I Should Have Read it Long Ago

There are some books on my TBR that have tarried there far too long.  Had way too many cups of coffee whilst killing time in purgatory.  Or maybe a beer.  Or a hundred beers.

These are the modern books that are good for me, not just the dusty classics into which this blog wanders from time to time.  The award winners that I have sometimes passed over when I don’t want to use my brain as much or the ones that seem to constantly dangle in front of me, strongly recommended.  Books that any self respecting book blogger logged long ago and that I admit I am just getting to now.

I own my guilt but I also am a firm believer that every book in its time.  A book gets read when it is time for me to read it, not necessarily when it hits the award list or keeps showing up on some of the book sites I troll.   Or even when my price stalking ends in a 1.99 victory with 3.99 companion audio.

 

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Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng

I may have climbed into this novel now as I have a child coming up on the age where he can better understand what larger things I might want for him.  Better understand, not completely.

This novel is about two parents who focus all their unrealized fantasies on a daughter who dies as at the opening of the novel, mysteriously, in the middle of her teenage years.  It is about the dead daughter but it isn’t, too: it’s about how people’s unchecked dreams can spin out into dysfunction for all involved.  Parents whose issues prevent separation/individuation, instead creating a lens through which they view a chosen child as a vessel for their unrealized hopes and dreams, some weird sort of second chance. It’s messed up, but the stories of how it really gets so messed up are engrossing and relatable.

The book is also about what it was like to be different in the not so distant past, where people were expected to marry and procreate within their race and their children being able to fit neatly into the scheme of things, the status quo.  Neither parent in the book is the status quo:  a brilliant mother with the ability and ambition to attend medical school and rejecting her assigned housewife role, the Asian man who makes it in the Caucasian world of academia.  It’s not difficult for me to be who I want to be in my environment, but I can’t forget the people who have to defend their right to be who they want to be when it flies in the face of convention.  Grad school did not have the extra layer of suck that it has had for women in the past. And I came across plenty of women in my higher education who were getting degrees even though they were becoming mothers or already mothers.  The repression of times past created so much yearning and sadness. And here I am with an advanced degree, a full time career, and am a shining beacon of parenting that involves likely too much sodium and the unconditional support of Netflix. And my contentment with my world is pretty solid.

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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz

I have to admit my burnout on Latin American novels, and the fact that this had the same audio narrator as The Shadow of the Wind did not help.  For some reason I was not expecting this to be similar to the other Latin American novels I have read, and in some parts it was more Americanized and contemporary, and in other parts I felt I was back in the pages of Marquez, Allende, or Zafon.  I mean, Diaz is in good company with that trifecta, but one has to be in the mood to read about the Latin American political intrigue and family curses un-spooling over generations just to end in a glorious burning crash for the characters you spend the most time getting to care about.  I was not sure I was completely game for the inferno, but in the same vein Diaz’ artistry was not entirely lost on me. It deserved the Pulitzer.  I mean, I still don’t get how A Visit from the Goon Squad won one, and I did not get far into Gilead before I abandoned it, but this, yeah, I can see it.  I also liked Middlesex and The Shipping News, and I could fawn over All The Light We Cannot See to the point of being annoying.

I was rooting for the ghetto nerd.  I am immensely satisfied that it did not end with his attempted suicide.  Is that a spoiler? I hope not.  I mean, it won the prize in 2008, I don’t know what other serious reader in the world has not gotten to it yet.

The journey of too long neglected books continues next week with my wandering out of my usual genres into some newer territory.

I turn a year older in this upcoming week, but at least I won my age group in my first triathlon (sprint) this summer 🙂

 

Comments/likes/shares are always welcome!

Bringing Ancient Greece to Life

It finally started getting warm.  I think June might end up being okay.  The rain at least brings the green that I ache for all winter long.  Even when the snow feels cozy, I miss the green.  So there is green.

