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
»

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Nest versus Crossover

As I never read blogs, except for this group, I must say it is fun to read others well written opinions.  #blogginginmyfuture?  After I read a fellow Smackdown bloggers brilliantly written piece about The Nest by Kenneth Oppel versus The Crossover by Kwame Alexander my mind was sent racing. I was not sure we had read the same books because my reaction was perpendicular to his.  #TheCrossover landslide.  


I could hardly finish The Nest as I was creeped out yet confused through the whole novel.  The young hero, that was captured inside of a wasps nest, and the constant threat of wasps ‘fixing the baby’ did terrify me.  The feeling-of-spiders-crawling-all-over-my-skin sensation that  was created through vivid setting description and the anger that bubbled due to unanticipated conflicts caused me to get sucked in and then hooked. Then a twist would spring from the pages.  These twists removed the spiders and anger because I was left a  “whatttttttt?” Feeling rambling through my head.  Continually I would start to get excited as momentum was building and then I would be hit by another anti-climactic episode and be back to “whattttttt?”  I hung in until the ending and then again - WHAM!!!!!!!!! and “whattttttttt??????” simultaneously.  The Nest just felt like maybe the exterminator had already starting removing layers of the nest and I was only getting to read the erratic scribbles left on the walls.


The Crossover was so refreshing.  Now that could be because I am not a literary genius with a voluptuous vocabulary that would have me winning SLAM poetry contests.  Yet the young man in The Crossover’s narrative kept taking me back to my classroom.  I could see myself sitting while I listened to one of my grade 9 boys tell me their story of resilience and feeling like a proud momma because of the courage so many of the teens in my class show when writing.  Due to the decades of teaching Language Arts, with so many of those classrooms being filled with boys who hate fiction, I read The Crossover and my teaching heart grew 3 times in size.  The young male voice was refreshing and the portrayal of grief, as told from a man’s experience, seemed so accurate. The connections that kept building for me could be because all I have is boys that play sports in my house, but the narrative resonated with truths the young men share in our classroom.  Most of the boys I have taught don’t use flowery and descriptive words yet their truths are captivating when they decided to risk and share them, just as the narrator did in The Crossover.  I believe this is a YA novel that would hook many teens and introduce them to poetry in a way that might entice the kids to give poetry a try.

The Crossover was hands down our winner for this round.

1 comment:

  1. Amanda and I agree that The Crossover is the winner of this bracket as well. Looking at the cover, (and yes, I judged) I thought I would hate this book - basketball, junior high boys and then it got worse. It was written in a poetic style. Grudgingly, I began reading. After a few pages, it had me hooked. Some beautiful imagery and realistic emotions made me a believer. I talked it up in class and everyone wants to read it. Even though I enjoyed The Nest, and its freaky little plot, The Crossover is a winner.

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