Monday, November 27, 2017

What I've Seen- Wonder

This weekend, the family and I went to see Wonder. This is a book I read four years ago and loved.
I had this to say about it:

"When I say that that books like this one have the power to change the world it is because of the opportunity the reader has to gain so much in the way of compassion and empathy.  The value of reading is in learning to see the world through someone else's eyes and that can easily be done here.  August's voice is clearly that of a ten-year-old boy.  Any young reader can feel what he feels and any older reader can remember that age and also knows that sometimes we all feel like a ten-year-old."

I loved this book for the potential it has to cause a shift in the way people think, they way they behave. And I loved the way this book showed that just because people are mean is no excuse to not be kind. I've read, over the years since I was first introduced to this book, where people take great offense at this book. They claim that it turns a boy into a freak show, something to be stared at and then to walk away and be grateful we aren't in his shoes. When I first learned about this point of view, it made me uncomfortable. Was that what I was doing?
No, I decided. No, I wasn't.

What I find admirable about Auggie isn't that he looks different from everyone else and still perseveres. Certainly he is brave, but what I find most commendable is his ability to maintain his kindness and forgiveness in the face of the unkindness of others. This is a lesson we can all learn. And what I love about this book is the opportunity for people to see that their words and actions have meaning, that they make an impact on the people around them, whether for good or ill.

Very rarely does a film adaptation leave me with no complaints. This movie accomplishes what all readers hope for their favorite books. It brings the beauty of the written word to life without losing the beloved spirit of the story. This movie is well worth your time and will not disappoint. Fair warning: Bring tissues.


Monday, November 13, 2017

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper is a darling book about Melody, an eleven-year-old girl with severe cerebral palsy. Melody has lived her entire life not being able to walk, sit up, or even talk. So many people think this means that Melody doesn't have any thoughts in her head, but they couldn't be more wrong. Not only does she have thoughts, Melody is extremely bright and has a nearly photographic memory. Melody also has wonderful parents who fight very hard to make the world see that she is intelligent, but it is often an uphill battle.

Told from Melody's point of view, the reader gets to hear every thought, every word Melody wishes she could express. This is a perspective many people won't have considered and it is a fantastic learning opportunity. Some of this story was quite sad, but mostly it was a book about a girl fighting hard to be heard and not giving up when people don't listen. I really liked this book and I can't wait for my own 5th Grader to read it. I hope she enjoys it as much as I did.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld had been on my to-read list for a long while when it was nominated as our next book club book. I was really excited because sometimes I find I need a little push to read certain books. As the cover of this one mentions, it is a "modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice" which is a book I read so long ago, I'm not sure it even counts. Of course, I've seen the film version as well as a modernized film version and I am familiar enough with the storyline that I wasn't in need of a refresher. In this version, Liz is a thirty-eight-year-old special features writer for a women's magazine and has been happily living in New York for more than fifteen years. Her sister Jane, almost forty (GASP!), is a yoga instructor also living in NYC. The remaining Bennet sisters still live at home in Cincinnati with their parents in their rambling, and crumbling, family home. Darcy is a neurosurgeon and Bingley (who goes by his first name Chip) is a doctor in the Emergency Room. Two very eligible men, five single women, and a mother determined to see her daughters married well. That is Pride and Prejudice, but what Sittenfeld does with it...well.

P&P is one of those books that women the world over claim as their favorite. "It's so romantic!" I, however, have never felt that way. I don't find rude, ill-mannered men attractive and while the original Darcy overcomes whatever social handicaps he possesses to tell Elizabeth how he really feels, it was always too little, too late for me. I've also always been irritated by the Bennet family, Jane and Elizabeth aside; they are really awful. At least in the original work, there is a good reason for Elizabeth to stay with, and defend, her family, and for her sisters to all still live at home. In the updated version, when all of the sisters are meant to be fully grown adults, I just can't understand their lack of independence and responsibility. Every fault or irritation I felt with the original Bennet sisters and mother are only exacerbated in Eligible. Lydia and Kitty are both in their early twenties and plenty old enough to be self-sufficient, but neither is. They are rude and obnoxious beyond belief and really aren't likable at all. Mrs. Bennet is so loathsome and overly dramatic as to make her intolerable as a character. Even Mr. Bennet loses his charm in this updated book.

As hard as Sittenfeld tries to remake this classic into something modern and fun, what she really does is take a classic work of literature and shine a bright iPhone flashlight onto all the worst parts of it. She tries adding in a twist or two, shaking up a few of the characters, but it just didn't work for me.