Genre: Historical Fiction Awards: Coretta Scott King Award: John Steptoe New Talent 2010, YALSA Best Books for Young Adul...moreAge: 12-18, Middle/High School
Genre: Historical Fiction Awards: Coretta Scott King Award: John Steptoe New Talent 2010, YALSA Best Books for Young Adults 2010
Summary: Thirteen-year-old Sam Childs is the son of a prominent Civil Rights activist, Roland Childs. Racial tensions are high in Chicago during 1968 as Sam attends many of his father’s peaceful protests. Things begin to change when he learns of his brother’s involvement in the Black Panther Party (BPP). Sam begins hanging out with his crush, Maxie, only to find out she too is involved in the BPP. Wanting to do the right thing by following his father’s nonviolent approach, but drawn by the cool atmosphere of the BPP, Sam must figure out whether to follow his father or his brother.
Personal Reaction: Kekla Magoon is a fantastic writer. From the moment I opened the book, I was captivated, “I tried to pretend I was somewhere else” (1). What a powerful first line! The story opens up with Sam and his brother, Stick, standing by their father as he gives a speech during a demonstration. Neither boy wants to be there. On a larger scale, the Civil Rights movement, while a momentous time in history, brought forth very troubling conflicts. Although Sam has been brought up to be a good, moral citizen, he experiences raw discrimination and the harsh reality that fighting for equality will not come easily. This makes him want to “pretend [to be] somewhere else.”
Evaluation: Appeal: Middle and early high school students could easily find themselves in Sam’s character because he is a teenager struggling to figure out his beliefs and how he can be a part of something. Readers are easily moved to strongly dislike the people who discriminate him, because they too have been discriminated against at some point in their lives and know the feeling this unfairness. Older high school students step outside of their own circle by analyzing the atmosphere in Chicago in 1968. Sam’s struggle to choose between his father’s beliefs and his brother’s beliefs lends itself to questions about what is morally right for Sam and for society.
Controversial Aspects: There is racial discrimination and harsh treatment of blacks, which is historically accurate. Also, there is a bit of violence causing some parents to worry. The police beat a black man with their nightsticks. Guns are carried by the Black Panther Party (but never used) and the police (used and results in a death).
Positive Aspects: There is a good relationship between Sam and his brother, Stick. Even though Stick gets into “trouble” with the BPP, he is very protective of his younger brother. Stick understands the dangerousness of his chosen path and does not want Sam to experience this. This novel is very well researched. Magoon is able to pull in a variety of aspects of the Civil Rights Movement and present a fantastic story.
Genre Criteria: The Rock and the River falls under the historical fiction genre. The story is in response to the Civil Rights Movement, and more specifically the demonstrations and rioting that went on in Chicago in 1968. The Childs family attempt to stand up for their beliefs on equality during the time of color conflict. A similar book which touches on issues of the Civil Rights Movement that falls under historical fiction is One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia. (less)
Looking for Alaska was thought-provoking and very well written! John Green has exceeded my expectation with a great debut novel. And to think I had pretty high expectations due to all the hype and recommendations received for this particular book.
Readers are easily captivated through the use of unique structure; John Green has cleverly divided the book into two sections, before and after, with each chapter acting as a countdown leading to some kind of event, “one-hundred and thirty-six days before.” This leave the readers inquiring what will happen in 136 days and the only way to find out is to read! He has also done a fantastic job with character development, with vivid, real, complex descriptions. Miles, aka Pudge, is an average guy who is driven by his new friends to discover the “Great Perhaps.” Readers can quickly identify with Pudge and his desire to seek bigger and better things.
John Green also pulls the reader in with the use of beautiful language. For example, to quote one of my favorite lines, “But I lacked the courage and she had a boyfriend and I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane,” (89). This metaphor really allows the reader to visualize and explore the characters even further.
