Monday, January 9, 2017
Prickly Truth of a Drowned City
Let's play a short game of two truths and a lie.
Truth: A novel full of witty banter and unique internal dialogue.
Truth: An original take on the question of religion, sexual orientation and family.
Truth: An epic road trip.
If you're anything like me, the second one would be the lie. Maybe I've read too many YA novels and need to flip back to some adult fiction for awhile, but I found myself rolling my eyes a little too much in this novel. The novel takes off with a mystery of the whereabout of Carson's grandfather, Russell. Carson sets out on a road trip with his very new friend, which was eye roll #1. Maybe I'm heartless, but besties in a couple days? Come on. I can understand meeting a new friend and hitting it off, but setting out on a road trip after less than a week of knowing each other...
But I'm getting distracted, so let's continue. They set out on an epic road trip to find his grandfather...and not much interesting happens. Spoiler Alert: Carson is successful on his quest, and meets his grandfather's love, Turk. I do appreciate the history Bill gives to the era about what it meant for someone to come out to his or her family and live as an openly gay individual. That was probably the best of the novel, but then Bill goes right back to fast tracking relationships. Turk is all of a sudden "Grandpa" to Caron and Turk becomes the grandfather Carson missed out on. Que eye roll #42. It's not that the book is terrible, it's actually decent, but can we come to a point where being gay is normal? Where students that are gay can pick up a book and sexual orientation is written as normal and not a plight to suffer through? I'll leave it at that. Definitely a novel worth reading, but not one to put forward in Smackdown.
Drowned City. in my opinion, is a perfect nonfiction text for teens. It's a relatively current event that not many people know much about. I started the novel thinking I knew about the events of Hurricane Katrina, but by the end, I learned an abundant amount of new information. I was shocked by the US government's reaction to the hurricane. Didn't they know it was coming? Shouldn't they have put in more preventative measures to help evacuate and set up shelters? I couldn't believe that trains left empty when thousands were left in New Orleans to face the wrath of Katrina? The stadium was another shock for me. I knew that people were not treated well and that aid came late, but I had no idea how bad the situation was. I finished the graphic novel in one sitting because it was short and gripping. It is definitely a graphic novel that I would put on my classroom shelf and recommend to students.
Thus, my vote is for Drowned City!