Smackdown Books 2017

Arlene's smackdown17 book montage

The Memory of Things
Hour of the Bees
The Gospel Truth
Ultraman, Vol. 1
The Bunker Diary
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
All American Boys

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Porcupine of Truth vs. The War that Saved My Life

The War that Saved my Life
We all loved this book! It is beautifully and skillfully told.  Our hearts broke and sang at the same time between the cruelty and the kindness and resiliency of others. This is an accessible way for younger readers to experience the atrocities of war and the need to find our own place in the world and value who we are. The author manages to tell a story with horrific elements, without being gratuitous.  The art of nuance and the implied over intentional shock-value is lost in so much ‘popular’ fiction.  There are depths of themes that would work with division three, but content and readability that could also work for division two.  Life is so full of things that could bring us to despair; it is a precious thing to have a story that reminds us of redemption and hope in the end.

The Porcupine of Truth
Initially, we all enjoyed The Porcupine of Truth, especially Carson’s inner voice and tangents that he went on. A lot of readers can identify with this sort of self-talk. While his thoughts aren’t always “proper” or “appropriate”, it’s an authentic voice of a girl-crazy teenage boy. He is entirely selfish and self-centered. He takes risks that we wouldn’t want to encourage our students to take… but at least he’s out exploring the world! I think this is an interesting way to approach issues such as broken families, alcoholism, religion, closed-mindedness in regards to sexuality, and youth homelessness. I thought parts of the book encourage independence, creativity, and a relentless desire to find one’s place in the world…. All that being said - I still find myself quite angry with some of Carson said about Ayisha. While PoT tries to challenge close-mindedness about LGBTQ issues, Carson creates a lot more problems than the book solves. One of our group wasn't really drawn into the mystery of finding out about his lost grandfather.

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