I'm so impressed by how sentimental and emotional the book is without being explicit. It reminds me of some of the great Walter Dean Myers books thatI'm so impressed by how sentimental and emotional the book is without being explicit. It reminds me of some of the great Walter Dean Myers books that mix neighborhood, situation, coming-of-age, and hardship but with straightforward and up front.
Matt recently lost his mother to cancer and in his struggle to cope, takes a job helping Mr. Ray, the area's popular funeral director, at his funeral parlor. Matt takes solace in 'watching' the masses or services after his work setting up, cleaning cars, or being a pallbearer. In this position, he re-meets Lovey, a girl he met while first trying to get a job at a fast food joint, whose grandmother and caretaker passed. Their bond begins another reawakening for Matt in a geeked-out and quiet way. And while it was convenient to send his dad to the hospital for recovery and rehabilitation after a drunken hit-and-run as he deals with his wife's death in order to focus on Matt's story, I can understand the point about how everyone deals with loss. Mr. Ray dealt with it. Lovey dealt with her mother's murder when she was very young.
I love that this story is meaty but so touching. Certainly my favorite so far, knowing that Reynolds is becoming a powerhouse.
"Day after day, week after week, funeral after funeral, I searched for that person-- almost always sitting in the front-- and watched them deal. Saw them rock back and forth, the sound of their hearts breaking, weeping, sobbing, all in the pitch of pain. Desperately begging for help in a room full of uncomfortable people who want to be helpful, but just don't know how. Because they can't help. Nothing helps. I knew that. Every time I saw them, the closest ones, bent over in tears, it felt like a warm rain came down inside me. Even though I knew that I couldn't help them and they couldn't help me, just knowing that we were all struggling with this thing... that helped."...more
I have enjoyed Robuck's works after discovering her and then discovered her first self-published book.
As with all of Robuck's book it is clearly wellI have enjoyed Robuck's works after discovering her and then discovered her first self-published book.
As with all of Robuck's book it is clearly well researched. And while I enjoyed the slice of history presented in the story, I would have preferred a story set entirely in the past rather than a contemporary character struggling with similar issues to Catherine from the Nevis plantation in the Caribbean. Probably because I disliked Meg from the start. Probably because everything was just a bit too convenient for all of the future discoveries she would make and some elements of the story seemed redundant-- didn't I just learn that a few pages/chapters back?
So, unfortunately this was a surface read because I was disengaged, even the magical elements that dug depeer into the characters' motivations and issues couldn't pull me in. ...more
Reynolds will time this perfectly with an increasing national conversation about police brutality and the #blacklivesmatter movement that remains a toReynolds will time this perfectly with an increasing national conversation about police brutality and the #blacklivesmatter movement that remains a topic of conversation in the media, at kitchen tables, diners, and backyard barbecues. But with the added bonus of being co-written with Brendan Kiely in which the narrative is two boys, one white and one black (reminiscent of Paul Volponi's work), and their experiences after an incident of police brutality.
Rashad was in a corner store picking up chips and gum when a woman tripped over him and began a chain reaction in which the store clerk and the police officer thought he was stealing. In a matter of minutes, the police officer has left Rashad with a broken nose, ribs, and internal bleeding. Quinn is not a friend, but a classmate who knows the police officer but in six degrees of separation is questioning his beliefs and politics, while discovering more about himself.
There are many elements, situational and family dynamics that would seem overwhelming but in the hands of these two capable authors, it's part of a larger conversation to get readers thinking and talking: there are war heroes and solider death (Quinn's father died from an IED in Afghanistan and is a local hero) but is "the man" and caretaker for a younger brother. There's "telling the truth" and sports, previous incidents of brutality and conversations in families about what to do or not do around cops, there's a grandmotherly figure and art, protests and historical context related to Selma. Again, all of it is brought up but thoughtfully and to open up the conversation.
