Is it weird to love a book more than the story it contains? A Monster Calls is such a unique book: it is not quite a graphic novel but the illustrations are just beyond. I fell in love with them. I'm not a person who is really into art or moved by theater but these illustrations just resonated with me. I think they added so much to this book and they simply blew me away.
I mean. . . come on!
And this is the inside cover--yes!
Another thing I love about this book is that the beginning was originally written by someone else. If you read the author's note, it describes how the idea for the book and beginning were created by Siobhan Dowd and, after her death, Patrick Ness, the author of A Monster Calls, used what she made as inspiration for this book, which I just think is amazing. It's so cool to me that one author can inspire another to make something great. It kind of gives me the chills ( #nerdalert ).
A Monster Calls is about a boy named Conor who has a monster who visits him nightly at 12:07 A.M. Surprisingly Conor is not afraid of the monster: As he says, he has bigger, scarier things to be afraid of: his mother has cancer, and, on top of that, his father lives in America and hasn't visited him in England in years, school is no walk in the park, and everyone has treated him differently since finding out about his mother.
Throughout the book Conor learns the importance of speaking his truth. So many lines Ness wrote stood out to me, but this had the most impact:
You do not write your life with words, the monster said. You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.
Though I, again, found the book rather predictable, it gave me all the feels and I love how throughout the book Conor was forced to examine his choices and learn that his reactions to the events in his life made all the difference.
You'd like A Monster Calls if you like books that are. . .
short / quick reads
about growing up / coming of age
What have you been reading lately?
If you've seen my summer reading list then you know that one of my top five books to read this summer is American Born Chinese. I've been wanting to read this since a classmate recommended it and because I don't read that many graphic novels; I've been wanting to give graphic novels more of a chance. The first thing I noticed with the change in format is that uh. . . I'm old. The font was smaller and therefore harder for me to read. Time to get glasses?
Once I got over the format adjustment, I started to enjoy the book. The first thing that threw me for a loop was that the story is actually three stories that combine at the end of the book. This confused me at first and I can see it being confusing for my students as well. As the book continued, I got more comfortable with the format and stories and they started to blend together and make sense. Also, I had to do something for a minute so I put down the book. My husband picked it up and was like, "this book is awesome!" so perhaps more of a "guy book" than a "girl book."
American Born Chinese is about a boy who is trying, desperately, to assimilate to American culture so he can fit in. He eventually realizes that this comes at the cost of giving up not only his heritage and culture but, ultimately, himself. I love that the theme becomes learning to be who you are no matter how others treat you or who they want you to be. I think this is relatable to all teenagers, and people, whether they are a minority or not. So, the theme really won me over more than anything else.
You would like American Born Chinese if you like books that are. . .
witty / funny
about self discovery / being yourself
What are some other good graphic novels? I'm looking for more!
Happy Friday everyone!
As you read this post I'll be on my way to Nova Scotia for a family wedding and I'm so excited! David is from a ( really ) big family so it will be great to celebrate the couple ( who are just the most fun and friendly people ) and party with the whole family. Of course, y'all know I'm packing some books!
Two weekends ago, David, my parents, and my grandfather all took to cabins on the coast, with no reception, no internet. It was pure reading bliss. As you know from my summer reading list, The Crossover was at the top of my to-read list so I knew I had to bring it with me. A lot of my students read and loved The Crossover this past school year so I wanted to give it a try. The first thing that I noticed was the format. It is told in free verse and it gives the book a different feel with an engaging rhythm.
The Crossover is about two boys whose lives revolve around basketball. Their father was a basketball star until a sudden injury and now lives vicariously through the boys' basketball careers. The boys, Josh and Jordan Bell, are twins but start to grow apart as their romantic and family lives become more complicated. At the end of the book there is a major event that is foreshadowed throughout that changes everything. This was probably my favorite part of the book because I felt myself becoming more engaged in the book and what happened to the characters. I did really like the unique format and I think if I liked basketball I would have liked the book a lot more.
You would like The Crossover if you like books that are . . .
in free verse
have a twist at the end
like poetry ( or even music / rap )
The Crossover would be a great book for hesitant readers, especially boys since the protagonists are male, and it is a quick, unique read. It's won the Coretta Scott King award and the Newberry medal so it's worth at least checking out.
Have you read The Crossover ? What did you think?
Today's book review is adult fiction, rather than young adult fiction, which is rare for me! I read a sample of Me Before You probably years ago but just thought it was blah. I am a super ( read: annoyingly ) picky reader and typical millennial --meaning I need to be instantly entertained by a book.