Myths and legends are the foundation on which we build our cultures and societies.  As such, they provide a framework from which we can make our own spins and interpretations of the well known stories and characters: gods, demi-gods, the foolish mortals, etc.  They contain the classic messages that still apply to us today.

The Greek myths discussed in the books I am reviewing for this post both have their own spins on Greek mythology.  One is an indie review where I was provided a free copy in exchange for a review on my blog, and the author suggested that I could compare his book with Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, as he told me that some of his readers drew parallels between his book and that one.

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Icarus and the Wing Builder, Robert William Case

This is the story of Daedalus and Icarus in Ancient Greece, how Daedalus came to meet and adopt Icarus, their exile and their mutually hatched plot to build a pair of wings to be the first men to fly.  However, there is only one historical keeper of the tale, Daedalus.  Could he be the infamous unreliable narrator who has pulled in many a listener to tales?  Did he really fly too close to the sun to meet his demise?  Does Daedalus have another motive for telling that story? Icarus was originally an orphan, Daedalus was a man sent by the king to explore the secret of bronze after he is blamed unfairly for the death of one of his workers.  Both needed to find new places in the world.

Like other reviewers report, this is mythology but reads more like historical fiction.  The author very much wants the reader to get a feel for what it was like to live in Ancient Greece, the ceremonies, the structure of power and the rise and fall from favor.  What people had to do in order to survive.  If you want to benefit from the author’s research and get a feel for what it was like to live in these times, this book is absolutely a good fit.  There is romance, lots of adventure, and some rebellion against the status quo.  Be warned that this is actually the first in a trilogy, and while the ending does have a degree of satisfaction on its’ own, the excerpt of the next installment suggests there is more to the story. I don’t want to spoil what the next installment suggests, but the whole story is not told at the last page.

And I was able to hang in there even though the story is centered on male characters and their concerns, which is an endorsement coming from me.  I cared about what happened to them, even thought they were males with different power and opportunities.

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The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan

In my opinion, the similarities between this book and Icarus and the Wing Builder nearly end at the facts that they both use Greek mythology for their characters and that they both bring these stories more to life for someone who has not researched them considerably on their own. For one thing, this is a middle grade/young adult novel, whereas Case’s book is an adult book. For one thing, there is sex and romance in Icarus that a reader of The Lightning Thief would not understand or likely care very much for.   And persecution, and other adult topics that kids do not relate to in the same way as they relate to issues in books targeted to them.

Percy is a sixth grade kid that has never fit in anywhere in the regular world of mortals, and finds out his true story of being a demi god the summer after sixth grade.  He finds it out because he is put in the middle of a conflict between the gods, goes to a camp for other demi god children, and meets other gods in the process.  I can see where this book has become so popular.  I had wanted to read it because many of the kids I work with have read it and very much loved it and have gained an interest in mythology from it.  I would share this book with my son, absolutely, in that it is relateable, interesting, and funny.

I have probably belabored the point on how important I feel it is to bring history and our culture into tangible detail for people to really understand where our civilization comes from.  As such, these books are both important works.  I got a better understanding of the context and the characters at play in Ancient Greece and what it may have been like to live there.

Comments/likes/shares are always greatly appreciated! Leave the love.

 

Mermaids!

I doubt few things are more interesting or appealing than mythical creatures whose intention it is to destroy men.  Fewer things are more timeless than destruction, seduction, and curiosity.

What could be more timeless than the mermaid whose purpose it was to drive men mad in the pursuit of them? And then the countless attempts at recreating these creatures in legends and curiosity exhibits?

The few books in this post to sample the topic of mermaids treat them all differently.  And it does not include all the mermaid books I would like to read or all the circus/sideshow reads in my book hoarding situation.

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The Mermaid’s Sister, Carrie Ann Noble

This was a either a Kindle First or a discounted price treasure and was the winner of Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award in 2014 for Young Adult fiction.

