Good Monday morning! It’s the start of what’s sure to be an extra awesome week! I get to spend a couple of days later this week at what my husband and kids call my “Book Fair,” a.k.a. the Texas Library Association Conference. What could be better than a couple of days of author-led sessions, publisher-sponsored lunches, brunches, breakfasts, and dinners (featuring various YA authors), and of course, BOOKS galore! It’s my chance to really keep up with what’s happening and what’s coming in the world of middle grades and young adult literature so that I can bring all of that back to my students and push, push, push those books!
In gearing up to meet one of my favorite YA authors, Laurie Halse Anderson (ooh there are so many favorite authors!) I’ve been reading a lot of her stuff lately. I recently finished The Impossible Knife of Memory.
I definitely enjoyed this book from a self-indulgent-ME perspective, but the middle school teacher in me knows that this isn’t a book I can put on my shelf at school. It’s really, really heavy. That being said, I do plan to keep a copy in case I come across the right 8th grader for it. You know, the kind with a mother who won’t be waiting for me in the parking lot after school to “discuss” the book I lent her daughter.
If you’re censoring for sex, then this book passes that one. The only real mention of sex is the protagonist’s decision NOT to do it, so SCORE on that front. But the book is really about a high school senior without a mother whose father is experiencing severe PTSD from the war in Iraq and she’s trying to hold it all together. I enjoyed the book, and it touches on some very serious topics – and ends well enough. If you’ve got an older female student who enjoys edgy realistic fiction chick-flicks, then this is the book for her.
I’m also reading one of Anderson’s older books and hope to finish it by tomorrow. It’s Wintergirls.
Wow. If the first book should come with a warning label, then this book probably needs to be wrapped in yellow caution tape! Once again, it definitely passes the sex-censorship test, as these girls are far too obsessed with their weight to worry about boys. Two best friends – one is anorexic, one is bulimic – and one turns up dead in a motel room at the beginning of the book. Of course, it turns out that she died as a result of complications due to bulimia (mixed with other things). But the protagonist, Leah, isn’t a puker – which is why she’s anorexic. She’s struggling to keep her weight down after being discharged from a facility that supposedly healed her anorexia. She’s obsessed with food and the drive to stay as thin as possible (thinner, actually). I won’t be stocking this book because I just don’t want to GO there, and I’m really not sure WHO I think should read this book. Maybe, mothers of teenage daughters with eating disorders…? To catch a glimpse into their minds…? Again, another self-indulgent-ME read, but not one I want to fork over to any 14 year old girls. Way too serious, and way too personal. At least in The Impossible Knife of Memory, it was her father who had the real problem.
Annnd since it looks like Laurie Halse Anderson Day here, I can’t NOT tell you about my absolute FAVORITE Laurie Halse Anderson book.
This book scared. the. ever. living. daylights. outta. me. Forserious.
First of all, leave this book off of your shelf if you teach middle school. High school – you’re probably fine.
You absolutely MUST go out and buy this book TODAY and read it if you are a mother of sons. I have 3 sons, and this book really lays out those really hard lessons which we must teach our sons.
I read this book twice back to back when I first found out about it. Then, I read it again earlier this school year when I decided the time was right to give it to my now 13-year-old son. He’s at the age where he wants to go places with his friends – in mixed company – and he needs to know the nitty gritty. He needs to know exactly the ways that girls can (AND WILL! ) ruin his life.
I know.. easy for me to say because I don’t have any daughters. Mothers of daughters have to worry about their daughters getting pregnant, or kidnapped, raped, murdered, going missing, or getting caught up with a bad boy.
We mothers of boys must worry about our wonderful, wholesome, sweet sons getting mistaken for one of those bad boys. Because it can happen so easily! Am I a paranoid mother? You betcha. I was a teenage girl once! Girls can be conniving little you-know-whats! Oh, back to the book.
Tyler Miller is a high school senior who got in big legal trouble when he pulled off a prank. He really, really is a good kid, and that’s evident through the book. But his family has serious problems, and his dad never listens to him. His dad expects too much, puts too much pressure on him, and Tyler’s just trying to survive high school.
He is in love (or lust, for sure) with Brittany, the daughter of his dad’s boss. He has pretty descriptive daydreams about her – probably realistic, not THAT dirty, but not innocent either – and she’s finally giving him the light of day this year because 1) he’s really filled out this year and looks like a man, and 2) now he has a reputation as a bad boy. But, Tyler really isn’t a bad boy. He ends up with Brittany at a party where she is VERY drunk. He’s a perfect gentleman (so much so that it angers drunk Brittany). Later, some x-rated photos of Brittany are posted online, and guess who’s suspected? That’s right. Perfect gentleman, Tyler.
The book helped convince my own Tyler that girls really are the devil and can get you into some serious trouble. Also, it’s *really* high interest. No boy I know couldn’t get through the whole book.
So, if you’re a mother – or a future mother – grab this book ASAP and share it with the young men in your life when the time is right. You’ll really enjoy the book – it would definitely make my all time Top 5! The audiobook is really well done, too, if that’s your thing.
Linking up with It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?