By Carson McCullers
Last but by no means least is the book that had perhaps the most profound impact on me while I was growing up. It seems incredible that Carson McCullers was a mere 23 years old when she wrote this. McCullers depicts a small Southern town and a handful of "misfits" who live there. The central character, John Singer, is a deaf-mute whose isolation and loneliness are painfully described. But it's the character Mick Kelly, a shy, thoughtful girl, who affected me the most. She was surrounded by desolate circumstances, and yet her passionate search for beauty was unflinching. As is true for so many of the books I've mentioned, this one was moving because it depicts the triumph of the human heart.