Can't wait to bask in the conversations that this book will bring and to host Jason Reynolds ourselves this fall! ...more
I applaud the effort Hobbs has to put together a book about "a brilliant young man who left Newark for the Ivy League" only to succumb to the streetsI applaud the effort Hobbs has to put together a book about "a brilliant young man who left Newark for the Ivy League" only to succumb to the streets in the end at a very young age, but the narrative is two things: boring and unemotional. The simple narration attempts to be neutral in the discussion of Robert Peace's life as Hobbs had to collect most information about Robert from family, friends, girlfriends, and contextual history because he only knew Robert for a few years at Yale but felt a connection and need to tell Robert's story since he ended up dealing in the streets and dying of two gunshot wounds. Because of how he had to collect the information and piece it together, it never actually did come together. I read the book as a then A happened, then B happened, and the drudgery of getting through some of Robert's early life dragged the book down from the get-go.
Maybe if it had started with Hobbs and Robert at Yale and moving non-linearly or opening with Yale and then going back to the tell the story would have worked better but to focus early on about how Jackie poured her heart and soul into creating Robert while trying to avoid the negativity of their Newark neighborhood, especially as Robert's father was convicted of murder, ended up shifting the focus so far off point that I couldn't get back on board.
Edited and written differently, I could have become invested in the story, though understand it's significance in trying to tell it, but my disappointment in the writing got in the way. ...more
**spoiler alert** Tia is a member of the Rainbow Choir, a gospel choir, because Tia has talent though other girls might argue that because she's white**spoiler alert** Tia is a member of the Rainbow Choir, a gospel choir, because Tia has talent though other girls might argue that because she's white, she can't possibly sing gospel. But she's got a great voice, one that her mother has never heard her use in public when they perform.
Over the course of this engaging and emotional story, Tia discovers the reasons her mother avoids her performances after an accidental shooting of a baby in their New Orleans neighborhood leads Tia to the discovery of her father's real reasons (not the sugar-coated reasons she's been led to believe) for being behind bars and why her mother has always said to Tia to forget her father: it wasn't just a robbery that send him away for life, it was the decision to shoot a girl, a girl Tia's age now, who was a witness to his crime. Tia's mother avoids public venues because of the stares and looks and it's all being rehashed after this shooting.
The journey for Tia is a tough one, managing her situation in a poor neighborhood, stereotypes, and her ultimate decision to ask her mother to visit her father and see him face-to-face.
And while I don't like fluffy stories, Tia's strength in confronting her father and his self-efficacy which allows him to give Tia the truth as much as it's hard to hear make for a complicated but touching ending that makes me a fan of Going's story. ...more
I wished there was a bit more to the story or a deeper sense to the story because I wasn't impacted as much as I thought I would be in demonstrating hI wished there was a bit more to the story or a deeper sense to the story because I wasn't impacted as much as I thought I would be in demonstrating how one man's talent in baseball playing in the black leagues because he wasn't allowed to play in the white's league could change ideas and demonstrate the idiocy of Jim Cros laws.
Satchel, his nickname, was a fierce competitor, which was shown and shared in the graphic novel, but there needed to be a bit more setting and historical background, so while I think it was laid out well, I wanted more. ...more
Magical realism that isn't strong, but done just right. A romance that does not give away anything or overpower the true story. A gutsy female protagoMagical realism that isn't strong, but done just right. A romance that does not give away anything or overpower the true story. A gutsy female protagonist hellbent on making it. Historical adventure trekking across the Oregon Trail. Realistic portrayals of Native Americans, African Americans, gays, religion, families, and lives from that period. Awesome title.
All of these are winning combinations from an author who can do it SO WELL. While I'm disappointed that the over 400-page book couldn't just be a standalone and is instead one of a trilogy, I understand that she's created a plucky teenaged girl whose parents were murdered at the hand of her father because she has a gold-sense-- the ability to perceive gold. She abandons what she knows and uses her hard work earning her keep along the United States' toughest terrains to 'make it' out in California-- while pretending to be a boy to make it easier, while pining for Jefferson , while fearfully awaiting her next encounter with her possessive murdering uncle, while still HOPING that there is something for her at the end of her journey.
This journey is thoughtful, adventurous and while slow in the descriptions, I realize it's a historical novel which usually goes hand-in-hand with rich descriptive language. Enjoyed it tremendously. ...more
While I'm not the biggest fan of the design/illustration for this graphic novel, it gets the job done and I can understand some of the graphic tendencWhile I'm not the biggest fan of the design/illustration for this graphic novel, it gets the job done and I can understand some of the graphic tendencies.