This one is as magical and mythical as a mermaid story gets. It is a fairy tale with the usual dose of nefarious characters and intentions, magic, and larger than life characters.  Two girls raised as sisters and one is becoming the mermaid she was meant to be, making the other sister, who is trying to get her to the ocean where she belongs out of love, wonders what this means for her.  Is she meant to turn into a stork, like her own legend of origin suggests?  What about the boy that is almost like a brother figure to her who is helping her try to save the sister and her feelings about him that just won’t be controlled?   All sorts of drama, darkness, and magic. Characters in this one actually have tattoos to immunize themselves from the curse of madness that seeing a mermaid can set upon one. And some regular teenage crises too just to keep it real.  I liked the audio with this one, and I am not at all surprised that it stood out enough to get an award for being the new kid on the block.

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The Book of Speculation, Erika Swyler

Also a debut novel, interestingly.  Strong family themes (similarly to The Mermaid’s Sister) in this tale of mystery and an inter-generational family curse that has to be untangled in time to save the latest generation from the same fate.  A librarian comes into possession of a book that helps him to unravel the reason why his mother and grandmother, both with mermaid abilities to swim and perform in a traveling show, seemed to drown themselves on the same day.  Again, the mermaid’s otherworldly, obsessive appeal is also talked about here as well as the mermaid being part of a show. Because what else would a woman with an uncanny swimming ability and in need of support do with herself back in times past?  Especially a woman to whom men felt an unexplainable draw? There is also a lot of reference to Tarot and reading Tarot cards to amp up the atmospheric mystery.  Sara Gruen endorses the novel on the cover, and people who like Sara Gruen (Water for Elephants and At the Water’s Edge) will probably like this one too. And the ending has just a bit of a twist on it.  So, worth the time.  I also have the prequel that I didn’t get to in time for this post. Shame on me.

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The Museum of Extraordinary Things, Alice Hoffman

I coveted this one for awhile before it came up on an Audible sale and I snagged it. Alice Hoffman is an author who I have hoarded up, and this one reminded me of why and that I need to get crackin through all her other stuff. It was one I was excited to procure, that I had not read yet which could be a Reading Challenge category.

While this one is more popular than some of hers (I am defining popular by the number of reviews I see on Amazon), it does not appear to be as much so as The Dovekeepers or The Marriage of Opposites.  This one just hinted right at the get go of being atmospheric, set in turn of the century NYC, one of my favorite novel settings for some reason, and it did not disappoint.  Have I mentioned before in my posts that NYC always has had this draw for me and for about ten minutes a year I think I could actually live there, when I currently live in a beautiful home in the country and driving to the nearby small cities can get overwhelming for me? A home where I regularly enjoy the benefits of living where I do? Yeah.  Then I am down there visiting a friend and I see children my son’s age boarding the subway and I have a panic attack imagining if that was me with my boy.

Alice Hoffman intersects personal histories in the context of the setting like only she can do.  A girl born with webbed fingers to a man who owns a sideshow museum and is groomed for performance as a mermaid in a tank, essentially as a prisoner, a Jewish boy who separates from his father after his father tries to commit suicide, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory disaster, and the intense political climate of the haves and have nots.  There usually aren’t even ten minutes of the year where I want to live in turn of the century NYC, but I love to read the tales of immigration, coming of age in a fast changing but still traditional world, people trying to hang onto their personal history as well as responding to the world around them in order to survive.

This book was everything I wanted it to be. Engrossing, intense, painfully real. I listened to it during driving in the rain which seemed to intensify it even more.

Mermaid books that I can’t miss?  None of these are romance novels, and I thought I saw some romance novels in the mermaid category, which would make sense, given then are supposed to drive men crazy.

In my own mermaid moment it is finally warm enough to swim in the lake with a wetsuit.  The fact I own a wetsuit and like to swim in lakes makes me ultimately unsuitable for my NYC dreams.  I don’t feel like a siren, either, just a woman wrapped in some weird fabric trying not to  dead sea float for long enough for the neighbors to think I might be dead out there.

