India brings to mind, exotic spices, bright colors, crowded places, curry laden food, and varied religions. India is a rich mixture of cultures contaiIndia brings to mind, exotic spices, bright colors, crowded places, curry laden food, and varied religions. India is a rich mixture of cultures containing a very complex history. There is a great divide in the various class systems, with the poor living in crowded, flea ridden, flithy slums. Thrity Umrigar, in The Space Between Us takes the reader from the slums of Bombay to the apartments of the wealthy middle class. Umrigar explores what gender and class mean when the lines are clearly blurred in modern day India.
Bhima is an old illiterate woman who has worked her entire life as a domestic for a wealthy Parsi woman. Bhima lives with her granddaughter Maya, in the slum and is working hard so that she can have a better life, so she get out of the slum and end the cycle of poverty that has existed in her family for generations. Except Maya ends up pregnant as she begins her first year of college and destroys Bhima's hope in the future.
Sera is a wealthy Parsi woman who grew up privledged in the upper middle class social strata. She married an older man with an anger streak. Bhima has been her faithful servant for more than 30 years. She is more like a friend and companion to Bhima than servant, they have shared so many secrets. Yet after all these years, Sera won't let Bhima sit on the furniture or drink out of one of her glasses.
The main characters are restricted by the class system of India. In every culture there are people who are invisible, the homeless, the jobless, and the outcasts, so The Space Between Us is a universal story. The class system is an unfortunate way to divide human beings and keep them in their place. Umrigar does an excellent job of showing how the class system pervades our everyday life and affects our relationships.
The Space Between Us is also about gender roles. I think this is what made the biggest impact on me. The men in this book were jerks and utter losers and yet they were on top and made decisions, forcing women into poverty, pregnancy, a life of hard work. Oh yes, the men in this book really pissed me off. I kept thinking, Where are all the good men?
India has always intrigued and scared me. Umrigar has taught me more about the complicated world of India. The Space Between Us is a book to be discussed, digested and spit out because it will play with your emotions. It is written and dedicated to the many women who work as domestics around the world. ...more
Infidel begins with the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh. Stabbed to his chest is a five page letter addressed to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In her page turninInfidel begins with the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh. Stabbed to his chest is a five page letter addressed to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In her page turning memoir, Ayaan takes the reader on a geographical and religious journey through her past, detailing her life from the girl she used to be to the woman she has matured to today.
Ayaan grew up with an eccentric grandmother, an erratic mother and she is the eldest of three siblings. Her father drifts in and out of her life as the family moves from Somalia to Saudi Arabia, to Ethiopia and then to Kenya. Ayaan details the traditional life of a Somalian Muslim woman from her earliest memory. Ayaan has created a engaging memoir that takes you in the house and heart of a Muslim woman and her radical change that leads her to deny Islam's control of her life and become an Infidel.
Ayaan escapes an arranged marriage in Germany and seeks asylum in the Netherlands. She changes her name and lies to gain Dutch Citizenship. She undergoes a cultural shock and a personal transformation as she figures out that she has been tricked by religion into complacency. Ayaan attends college, earns her political science degree and runs for political office.
Infidel is amazingly powerful book written by an extremely courageous woman. I read this book aloud to my World History class and all of us were enthralled from the very first page. We learned about Somalian history and why there are so many Somalian immigrants in our community. We learned and had great conversations about the final days of Said Barre regime, female genital mutilation, the dangerous plight of refugees and refugee camps, arranged marriage, unstable countries, honor killings, the Muslim Brotherhood, child abuse and so much more.
Infidel states, that of the three monotheistic religions only Islam has not been through a reformation and that for women, a reformation is essential for human rights. Women suffer through arranged and forced marriages as young as 9 years old as well as honor killings by husbands and brothers. If a woman is caught bringing shame to her family or committing adultery she will be killed by the male members of her family and no one prosecutes the men because it is their god given right. Ayaan Hirsi Ali called for a change in Islam and is a crusader for Muslim women and their human rights.
If you have not read Infidel yet, I suggest you get a copy and start reading now. This is one of the most important books of the decade and is extremely timely as governments must find a way to incorporate new religious doctrines into their democratic societies and maintain human rights for all.
