We are dedicating the 2021 Battle Creek Reads to the Ties That Bind Us.

Ties can provide comfort, pulling you back to the ones you love. Ties can become strength, unbreakable in the face of danger. Sometimes these ties can keep you grounded when all you want to do is fly away…

We have selected two great books to share with you through the annual Battle Creek Reads program. Battle Creek Reads, which started in 2006, encourages community members to read the same book, talk about it, and then meet the author.

In Reyna Grande's memoir, "The Distance Between Us," we read about the author's early years as a child crossing the Mexican border into the United States to reunite with her father. Following the ties of family, young Reyna must brave the dangers of the terrain and the law, leaving behind a home she has always known to make a new one with the person she's always yearned for.

I like the relevancy of Reyna's story not only because of her ties to her family and culture, but because it brings us into family struggles different from our own that are widely publicized but rarely understood.

Grande will do a live streaming talk on Thursday, March 11, at 7 p.m.

In "A Woman Is No Man," Etaf Rum introduces us to three generations of Palestinian American women tethered to their Arab culture and comforted during times of violence, but as they struggle with their individuality, will this tie become a chain?

Once again I was drawn to the cultural ties in this book. Three different women must learn to understand each other and what their culture means to them during trying times.

There is also the expectation of what a girl and a woman is supposed to become, and though I am not of the same culture as the women in the book, I can identify with the characters.

Rum will do a live streaming talk on Tuesday, April 13, at 7 p.m.

With the start of the quarantine earlier this year and reading articles about how the quarantine has brought families closer together or broken them up, we naturally gravitated to books that focused on familial ties for Battle Creek Reads.

These titles were selected from a list of great books befitting of our Ties that Bind theme. A team of Willard Library staff members reviewed the potential Battle Creek Reads books. With so many great books, it was hard to pick just one so we picked two for 2021!

Both books are now available for checkout at Willard Library and Helen Warner Branch.

"The Distance Between Us" also is available from Libby in ebook and audiobook and from Overdrive in ebook and audiobook. We invite children to participate in 2021's Battle Creek Reads by enjoying the Young Readers Edition of "The Distance Between Us" for grades six through nine. It can be reserved here. It also is available in Spanish.

"A Woman Is No Man" is available in CD book, Hoopla ebook and audiobook,Libby ebook and audiobook, and Overdrive ebook and audiobook.

We hope these books will inspire readers to reflect on the ties they have in their lives and how it has gotten them through these current, challenging events.

I think residents will enjoy the opportunity to read about different families and possibly see themselves in these situations and dilemmas.

In addition to the author talks, we plan virtual community book discussions for each book this spring.

Happy reading!

Jade is reading "I'm Thinking of Ending Things" and listening to "BTS" on Freegal.