Comments/suggestions/shares? I always love them.

Middle Grade Novels: Roots and Branches

Please month of June, give me warmth.

I love the green of the springtime around here but the rain is feeling prohibitive.  That might not seem like the right word, but it is.  Trying to train, trying to camp outside, trying to soak up every moment of this saturated season.

I wrestled two additional middle grade novels for this post.  Novels about kids thrust into adult situations and prevailed upon to help with adult problems.  Completely not okay in the real world, but like many things, makes a good story nonetheless.

Through these situations these children figure out their talents and how to use them, as well as the meaning of family, which are developmental tasks for the audience.

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The Mysterious Benedict Society,  Trenton Lee Stewart

So this is a four book set, but I was okay with just reading the first one.  A bunch of genius kids without families to miss them are selected to infiltrate a nefarious empire to spoil a mind control plot.  The kids are ingenious, argue a few times, but then become a solid family to one another, aside from finding or gaining adult family members as well.  These kids sprout both their roots and their potential.  I needed audiobook and a road trip assistance to work my way through this one.  My brain wanted adult themes.

I don’t know if I would have liked it more if I was a member of the target audience, but it is still a contender to share with my son when he is in that bracket.  He could be the kind of kid who fantasizes about being a genius.  I know I did occasionally and it got me into a life that can be overwhelming sometimes. One never knows.

 

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Greenglass House, Kate Milford

An orphan again, but this one has been adopted by parents who seem completely appropriate but who are accessories to smuggling.  They live in a big house that they run as a hotel to smugglers, allowing themselves to be a crossroads for illegal activity.  You can’t live in such a place in your middle childhood years without getting sucked into some kind of intrigue that you had no hand in creating.  While his parents are distracted with a mysterious influx of guests one Christmas season, he begins to realize that the combination of guests is not random at all.  They are tied to one another or to the history of the house.  He wonders about where he came from, and the other potentialities of his life, as well as learns more about being the person that he wants to be through role play (fake it til you make it, right?) so those are more childlike themes along with the adult stuff going on.  There so much action that the time crawls to Christmas and the peak of the action, the solving of the biggest mystery is about the treasure of family, not the treasure of valuable goods.   Another contender to share with my son in a few years, if he gets past the toilet humor.

Another one that I needed the help of audio to get me through, and I will share with my son, but my adult brain wanted adult things.  I had some adult things to read to give myself a break, which I am trying to finish to create the next themed post.  More atmospheric, legendary, and reaches of the imagination.

Comments/likes/shares are always welcome!

Better Together: Coming of Age in America

Happy Memorial Day everyone! Yes, the day is about remembering who we have lost defending our country but it is also the kickoff to summer.  Thank you for brave lives, thank you for summer.  Thanks for my freedom, thanks for grilling, swimming, and cold drinks.

I chose this featured image because lilacs are out Memorial Day and signal to me the coming of June and better things.

I set up the tent this week and my son and I camped in the rain.  I am tired of waiting.

So I missed a post last week.

It actually has more to do with competition training than a thriving social life.  I completed my first half marathon last weekend and ran every step, even though the last four miles I really wanted to walk. My training partner was riding with me, and that helped, as well as visualizing what it would be like to tell people I couldn’t run the entire thing after three months of training and a bloody toenail. The end was grueling and I nearly couldn’t step up on the curb to go into Starbucks for my reward coffee.

And I just bought a wetsuit because it’s time for triathlon season and I am a grape hanging at the bottom of the Adirondacks.

I am trying to decide if I will be posting every other week this summer instead of weekly due to training and seeing people taking over my slivers of time, although this can create a backlog of read books and no posts for them.

