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.
Last Week’s Books:
I finished the 640-page Night Film by Marisha Pessl this week. This adult book centered on reporter Scott McGrath’s investigation of the apparent suicide of a famous horror film maker’s daughter. What I loved most about this book was the rich history and mythos Pessl created about the filmmaker Stanislas Cordova. I was so intrigued by the description of his films, methods, and mystery that I wished it were all real so that I could experience the movies for myself. However, the actual story of McGrath’s investigation into Ashley’s death was more telling than showing–there’s lots and lots and lots of talking to various people from the lives of Ashley and her famous father and then lots and lots more. The best part of his story comes near the end when McGrath stumbles onto Cordova’s old film sets. I needed more of that. This book was my Random Read for February and counts for my Horror Reading Challenge 2015.
I picked up Tomboy by Liz Prince because I left my book at home and was facing a long wait before my son’s band concert. This graphic memoir focuses mainly on Liz’s teenage years, although she preferred to dress in “boyish” clothes all of her life. Emotions are raw and powerful in this book, as Liz struggles to find those who will accept her rather than pass judgement. But this book is far from bleak; rather, it is infused with humor as well. And although it is about being a “tomboy,” it will speak to anyone who finds him or herself going against the mainstream of society during such an already difficult period of life. I would recommend this book for all high school libraries and public YA collections. There are just a few too many instances of the “f-word” for me to be comfortable with it in middle school. This book counts for my 2015 Read Harder Challenge ( A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind).
While Tomboy is an important book for every high school collection, Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky is important for middle schools. This is the first novel I’ve read for this age group that takes the subject of gender-identity head-on. Twelve-year-old Grayson, while physically born a boy, has felt more like a girl on the inside for a long time. Grayson is prepubescent, so the book’s focus is not on physical attraction, but Grayson’s preferences: drawing princesses, long t-shirts that could almost be dresses, the colors pink and purple, glitter pens and more. When Grayson tries out for the school play, it is for the role of Persephone, not for one of the male characters. Grayson’s teacher and drama coach, Mr. Finnegan, not only allows the try-out, but casts Grayson in the role. This causes somewhat of an uproar at school–although a very few students and adults are supportive, most are at best confused or concerned and at worst cruel and judgmental. One of the strongest aspects of the book is that Grayson’s aunt and uncle (who raise Grayson) do not agree on “the situation.” Grayson’s aunt fears the potential ridicule and repercussions, not only for Grayson but for the rest of the family, while Grayson’s uncle is supportive while not entirely outspoken about it. This is a book that is certain to spark much deep thought and discussion. This book counts for my 2015 Read Harder Challenge (book about someone who identifies as LGTBQ).
Lynda Mullaly Hunt has given us another heartprint book: Fish in a Tree. Ally Nickerson hates school and thinks she is dumb. In order to avoid having to do things like read aloud or write in a journal, she constantly does things to get herself in trouble. It is not until her new teacher, Mr. Daniels, approaches her with patience and admires her creative thinking that she starts to feel better about herself. With his support, and the support of two new friends, Keisha and Albert, Ally starts, little-by-little, to believe in herself. It is Mr. Daniels who first suspects that Ally has dyslexia and works with her to get the help she needs, and that makes all the difference. The previous description just does not do justice to how heart-wrenching Ally’s story is at first and how much the reader rejoices with her in her triumph. This is a must-read for middle graders. This book counts for my 2015 Read Harder Challenge (a book published this year).
Currently Reading/Listening To:
Bruce Campbell’s audiobook is great comic relief at the end of a long day. I am re-reading Ready Player One to participate in the Nerdist Book Club. I’m looking forward to joining a couple friends and many strangers in discussing this book.