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The theme to this year's Summer Challenge is Find Your Voice, so we've asked staff to share books and movies about finding or following your passion. Here are their top picks.

Book River
Book River Items

Legends & Lattes : a Novel of High Fantasy and Low Stakes (2022)

by Travis Baldree

A battle-weary orc hangs up her axe and decides to follow her passion ... coffee. In this cozy fantasy, follow Viv as she opens up her own coffee shop. Friends will be made, adversity overcome, and coffee brewed. You may want to pour yourself a mug before you sit down to read this adorable story. — Lauren, Hanover Park Branch


Memphis (2022)

by Tara M Stringfellow

This book follows three generations of women in a Memphis family who all share a drive to follow their passions, even if they look very different. One woman strives to become a doctor with two young daughters at home. One woman wants to own a home with her husband despite being black in the Jim Crow south. And one woman wants to follow her dream of becoming an artist and showing the world the beauty of her black Memphis neighborhood. — Amanda, Youth Services


As Good As Gold : 1 Woman, 9 Sports, 10 Countries, and a 2-year Quest to Make the Summer Olympics (2010)

by Kathryn Bertine

This book is about one woman's experience to make the Olympic Games in any sport. Her passion for sports and competition provides the drive to persevere towards her goal. I love the witty writing style, and I learned deeper appreciation for athletes. — Allison, Fiction, Movies & Music


A Man Called Otto (2023)

by Columbia Pictures

Funny and made me cry. — Keith, Circulation


Dexter, The First Season (2007)

by Paramount Pictures Corporation

Dexter learns to channel his hankering for homicide (somewhat) productively into vigilantism. The quality of the show varies by season, but at its best it's great. — Beth, Access Services


Komi Can't Communicate, Volume 1 (2019)

by Tomohito Oda

A girl who is so shy that she can't even speak and consequently ends up being misunderstood as "too cool for friends." With the assistance of the most average of Average Joes and some pushing from their social butterfly classmate, she finds the strength to pursue her goal of making 100 friends, and most importantly, to find her own voice while doing so. — Eugene, Circulation


Belle (2022)

by Shout! Factory

A futuristic retelling of Beauty and the Beast, in this story, a shy schoolgirl from rural Japan uses a futuristic internet to reignite her passion for singing, and along the way she uses her connections and influence to become a voice for the voiceless. Full of stunning visuals and great music in both the Japanese and English versions! — Eugene, Circulation


Keep Your Hands off Eizouken!, 01 (2020)

by Sumito Oowara

A trio of schoolgirls get together to fulfill their dream of making their own animated film, and go through the process of making it from scratch. Along the way, they have to deal with creator's block, conflicting ideas, tight schedules, and all the other obstacles that come with the creative process. A great read (and watch!) for those interested in the indie film production process, or know the struggles of making one's creative dreams a reality.— Eugene, Circulation


Flashdance (2017)

by Paramount Home Entertainment

This film is about a Pittsburgh woman with two jobs: a welder and an exotic dancer who wants to get into ballet school. I enjoyed Jennifer Beals in this film as she portrays her struggles and intense desire to become a ballet dancer. Great dance scene at the end! – Janet, Fiction, Movies & Music


The Secret to Superhuman Strength (2021)

by Alison Bechdel

This is a graphic novel memoir that explores the intersection of physical fitness, literature of the spirit, mindfulness and meditation, and nature. It starts off as a book about Bechdel's fitness experiences but broadens into explorations of Romantic poets, Transcendentalists, and Zen Buddhists. While the jumping off point is the desire for physical fitness, the true heart of the story speaks the desire so many of us have for meaning. — Emily, Fiction, Movies & Music

The Rookie (2002)

by Walt Disney Pictures

Since childhood, Jimmy Morris has had a passion for baseball, however due to injury his MLB dreams were never realized. As motivation for his high school baseball team, Morris agrees to attend an MLB tryout that changes the course of his life. I enjoy that this movie follows an established adult with a career and family who puts this otherwise fulfilling life on hold to pursue a childhood dream. — Sara, Fiction, Movies & Music


Ander & Santi Were Here (2023)

by Jonny Garza Villa

Ander & Santi Were Here is a young adult/new adult book about finding home, finding voice and finding love. Ander and Santi may be fighting for different things, but together, they learn to use their voice, art and love to fit into a brutal yet beautiful world.— Abbey, Youth Services


Maybe an Artist (2022)

by Elizabeth Montague

A brilliant memoir of a talented artist who choose to question The New Yorker about their lack of inclusion and diversity in their comics. Liz has a passion for art and found a way to use her talent to make her voice heard.— Abbey, Youth Services


This Book Will Save the Planet (2022)

by Dany Sigwalt

A climate-change must-read! This Book Will Save the Planet provides a unique format to present the information through colorful illustrations and varied text size. The information is directly targeted at how youth can help understand climate change, climate policies, and the impact humans are having on our planet. This book also provides reflection opportunities for readers to assess and evaluate what they are doing now and how to make changes in the future. At the end of the book, additional resources are shared for further exploration. — Abbey, Youth Services