Today I have two books that are coming of age books, but also are about two grandfathers who are living life like they want it.  Turn of the century America (turn of the twentieth, that is), and white patriarchy thrives with stories of two children admiring and orbiting their patriarchs. One is a girl and one is a boy, and one is about accepting a crappy lot and trying to get to your dreams and the other is a boy choosing his life and everyone around him letting him do it.

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The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, Jaqueline Kelly

As a woman with a doctorate in science myself, this one is a soul crusher.  A soul renderer.  I nearly had to abandon it.  A little girl finds a love of natural science, something I have always found fascinating, through her grandfather.  He takes her under his wing and they puzzle through the natural world and even discover something new and notable together.  This all makes her heart sing.  And then, as she is pre-teen, her mother starts to try to cram her into the role that upper middle class white girls are supposed to fill in 1906 Texas: housewifery.  Cooking and housekeeping and bearing children.  And of course she is not good at it, unlike her pretty and sweet friend, who all the boys have a crush on and wins the competitions at the fair of pretty lace and handcrafts that Calpurnia is also forced to humiliate herself by entering.  Calpurnia wants to enter university and read On The Origin of the Species and she gets a housekeeping book for Christmas that she hates. The book does not end in her somehow being rescued from her fate of a miserable career in a house, and I don’t know how it could and be realistic, but she continues to hang onto her dreams as she grows.

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Cold Sassy Tree, Olive Ann Burns

Same period in history but narrated by a slightly older boy and in Georgia instead of Texas, Cold Sassy Tree was awesome to read right after The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate so they could be compared.  Will Tweety is allowed to do nearly anything he pleases.  He has to go to school, and he has to mind his grandfather, which usually trumps his mother or his father, but it is clear that the world is this boy’s oyster.  It can be a double edged sword in that he has some responsibilities which seem to exceed what his years and experience would justify, but he is a boy, he is the boy his grandfather never had, and the family is turned upside down by his grandfather marrying another woman three weeks after their beloved matriarch dies.  Will Tweety is introduced to a much wider world than Calpurnia, especially with him being allowed and almost expected to know about sex at a young age, and I know Calpurnia is a children’s book and Cold Sassy Tree is not, but I think that her being completely oblivious to the idea of sex would still ring true if it was not a children’s book.   Everyone is asking Will what he wants to do as a career, unlike Calpurnia, who no one really asks because they do not believe she has a choice in the matter.  Will’s grandfather makes a total scandal in a town that thrives on scandal and judging the choices of others, but like Calpurnia’s, he also does what he wants, and everyone else has to deal with it.

Neither of these books make me romanticize the past, as much as I absolutely love historical fiction. I loved them both, as they intersect the loss of innocence of a child with the world changing rapidly around them.  The magic of growing older, the magic of all the new things that the world is coming up with, wanting to hang on to childhood and the old ways as well as enjoying the modernities of the world.  Straddling of the old and the new and the world is your rich white granddaddy’s playground.

Getting it together for another post next week.

Comments/likes/shares are always appreciated.

 

 

Books that Make me a Better Mom

Happy Mother’s Day!

It’s honestly nice to have some holidays in the books that are not completely kid centered.  I know a lot of people out there feel that holidays are just made up by the people who stand to profit from them, and maybe so, but sometimes I think those same people either do not have young children, have forgotten their own fun at holidays or sadly did not have any fun at all when they were kids.

Don’t get me wrong, I love planning holidays for my son.  He got a sweet snorkel set for Easter and a bubble machine.  And a ball shooter.  I got him a butterfly kit for Christmas and its just about time to order the caterpillars.  And a beautiful sleeping bag that it has not been warm enough to camp in, which he is absolutely dying to do.

But holidays are an exhausting grind that even if I can have some wine and lounge on the couch, I feel guilty I am not being more fun for my son.  Not making the memory just a bit more awesome.

So Mother’s Day, man, it’s the thing.  My husband usually comes up with gift cards and free time for me and that’s perfect.  It could be free time, it does not actually have to be gift cards.