As I read, I continued to draw connections between Looking for Alaska and Going Bovine. Both protagonists go out in search of something better, as they start out as average, almost invisible teenagers. Though Pudge does not have a deathly disease like Cameron, both boys set out on a journey of self-discovery. However, Looking for Alaska is much more realistic than Going Bovine. On a side note, for some reason, I pictured the Pudge’s roommate and best friend, the Colonel, and Cameron’s tag-along teenage dwarf friend, Gonzo, as similar, though I am not entirely sure why.
I absolutely loved this book and I recommend it to anyone who wants a great, thought-provoking read. Although I have heard this is John Green's best book, I look forward to being impressed with my next read, An Abundance of Katherines.(less)
Awesome! This book definitely did a fantastic job of making the world suck less; true Nerdfighter quality (see the Vlog Brothers for more information on Nerdfighters). Well done John Green, well done!
Margo Roth Spiegelman. What a name! Like in Looking for Alaska, Green has created an adventurous and eccentric female character who is central to the plot without making very many physical appearances in the story. When Margo disappears right after their crazy night of reeking havoc on their hometown, Q (with the help of friends) begins wild goose chase for Margo through a series of seemingly disconnected clues.
Q's coming-of-age story is driven by the search for Margo; and in this search he learns that people are not really as they seem. This life-changing revelation leads Q to examine himself, the way he views others, and his connections to others. Through this fascinating story, Green encourages readers to ponder the people and connections in their own lives. "Maybe we're grass--our roots are so interdependent that no one is dead as long as someone is alive."
Green has expertly crafted a story that grabbed me from the beginning. There are twists and turns throughout that left me surprised and wanting more. The characters in the story were very likable. His band geek friends were quite humorous. I especially liked Radar and his parents' collection of black Santas. I thought Q's character, who undoubtedly grows throughout the novel, was very well developed . However, I did find his obsession with Margo a little strange; though, this quality did kind of moves the story. Without Q's longing for his perfect idea of Margo, there would not have been the crazy impromptu adventure to search for her.
If you have not had a chance to check out this book, definitely pick up a copy as soon as possible!(less)
I have to admit, I did not enjoy An Abundance of Katherines as much as Looking for Alaska. I think initially it took me a while to get into the book simply for the fact that I cannot stand math. Colin, the protagonist, is an awkward genius with no claim to fame. He is working on a mathematical equation that will determine whether a person is a dumper or a dumpee. According to his memory, he was dumped nineteen times by Katherines and he is determined to figure out way.
Colin and best friend, Hassan, go on a road trip to try to get Colin over his most recent Katherine break-up. Both characters are not quite normal. Colin's character, ambitious and socially awkward, complimented Hassan's character, complacent and quirky. Though Hassan does not want to further his education like Colin, Hassan has some valuable lessons to teach his best friend about friendship, life, and self-confidence.
Now don't get me wrong, this was not a disappointing read by any means. The writing is witty and the characters are well developed. However, the graphs and algebraic equations did not appeal to me.(less)
John Green (along with David Levithan) have created a fantastic collaborative novel that is full of humor, as well as deep insight. The format is a bit unique as the chapters alternate between the two Will Graysons. Green follows grammatical rules, while Levithan uses poor grammar and ignores the rules of capitalization. Green's Will was an average middle class teenage guy whose best friend just happened to be the infamous Tiny Cooper (what a character!). Levithan's Will was a depressed gay boy with low self-esteem who ends up dating Tiny Cooper. Even though the book is titled Will Grayson, Will Grayson, I feel that the strongest character is Tiny Cooper. After the two Wills cross paths (at a porn store!), Tiny is the one that maintains the connection between them. He is all that is (gay) man and full of personality and hilarity, not to mention being gigantic. Readers cannot help but to love him.
I'm sure many of you have felt what I am feeling at the moment: sadness that I have come to the end of this book. I wish I could just jump into this story and live there for a little while longer. I believe Will Grayson, Will Grayson was my first GLBT themed YA title and it was FABULOUS! I could not put it down! This is a great finale to my John Green-a-thon. He is a fantastic writer. I cannot wait to read his next novel, which he is currently finishing up. I have not read anything by David Levithan, but now I will make it a point to do so.(less)