Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What I Read Wednesday

I thought that with this [very extended] holiday break, I would get more reading done. Alas, the library doesn't typically get book deliveries on Saturday and it was closed Monday and Tuesday due to the weather. This means that tomorrow when I return to work, a giant stack of books will be waiting for me at the library.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
I had a funny moment on Saturday where I realized that I was supposed to make a unit plan for this book and I completely spaced. I'm teaching The Devil's Arithmetic to my students, and I have one who already read it on the other team so I told him I'd differentiate and create an alternate assignment for him. After frantically reading this and creating assignments, we then had three more days of break. Go figure. Anyway, this is one case where I've seen the movie before the book, so I knew the ending (oops), but I still enjoyed it. I felt like the book did a better job of painting just how naive Bruno was toward his dad and the going-ons in Germany, especially as his relationship with Shmuel unfolded. If you haven't read this one, I'd definitely recommend it.

Story of a Girl
A twitter friend said she was reading this and I managed to snag it from the library just before the snow hit. As a middle school teacher, this was a must-read, but I think it's a good read for anyone about snap judgments and the way we treat people, especially if you're a parent of kids who may be teens someday. Kids make mistakes and no matter what we do or try to do, they might be mistakes involving substances or older boyfriends and how you go forth in dealing with those mistakes can make a huge difference.

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
We know that in so many other countries, wars are fought by other children. But how? Why? What happens? This memoir is told from the vantage of a child soldier, 25 at the time of this book and now safe in New York. Reading this book was equal parts horrific and fascinating for me because I just kept thinking, These boys are the age of my students… and closing my eyes and picturing my boy students doing what the boys in this book were doing, if they'd been born in another world, across the ocean. This is a human problem and a book everyone should read. I don't know what to do to stop it, but more people need to be aware of what happens to these boys.

Winter's Bone
This is another book that I read after the movie. Oops. To be fair, I thought I'd read the book, but apparently I've just read a lot of OTHER books about meth. Heh. Shane made me watch the movie and it disturbed me so much that I couldn't sleep because I just kept thinking about Ree and the hardships she faced. Ree is a 17-year-old girl growing up in the Ozarks. Her mom is completely checked out and she's left trying to raise her younger siblings while trying to make ends meet (they don't meet very well). In the midst of this, her dad (a meth cook) is released from prison and disappears. This wouldn't be a huge issue, except that he leveraged their house and timber forest against his bond. So if he doesn't go to court, Ree and family are thrown out in the field like dogs. Ree sets out to track down her family, meeting with anger, abuse (physical and verbal) and a refusal to talk at every turn. This is not an uplifting story, but it is in Ree's perseverance and dogged dedication to her younger siblings.

What are you reading?


One crazed mommy said...

I just finished readin Me After You by Mindy Hayes - really was a good book. The story line really hooked me, and I became invested in the characters. I'm currently reading The Fault In Our Stars, and's great, but last night my eyes were red from crying when I went to bed...I don't normally cry in books, but this one had me feeling gutted, and I'm not even done. All in all, the gutting is well worth the read - love it!

InTheFastLane said...

I am currently half way through Wave - the true story of a London citizen and Sri Lankan native who was a victim of the Indian Ocean Tsunami. The Tsunami killed her two young sons (she was holding one until the wave took her), her husband and her parents. This much you know before you start the book, so I am not giving anything away. But, the captivation of the story is what the author has to do to want to live again after her chance survival.

Here are the last three books I read last week, plus the reviews that I posted on Goodreads (because I have time I am copying and pasting them for your reading pleasure):

Orphan Train:
I had been wanting to read this book for a while, and finally decided to give it a go. I really enjoyed the story of Vivian. I thought this part of the book was very well written and I enjoyed the historical fiction and relationships in the story. I did not think the Molly portion was nearly as well written. Even though Molly has a similar story, it was too full of plot gimmicks, like the high school history teacher that "happened" to give them an assignment that lead to learning all about Vivian's assignment. And some of the high school class "discussions" seemed so obviously contrived to hammer home a particular point. But, it was worth a read

The Goldfinch:
I enjoy long books. I enjoy getting to watch the characters develop and change over the course of the pages. I loved reading the description of Theo, although what I found is that his character was unable to change and grow as long as he was fixated on that painting. It was like his growth as a human was stunted the day his mother died and he became the caretaker of her memory that was attached the painting. To some the book may have seemed long, to me it was an important process representing what Theo had to go through to finally grow. He was lucky to meet a host of very rich characters a long the way. Not all of them were positive, but they all influenced his growth and allowed him to find the man he wanted to be.

Eleanor & Park:
I read this book in a day. It was an amazing look into the lives of teenagers who live on the fringes and how that sometimes, a friendship can save a life. I kept seeing Eleanor through the eyes of the guidance counselor frustrated that often the kids that need the most help, are the ones who are least likely to tell adults anything, or anyone for that matter.

(btw - here is my Goodread's profile

Barb Ruess said...

I read The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It's one of two YA books he's written. I don't like it as muc has his other books (I LOVED The Shadow of the Wind) but he's such a good storyteller that all of his books are enjoyable.

I just finished Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter and really enjoyed it. Had a hard time putting it down and a day later I'm still thinking of poor Larry Ott.

Now reading Paris Trout - so I guess I'm on a Southern lit kick.

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

I'm reading The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio. It's a story set at an England manor and keeps going back and forth between a woman in 1940 and one in 2000.