But then books.  What books make me a good parent?  They are not parenting help books.  I kind of spend my day working on parenting with families, albeit specialized parenting that you need support with when you have a child with mental illness.  This does not mean that I don’t read creative child or parent.co or scary mommy articles:  I do.  They are refreshers.  They give me an idea of where other moms are at.  They give me good ideas.  They remind me that meeting a child’s emotional needs now does not make them dependent on you forever (which I do know, and I talk with parents about short term v long term parenting goals) but I like articles that keep this fresh for me.

Books that make me a better parent remind me of the magic in the regular world for kids.  The magic, the humor, the way they see adults until they get become one.  The intense self consciousness, the concern about fitting in and am I going to be powerful like adults are someday. My son always wants me to slow down to show me dead bugs on the windowsill, or a worm (I think its always the same worm for some reason) and not cook dinner right away to ride bikes.  I often do not want to slow down or change gears or put down what I am doing, but most of the time I do, because if I don’t pay attention now, he will stop asking for it when he needs guidance on the harder stuff that I want to be included in.  I don’t always slow down perfectly.  And he isn’t an exhausting child.

I could wax poetic for days about how much I want my son to have a present mom who did everything right.  We all want that.  I feel like half my job some weeks is scrubbing guilt off a parents soul about “messing my kid up.”

So, the books. Okay.

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Ruth Chew

I may have talked about Ruth before, but as the first author love I really remember and wanted to get through everything the library had, she earns herself another mention.   She wrote about magic that I wish was real.  Adventures in flying and shrinking and witches and spells and potions.  Heck yeah.  Going to read at least one of these to my son. And remember what the world felt like when I thought maybe this could happen, or I would imagine what I would do if I could fly or shrink and explore a tree.  I don’t remember getting emotionally taken away by a single TV show the way she took me away.

And they have recently been re issuing her books, so I think I am not alone out there in my love for her.  I think a lot of my generation loves her.

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Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome

I read this as a full grown adult for my first reading list tackle.  It is an English family living out the Second World War in the country while their father is involved in the war and they camp and spend the summer engrossed in their world of pretend.  I don’t want to spend the summer camping the entire time or playing like I was a pirate, but you got so into what they were doing it started to seem appealing.  It can be amazing to get immersed in pretend as a kid, and this reminded me of that.  Another share for my son.  This one might be a harder sell because it does come from a different culture at a different time in history, but deep down we were all the same kids at heart.

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Roald Dahl

Road Dahl reminds me that kids want to feel they influence their worlds.  I would fantasize as a kid about being more consequential in the eyes of adults than I was before I joined their ranks.  I thought I wanted to be more conspicuous, like on TV or something, and I did things at school to be noticed in positive ways.  But Dahl’s kids get to like talk to the queen and choose their parents and roll away from abusive situations in giant fruit.   And they outsmart adults. Yas.

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The Cricket in Times Square, George Selden

Being small and living in new spaces that adults did not traverse was somehow an exciting prospect.  I mean, right now I wouldn’t want to be a mouse living in a subway, but kudos to Selden for realizing that this would be a magical idea for a kid.  A cranny where one can watch the adults and hide treasures. And it takes place in NYC, the completely foreign place I got to visit as a kid, and makes use of this bustling backdrop to make the book fun.  Adult problems of how to survive living in the city were not real, but somehow there was something relatable about scrounging for food and watching the world as a small creature.

And reading for my own pleasure makes me a better mom. They say you should model reading for fun to your kids and I wonder if its the same when I am holding my kindle instead of a physical book.  I listen to books in the car with my son when he is watching a movie but I have started to consider putting on books he might like too to share the fun with him.  He does not choose to be read to on electronics or ask me to do it unless he is putting off his bed, so I have to keep working at his becoming a reader himself one day.  He isn’t the reader his mother is, but that’s okay.  The beauty of the children’s book market is that it is so competitive that a lot comes out designed to hook kids.  I will find something he really loves and ride that pony.  I am not above it.

