Home going

11 Jul

I have a trip planned for August. Until then, I am enjoying being an armchair traveler- visiting various times and places through literature. Recently, two books stuck me because, in both, the main character travels back to a country in which they’d been born in an effort to make sense of the world.

In Forward Me Back to You  by Mitali Perkins, tells the story of two characters, one who is recovering from an attack and another who was adopted and an infant and is struggling with what to do after high school.

 

Publisher’s Summary: Katina King is the reigning teen jujitsu champion of Northern California, but she’s having trouble fighting off the secrets in her past.

Robin Thornton was adopted from an orphanage in India and is reluctant to take on his future. If he can’t find his roots, how can he possibly plan ahead?

downloadRobin and Kat meet in the most unlikely of places—a summer service trip to Kolkata to work with survivors of human trafficking. As bonds build between the travelmates, Robin and Kat discover that justice and healing are tangled, like the pain of their pasts and the hope for their futures. You can’t rewind life; sometimes you just have to push play.

In turns heart wrenching, beautiful, and buoyant, Mitali Perkins’s Forward Me Back to You focuses its lens on the ripple effects of violence—across borders and generations—and how small acts of heroism can break the cycle.

 

I received an ARC of Randy Ribay’s Patron Saints of Nothing at ALAMW in Seattle and only just got around to reading it.

 

Baa Baa Black Sheep

9 Jul

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It’s called the Black Sheep gathering, but it welcomes sheep, goats, and other wool bearing beasties of all colors.

Although I’ve lived in Oregon for almost 23 years, I’d never heard of this wool festival, that celebrated it’s 45th anniversary on the weekend, before this year.

I started my visit in the barn, walking around the pens and getting to know the different breeds represented that day. When I left the barns, the scent of sheep barn clung to me, even though there was nothing on the soles of my shoes. I went into the marketplace, the scent still present like an ovine perfume, but no one seemed to notice. Perhaps they wore it too.

I had the chance to talk to a dyer I like and to get to know a few others I’d never heard of before. None of them mentioned my sweet aroma. Fortunately, the scent of raw wool permeated the air in the hall.

A trip to the restroom offered up one more beastly delight:

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Go ahead, make my day

2 Jul

I’ve only been on vacation for two weeks, but I have already reached the point where I have lost track of the day of the week. Turning the page on the calendar yesterday morning was a helpful anchor, but, with so much unencumbered time, it makes me worry when I actually have an appointment. Like today.

Lucy is in need of a nail trim, so last week, I scheduled an appointment for today. As soon as I got off the phone, I began to worry. Would I remember the appointment if I have lost track of the day? So I came up with a coping strategy.

Lucy doesn’t enjoy going to the vet. If she could read, I suspect she’d hide these notes. For me, knowledge is power; for her, ignorance is bliss.

 

Happy Canada Day 2019!

1 Jul

It’s Canada Day!

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Here are some books I have enjoyed recently by Canadian writers.

The Girl and the Wolf,  written by Katherena Vermette and illustrated by Julie Flett is a sort of Blueberries For Sal  with a First Nations twist.

The-Girl-and-the-Wolf_theytustitlemainPublisher’s Summary: While picking berries with her mother, a little girl wanders too far into the woods leaving the safety of her mother behind. Noticing that she has wandered far enough on her own to get lost, the little girl begins to panic. Adding to her perceived fear, a large grey wolf makes a sudden appearance between some
distant trees. The wolf sniffs her and tells the little girl that he can help her find her way home, but she should eat something first. He asks the little girl if she can hunt, to which she replies “no”. The wolf replies by asking the girl to look at her surroundings and tell him what she sees. The little girl notices some edible berries on a nearby bush and states that she can eat them. It’s through these realizations that the wolf helps the little girl find her own way home. She has the knowledge and the skill to survive and navigate herself, she just needed to remember that those abilities were there.

As always with E. K. Johnston’s books, The Afterward is unlike any of her previous novels. This one tells what happens after a quest, and the story fo the quest is revealed in bits as we see how the questers are coping.

 

Love from A to Z,  by S. K. Ali is an endearing YA novel.

love-from-a-to-z-9781534442726_lgPublisher’s Summary: A marvel: something you find amazing. Even ordinary-amazing. Like potatoes—because they make French fries happen. Like the perfect fries Adam and his mom used to make together.

