Smackdown Books 2017

Arlene's smackdown17 book montage

The Memory of Things
Hour of the Bees
The Gospel Truth
Ultraman, Vol. 1
Ghost
The Bunker Diary
Echo
Trouble Is a Friend of Mine
Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy
The Hired Girl
An Ember in the Ashes
The Porcupine of Truth
Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir
Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans
Goodbye Stranger
Beautiful Blue World
The Blackthorn Key
One
Updraft
All American Boys
»

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Beauty of the Broken vs Crazy

The Beauty of the Broken vs Crazy

Long story short: Crazy is moving on.  Long story long, keep reading.....

Dia:Every once in awhile I find the Smackdown tiring...these were supposed to be the "good" books and I find myself debating between meh and blech! As always it is a cautionary lesson to not let the Junior Library Guild or the International Literacy Association or even independent bookstores tell you what they (or more likely 3 overworked, volunteer committee members) think you should read.
Let's start with The Beauty of the Broken which shares a cover with last year's Smackdown fave We Were Liars. The beauty comes in some of the language Waters' uses and the idea of the story this book could have been. Unfortunately the broken part is that this book is a checklist of teen  problems for would-be YA writers, each of which, on their own could have made a satisfying novel. Together I find them a soupy mess that quickly had me wanting to throw up my hands and book and reach for something else. Fundamentalist religion - check. LGBTQ - check. Rape - check. First Nations - check. Drunk mother - check. Abusive father - check. Mental breakdown - check.
The next book was Crazy by Phillips. A novel in verse is another gateway reading opportunity I like to offer to my students and it certainly is a fast read. Unfortunately, I didn't find much of it poetic - the line breaks just seemed to be anywhere and the words not really carefully chosen. Based in the 60s we follow the breakdown of a mother who most certainly is bipolar in a time when not much was understood about this disorder. I found this an interesting premise but many threads are just left dangling - the mother's rape, the boyfriend's reputation, the relationship with the father, the future of her painting.
So between dangling threads or every YA trope...I'm going threads and voting for Crazy.

Andrew:
I agree with Dia, which is a rare occurrence at the best of times.
I was actually disappointed with The Beauty of the Broken as so much tragedy was happening in such a way that  I could not think of a single student that I currently or have taught in the past that I would give this book to and say "You have to read this!" I would have much preferred a more focused story on a single issue. 
As for Crazy - I waited for the story to develop deeper and capture me. Unfortunately it didn't. 
Overall, I have to vote for Crazy to move forward but not with enthusiasm or excitement.

Vanessa and Rhonda:
Ugh, the last thing you want over Christmas holidays is to read 2 really depressing novels (especially when your other book club has your reading about a kid with ALS - geez!)
Beauty of the Broken: well written but as the last team said, it should pretty much titled, “Broken”. One sad thing after another happens to Mara and I felt at times, like I was so mired in despair, it was hard to be happy when something went her way. Couldn’t think of a kid I would recommend this to.
Crazy: Sadly, this will be my vote.  Sadly because I’ve already read some of the books in round 1 that didn’t make the cut and some of those books should be moving on instead of this one. (damn draw!) Talented kid who gives it all up because she fears she will develop the mental illness her mother has?Yup.  Did I grow to like her in the end, nope.

Lisa:
Agree with all above. First, let me say I LOVE sad books, so I was actually excited about Beauty of the Broken. Sad? Yes. Over the top? Absolutely. But the most disappointing thing about the book for me was that there is not a single student in my class that I could share this book with. As a matter of fact, I could say that about all of the books I have read in Smackdown so far; this is a major disappointment. (sigh) 4 books read - no shares.
Crazy will be my choice for this round, but I vote for it reluctantly. I enjoyed it. I am a child of the 60s after all, but could I share it with any of my students? Nope. I just don't see them relating to it... at all.
So, a vote for Crazy, and not the last post!! :)

Brent:
I'm going Crazy as well. Interpret that as you will. I have a semi completed blog that I'll post at some point in teh next two days.






1 comment:

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