Tortla's Reviews > The View from Saturday

The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg
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's review
Jun 08, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: classics, chidderbooks, schooly, started-but-then-put-aside
Read from June 07 to 08, 2011

I appreciate that this author is trying to teach young people the importance of courtesy, but I have quite a few issues with the way the characters are handled. A big deal gets made about flouting the whole essentialization of minorities/handicapped/other labels. Like, the paraplegic teacher who's all indignant and self-conscious about the ways she's treated differently. And the English-accent-possessing Indian boy who gets teased. I get it, people are people and it sucks when they're treated badly for the ways they're different. BUT it also sucks that these fictional characters were created in ways that so thoroughly adhere to stereotypes.

The feisty handicapped lady who doesn't want special treatment and is secretly vulnerable? Maybe that's not *too* stereotypical (or at least not in a particularly harmful way). But Julian Singh? (He's Indian, in case the name didn't tip you off...) He's a mysterious, accent-possessing, insightful and generally un-prepubescent-acting foreigner. All of the white kids are (realistically) flawed, but the Indian is this mystical foreign presence that brings them enlightenment and 4 o'clock tea. He's also a magician. (And his father can apparently read minds...) Can you say "orientalism," Konigsburg?

So, yeah. There are some funny bits, and it's a kind of nice (if preachy) story. But I can't forgive it for the way it undermines one of its own essential messages.

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Reading Progress

06/07/2011 page 40
23.0% "Cutesier than I remember and with less-likeable child-protagonists. Now the teacher is more intriguing to me...maybe because I'm older and can relate to her better? I dislike that reasoning and think it has more to do with my only remembering the (less annoying) prepubescent boys' perspectives from the selection I'd read in elementary school..."

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