The value of this graphic novel is diverse- everyone from first year to thirty-year veteran teachers, urban teachers, students, education policy makers, legislators-- everyone! With a bit of political/social commentary on the education system (in New York State nonetheless) as it stands is important for non-educators to read. Similarly, to see the types of students that can benefit from an alternative placement is an eye-opener as well and the need for non-standard education because of a multitude of student needs: physical, emotional, mental issues, family problems, poverty, resource scarcity, etc. PLUS the struggles and needs of their teachers who give their all to be a social worker and teacher, to be equally supportive and hard and make students see the value in their education. There were a few points where students responded that they "would do it for you", and many times the relationship between the teacher and student is key. The slice of life is priceless and encouraging as much as devastating to understand the every day struggle. ...more
The second in a planned trilogy based on John Robert Lewis' experiences during the Civil Rights Movement. With the power that was created in the seconThe second in a planned trilogy based on John Robert Lewis' experiences during the Civil Rights Movement. With the power that was created in the second, the illustrations and research of the others, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, make the second an absolutely perfect second one. The events are vivid and detailed as well as energetic and painful. The visualization of the struggles, the in-fighting, the power of children and groups to fight against oppression collide to detail a piece of history that's a bit different than reading a nonfiction text-- it's one thing to real about Bull Connor, it's another to see the venom he spit as people were fighting for desegregation. ...more
This falls under the category for me of (as some descriptions are aptly explaining as) for fans of Code Name Verity and I couldn't agree more, becauseThis falls under the category for me of (as some descriptions are aptly explaining as) for fans of Code Name Verity and I couldn't agree more, because there's a value to the story and the writing is okay, but the book will take a special read:mature reader to appreciate a story set in the late 1800s as two girls, one Chinese American and one African American set off west dressed as boys to escape their sadness and grief east and embark on a new journey west. Similarly, The Devil's Paintbox was a very well-written story but again, this time period will not appeal to all, though comparatively, I think Devil's was better written.
I guess part of my enjoyment was the adventure and the characters themselves, but I was a little annoyed that it seemed like all-of-a-sudden these two girls are bonding and embarking on this journey after Samantha accidentally kills a man trying to rape her. Annemarie says she's going with her because there's nothing let for Samantha after her father is killed in a fire. The book didn't offer me anything unique or different other than a journey story in a historical period, so I'm not overly in love with it, but can appreciate it's existence. Award-worthy? Eh. I'd like to see it win an award voted by students before I can appreciate it fully. ...more
Williams-Garcia's note after the final chapter says it all- that she couldn't have thought of a better way to say goodbye to the sisters than to shareWilliams-Garcia's note after the final chapter says it all- that she couldn't have thought of a better way to say goodbye to the sisters than to share the family history and what a compact story told with so much detail and richness in so few words! The actions of the characters speak louder than they need to and that's a mark of a wonderful author and a great story to boot.
As the sisters travel to Alabama for the summer on a Greyhound, they're now back in the south and experiencing the every day as well as their maturation as girls and understanding their past. With the battle between their grandma and great aunt going back and forth, it's more vivid as they explore the meaning of words and their power over people.
The setting is painted and the crux of Vonetta's stubborn disappearance as a tornado blows though was just the kind of tension needed to come to the resolution. A perfect arc.
"Thought I smelled some oppression burning." JimmyTrotter snuck up on me. His opression began with a long vowel 'o'. O-ppression. "White sheets?" A bit of humor by JimmyTrotter as Delphine starches and irons the white sheets of the great grandmother that she saw originally as oppressive when they went down to Alabama for the summer, especially with Cecile being a member of the Black Panthers and their living most of their life in Brooklyn that were less oppressive than the southern states in the late 1960's.