An oddity: whatever gives you pause. Like the fact that there are hateful people in the world. Like Zayneb’s teacher, who won’t stop reminding the class how “bad” Muslims are.

But Zayneb, the only Muslim in class, isn’t bad. She’s angry.

When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher, and he begins investigating her activist friends, Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break.

Fueled by the guilt of getting her friends in trouble, she resolves to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her.

Then her path crosses with Adam’s.

Since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, Adam’s stopped going to classes, intent, instead, on perfecting the making of things. Intent on keeping the memory of his mom alive for his little sister.

Adam’s also intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father.

Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals.

Until a marvel and an oddity occurs…

Marvel: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

Oddity: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

 

Homecomings and goings

26 Jun

Yesterday, as I waited for news about my job for next year, I read Other Words For Home by Jasmine Warga.

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From the Author’s Website:

Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind her, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her home town start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.

At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the U.S. –and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.

This lyrical, life-affirming story is about losing and finding home, and most importantly, finding yourself.

Quite frankly, it was the perfect thing to read as I found out that friends were being moved to other schools, while I got to stay with my team in a job I loved. Like Jude, my emotions were conflicted. I was relieved for myself, disheartened for friends. A school staff is like an extended family. You see some a lot, others rarely. You like some members more than others. And when you have to move on, you have to create a new home with strangers or very distant relatives.

Other Words For Home has a happy-ish ending. Jude realizes she can be at home in two places, but her family, though safe, is still separated. Middle grade readers get a great snapshot into the life of a recent immigrant and the realities of being a Muslim in America. The novel is written in free verse making it a quick read that gets to the heart of the matter.

In her afterward, Warg write that she wanted to show that children fleeing a war zone “want the same things all of us do—love, understanding, safety, a chance at happiness.” I think she succeeded.

Waiting

25 Jun

I have officially been on vacation for a week, but the big end of the year drama happens today.

Sunday afternoon,  staff got a text telling us to check our email. I did and the message was short and sweet: Tuesday the administrators will call all staff to tell them what their job will be next year.

It’s been a long wait. The discovery of budgeting irregularities meant that our district had a severe shortfall and the projected cutbacks for the 2019-20 year meant jobs would be eliminated. At first it seemed like the RIF might be as bad as the bad year, after the financial crisis. But with retirements and consolidation, it was projected to be not as bad. But still bad enough that we left school last week not knowing for sure what we’d be teaching.

But today is the day.

The staff are buzzing, trying to predict how the calls will happen. By grade level? Alphabetically? Bad news first? Moving first, staying second? It’s a way to try to make sense out of this crazy process.

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I don’t normally bring the phone with me when I walk Lucy, but today I will. Lucy will be there to support me if it is bad news and celebrate if it is good. Wish us luck.

Late Tuesday Update: Good news: My team gets to stay intact!

My summer Solstice Book

21 Jun

The Summer Solstice occurred at 8:54 a.m. this morning here in Portland. Although my summer reading started a few days ago, today, I started a perfect summer read: Hot Dog Girl  by Jennifer Dugan.

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Publisher’s Summary: Elouise (Lou) Parker is determined to have the absolute best, most impossibly epic summer of her life. There are just a few things standing in her way:
  *  She’s landed a job at Magic Castle Playland . . . as a giant dancing hot dog.
*  Her crush, the dreamy Diving Pirate Nick, already has a girlfriend, who is literally the Princess of the park. But Lou’s never liked anyone, guy or otherwise, this much before, and now she wants a chance at her own happily ever after.
*  Her best friend, Seeley, the carousel operator, who’s always been up for anything, suddenly isn’t when it comes to Lou’s quest to set her up with the perfect girl or Lou’s scheme to get close to Nick.
*  And it turns out that this will be their last summer at Magic Castle Playland–ever–unless she can find a way to stop it from closing.

Jennifer Dugan’s sparkling debut coming-of-age queer romance stars a princess, a pirate, a hot dog, and a carousel operator who find love–and themselves–in unexpected people and unforgettable places.

Well, I am not very far into it, but I am looking forward to reading something a little bit funny.

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