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:
So almost every Goodreads review of The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch, Vol. 1: At the Edge of Empire by Daniel Kraus starts off by wondering how to begin to describe this book. I understand. Daniel Kraus’ epic tale is a difficult-to-adequately-describe genre-buster of a book. In May 1896, at 17 years old, Zebulon Finch is murdered, and 17 minutes later he finds himself “alive” again. Zebulon is not truly alive in that he cannot eat or breath or feel pain, but he is able to think, feel emotion, communicate, and move. Zebulon proceeds to describe his previous life as an unsavory extortionist for the crime syndicate the Black Hand who fell in love with a local prostitute, Wilma Sue, before his violent death. Zebulon also recounts his experiences moving through the world after his resurrection, including his time spent in a medicine show, as a subject of scientific study of a mad doctor obsessed with death, as a soldier in World War I, and as the paramour of a Hollywood starlet. Forever haunting him is the memory of Wilma Sue’s, especially after he finds he has a daughter, Merle, who will grow older than he will ever appear. Kraus’ storytelling and Zebulon’s voice are masterful. Kraus invites readers to think about life, death, morality, war, and what it means to be human. I expected the author of the macabre works Scowlers and Rotters to include some disturbing images and scenes, and they were deftly woven in, although I cannot quite call this a work of horror. I do know that I will be eager to read volume two when it is published. This book counts for my Read Harder Challenge 2016–a book of more than 500 pages.
I definitely needed something lighter as my next read, so I chose How to Survive Anything by Lonely Planet. It presents the reader with step-by-step instructions on how to get out of such jams as meeting ones in-laws, being bitten by a snake, a zombie attack, falling through ice, a parachute that won’t deploy, and getting locked out of one’s hotel room while naked. So it is not quite a book that I would add to my middle school collection, although it’s comic panel style and often amusing illustrations would interest young and old alike. And despite the book’s lightheartedness, its advice seems quite sound. This books was my Surprise Me Challenge book for March.
And then back to some heavier stuff. I was recently urged by two colleagues to read Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt, and I was lucky enough to find a pristine copy of this quite recently published book in the public library’s used book sale for $3. It is the story of Jack, a sixth grader, whose family takes in a eighth grader Joseph as a foster child. It is the story of Joseph, a boy who was abused and incarcerated, and who is the father of the daughter, Jupiter, that he has not been allowed to meet. The two boys attend the same middle school where Joseph is feared, misunderstood, and even hated by many. Joseph’s father is complicating his adjustment to his new home by attempting to get back in his life, for selfish reasons. This book is a beautifully written heartprint book. Schmidt is able to say so much in simple, sparing text. He tells the story in a way that middle graders will understand, even though the topics are tough ones. I am not a book crier for the most part, but this one sent me over the edge not once, but three times, as I read it in nearly one sitting. It is a book that I will not soon forget.
Currently Reading/Listening To:
My borrowing period for Ghost Road Blues was up, and I was only about 1/3 of the way done. Since two people had placed hods in front of me, it might be a while before I can get back to it, so I started listening to Serafina and the Black Cloak while I wait.