"I was now seeing what I thought I'd never see. What I had long given up wishing for. I was seeing my mother and father together and not angry. All I wanted was a sign that we came from love. Now that I saw it, through this window, I didn't know what to make of it. How could it be that the more I saw of my parents, the less I knew of them?" Great theoretical question that Delphine asks over the last three books as her and her sisters struggle to understand what life was like before and what it'll be like as they get older, especially now that their father and Mrs. are expecting their own child and what the sisters want to become for themselves. We see Vonetta making decisions for herself....more
A middle-school level story that highlights great historical points about a time when many things were dangerous for blacks: the Ku Klux Klan, the GreA middle-school level story that highlights great historical points about a time when many things were dangerous for blacks: the Ku Klux Klan, the Great Depression, voting rights, segregation, and more. For Stella, who struggles in school with writing specifically, works through her problems by writing it out, especially after seeing some terrifying sights in the middle of the night (where she is most comfortable). There's slices of every day life including school work, songs, church, and family along with the hatred her family experiences, but Stella's caring nature and struggle to understand make the story rich in experience and understanding: what it was like for a black man to register to vote (tests and money that were pocketed by the white men, calling all black men "boys", but knowing that they were showing their children to be brave in the face of adversity).
Draper does what she does best in this story as with many other. ...more
In 1964 three young men were killed by the KKK because of their involvement with the Freedom Summer. The murders were gruesome, the conspiracy to getIn 1964 three young men were killed by the KKK because of their involvement with the Freedom Summer. The murders were gruesome, the conspiracy to get them alone in order to commit the murders, and the whole attitude of the area at the time makes this a particularly shocking case. Especially with the emotions that Mitchell uses in really understanding each one of their lives and how they came to work in the south for Freedom Summer make their murders something to remember as a connection to what happened and what still needs to happen to move away from prejudices and the awesome power of politics in affecting everyday people in ways that are shocking.
Getting to know all of the players, including the families, spouses, and friends really captures the dangerous waters freedom riders treaded in their quest for justice and equality. ...more
I am digging this new wave of narrative nonfiction dealing with the innovators, creators, and scientists from any era that are unsung heroes. Those whI am digging this new wave of narrative nonfiction dealing with the innovators, creators, and scientists from any era that are unsung heroes. Those who have stood up, solved mysteries, addressed inadequacies, or done something stellar that no one really seems to know about-- or at least that I was never taught from a science class or textbook.
In this case, Goldberger was a man who liked to solve mysteries. He came in and discovered the problem in 30 days when other scientists hadn't solved it in years. He was tenacious but really from his keen observations and careful analysis, not because he was a super-genius. He argued back with science like a regular Bill Nye, when other scientists or politicians wanted to doubt what he found to be the root cause of pellagra, a disease I had NEVER heard of but plagued people in the United States, especially in the south and usually after the long winter and exacerbated with the sun from spring through summer. The cause? A diet that lacked animal proteins. Those that were poor or even the rich and selective in their diets.
The scare was in how the disease progressed from rashes and dehydration to full-on dementia that usually led them to be put into insane asylums where they eventually died. The stories are amazing and the photos are even more shocking, though what pulled this from being a 5-star book to a solid 4-star was what I thought was repetitiveness. It felt like the stories were repetitive and I was reading the same story just with a different people. It shows that the book was well-researched, but it could have been a bit shortened by not rehashing each case that presented itself. ...more
The details of the story of the Harlem Hellfighters is what makes it a comprehensive look at this group born through World War I. While I was lost andThe details of the story of the Harlem Hellfighters is what makes it a comprehensive look at this group born through World War I. While I was lost and/or disinterested in some of the strategy and fighting style during World War I in some of the chapters as they traveled to France and began their fight, I was more closely reading the sections that focused on specific individuals who don't get the notoriety they deserve because of their view as second-class citizens born from slavery and how it collided with patriotism. I was blown-away by the references and short story of Henry Johnson from Albany, NY, knowing that it could be used to bolster the information that students hear from living here, but also stories about German tactics, trench warfare, and situations regarding who would lead, fight, and how they would organize.
Likewise, I thought the book could have ended less abruptly. It seemed like the war was over, the parade happened, Miles threw in a bit about the race riots and the book was done. It would have served the book better to have a more complete conclusion.
