Monday, December 15, 2014
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson is the story of the author’s early childhood growing up in Ohio, South Carolina and New York. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights movement and written as beautiful poems this book is as important for what it says as for what it does not say. In this book there is no major ‘action’ but underneath each poem a life is shared along with the struggles, joys, relationships and realizations. To me, this was literature. I feel that if one of my junior high students was to read it they would miss some of the lessons about civil rights and race as they do not have the background knowledge to grasp those messages, however a patient and sympathetic reader would enjoy this quiet tale of a young life lived and enjoyed. As an adult it provoked me to think, especially in light of the current events in the US today. Reading this in a US classroom would be a different experience completely, and one in which I imagine many more students would have background knowledge. If I were alone in my decision I would send this book on.
Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A. S. King is edgy, creative, thoughtful, abrasive and interesting. It hooked me but it also turned me away! I had no trouble finishing it and it sticks in my mind. It is the story of Glory; her mother committed suicide by putting her head in her oven, left nude pictures of her photography subjects for Glory in a journal along with pictures of Headless Bill. Her best friend lives on a commune and needs Glory to get her access to the modern necessities in life, STI medication, the mall, a car and so on. Once they both drink bat juice they gain amazing powers. From there on the book is written as Glory’s present day life as she graduates high school and her ‘memory’ of the future in the second civil war. This is the part that made me think and what I imagine might grab the creative reader along with the underlying discussion of feminism. I would not feel comfortable passing this on to a junior high reader but will leave the older reader audience decision up to those with more experience with high school readers.
So, two different books, very different books, two great books, two books with strengths and specific audiences. My pick was a tough decision and we will have to see what my colleagues Holli and Tristin say and what our final decision is for moving on to the next round!