhood and the collective strength it engenders.