What books remind you of the world as seen from the eyes of a kid?

 

Shares/Comments/Likes

 

Good-for-You YA

Sometimes, I think that YA books work harder at tackling difficult issues and topics because they are still meant to meet impressionable minds trying to make their way in the world.  When I see calls for YA manuscripts, usually ones that tackle tough and current issues, like mental illness and immigration, are the ones that publishers are looking for.

And it’s great.  I have often said on this blog that YA books can help build empathy in a mind that is open to empathy but might still be focused on the smaller immediate world of the person.  I don’t think that all teens are necessarily ‘me’ focused. I have met many on different parts of the spectrum, from completely self centered to so giving and concerned with others I have had to help them pull it back a little to take care of themselves.

Today I am tackling two YA books that are very very different, but I both feel are important in their own ways, written in different times and contexts.

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A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K Le Guin

There are lists floating about discussing important children’s books always mentions A Wizard of Earthsea, floating between Anne of Green Gables and Charlotte’s Web and Winne the Pooh and all the other better known ones I long since read.  And like those classics, it is about growing up and knowing your power, but it reminded me more of the Lord of the Rings, and His Dark Materials.  It is a created world, and there are significant philosophical slants to it, very Tao. It discusses the power of names and knowing true names, managing and respecting power, coming to terms with death.  I noticed in the age rating on Amazon it says 12 and up, no upper age limit, because although intended as a children’s book, it extends past the reaches of coming of age and into bigger, more lifelong concepts. Even if one did tackle it in middle school, it would need to be revisited, much like Lord of the Rings and His Dark Materials require multiple readings.  Full disclosure, I have only read the Hobbit and the Fellowship, and I know that the other two are going to have to happen.  Maybe when the snow returns in a fit of binge crafting.  Anyway.  This is heavy and it is not flashy.  It is a journey through an unknown land of a boy figuring out how to wield his power.  I feel more well read in the children’s classics, but I don’t know if this is something I would share with my son.  Depending on who he is and how I frame it to him.  Huge work, though.

So Wizard was written in 1968, and combines legends and philosophical concepts, which I think is in keeping with the times in which it is written.  Race forward to 2014. Prejudice has focused to Pakistan and Afghanistan and Muslim countries as our ‘enemies’ when the vast majority of these equally god fearing people are coming here to live for opportunity and freedoms. Like the reason we all came over.  My family was here before we were a country because we wanted religious freedom and began the Seventh Day Adventists.  So I am not judging on anyone who is looking for the same.  I think our young people need to be informed and empathic to everyone coming here looking for something better. Just because some of us may have gotten here first doesn’t mean we have rights to more of the pie.

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The Art of Secrets, James Klise

I stumbled on this one because it was a 2015 Edgar Award Winner. This is an epistolary novel, which may fit some reading challenge criteria. It is interesting, well written and pulls in a number of personalities and motives.  It’s a mystery, not so much who committed the catalyst crime but who committed the following one.  The tragedy centers on a Muslim family who are the victims of arson and then the privileged white school kids who are trying to help them. Told from all these perspectives it is a rich and multi faceted plot that does not ignore the differences between kids coming in to the privileged school in Chicago and the worlds that they come from.  Some reviews felt that some of the nonwhite voices are a little stilted and stereotypical, and maybe they are, but I still liked it the same.  It has a rating of 3.5 on Goodreads, which I feel maybe could be a little higher, considering The Winter Sea was rated higher but I think it is less important.  It has won or been in the running for a number of awards and reading lists. This is one I might encourage my son to read or read with him.

I have sooo much YA in my kindle because of my own enjoyment of the genre and my own desires to write it.  So there will be lots more YA posts to come, but I felt both of these works are important in their own ways.

May has finally arrived!

Half marathon on Mother’s Day weekend next weekend!  ahhh

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