In Garton Scanlon's first novel, for middle-graders, Ivy Green (no middle name, explain her parents, "to make room for God") is spending her 12th summIn Garton Scanlon's first novel, for middle-graders, Ivy Green (no middle name, explain her parents, "to make room for God") is spending her 12th summer in the (fictional) small town of Loomer, TX by babysitting the toddlers of an interesting Buddhist and part-time novelist, while longing for a dog and musing on the month-long disappearance of her mother. In grief about the destruction by wildfires of the church her evangelical father had preached in when she was a child, Ivy's mama has run off to the Great Good Bible Church of Panhandle Florida with a preacher named Hallelujah Dave. Ivy's dad won't engage on the topic much, leaving Ivy filled with questions and a percolating frustration. Her babysitting activities link her up with science-minded Paul Dobbins, who is grieving the dissolution of the Space Shuttle program. Paul proves a steadfast, genial companion, and hatches a scheme for the two to run away themselves to find Ivy's mama. Thus begins a bus-riding adventure tinged with danger, fatigue, and plenty of beautifully composed internal and interpersonal debates about the oft-commensurate roles of religion and science in human nature.
The Great Good Summer is set firmly in place and time, and the southern dialogue and philosophical topics give it an appealingly nostalgic tone. Garton Scanlon was a poet-in-residence at the Michener Center for the Arts at UT Austin before turning her considerable talents to children's writing, and it shows. Not every writer of juvenile fiction has both the lyricism to appeal to literary adults and the sensitivity required to tackle spirituality as a main theme. Liz Garton Scanlon is the real deal. Already taking the picture book world by storm with such marvels as "All the World," with this new gem she has proven her mettle in writing for the early-reader set. Luckily for us, she is steadily publishing to critical acclaim, with no signs of slowing. We have much great good to look forward to from this thoughtful contemporary voice!...more
I may put this down; am not wild about it right now, though I expect that I'm just incapable of thinking deeply enough about the pieces (or possibly aI may put this down; am not wild about it right now, though I expect that I'm just incapable of thinking deeply enough about the pieces (or possibly assuming I should be thinking when I really shouldn't, a la Zen Buddhism). Either way, I'm finding them elusive....more
The characters of Airborne suffer repercussions of ignorance. At an individual level, this ignorance (in the young, more kindly called naivete) can beThe characters of Airborne suffer repercussions of ignorance. At an individual level, this ignorance (in the young, more kindly called naivete) can be as small in scope as personal unease; Eisenberg, however, conveys the gravity of adolescent pain with the skill of the best young adult fiction authors. At its worst, this ignorance is global, and the repercussions both political and personal can include death -- but Eisenberg is sneaky, only hinting at devastation of this magnitude in the background; the protagonist's foolishness keeps the narrative focus. Every agony shares a subtle but equal weight here, though the subjects in the stories run the gamut from slavery, racism and revolution, to petty drug-dealing in LA, a teacher seducing an underaged neighbor, and the angst of trying to make it in New York while burdened by an acquaintance’s boyfriend who’s been dumped on you.
This last is the plot of “A Cautionary Tale,” the first story in the anthology, which threw me somewhat, because it is has a constant lightness absent from the rest of the book. The second story, which shares the title of the collection, is a 180 from the first, and sets the tone of underlying danger for the remainder of the book. It follows a petty actress who follows her daughter out of spite to Honduras, where she gradually and unwittingly -- having no idea what’s going on or what her daughter’s fiance really does -- gets in over her head with an American contra during Operation Golden Pheasant. The reader alone is aware of the gradually escalating menace, until it's too late. The final scene harrows.
One of Eisenberg's skills is offering ironic humor in the context of peril, as in the practically satirical “Holy Week.” This piece is narrated in the format of short- and longhand notes scrawled by Dennis, a journalist hired to write a cultural review (with an emphasis on local cuisine, which figures in both amusingly and apropos) of an unnamed Central American town for a travel magazine supplement. Dennis, a doofus who sees what he wants to see, is eager to get along with his white connections, who float comfortably above the devastation of the civil war they perpetuate. He admonishes his much sharper, younger lover and travel companion Sarah, who becomes increasingly horrified by the suffering of the locals and the insufferable local patriarchy. While Sarah lashes out darkly at everyone complicit, including herself and Dennis, the lack of self-awareness in Dennis’s notes brings despairing laughs (“Band angry about something?"). It's the kind of leftist humor that makes you want to kick someone.
And it's the kind of writing that makes a would-be writer want to copy cover to cover, just to know how it feels to choose these word, in this order. My ebook is covered in highlighting; I read each story again immediately upon finishing it, and was reluctant to finish the whole collection. Luckily, she has four more. Is it too much to hope she'll offer a memoir someday?...more
This grew on me. I was interested to read a King without supernatural elements, and at first his comic-book style (especially of dialogue) grated, butThis grew on me. I was interested to read a King without supernatural elements, and at first his comic-book style (especially of dialogue) grated, but it ended up an exciting cat-and-mouse story, albeit with abundant cliches. King really needs to take heed when writing black characters to not undo the progressiveness he's trying to present....more
I particularly enjoyed the actual research presented, though it was vexing to then not be sure what was true (e.g., about UC Davis). at first this seeI particularly enjoyed the actual research presented, though it was vexing to then not be sure what was true (e.g., about UC Davis). at first this seemed like a flighty college book a la Monsters of Templeton, but it is actually much better, with more emotion and much more to deliberate, especially in re: ethics of animal research. And I laughed out loud a few times. Audiobook narrator was perfect....more
Completely wonderful jr-high story with all the right messages. Nothing is missing here; I only short it from 5 stars because there are other graphicCompletely wonderful jr-high story with all the right messages. Nothing is missing here; I only short it from 5 stars because there are other graphic novels for this age group that I think use the medium to such poignant purpose (e.g., American-Born Chinese), while this was truly a straightforward narrative, it could have been a novel instead (though I certainly don't hold the graphic format against Telgemeier - the rendering is beautiful, and I can't complain about a book that takes <2 hours to read!)....more
Yay, I finished! There is so much more to this story than any of the adaptations I've seen includes. I really love Brontë's writing, that lush, denseYay, I finished! There is so much more to this story than any of the adaptations I've seen includes. I really love Brontë's writing, that lush, dense style. How funny that Jean Rhys, with her insistence on economy and single-syllable words, would have tackled the wife's story (Wide Sargasso Sea, one of my favorite books) - but maybe that contrast is the perfect reason....more