It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme started by Book Journey. The folks over at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers have given it a children’s/YA spin. I thought it would be a fun way to recap last week’s reading and give a sneak peek of my TBR pile.
OK, so after a few weeks of not accomplishing much in the way of reading, I feel I’ve hit the groove again 🙂
Last Week’s Books:
Hurray! I finished my August Random Read book, Under My Hat, a short story anthology about witches edited by Jonathan Strahan. And it also counts towards my Check Off Your Reading List Challenge, created by Gathering Books.
Readers will find much to like in this anthology, and some very familiar names to boot–Holly Black, Garth Nix, Jane Yolen, Neil Gaiman, Tanith Lee. My favorite story comes near the very beginning: “Payment Due” by Frances Hardinge. It’s about getting revenge on a debt collector in a very unique way and features a young witch switching bodies with a cat for a time. Great book to read in October!
I have just gotten back into audiobooks because I now commute by myself a few days a week. Newbery winner Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool is the second one I have listened to and stands in extremely stark contrast to Daniel Kraus’ Rotters, even though Kirby Heyborne does narration work in both.
Moon Over Manifest is the story of Abilene Tucker, whose daddy sends her to live in the town of Manifest in 1936. But it is also the story of the town in 1917-18, when boys were going off to fight in the Great War and an unscrupulous mining company was due for a comeuppance. Vanderpool weaves the stories together expertly, with beautiful language, and she very vividly paints a picture of the townsfolk and their complex relationships with each other.
Still, I did find my attention wandering at times, much like I did with Navigating Early. While I can definitely appreciate Vanderpool’s craft, I think that my tastes just run in a different direction.
Two Newberys in one week for me! The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare is the October selection of the staff book club of one of my middle schools–the newest one to me. I know for sure that I read this as a child, but it was so long ago that I had the barest recollection of it. It was a pleasure to reread, and I am interested to see what others thought of it when we meet later in the month.
Kit Tyler, used to running free but under the watchful eye of her grandfather, travels from Barbados to Connecticut Colony in 1687 soon after his death. On board ship, she meets first mate and captain’s son Nathaniel Eaton, who warns her that her swimming and fancy dress might turn heads in the settlement of Wethersfield that her Puritan aunt and uncle call home. Truly, Kit does have a hard time fitting in, as she is not used to physical labor, like her cousins Judith and Mercy are; spending all of Sunday at church meeting; trying to act properly so as not to offend or anger her very religious uncle; and being courted by the rich and stoic William Ashby. She also befriends a poor old widow woman who lives in the meadow near Blackbird Pond, whom townsfolk have suspected of witchcraft many a time. Eventually Kit is formerly accused as a witch, herself, and must suffer through a trial, only to be saved by the quick thinking of Nat Eaton.
Readers will sympathize with Kit and find her relatives’ customs as strange as she does. They will also share in the worry over whether all of the girls’ romances will work out and fear for Kit’s safety when she faces the death penalty at her trial. Superb historical fiction.
I also finished two Random Reads this week! Rapture Practice, a memoir by Aaron Hartzler was my “pick” for September. Hartzler recounts his experiences growing up in a Christian household, one in which the Rapture–Jesus coming back in bodily form and taking the saved Christians with him up to heaven–is expected to occur at any moment.
Although Hartzler recounts a bit of his life as a young child and preteen, the bulk of his story is about his high school years. As a teenager, Aaron begins to question his parents’ beliefs and rules for the family, which are seen as conservative even by some members of their own church. Only Christian music is acceptable for listening–even crossover singer Amy Grant is forbidden. The family does not attend movies and watches very little television. All friends must be churchgoers. When Aaron starts sneaking around to listen to rock music, attend movies with friends, date girls, and even try drinking, he does so with a conflicted heart, wondering if his parents’ rules are too strict or if he is condemning his soul. Even more heartbreaking is when the reader gradually begins to realize that Aaron is gay, even before the teenage Aaron of the book does, and fears not only for his emotional well-being but the thought of his family’s rejection should they discover the same truth. The book ends before Aaron comes out, but after he begins to feel at peace with himself and loves his father for who he is and all the good things about him rather than dwelling those things he wishes he could change. Highly recommended reading for teens.