Hi book friends!
In my classes we've been reading Orbiting Jupiter for the Global Read Aloud, which has been a fantastic experience. When I looked at the book choices for this year, I noticed All American Boys right away. First of all, I love the cover but I also love that the book is very relevant to an important issue in America right now. All American Boys is about two boys, Rashad and Quinn, who become part of a situation that ignites racial as well as police and citizen tensions.
Rashad is a black teenager who plays basketball and is being constantly lectured by his father to do the right things and be a good citizen. So, it's a complete shock to him when, just after changing out of his ROTC uniform and into his baggy pants, he's shopping in a store, a woman trips over him, and a nearby cop assumes he's stealing.
Meanwhile, Quinn happens upon the scene and watches the officer violently arrest Rashad. He later realizes that, even worse, Rashad is a basketball teammate and the officer is none other than Quinn's best friend's older brother who has acted like a father to Quinn after Quinn's father died serving his country. Quinn is left confused and spinning trying to figure out what is right and wrong, what racism really is, and what it means to be loyal.
You might love All American Boys as much as I did if you like. . .
a book that is truly relevant to today's world and current events
stories in dual perspectives
a book that makes you think
or even a change of pace.
I loved that we got both boy's stories, that they intertwined, that the characters were incredibly complex and real, and that even the "victim" and "aggressor" weren't treated as such. The authors ( love that it's two authors! ) took a complex issue and dealt with it honestly -- not over-simplifying or jamming a lesson down your throat. It's a book that makes you think about the world and yourself. I highly recommend it!
Have you read it? Are you into it? Do you want me to just skip ahead and tell you what I think of it?
I loved it.
I know, bold! I will say this: I had very low expectations of this book. Let's keep in mind a few things:
1. This was NOT written by J.K. Rowling so if you're expecting another Harry Potter then just stop.
2. It's a PLAY, so not your typical book.
3.After such a long time and so much fandom, it's pretty hard to live up to anything fans might be expecting, and I don't think the authors were trying to do that. This is something new; I think it should be read as something new.
4. The reviews from other people? Not so great. I think because of the first three things.
Okay! With all of that said, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is about Harry's life twenty years after the last book. ( Can I just assume you've all read all of the original HP books? If not, there will be spoilers--you've been warned! ) It took me a while to remember many things about where we left off, like that Harry is married to Ginny, Hermione is married to Ron, and Snape is actually a good guy. So, you might want to brush up on your HP knowledge before you dive back in.
So, it's about Harry ( and Ginny, Hermione, Ron, and Draco's ) life 20 years later but mostly about Harry's youngest son Albus. Albus doesn't love being the son of the great Harry Potter and doesn't get along with his father. Harry is old and tired and ( gasp! ) flawed in this book, which I'm guessing is why a lot of people don't like it. He's not the one great wizard anymore, but honestly I don't think Rowling painted him that way either--he's always been flawed, conflicted, humble, and definitely had/ has some of that survivor's / hero guilt going on.
What I liked: I think the authors actually did a (surprisingly) good job of honoring who the characters continued to be nineteen years later. We all grow and change, especially in nearly two decades, and I think this book reflects that while also staying true to who the characters were at the end of the series. Also, surprisingly, I really liked that Draco Malfoy played a big part in this book. I know that how he's portrayed in this book is pretty different from the other books, but, again, it's been nineteen years and we all grow up and move on. What may not have been appreciated by others was one of my favorite parts. Lastly, and this maybe is a spoiler even though I'm being intentionally vague, just like the other HP books, the problems were solved by a group of people ( no one can do it alone! ) and with smarts + love. The kid in me who secretly read HP while I should have been sleeping was just so totally happy reading this book.
What I didn't love: I wasn't a fan of Hermione in this book. I think she got boiled down; there wasn't as much wit, fire, and impressive smarts like the other books. She kind of got turned into "Ron's wife" and that was annoying; I wish she'd played a bigger role. I also didn't love it as a play--that's just a reader preference and I'm not used to reading plays. I actually thought this would be a bigger problem for me but I adjusted to it quickly and didn't find it irritating to read in this format. I just would have preferred the greater detail I think a novel can provide.
So, you would love this book too if you like. . .
*Is saying Harry Potter too obvious?
*Adventure and mayhem
*magic, wizards, and cool stuff
*Sequels / series books
This book reminded me of why I love books. I read it I think in less than two days and it was the perfect summer read -- so fun and nostalgic and good all on its own at the same time. Please, tell me you'll give it a chance? Let me know in the comments if / when you read it!
Hey book friends!
How's your week been? We are in the midst of, as one of my teacher friends calls it, a month of Sundays. I'm not saying it's the end of summer ( never! ) but the new school year is coming fast. I'm excited but also nervous ( of course! ) and have a lot of work to do to get ready. We've also been doing birthday advent around our house since David's birthday is at the end of the month--and on my first day back at work, sadly. I've been doing something fun or giving David a small gift every day, which I've done as Christmas advent for years, but this year I wanted to try doing it for his birthday, too. I'll do a post on that next month if you guys are interested!
Onto the book!
Stand Off is the sequel to Winger. I would say it's one of those sequels that if you haven't read the first one then you really won't get the second one. Sure, you could read it but it wouldn't be very good. Both books are about a boy named Ryan Dean West who, in Stand Off, is a 15 year old senior. At the opening of Stand Off, Ryan Dean is still struggling with what happened at the end of the first book ( which I will NOT spoil for you--you know how I feel about that! ).
One of the absolute best parts about both Winger and Stand Off is the voice the author gives Ryan Dean -- he is a very funny, very typical 15 year old boy who is struggling with self-image, relationships, school, and of course hormones. The author uses a lot of internal monologue to give us insight into Ryan Dean, as well as his comics, which are fantastic.
It took me a little while to get into Stand Off because I felt it started a little slow--BUT since I loved Winger so much, I knew it would be worth sticking it out so I did. Although I feel the author could have cut out a bunch of material in the beginning, I loved how the characters evolved in this book and it didn't just feel like a "Winger 2.0." I literally laughed out loud at parts of this book ( LOVE it when that happens! ) and definitely cried in parts of the book, too. Stand Off is about personal growth and reflection while also telling of ridiculous teenage boy adventures.
You would like Stand Off if you like books that are . . .
about self discovery
about character growth
"boy books" ( though, I'm not a boy and I think girls can appreciate these books, too! )
Stand Off also reminded me a bit of Paper Towns or The Abundance of Katherines so if you liked either of those then you would probably like Stand Off. I had a few students this year who never considered themselves readers finish both Winger and Stand Off, even though they are longer books, and love them so if you're hesitant, give them a try; I think you'd really enjoy them!
Have a great weekend everyone!
"'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