Dang Thuy Tram was a doctor who lived and worked in Vietnam during the war. She left her family, became a member of the communist party and worked toDang Thuy Tram was a doctor who lived and worked in Vietnam during the war. She left her family, became a member of the communist party and worked to heal members of the Vietcong army. During the Vietnam war Thuy kept a diary and wrote down her thoughts, her emotions and the daily tribulations of living and working during a war. She relates some of the history of Vietnam, the conflict with the French and her wish for peace and freedom. Only one diary out of three survives.
Dr. Tram is shot and killed by the Americans. All of the deceased person's effects are ordered to be destroyed but one American soldier recognizes the dairy as important and keeps it. He takes it home after the war and keeps it safe for 35 years. The soldier returns to the diary to Dr. Tram's mother in Vietnam and she has it published where it becomes an instant bestseller.
Throughout the memoir there is death and destruction. Dr Tram faces death daily as people she loves are shot and captured and her patients die of incurable wounds. Her depression is evident as she misses her family and her high school sweetheart. Life happens during war and Thuy shows how she survives everyday when bombs are dropping around her.
I read this book aloud to my 4th hour Humanities class and most of them hated it. I tried to persevere hoping that they would learn something about the horrors of war and that the book would improve but it did not. Thuy constantly talkes about men and love interests and because she calls them all young brother or older brother it leaves the reader confused about who is who. Also Dr. Tram continually refers to herself in 3rd person which left the class wondering why. I was really disappointed in the book. I felt it needed something more, maybe some cultural references that helped the reader understand Vietnam better. There are tons of footnotes throughout the book that while they did explain some of the history, mostly deterred from the memoir and left the reader more confused. I would definitely say that this is a book where the meaning and importance of the book has become lost in translation.
Matt Duffy is an 18 year old soldier in the Iraq war who has been hit by an RPG and is in the hospital with a head injury. He has TBI, traumatic brainMatt Duffy is an 18 year old soldier in the Iraq war who has been hit by an RPG and is in the hospital with a head injury. He has TBI, traumatic brain injury, and his memory is not reliable. He thinks he killed a young Muslim boy in the alley before he got injured. Matt receives a Purple Heart for being wounded, that he feels he doesn't deserve.
In the hospital Matt meets a variety of soldiers who are suffering from various physical or mental ailments. A very colorful cast of characters. Matt undergoes counseling, calls his mother and writes his girlfriend all while being interrogated for his involvement in the death of a Muslim boy. Eventually Matt is released from the hospital and sent back to the war and his unit to face his fears and an unknown future.
Purple Heart puts you in the war zone where you have to witness death and destruction, sleepless nights and endless wishes. McCormick is a great writer and this is the second book I have read of hers. Purple Heart is timely as the U.S. pulls out of Iraq and remains in Afghanistan. War is not black and white but full of gray areas where fear and doubt reside. War is not pretty, fun or romantic and McCormick makes sure her readers know it.
I read this book aloud to my third hour class. It is a good read aloud minus the swear words which I mostly skipped over. I think Purple Heart is a realistic portrait of war and of a soldier's life. Recruiters are at every high school signing kids up for a future they have not yet started. Books like Purple Heart educate young adults about the real facts and dangers of war and arm them with the knowledge they need to make the important decisions of their life.
Zlata is a 10 year old girl when the war in Yugoslavia breaks out. She starts her diary on the first day of 5th grade in 1991when war is just a topicZlata is a 10 year old girl when the war in Yugoslavia breaks out. She starts her diary on the first day of 5th grade in 1991when war is just a topic on the news that is nowhere near her home. In March, 1992, the ethnic conflict starts making headlines and Zlata records it from her child like perspective.
In 1992, the city of Sarajevo is under siege and Zlata is stuck in the middle. All of her friends escape to other safer locales and Zlata is left alone with her parents unable to escape for two years. Her pets are out of food, there is no school, indefinitely, she can't play outside because of snipers and the war is ruining Zlata's childhood.
This is a memoir of Ah Si's experiences growing up during The Chinese Cultural Revolution. The Cultural Revolution lasted 10 years. Educated people weThis is a memoir of Ah Si's experiences growing up during The Chinese Cultural Revolution. The Cultural Revolution lasted 10 years. Educated people were sent to the country to be "re-educated". Many families were forcibly displaced and young adults were sent to rural regions to work. This was a time of major social and political upheaval in China.
Ting-Xing Ye includes many Maoism's from his "Little Red Book" in her memoir. You will be amazed at the resilience of Ah Si and her siblings and how they are able to suffer and endure, but still remain hopeful. This is a powerful memoir that relates the period of the Cultural Revolution from a teenager's point of view.
