If more memoirs were written like Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler, I would read more memoirs. His debut novel is...moreReview originally posted at YA Love
If more memoirs were written like Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler, I would read more memoirs. His debut novel is humorous, heartfelt, and honest.
Something I like best about Aaron’s story is that it exposed me to a world I’m not very familiar with. I did have a friend in elementary school who was a very strict Baptist, but even her lifestyle wasn’t as extreme as Aaron’s. I grew up in a religious home, so I understand and appreciate the importance of it, but reading about Aaron’s family and their beliefs was eye-opening and also frustrating. I can’t imagine getting into an argument with my dad about whether or not I wore socks to church. My parents were strict about the music I listened to, mostly when I was younger, but I was never made to feel guilty or ashamed about it. Aaron Hartzler does a wonderful job helping the reader understand where his parents are coming from, but he also does a fantastic job making the reader feel for him. I can’t tell you how many times his parents made me angry while reading this memoir. I will admit, however, that I sometimes felt bad for being angry at them since I know they felt they were doing what’s right.
I hope some of my students will read Rapture Practice. First, it will most likely be an eye-opening experience for them just as it was for me. Second, I want them to read more memoirs and this is a great book to get them started and help them understand what a memoir is. Third, Aaron Hartzler’s story will probably resonate with many of them. Even if they aren’t living in a strict religious household, I’m confident many of them are questioning religion, rebelling against their parents, figuring out where they fit in the world, etc. They’ll likely find a piece of themselves in this book.
I do, however, wish Rapture Practice included more about Aaron realizing that he’s gay. It’s one of the reasons why I wanted to read his memoir. Unfortunately, this part of his life is brought up, but it’s not as fleshed out as I wanted. I’m assuming his real revelation happened after this book ends, but I’m not entirely sure about that. I’d love it if he chose to write a second memoir which goes into more detail about his self-discovery and how that affected his life and family. I’d read another one of Aaron Hartzler’s books regardless of what it’s about.
I know our reading lists are long, but I recommend taking the time to read Rapture Practice. It’s easy and enjoyable to read; it’s written very well. Aaron Hartzler is an author I’ll be looking out for in the future.(less)
When I first heard about Primates (I’m going to shorten the title in this review since the title is so long) I knew...moreReview originally posted at YA Love
When I first heard about Primates (I’m going to shorten the title in this review since the title is so long) I knew I wanted to read it because it appears to be non-fiction. After finishing it, I don’t really feel comfortable labeling it as such. It is an enjoyable graphic novel, although I do have some issues with it.
This is the first graphic novel I’ve read by Jim Ottaviani and I’d like to read more of his work. Maris Wicks has done a fabulous job with the art. I love how some of the scenes, especially the action scenes, spread over from one panel to the next. It’s visually appealing and adds movement to the page. I should mention that this is a full color graphic novel. I’m so happy it wasn’t printed in black and white!
Primates is broken up into three different sections, one for each researcher. A couple of times the switch confused me, but for the most part I was able to follow along and keep track of each researcher and when the three would come together. Some of the narration text boxes changed colors for different speakers, which I found helpful. I knew a decent amount about Jane Goodall, but I didn’t know anything about Fossey and Galdikas. I also didn’t know–and wouldn’t have guessed–that the three were connected. This is why I appreciate this story and think it has a place in classrooms and libraries. It’s an accessible way for readers to learn about these three researchers. Hopefully Primates will spike their interest and prompt them to learn more about these women especially since so much information is left out.
This leads me to my next point. Even though Primates was introduced to me as a non-fiction graphic novel, I figured it wouldn’t be completely non-fiction. And it’s not. The author has a note at the end saying as much. My bigger issue with Primates is the information left out. Not the fictionalized pieces to make this a story. There were too many times while reading that I had to stop and ask myself why something happened or what I had missed. For instance, Louis Leakey is the man who helped Jane Goodall get her start and helped the other two women as well. It is often alluded that he was sexually inappropriate with these women, but there isn’t anything specific as to what he did, why the women didn’t do anything about it (that we know of), or why that’s even relevant information. I understand that this graphic novel appeals to a younger audience which may be why only allusions are made, but if that’s the case, why even include those? All it did was distract me and ultimately irritate me since I didn’t know the full story there. There are some other holes as well. On pages 14 and 15 Jane Goodall leaves her tent to start studying the chimps, but we discover that she leaves the tent naked to get dressed somewhere else. We don’t know why she does this. Galdikas studies orangutans, and in her section she takes a baby orangutan to release into the wild. It says that it would take five days, but she carries it with her throughout her section which spans longer than five days. I’m not sure if she actually released it and took another one or not. Also, she sits in something that makes her sick, but we don’t know what it is or what it did to her. If I was confused by this, then I’m sure my students will be as well. On the flip side, this could be used as a research project to fill in the multiple gaps and learn more about the researchers.
The story gaps are my biggest issue, but I also had a problem with some of the writing. Primarily in the Dian Fossey section there are quite a few fragmented sentences. I’m not sure if Fossey spoke this way or what because I didn’t notice it as much in the other sections. Most of the time personal pronouns are missing in the narration and I had a hard time reading those parts smoothly.
Even though Primates is an ambitious story considering what Jim Ottaviani has tried to do, it’s still an enjoyable one. I liked reading it, but as a teacher in particular, I couldn’t look past some of those details I pointed out.(less)