I finally gave this book a chance when a friend told me to borrow it over the summer and I'm glad I did. I may have stayed up pretty late reading it one night. . . not only because I had to return it to a friend but also because I didn't want to put it down! It surprised and delighted me that I got into that reading flow--you know, where you're more interested in your book than, say, the real world.
Me Before You is about a woman named Louisa, Lou for short, who leads a rather sheltered life in a small English village when she is suddenly forced out of a job after the cafe she works at closes. Struggling to find employment, she ends up working as a care assistant for a man named Will who is quadriplegic. He is very abrasive and rude to her at first and she wonders what the heck she is going to do because she and her family desperately need the money. She learns not only about what it's like to live with his disability but to take risks and live larger herself. One of my favorite things about the book is the theme of how people can change us and make us who we become.
This book was probably a 4/5 for me. I really enjoyed the characters, the story, and the theme, but I did find the book predictable. Though, that didn't stop me from crying quite a lot through the last quarter of the book, and I did read it in about 3 days.
I would say you'd like this book if you like. . .
an easy/quick read
characters with unique circumstances
books that are also movies
Have you read Me Before you? There is also a sequel--After You -- but I've heard mixed reviews; have you read it?
P.S. There's quite a lot of discussion online about a major spoiler in the book, which I won't go into because if there's one thing I loathe it is people ruining books for other people. So, don't Google it or read below until you've read the book and then feel free !
[ Personally, I do not have a disability nor do I know anyone who does so my viewpoint on this issue may be skewed or taken as insensitive. Please know I don't mean it this way. ]
In my opinion, I think that, yes, there should be more films, books, etc. about people with disabilities but also I don't believe the author was characterizing Will's "solution" as the one thing all people with disabilities want and do. In fact, I think she went out of her way to say that everyone's life should be their choice and that many people do not feel like Will did.
I've also read the same idea--that writing about people with disabilities is using that feature to define and dramatize them--said about Wonder, which I loved. I don't agree. In my opinion, stories are stories. It would be less dramatic if Will hadn't felt this way; it would have ruined her whole story line. Women and men are portrayed stereotypically in books, movies, music, etc. all. the. time. and we don't say ( as often ) that the author is misrepresenting or stereotyping people and situations to sell books, which they probably are. I don't mean that in a bad way, but rather that if we all portrayed people and stories as they actually are we would probably be pretty bored with books and movies. So, let's not hate on authors because they dramatized a situation so we'd want to read it; it's kind of their job, right?
Instead, what if we had a conversation about all people, all choices, all situations and used this one book, one story line, one person's idea as a jumping off point for greater understanding? If we condemn someone for their actions, choices, or portrayal of others, we're shutting down the opportunity to talk about those issues and instead talk about how right / wrong that one person was. The beautiful thing about disagreement is when we can have honest conversations about differing viewpoints and learn from it, grow because of it.
If you've read Me Before You, what did you think?
You guys! This was the perfect book to read at the end of the year. Part of me wishes I'd read it sooner because I just want to thrust it into the hands of so many students and say, "you have to read this!" In fact, I already said this to students when I was about half way through; I loved it that much.
Every Last Word is about a girl named Sam who has OCD. I was intrigued by this book ( and put it on my summer reading list! ) because I want a book to affect me and play with my emotions. Books that help me understand others and make me feel something -- those are great books and this is exactly that kind of book. Sam not only struggles with OCD but also things a lot of us can relate to: complicated relationships with friends, crushes, fitting in, finding out who she is, and coping with the struggles of high school.
Two of my favorite things were huge parts of this book: writing and music. Sam uses writing, particularly poems, as a way to deal with the stresses of her life and to seek understanding, mostly of herself but also, eventually, for others to understand her, too. She also relies on the power of music and has many playlists, which I love and really relate to. Below, I made a playlist of songs that specifically appear in Every Last Word.
The author, Tamara Ireland Stone, also made her own playlist of songs that inspired or were mentioned in Every Last Word, which I can't wait to listen to!
You would like Every Last Word if you like books that are . . .
Twisty (have a big plot twist)
set in high school
full of character growth
Personally, I loved this book and it is one of my new favorites. It reminds me of All the Bright Places because both are realistic fiction, have teen romances, involve and advocate for mental health, and help me understand others better. If you're looking for a great next read, I highly recommend Every Last Word !
"'Have you really read all those books in your room?' Alaska laughing- 'Oh God no. I’ve maybe read a third of ‘em. But I’m going to read them all. I call it my Life’s Library. Every summer since I was little, I’ve gone to garage sales and bought all the books that looked interesting. So I always have something to read.'" -John Green