Smackdown Books 2018

Wolf Hollow
Salt to the Sea
The Serpent King
Optimists Die First
The Hate U Give
Orphan Island
Dan vs. Nature
The Female of the Species
March
Unbecoming
Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere
Paper Girls, Vol. 1
The Passion of Dolssa
The Distance Between Us
When We Collided
Louis parmi les spectres
OCDaniel
Girl in the Blue Coat
Refugee
Defy the Stars

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Hate U Give comes out ahead

I agree with my reading partner - this was a brutally tough choice.  salt to the sea revealed a part of our World War II history that I have never known.  I have studied the Holocaust, met Holocaust survivors, been to the concentration camp museums in Europe and this book added a new level of war sorrow.  I started talking with my eleven year old, while and after reading the book, about Stalin and together we looked for more information about the evil that he embodied.

salt to the sea started the race as a favorite because of my love of history because I naively hoped that I could be part of the solution before another atrocities.  Naïve yes, but information is power.  This story increased my understanding of the complexities for everyone involved.  The use of multiple narrators was captivating and very engaging and created characters I hated, Alfred, yet I could see Alfred reflected in our world today. The themes of courage and risk, love and integrity gripped me.  When I found out that the boats did actually exist and so many thousands lost their lives I was devastated.  I was outraged that governments use their power to hurt so many!  Again I was hit in the face with the reality that things may not changed in the last 70 years as much I had hoped.  I loved this novel and even hugged it when I cried at the end.

The Hate U Give was equally enticing and gripping.  I replayed the recent news in my head after finishing each chapter.  I heard the voices of African American colleagues from the US that talk about this world I have only experienced once.  As part of The Freedom Writer Teachers there are many ethnic groups represented at our conferences. At one conference we had just finished the museum at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.  relishing in the section dedicated to the same Freedom Writers I was now with.

Upon leaving the museum, Melvin an African American Freedom Writer was searched for an extended period of time, even though he was wearing identification that identified him as an original Freedom Writer.  I was standing behind him and was aghast at how thoroughly he was searched and then horrified when I was next and they did not search me at all.  I did not have to open my bag, as Melvin had, I did not have to spread my legs to be body searched, as Melvin had. The greatest irony was that I had forgotten to pay for a T-shirt in the gift shop and was walking out with unpaid merchandise.  I had paid for the other 7 items but had been in such a rush I forgot about the t-shirt under my arm.

The Hate U Give is beautifully crafted and told from the teenager point of view that always touches my heart. This novel is so relevant so it is the one I have chosen to move forward.

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