It’s Monday! What are you reading? #yalitclass

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I read a graphic novel! I’m surprised and both delighted that I managed to stretch way-way outside my comfort zone and read one.

Anya is a Russian transplant who lives in the United States, New England to be exact with her mother and brother. School is pretty tough on her and finds herself unpopular with an limited amount of friends. She desires to fit in and be popular and gain the mutual affection of her crush, Sean. Her life takes a turn towards weird when one day while walking home she falls down the a deep hole. She finds that she’s not the only one in the hole, it’s occupied by a skeleton and it’s ghost that lingers behind, Emily. Anya is pulled from the hole and accidentally a piece of bone clings to her. The bone allows the ghost to escape from the hole and find Anya. At first the ghost appears to try to befriend and help Anya, like an guardian angel of sorts. But things are not as they appear and soon Emily seems to become more and more controlling of Anya. As the story takes a darker turn, Anya must figure out how to escape Emily and regain her own life again.

When I selected this book, it was on a whim. I did not know how to judge a graphic novel because I had never read one before. I briefly scanned the reviews and looked at the cover and decided, why not?! I’m glad I did! This was not just a comic book but contained a complex story line that really drew me in. I’m a huge fan of “Coraline” and the darker theme was very similar. They also both possessed this feeling of trying to have a deeper meaning behind the storyline, to appreciate your life and stop wishing your grass was greener. I would highly recommend this graphic novel to other classmate looking to read their first one.

Diversifying: What it means to me #yalitclass

We all have our favorite type of books, I know I’ve spoke on that topic frequently in my blog and twitter posts. I like history books, fiction or non-fiction, I gravitate towards them in my selections. I pin them on interest. I add them to my “want-to-read” on goodreads. It makes it seem like my book choices with topics are very singular if you were to look at those sites and base it off that. Diversifying my reading selection has been a major goal for me in this class and it’s one that is seeming like it is achievable. The majority of my recent posts have focused on the book challenge which I think is a help to me with this goal. It forces me to get outside my comfort zone and select those books that I might over look other wise.

It’s Monday (kinda)! What are you reading? #yalitclass

272315Amazing how a week away from the computer makes me feel so far out of the loop with classes. I’m tired, sore, really tired, did I say tired? Everything you would expect with a newborn. She slept a whole three hours straight last night, the longest so far and I’m pretty excited about it. Crossing my fingers that tonight is another repeat of that. Despite all of that, I managed to finish a complete book! It’s my LGBT pick, so I can cross another square off!

This is not your classic romance story. It’s no “Notebook” and it’s much more complicated. Holland is the kind of girl who has it all and is the all-american perfection. She gets good grades, she’s the student body president at her school, she has the boyfriend every girl desire and is in line to get into the shiny ivy league college. Yes, from the outside, it seems like she’s the girl that has it all together but things are not always as they seem. When Cece comes to school, the turmoil that has always been there starts to chun again and she can’t push aside what she’s really feeling. Holland, the perfect girl, has feelings for another girl. How will the world react? Most importantly how will those closet to Holland react and treat her? Holland must decide between her true self and the self she portrays to the world.

I’m not particularly drawn to romance novels, gay or straight, so it took some convincing myself to pick one that revolved around the topic. For me, it wasn’t so much the romance that drew me into the book but how the character had deep inner conflicts resulting from a particular love. I really like when characters have a moment of realization and have to decide if they will be true to that, or continue on with life as it already is. Holland had many of those moments. Be who I am, or be who I think the world wants me to be. It’s a good book for any teenager that struggles with self imagine both gay or straight. I also liked how it focused on women’s sexuality. A majority of the LGBT books I looked at focused on gay males, so props to the writer for giving the gay female a voice in literature.

It’s Monday! What are you reading? #yalitclass

23110280“Nope, Nothing like words without inflection to cause distance and misunderstanding”

This week I’m reading two novels “OC Me” By Kristin Albright and “Keeping You a Secret” By Julie Anne Peters. I’m still finishing up on the second book, so my focus on this blog will “OC Me”. “Keeping You a Secret” was my pick from the LGBT category in the class’s book challenge, while “OC Me” focuses on mental health issues.

Amy is a senior in high school when her life seemingly takes a turn for the worse. Her dear Aunt, whom has been a mom to her in the absent of her own, has a terrible crash car and loses her life. Amy’s live is turned upside down and she struggles to juggle daily teenage life with grief. Amy tries to focus on her college selection, her best friend and her new boyfriend but is overcome by her anxieties. In fact, her anxieties start to consume her life and take over. She comes to realize her anxieties are really obsessions and if she doesn’t get control of them, they will come to control every faucet of her life.

This book theme was heavy into mental health issues. I believe this is a important topic for teenagers to read and having a book they can relate to is even better! Teenage years in themselves are already confusing enough and like Amy, when mental issues spring up, it can be difficult to understand them and express what it happening. The book helped give examples of positive outlets that teenagers can use. Compared to other teenage books that I have read that focused on relationships, I really liked that Amy’s relationship was portrayed in the novel. It was healthy relationship with a supporting partner that was not over-sexualized. In fact, there was no sexual descriptions to take away from the theme of the book.