Overall a good nonfiction read focusing on overcoming obstacles and national pride. ...more
This book defies a single category as it hits on many contemporary topics that would lead to healthy conversations about race, business, hopes, dreamsThis book defies a single category as it hits on many contemporary topics that would lead to healthy conversations about race, business, hopes, dreams, education, and friendship and family. There are so many stories in this short novel. The book focuses on twin girls in their senior year of high school who have very involved parents, including a father who uses his status to mentor other black youth, specifically boys. He does that with Nikki's boyfriend, Devin, who is much more of a friend that a boyfriend, and she discovers that it's not love, rather friendship as she develops feelings for the white boy who moves in across the street (where her and her sister's best friend used to live before gentrification and alcoholism led to her moving halfway across town).
But the girls (and their boy friends) are growing up and growing out of their childhood fantasies about going to school together, going to prom together, eating at the same places, and doing the same things. Instead, they're challenged by what's happening in their school (one that eerily reminds of all urban schools where bad press always outweighs good press) and there are conversations about diversity, black history, understanding culture versus making fun of it or stereotyping it. There's a Jacqueline Woodson-esque plot as Nikki falls in love with Tony, and it's more about their assumptions of their relationship rather than others' that spark the conversations about their mixed-race relationship.
There's an educational element as the teachers and principal push boundaries and questions the kids, there are frank conversations about race and challenging authority, there's growing up and learning to look back and history-- all packed in this book. I would want it any other way (longer that is) because the characters are round enough and the plot and storylines are active participants in moving the book forward.
The only disappointment was the quick ending. It was unfolding nicely and then all of a sudden spring rolls in to summer, there's a few chapters and then the book ends, all too quickly. Great book to spark discussions.
"Essence's mom is a cracked vase. A woman who used to hold beauty" Page 13, Page 69, Page 81, Page 116, and Page 169 for conversations and comments worth discussing...more
A largely atmospheric and historically-relevant novel, Wein again uses her well-researched facts and combines them with vivid characters, this time foA largely atmospheric and historically-relevant novel, Wein again uses her well-researched facts and combines them with vivid characters, this time focusing on the Italo-Ethiopian War in 1935. Emilia and Teo are being raised by Emilia’s mother after a tragic accident killed Teo’s mother, Delia. Delia and Rhoda were a flying duo who entertained crowds by flying airplanes and performing stunts. After Delia’s death, Rhoda tries to fulfil their combined fantasy of raising their children together but also in a place that appreciates their race. Teo, being from an Ethiopian father, is teased in the Quaker Pennsylvania area where Rhoda’s family is from, so move to Ethiopia at a crucial period in their history. Demonstrating her understanding of this time period, Wein embeds the now teenaged characters in Ethiopian politics and flying. Rhoda, Emilia and Teo all find their footing in the electricity of the culture while also challenging it.
Unfolding in a series of letters, invented stories, narrative, and journals, the book will be appreciated by serious historical fiction fans and lovers of Wein’s writing, but will not have broad appeal to the average teen reader. Its richness is character-driven and situational as the protagonists explore their loyalties and friendship as they create new identities. But distractions from the varied techniques employed to share the story combined with a precise attention to the details of this war make it difficult to fully engage. ...more
Give me a nonfiction narrative about Malcolm X's early years and I would probably devour it, this historical fiction title however, I did not like simGive me a nonfiction narrative about Malcolm X's early years and I would probably devour it, this historical fiction title however, I did not like simply for that reason. He was such a magnanimous person with a storied past that I would have preferred it told realistically, not with the glitz, glamour, changing or merging of certain characters to fit the flow, pace, and plot of the historical fiction story.
There was actually an article this morning online that told things "you never knew" about Malcolm X. I ate up those tidbits and found it much more enticing to learn more about him.
So, Shabazz and Magoon-- take out the fictionalization and give me a nonfiction version and I'll be there. ...more
What an opportune time to have some discussion about race relations in light of all of the black and white crimes, accusations, hoodie-wearing, gangs,What an opportune time to have some discussion about race relations in light of all of the black and white crimes, accusations, hoodie-wearing, gangs, and self-defense conversations that are occurring alongside gun rights, inner cities, and politics. Gosh, how everything becomes political. How can you not despise the reverend who is too busy watching ratings to really care? Hmmm.