Ishmael Beah was born in Sierra Leone in 1980 and by 1992 his country was involved in a civil war no one quite understands. At age 12 Ishmael finds hiIshmael Beah was born in Sierra Leone in 1980 and by 1992 his country was involved in a civil war no one quite understands. At age 12 Ishmael finds himself homeless and hopelessly searching for his family with a group of boys. At 13 he is "found" by the government army and becomes a soldier. He is handed his gun, given some drugs, and sent out to kill the rebels. He is a survivor and this is his powerful story.
Ishmael suffers from post traumatic stress syndrome and this memoir details some of the most harrowing events a child should never have to witness nor take part in. During the time of Sierra Leone's civil war, the country turns upside down. Children are no longer trusted or cared for, they are feared and become drug addicted prized soldiers used by the government. Families are scattered, atrocities are committed and everyone is scared.
Jack Gantos is a young man with a hole in his life. We've all met someone with a hole in their life. Maybe they are missing love, understanding, ambitJack Gantos is a young man with a hole in his life. We've all met someone with a hole in their life. Maybe they are missing love, understanding, ambition, creativity or self-esteem. Whatever is missing causes crippling decision making and leaves the person wondering what went wrong and why do bad things always happen to me.
Jack wants to be a writer and this memoir of his tragic life experiences lead him to follow his dream. Jack wants to go to college to learn to be a writer, except every time he wants to write he becomes crippled. He starts drinking and doing drugs and goes home to a blank page and then sinks deeper into despair. He makes a major life decision to transport drugs from the island of St.Croix into New York City in 1971. He will earn 10,000 dollars which he plans to use toward college. Except he gets busted by the Feds and sent to prison for an indefinite period of time.
Nujood is a heroine to little girls all over Yemen because she stood up to her husband and parents by obtaining a divorce at age 10. She is the firstNujood is a heroine to little girls all over Yemen because she stood up to her husband and parents by obtaining a divorce at age 10. She is the first child bride in Yemen to obtain a divorce and her plight to end her marriage ended in International attention and the world came knocking on her door to learn her story.
Nujjod, age 9, was married against her will to a man in his thirties. Her father arranged the marriage and on her wedding night she was raped by her husband. She was a child who didn't understand what was happening to her and why her husband terrified and tortured her every night. By day her mother-in-law refused to let her play with other children her age and made her work like other wives. Nujood was able to escape her husband on a trip to visit her parents. She ran to the courts in Yemen to demand a divorce, which was a incredible journey considering she was a unattended female in a Muslim country. Please check out my blog for the full book review: http://www.booksnob-booksnob.blogspot......more
This was a great book to read aloud to my class. It was well-written but yet the text was not to difficult to understand. Definitely written with theThis was a great book to read aloud to my class. It was well-written but yet the text was not to difficult to understand. Definitely written with the teenager in mind. This book appealed to males and females, lots of historical action about the Morranos which are Jews that are pretending to be Christians in Spain during the Inquisition in the 16th century. The Jews did it for their own safety when they were forced to convert or perish. This particular family is discovered and tragedy and triumph ensue. This book won many awards....more
I read this book aloud to my 9th grade class. It was a good book and we had great discussions surrounding the different culture and time period. It waI read this book aloud to my 9th grade class. It was a good book and we had great discussions surrounding the different culture and time period. It was a multi-layered story which made reading it aloud difficult at times but it had many interesting tales that the students found fascinating. I think this book is a good introduction to the 1001 Arabian Nights for teens and adults alike....more
Phew! Finally finished this one. While I enjoyed the pirate history and antics, my students would have liked the book to be shorter and more concise.Phew! Finally finished this one. While I enjoyed the pirate history and antics, my students would have liked the book to be shorter and more concise. It jumped around from pirate to pirate and they had a hard time keeping track. Many of my students thought the ending was lame and too neatly tied up. Many also compared this book to Sophie's World only with pirates instead of philosophy and I think that is a fair comparison. ...more
This is an excellent book on the Palestinian and Israeli conflict. It is a very personal look at what it does to one particular family. It is chargedThis is an excellent book on the Palestinian and Israeli conflict. It is a very personal look at what it does to one particular family. It is charged with emotion, non-stop action and amazing insights. I read this book aloud to my 9th grade world history class and they were riveted from the first page. I am looking forward to reading more of this authors work. He doesn't shy away from tough issues. I would highly recommend this novel. ...more