August 12, 2012

Looking for Me by Betsy Rosenthal

A short, poignant account of eleven-year-old Edith, growing up in a Jewish family of twelve children in Baltimore during the 1930's. Told in free verse, the words are succinct, and evoke the feeling of what life was like for this little girl. While this genre is a difficult sell to many students, if they read it with an open heart, it will be impossible for them not to be touched. The first poem really pulled me in;

"I'm just plain Edith.
I'm number four,
and should anyone care,
I'm eleven years old,
with curly black hair.

Squeezed / between / two / brothers,
Daniel and Ray,
lost in a crowd,
will I ever be more
than just plain Edith,
who's number four?

In my overcrowded family
I'm just another face.
I'm just plain Edith
of no special place."

Reed Reads Score: 4.5

Paper Towns by John Green

The stage is set for Paper Towns, when nine year old Quention, or Q, is bike riding with his neighbor Margo. In a park, they discover a body surrounded with blood. As Q steps back in horror, Margo steps forward. As Q tries to forget the horror forever imprinted in his mind, Margo investigates. She discovers its a suicide, and while Quentin generalizes, Margo concludes that "Maybe all the strings inside him broke." Margo and Quentin are very different...
Fast forward to high school senior year. Q and Margo have grown apart. Margo is popular and social, while Q is nerdy and peripheral with two close friends; Ben and Radar. Q is already accepted to Duke and all seems set, until Margo mysteriously shows up at his bedroom window, insisting that Q join her on an adventure of revenge against her friends that she feels have betrayed her. The adventure is totally out of character for Q, but the enigma of Margo, and the adventure they have is memorable and intoxicating for Q. The next day, Margo disappears. Q now must find her. The intricate maze of clues she has left behind creates a mystery to be solved and an adventure to be had by Q and his buddies.
John Green has created a smart and humorous novel with sharp and witty dialogue. His writing is well crafted, and one that, quite frankly, I'm very envious of. He leaves lots to ponder, but the end is especially thought provoking and will leave you with lots of questions. There is much to quote from here, but my favorite "I'm not saying that everthing is survivable. Just that everything except the last thing is." just left me saying, "Yeah, I like that."  For mature readers.
Reed Reads Score: 4