The obscene number of narrators that push the story forward without stopping was the right decision and kept a break-neck pace that at it's core was better. If there had been a different perspective or narration there would have had to have been more to the story. Instead, it's what's in if for me? What's Tariq's mother doing, how are friends reacting, what does the media say, how could a white man be released from prison after killing an innocent black kid? What a contemporary topic and all angles can be explored with the variety of perspectives.
I liked the combination of verse, dialog, and narration and thought it went plotted. Decisions need to be made that create futures or take them away. I love the conversations that this book could start alongside new greats like Woodson's Brown Girl Dreaming. ...more
There is much to appreciate about the book and the characters but there's nothing stellar about the Ali's narrative or the writing itself to blow me oThere is much to appreciate about the book and the characters but there's nothing stellar about the Ali's narrative or the writing itself to blow me out of the water.
The cover is provocative enough and there's enough plot and tension to make it move forward, but it just lacks a bit of ompf. Ali and his sister are growing up with an over-worked mother and a father who is trying to get his life on track by the end of the story while befriending two brothers, Needles and Noddles, who move in when they were younger a few stoops down. Noodles gets in his own way and tends to be trouble for trouble's sake while also trying to defend his brother, Needles, though Noodles does as much bullying of his brother sometimes too. What makes their relationship different is that Needles is just a bit different from the boys on the block in that he knits and has Tourette's which prevents him from being part of the crowd.
When they're invited to a basement party that serves alcohol, a bit of trouble occurs when a misunderstanding between Needles and another leaves him beat up and the boys a bit disjointed, looking to set things straight.
Again, there was just enough happening to keep the story moving-- it wasn't dead-- but it also wasn't unique, more of a slice of life which I can appreciate. ...more
Without knowing much about gaming but certainly enough about the '80s to catch about half of the references thrown out there, I thoroughly enjoyed thiWithout knowing much about gaming but certainly enough about the '80s to catch about half of the references thrown out there, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can't believe it took me this long to take it off the shelf. Cline is amazingly descriptive with a captivating storyline, equally amibitious albeit problematic characters, a unique glimpse of the futuristic world that lives mostly in a virtual reality to escape the realities of global warming, slums, deteriorating values, and the lack of friendship or intimacy. It's alluded to many time that the "people" you know may be completely different than their avatars-- case in point one of Wade aka Parzival's best friends was a "fat black chick" and Art3mis was hiding her perceived imperfection, a port-wine stain behind the beautiful and powerful avatar. Wade was mostly escaping a crappy home life where both parents were dead and his aunt just wanted to collect government money.
The descriptions of the bleakness of Wade's existence coupled with his need for some kind of connection (in this case '80s sitcoms, movies, games) to replace interaction was both sad but truthful to the science fiction elements of the story but the coolest part of the book was the descriptions of the gaming and puzzles Parzival needed to solve in OASIS to get at the creator's loot that he left upon his death to the person who could find "the egg". Oddly, the book resolved within the last twenty pages but it didn't seem so rushed as to be disappointing and all lengthy descriptions were necessary. So while I didn't follow all of it, I could appreciate the time, effort, and sheer knowledge Cline and his character, Wade had to be able to uncover the mystery especially in the face of adversity-- a government entity wishing to stop Wade and collect on the fortune. ...more
Stanton's idea of mixing photography with human connection turned in to GOLD. What a beautifully inspiring and sentimental book and project that he coStanton's idea of mixing photography with human connection turned in to GOLD. What a beautifully inspiring and sentimental book and project that he continues to do asking everyday people for their picture and often, a snippet of their life, story, or loves.
There is nothing more to add to its description other than you must "read" it. I also must follow it on social media as he continues this endeavor and the best way to learn about others is to sit back and listen. ...more
I think this is one book that I would prefer to read the less-accessible text rather than see it in graphic format because both the font and the preseI think this is one book that I would prefer to read the less-accessible text rather than see it in graphic format because both the font and the presentation on the page was less-than-stellar.
