The Home and Garden Journal of Kayla Pins

Book Pandora: Harry Potter + Ozark

Book Pandora: Harry Potter + Ozark

My students and I play a game called Book Pandora.

I adore suggesting books for people to love. I used to have SSR (silent sustained reading) with the same group of students three days a week and it was a great pride of mine to see them love my selections for them.

It’s been months since I’ve seen my “kids.” I miss them and I miss our reading time together. So I put out a call on my Facebook page for friends to play Book Pandora with me:

I had a few replies, and today’s post is for Molly.

Molly replied that her favorite books were the Harry Potter Series (she’s my friend in real life and I can testify she is a total Potterhead!) and that she recently watched Ozark on Netflix. What a combo!

I’m not aware of a young adult fantasy fiction drug-running rural America book. So instead of mixing the two genres, I’ll suggest some from each.

The first book I’ll suggest is Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. It reminds me of Ozark in that there is a dark and gritty quality to the whole book. Like many Gillian Flynn (of Gone Girl) novels it takes place in the same states as the Ozarks.

As a child, the main character survived a satanic murder of the rest of her family, and the convicted killer is her older brother. She survives on a trust fund of donations after the murders. Twenty-five years later her trust fund is running low and she is contacted by a member of the Kill Club, a group of people who are obsessed with notorious murders.

The group believes her testimony was coerced and that her brother is innocent. The main character becomes involved with the group and twists that only Gillian Flynn can fashion ensue.

My best attempt at blending Molly’s two genres is the book Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf. While not technically a young adult novel, it was very popular among my students. It takes place in the rural Midwest, and there is a fantastical element too.

In this book, a 12-year-old girl is found repeatedly stabbed and nearly dead in an abandoned train yard. Her two friends were supposed to have been with her but both deny knowing anything of the crime. The girl was obsessed with a local legend: A ghost who is said to take young girls to live with him.

Everyone is a suspect in this book. It weaves social media, helicopter parents, and peer pressure together in a book that is appropriate for young people but important for adults.

It might seem too obvious- This was such a popular series a decade ago, but I’ve got to suggest the YA Divergent series by Veronica Roth. Also, it’s dark and takes place in the Midwest (in the future… but still). The series takes place in dystopian Chicago and teens are divided into factions on their 16th birthday based on what they value most: Honesty, bravery, peacefulness, intelligence, and selflessness.

The main character chooses a faction that no one expects from her.  The perfectly created society isn’t so perfect. Twists and turns ensue. The plotline is quite typical but I found myself totally absorbed and I find myself still thinking of the lessons in this book.

I hope you like my picks for you, Molly!

Do you want to play? Comment below with your picks for Molly or, if you want picks for you, comment with your favorite book ever and your recent favorite show and I’ll feature you in an upcoming post.

Photo by Karim Ghantous on Unsplash


3 thoughts on “Book Pandora: Harry Potter + Ozark”

  • Kayla, as usual you are dead-on! I have read all of Gillian Flynn and love her style. I will order Before She Was Found today. And, I am behind the times and haven’t tried the Divergent series, but will get one from the library as soon as they open locally.

  • The Divergent series is amazing. As a former Chicagoan, I was trying to determine where everything was and I was about 75% successful. It is a well-crafted series and she is a local author, doing many book signings at local independent book stores. (Shout out to Anderson Books!)

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