chicago books

Threefer Wednesday…

Not as catchy as last weeks huh?  Oh well, three’s all I got!

This week begins my summer of YA marathon reading.  Yes, the start of my YA Materials class is here.  So now this blog will have a useful purpose besides just passing time.  The plan is to get a few lines down about each book I read so I’ll have a handy archive to look back on at the end.  So although I have five books this week to read at the press time (always wanted to use that) I’ve only read three.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

And yes, I have read the classic YA text from before there was even such a thing as YA.  But it was all the way back in high school so I needed a refresher.  I recalled the book, messed up kid wandering around 1950’s New York after being kicked out of a preppy boys full of phonies.  I remember thinking that it was very moving and spoke to me on some level.  It must be that teenage, no one could possibly understand the lonely-life-questioning-feelings I’m having. Oh woe.  Not to say I’m old and all, but I am older and I saw things differently this time.  I felt sorry for Holden more than I identified with him. I felt like he needed a hug and a good friend to talk to.  That’s really all he’s doing the whole time, trying to find people to connect to.  I one time had a conversation with some other book readers about Kerouac’s On the Road and how you had to be at a certain age in your life to really get into that book.  The same here with Catcher, some people are at a time that they are moved by Holden’s story.  I also keep thinking of the Catcher Cult from Frank Portman’s King Dork and how that character hated the book.  Perspective I guess.  No rating, can’t rate a classic.

Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block

Another book I felt needs to be read at a certain time, although I don’t feel its shelf life is as limited.  Weetzie Bat lives in a wonderland of LA that is filled with free-spirits, liberal lifestyles and LA-centric sites and sounds.  Not to say I didn’t like that, but being a thoroughly Midwest gal I felt like a visitor, an alien studying another species.  But part of this might be intentional on the writer’s part.  The story is at its core about love and overcoming fear.  It’s also about acceptance of others as they are, faults and all.  That’s the story that is the hardest to understand.  So often we want black and white in our fiction, good characters win and get what they want, bad characters lose and get what they deserve.  True Weetzie Bat gets her happy ending, but she also gets dusted up a but.  I’ll say a Cool.  

ridiculous/hilarious/terrible/cool by Elisha Cooper

Author Elisha Cooper followed a set of Peyton HS seniors around for a year and chronicled their lives.  I like the tone, like this book could be a newspaper report.  These kids have more than enough drama in their lives that any fictionalization would be overkill.  The straightforward reporting style works incredibly well in telling the separate but connected stories.  It was also fun to read because its a Chicago book.  I was student teaching when the author was at Peyton, in fact I had a friend teaching there.  The little illustrations were a great style add to the story.  What kills me about high school accounts is how similar they are to other accounts of high school.  As much as times change, I have a feeling, high school never will.  This too gets a Cool.  It almost got an Awesome but that would have been based solely on it being a Chicago book.

As for the other two, Martyn Pig which I’ll devote some quality time to at lunch and the What’s Happening to My Body? Book for Girls, which I’ve read.  Well not so much as read as flipped through when I was 12 and giggled with my friends at the pictures.  I remember in high school my friends were at my house and were stunned we had that book.  Yeah, my mom’s kinda liberal like that. 

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