Wednesday, June 20, 2018

February 2018 Reads and Reviews

The middle schooler I tutor was reading this, so I found a copy and read ahead to finish it.  I don't think we ended up finishing it together, but I was really glad that I got a chance to read it anyway.  There are some true gems in middle school reads, I'm discovering.

If you've read Star Girl, this has a very similar feel to it.  I happened to love Star Girl so this book was right up my alley.  The big difference is that instead of taking the perspective of an outside character observing the life of an eccentric and unique girl, we take the perspective of the eccentric and unique character.  I wish that we could have heard from StarGirl herself... but I digress.  For now.

At first Zinkoff made me cringe.  You liked him because he was an uncomfortable character, but not in an inappropriate way.  But the older he gets and the more than he grows into his own identity, the more endearing he becomes and you stop feeling so bad for him.

I loved the ending.  It really defined who Zinkoff is as a person.  In an odd way, especially because he endangered his life on accident, the situation is rather beautiful and touching.

I give 'Loser':

 It took me a few tries to get started on this book but once again, audiobooks to the rescue!

I thought it was inspiring and brave that Cheryl embarked on this journey (I hate using that word, so I'm going to try to avoid using it again, but in this case, it works).  She was at an incredibly low point in her life, maybe one of the lowest points you can go, and she decided to do a hard reset on her life by going on this trek.  That takes a lot of preparation (physically and mentally) and a lot of guts, to be frank.  Especially when you're hiking over a thousand miles of rough and drastically varied terrain.  I can't even begin to comprehend how you prepare for such a thing.  To know what to bring and pare everything down to only the barest essentials.

I think that when you decide to go on an adventure like this, you're automatically signing up to come back as a totally different person.  To slowly reinvent and rethink who you are as an individual.  And that's just something you have to accept.  I mean, when you go on a journey like this, you experience things you wouldn't normally experience in everyday life and you meet people you may never have come across if you hadn't decided to make this change.  And all of these experiences and all of these people have something that they can teach you if only you let them.  If there's anything I've learned from reading/listening to this book, it's that.

I give 'Wild':

I read this book when I first taught it to eighth graders at Breakthrough Twin Cities several years ago.  But for some reason, I didn't write a formal review of the book.  So now that I'm teaching this book to my 9th graders and will be teaching it for the foreseeable future, I'll likely be rereading this book each year.  And I'm glad, I've really grown to love this book.

Every time I read this book, I uncover something new about it.  It's like to discovering buried treasure every time.  I read the book once and I understood what was going on.  I read it again and I began to get it.  Every time I read it now, I'll get a little bit closer to "owning" it.

What's been catching my attention now has been two things: Curley's Wife and George and Lennie's relationship.  Curley's Wife I just can't bring myself to hate even though everyone in the story pushes you and urges you to do just that.  But she hasn't done anything wrong.  She is in a loveless and an abusive relationship and she just wants to make a connection with someone.  A friendly one.  She just wants to live.  But we can't even give her that.  Curley's Wife is such a fascinating character to me and I look forward to paying her more of that attention that she deserves.

George and Lennie's relationship is also interesting to think about.  On the surface, it's a relationship where one person is giving (George) and the other is doing all the taking (Lennie).  But while I was rereading the book with my students, I started paying more attention to what Lennie gives George.  It looks different than when George is giving, but Lennie is a giver too.  I'll need to read this book again to examine this a bit more closely, but I'm drawn to the friendship these two share.

I love this book and I can't wait to read it again.

I give 'Of Mice and Men':

Thank you for reading my February reviews!


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