"The world was made up of two kinds of people - those who were victims and those who victimized." And that's the chilling premise of this story, so we...more"The world was made up of two kinds of people - those who were victims and those who victimized." And that's the chilling premise of this story, so we see lots of instances of school bullies intimidating other students. The 'Vigils' hand out assignments to the victimized students and sit back to enjoy the chaos that ensues. But one of those assignments, concerning the school chocolate sale, takes on a life of its own, and a new kind of chaos follows, as one boy discovers his answer to the question on his poster - "Do I dare to disturb the universe?" - and he sees himself as the man in the poster, standing upright and alone and unafraid. And then he finds out what happens when he dares to disturb the universe of the Vigils. A chilling novel with an even more chilling ending.(less)
This was a heart-breaker. I compulsively read it in one day and then couldn't read anything for a while after I finished it. I think losing myself lik...moreThis was a heart-breaker. I compulsively read it in one day and then couldn't read anything for a while after I finished it. I think losing myself like this has long been one of my fears, altho I'm long past the age of early-onset Alzheimer's.(less)
Well-told story of a troubled teen's first year of high school. Melinda was not a troubled teen until she snuck off with her best friend to attend a s...moreWell-told story of a troubled teen's first year of high school. Melinda was not a troubled teen until she snuck off with her best friend to attend a summer beer party, got drunk, and was raped. When she called 911, the other kids assumed she was reporting a wild party, and ostracized her once school started. Since she told no one what happened to her, her parents, teachers, and former friends could not understand her antisocial behavior. In fact, at a meeting, her dad turned to the school principal and demanded, 'What have you done to her? She wasn't this way before you got hold of her.' Her savior turned out to be her art teacher, Mr. Freeman, and slowly Melinda starts to come out of the silent deep freeze she surrounded herself with. I really liked the ending.(less)
Wintergirls live in the borderlands, and their existence in the real world is the surreal one. The trick is to try to avoid all the pitfalls of the re...moreWintergirls live in the borderlands, and their existence in the real world is the surreal one. The trick is to try to avoid all the pitfalls of the real world, i.e., the evils of eating, and the lies of people who tell you that you're not fat, that your arms are like sticks when you can clearly see that they're as fat and heavy as logs. But when you fall off the edge of the borderlands, you're lost - Cassie is lost/dead, and Lia feels both betrayed and guilty about Cassie's death; she sees and talks to Cassie's ghost constantly.
This was not an easy book to read. I knew that I would be reading about a girl with anorexia, but not that I would be living in her head, which was very scary - to see the total lack of self-esteem, of hating what she thought she was. I've read other books about cutters, but this was the first one that gave a reason for cutting other than creating designs on the body or inflicting deserved pain (in the opinion of the cutter), Lia's main purpose in cutting was to let the fat and toxins ooze out of her body, so her cutting appeared to be completely tied to her anorexia, which was tied to her lack of self-worth, and so on.
Lia's lifeline appears to be her young sister Emma - she loved playing with her, baking for her, and I think in the end that Emma was Lia's reason for wanting to come back to the real world rather than joining Cassie.(less)
Catherine makes simple rules for her autistic brother David to remind him of what she considers the basic and important rules of public behavior.
I par...moreCatherine makes simple rules for her autistic brother David to remind him of what she considers the basic and important rules of public behavior.
I particularly liked the idea that this book is told from the viewpoint of a young teen with an autistic sibling. Catherine just wants to be able to hang out with her friends, and have uninterrupted conversations, but too often she has to be the caretaker for her brother "just for an hour" or "just for the afternoon", and her frustration and anger war with her genuine love for David.
This book is an excellent reminder that the genuine needs of the 'low maintenance' child are too often lost sight of in a family that is struggling to meet the needs of the 'high maintenace' special-needs child.(less)
Teenage girls who are best friends make a pact to become pregnant. Why? Their mothers are best friends, so they want to continue the tradition! Really...moreTeenage girls who are best friends make a pact to become pregnant. Why? Their mothers are best friends, so they want to continue the tradition! Really, that's only part of it, but all the 'reasoning' used by the girls fits right in with the intelligence/emotionalism conflict that teens live with. To complicate this particular situation, this takes place in a small town, where everyone knows everybody; and these are 'good' girls, well-behaved with good grades, so immediately others proclaim that this is proof of poor parenting by the mothers. To further complicate the situation, one of the pregnant girls is the daughter of the high school principal, who is herself an unmarried mother!
To Delinsky's credit, she handles all these variables quite well, and the story is really all about the repercussions of this bizarre pact - from the reactions of the boys who discovered they were 'used' by the girls, to the actions of the school board in trying to fire the principal, to the strain all this put on the friendship and business relationship of the mothers. (less)
Set in Mississippi in the early 1960s, and told in the voices of two black maids and one young white woman, this book shows how things can begin chang...moreSet in Mississippi in the early 1960s, and told in the voices of two black maids and one young white woman, this book shows how things can begin changing just by not accepting the way things are. Sometimes all that is needed is someone to be brave enough to say, 'this is wrong', and to do something, as Rosa Parks did when she refused to go to the back of the bus, and as these women did when they told their stories.
Aibilene, Minny, and the other maids find whatever dignity they can in their jobs, even though the issue of race basically undermines that attempt at dignity; they are all women who feel they have no choices except to follow their mamas into the white women's kitchens and laundries. Their hopes lie in education and change someday, never expecting it to be in their lifetimes. As Aibilene says, "I just want things to be better for the kids," and she means both white kids and black kids.
Skeeter is the white woman who says, 'this is wrong', and tries to get the maids to share their stories. There is real danger for the maids - they could lose more than just their jobs - and it is not until the death of Medgar Evers and the imprisonment of one of the maids that the maids themselves say 'this is enough' and begin sharing their stories. Skeeter soon finds herself a pariah in white society, shunned by all her former friends and acquaintances. There are some very emotional moments in this book, and some funny ones - including the story about 'two-slice Hilly"! (less)
Is this a straightforward message about the horrors that can arise if there is total government control, or a cautionary tale about unintended consequ...moreIs this a straightforward message about the horrors that can arise if there is total government control, or a cautionary tale about unintended consequences - or is it both?
In the Author's Afterword of this book, Bradbury talked about the various faces of censorship. He said that there's more than one way to burn a book, including editing and revising to try to please everyone. And he depicts this in the story by talking about how books were first burned by minorities who objected to something in the book, each ripping a page or a paragraph from one book after another until there was nothing of any importance left between the covers.
Some quotes from the book that really struck a chord with me:
Books are hated and feared because "they show the pores in the face of life."
"Those who don't build must burn."
"We are all bits and pieces of history and literature and international law."(less)
I'm a big proponent of "the rest of the story" (rest in peace, Paul Harvey!)
I read a variety of history books to try to learn more than the official v...moreI'm a big proponent of "the rest of the story" (rest in peace, Paul Harvey!)
I read a variety of history books to try to learn more than the official version, and I especially like the ones that show cause and effect, pointing out the obvious and not-so-obvious. The scariest part is seeing our politicians repeating the problems of the past and swearing to us that it'll be better this time - trust us!(less)