Sure the information provided makes it accessible to another population of readers with the format, but it does not do the hard-hitting information about the US prison system justice by it's format. ...more
Two lives that are forever altered are speaking out in this combined memoir about their lives and the lives of others affected by a heinous act in theTwo lives that are forever altered are speaking out in this combined memoir about their lives and the lives of others affected by a heinous act in the 1980s.
Jennifer awoke in her apartment and was raped at knifepoint. She went on to identify Ronald Cotton as the rapist but it was eyewitness testimony that convicted him, not once, but twice (after a second woman who was raped an hour later but was not part of the initial charges because she couldn't identify him from the lineup). Cotton spent 11 years in prison until the man, Poole, a convicted rapist finally confessed, though Cotton had known within two years of his imprisonment that Poole (similarly built and a convicted rapist now serving time for rape) was the man. Then blood was tested and DNA was finally used to overturn the conviction. No one wanted to see Cotton in jail longer than he had to once this all happened.
What I loved about the presentation of the book was that both Thompson and Cotton tell their stories "before" and then once the trials are finished, what there stories were like "during", and then all that happened "after" the exoneration including their blossoming friendship. There is so much to appreciate about tangible things like science, the justice system, and also the intangible things like friendship, redemption, and hope. ...more
A surface mystery with more to do with dysfunctional family situations rather than a true crime drama, the story focuses on Edie who is constantly onA surface mystery with more to do with dysfunctional family situations rather than a true crime drama, the story focuses on Edie who is constantly on the run with her mother: new identities, new cities, new friends and lives all because of an unnamed issue. Yet, on this newest relocation to London, England, Edie's mother goes missing within two days of their arrival after she begins night work and Edie begins school.
It seems like everything happened quickly, which is not a complaint, but in the same breath, it seemed like the mystery was solved in the same manner, too quickly. If there was stronger plot development and a larger connection between situations, characters, and the setting, Payne's story might appeal to a broader audience because of it's writing rather than the situation. Specifically, characters are introduced and while some only come around as the story wraps up with no clear understanding of their usefulness to the story, others should have a broader impact but are flat instead.
Again though, at it's core, Edie knows exactly who is responsible for her mothers disappearance and probable death knowing that she has spent her life running from her father and her mother's tormentor. This is not necessarily a mystery and a better writer, might have been able to unfold this with more suspense. Yet, problem novels like this, do appeal to a certain demographic of teens and with issues of bullying in school, bad reputations, and stereotypes, there's a base group that will enjoy it. ...more
While I would have preferred a shorter book and possible a shorter series (two books or even a very tightly would singleton), I did enjoy the pace ofWhile I would have preferred a shorter book and possible a shorter series (two books or even a very tightly would singleton), I did enjoy the pace of the first two books while I felt a little bored by the unfolding of this last one. There are some tangents that are taken in this one that distracted from the true mysteries of who the crows are and Ugly J. There are some twists and turns and fans of the newly popular serial killer stories will enjoy it with enough blood, guts, gore, backstabbing, and intrigue to follow it through.
But again, I was more distracted by it's lengthy descriptions of seemingly insignificant pieces of the story that I skimmed a bit, which I didn't want to do, but had to to keep my sanity (hard enough with a storyline like this) that is so creative, original, and with a great cover and title for the final book!
The appeal of this memoir is in the vividly illustrated chapter openings and interspersed photographs from the civil rights movement rather than inspiThe appeal of this memoir is in the vividly illustrated chapter openings and interspersed photographs from the civil rights movement rather than inspiring content of a girl on the verge of adulthood contributing to the cause. Lynda wants to be a part of the march in Selma for voting rights after seeing her community denied this through unfair tests and scare tactics. So, she joins the march, becoming the youngest fighter for justice in this trek from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama. Her fight was not without fear, hurt, and imprisonment but she pushed through and felt vindicated when in 1965 Congress passed the Voting Rights Act taking the children’s movement and making history.