Goals and Challenges #yalitclass

I used to be an avid reader from middle school until marriage. It was my escape and I was always juggling one or two books a week. Somehow came marriage, children, careers and most of my past time to include reading were pushed aside. I no longer had an hobbies or anything for myself, not even a simple moment to relax and read a book, something to help me drift away from all the stress. Even my mother and husband brought it up “You used to read all the time!” Did I? Oh yeah, I did. When I stopped working due to the relocation to Hawaii and this current pregnancy, I suddenly found myself with ample amount of time during the day. One can only wash the floor and do laundry during the day so many times. I would have to find other things to do while the kids were at school and husband was at work. Something for myself. While browsing the list of offered classes this semester, Adolescent Literature peeked my interest. I signed up, nervously not knowing what to expect. I’m not a literature major or a teacher, would this class be entirely over my head? I was pleasantly surprised, I loved the content of the class and the format. The format allowed me to know my professor and classmates in a way that was void in all my other online classes. Not only that but It made me pick initiate my past hobby, reading. Now I had to read, there were no excuses I could use. My goal for this class has been simple. Read as much as I can and enjoy doing it. So far, this goal has been easy to accomplishment.

I’ve been using the last pages of the syllabus to keep my book selection a bit more balanced which has been my biggest challenge in this class. I found myself starting to get into a rut on my selection, this really helped me to diversify. So far I have been able to check off these squares: Book of Poetry, Top ten teen book, LGBGT book, Historical Fiction, Teen Romance, A.S. King Book, Native American Author, and Fantasy Novel. I still have squares to check off but I’m pleased with what I have read so far. My goal is to be able to complete the chart with both the assigned books and my own personal picks.

Mirrors and Open letters #yalitclass

“Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange.” I love this quote from the article “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding glass doors” by Rudine Sims Bishop. Isn’t this what books are all about, they take us away. They are an escape but they also offer us an view on the world that we would not be getting in other ways. Just looking back at the books that were both assigned and personally true, I can attest this to be true. In no way shape or form, would I have been able to know the experience of a Native American teen, a reality show child, or girl stuck in the yellow fever. These books were my window to these experiences.

Continuing on in the article, the author expresses their concern for the lack of minority focused books. Is this true? Are minority children suffering in both their book experience and interest because of lack of minority characters in books? I have to admit, I had to think back hard on the books I have read. Only two of the books I have recently read focused on minority experiences, the Native American novel and the poetry that featured Emmett Till. It made me wonder why this was. Could be lack of minority authors or something deeper like the publishing companies not pushing minority authors and their books. I don’t know the answer to this, but I do believe that teachers could arouse more interest in reading for their students, if they could find books more relatable to them. If only these books existed. I think the article “..Open letter to the children’s publishing industry” By Zetta Elliott expresses similar feelings. The author states that  “The lack of diversity in publishing is not entirely to blame for this achievement gap but it contributes nonetheless, and it’s not unreasonable to assume that children of color might read more avidly if they had more choices of books to read.”

It’s Monday! What are you reading? #yalitclass

17332968My two personal picks this week focused on social issues of the teenager reader. Anger, Sex, Love, Family, Violence and all of thee above. Whatever teenage issue you could think, these two books were packed with it. As an adult reader, I often found scenes in the books both crud and shocking. Read on:

“Reality Boy” By A.S King was apart of #yalitclass book challenge. The author had a handful of books to choose from, so I picked this one based on the short summary and cover on the Amazon kindle page. I also watch reality shows on T.V, I found the notion of the book being based on a reality T.V show intriguing. Gerald is known as “The Crapper”. A nickname given to him after his unfortunate experience on a nannying type reality show. Gerald was a little boy and a very angry one given the dynamics of his family. His older sister was abusive towards him and his sister, his parents oblivious or at least trying to deny the truth, all while having a camera shoved in his face to try to “fix” the families problems. It didn’t and now the angry outbrusts he had on national T.V will stick with him forever. Now a teenager, not much has changed for Gerald. His older sister Tasha is still the same psychopath and his parents are just as enabling. Gerald lives in a world of his own, drifting often to fantasy land and escaping to his school SPED room to cope with his life.

This is not a book I would choose for a classroom or even my teenage child. It’s written from the teenage perspective but has A LOT of adult content. Graphic sex noises and descriptions, bad language, and filled with violence and anger. Gerald is very angry and talk/thinks frequently about hurting over people. In some cases, his anger is very valid but in the ways he wishes to hurt people, it is extreme. It’s a depressing book and it doesn’t leave you with a sense there will ever be an happy ending for Gerald.

6931356My second pick was “DUFF” by Kody Keplinger. You might recognize this book from the movie that recently came out based on it. Duff is teen lingo that stands for: Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Yup, teenagers actually call each other this. Sad but not completely surprising. Bianca Piper is your average teenager in high school with your average teenage hope and dreams. This book likes to remind us Bianca is pretty average, even in looks. She has two hot best friends, whom boys like to fawn over and use Bianca as an in to get closer to. One of these boys assigns Bianca the title, DUFF much to her dismay and starts to call her DUFFY. This relationship with this boy turns into the classic, I can’t love the class jerk but I do! Bianca spends her time in the book both hating and loving the boy that calls her duff.

Another book with lots and lots of sex. Even worse, very causal teenage sex. It doesn’t deal with the emotional aspect that can be involved with teenagers having sex. It made me think if this was the new definition of what teenage romance was? I didn’t like to read about it and I think this book should be geared towards older teenage readers. I also do not like how the author will pair off the main character with a boy that has clearly disrespected her and devalued her self esteem, it sets a bad-bad example for the young female reader.