The abrupt chapters and relaxed account of the marches, jail, and resistance worked to Leacock and Buckley’s disadvantage in relaying the story to an audience in need of powerful stories about survival during a time of great upheaval in the south. Rather than arouse passion, the lack of context that a more developed narrative would provide leaves readers uninspired save for the rallying call in the last chapter for all youth to change history if there is something to fight for. The memoir has its place on the shelf, but not as a keystone text. ...more
Hearing Woodson read from the book at SLJ's Day of Dialog was exciting enough, knowing the book was based on her childhood and that it's written in veHearing Woodson read from the book at SLJ's Day of Dialog was exciting enough, knowing the book was based on her childhood and that it's written in verse was even better.
The story is beautifully detailed highlighting both historical facts of the time (growing up in both the south and the north and what that was like for black families in the 60s and 70s) and her family's personal relationships, and the sculpting of the renowned children's author based on what she saw around her.
The interplay of her grandparents, their Jevoah's Witness religion, her mother's strong will to raise her family alone with the wishful thinking by Woodson of becoming an author while her brother loved science and her sister had her nose stuck in books makes for a richly painted portrait of the dynamics that created such a wonderfully creative individual. While, there are also the serious issues of race, lead poisoning (her younger brothers suffered from it after eating the paint on the walls of their apartment in NYC), crime, hard work, and religion.
I think it's a phenomenal story that Woodson shares intimately but publicly with her readers that demonstrates her gifts. ...more
While The Secret Life of Bees is probably still my favorite of Kidd's, I can see the overwhelming attraction to the book (and the fact that it was anWhile The Secret Life of Bees is probably still my favorite of Kidd's, I can see the overwhelming attraction to the book (and the fact that it was an Oprah pick makes people want to read it). The best thing going for it was the multiple narrators: Sarah, the aristocratic daughter of Southern slave owners and Hetty/Handful, the slave girl assigned to be Sarah's handmaid. As Kidd points out in the note, she couldn't just write the story of Sarah alone, that Hetty's perspective provides a richly painted juxtaposition to Sarah's thoughts and feelings.
Sarah is opposed to slaves and at 11 tries to write a proclamation to free Hetty, though it doesn't go over well with her parents (her father is a judge and her mother is a heavy-handed and cold believer in the use of slaves and their 'position' in the household)-- Hetty is all but thrust on to Sarah without choice. They begin a close relationship in which both are punished for Sarah showing Hetty how to read.
Hetty is trying to make her way in the world, learning from her mother, the story of their heritage through her mother's quilt and the ways of being a slave. While Sarah is building a reputation as an objector to slavery and the need for equality.
The book spans years and while I can understand the need to show the growth of the characters, I felt like this went on a little too long and I started losing interest.
Absolutely blown away by the fact that this was based on the real Sarah Grimke who was a feminist and abolitionist. Again, how is it that these people aren't known more to the general population? Why is it the Rosa Parks' of the world are so entrenched yet the Claudette Colvin's have to be popularized through works of literature?
As I was reading, I can definitely compare it an adult version of an Ann Rinaldi! ...more
The book focuses on the atrocities of the Andersonville POW camp from the Civil War. Because so much occurred there, it certainly filled the book withThe book focuses on the atrocities of the Andersonville POW camp from the Civil War. Because so much occurred there, it certainly filled the book with a different side of the Civil War, one in which men taken prisoner were subjected to more atrocities than they might have been subjected to if they had never been captured by Confederates. Many men were taken from two other prisons to the newly constructed Andersonville. This camp quickly devolved, under the direction of Wirz, into a disease-infested mess where men were routinely starving, suffering from lice, scurvy and gangrene, and constantly in fear of being shot at if they went outside the bounds. Men tried to escape by digging tunnels, but were usually caught by the next day with dogs. Nothing was worse than going to the 'hospital' where you were sure to die more quickly than if you tried to nurse yourself back to health.
The book not only highlights those horrors, but the men both imprisoned and in charge and what happened as attention was brought to what was happening and how two people, Dorence Atwater and Clara Barton, helped ease family's fears by learning the fate of their loved ones.
The pictures and narration along with subject matter is interesting, though I found myself getting bogged down by the trial details (when they tried and convicted Wirz of running this camp with it's horrific results), but overall, the information within the pages is both well-researched and presented in an easy narration. ...more