Tag Archives: fathers and sons

Simply beautiful

22 Jul

In What I Leave Behind,  Alison McGhee doesn’t take on topics that haven’t been covered before. She does, however, take on familiar topics in a whole new way. It is simple and beautiful…and simply beautiful.

There are 100 words on 100 pages. It is poetic and thoughtful – perfect for a teen who loves thoughtful literature but accessible for reluctant readers. Each page has a Chines character and my only complaint is that I would have liked a little more information about that. I did some research on my own, and that satisfied my curiosity.

I loved Will. He is a nice boy with a lot to bear. His father is gone and his friend has been raped. He makes sense of the world by walking, thinking and being kind. We need more people like Will.

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Publisher’s Summary: After his dad dies of suicide, Will tries to overcome his own misery by secretly helping the people around him in this exquisitely crafted story made up of one hundred chapters of one hundred words each, by award-winning and bestselling author Alison McGhee.

Sixteen-year-old Will spends most of his days the same way: Working at the Dollar Only store, trying to replicate his late father’s famous cornbread recipe, and walking the streets of Los Angeles. Will started walking after his father committed suicide, and three years later he hasn’t stopped. But there are some places Will can’t walk by: The blessings store with the chest of 100 Chinese blessings in the back, the bridge on Fourth Street where his father died, and his childhood friend Playa’s house.

When Will learns Playa was raped at a party—a party he was at, where he saw Playa, and where he believes he could have stopped the worst from happening if he hadn’t left early—it spurs Will to stop being complacent in his own sadness and do some good in the world. He begins to leave small gifts for everyone in his life, from Superman the homeless guy he passes on his way to work, to the Little Butterfly Dude he walks by on the way home, to Playa herself. And it is through those acts of kindness that Will is finally able to push past his own trauma and truly begin to live his life again. Oh, and discover the truth about that cornbread.

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4 Jun

My classroom library is organized by genre. There’s only one fiction tub for sport books- and they don’t get a lot of action. Part of that is my fault. I don’t really enjoy books about sports and often tune out during descriptions of games or competitions.

I didn’t tune out of the sports parts of Cynthia Kadohata’s Checked.checked-9781481446617_hr

I think that was because they were as meditative and reflective as any middle grade literary work of fiction I have ever read.

Publisher’s Summary: Hockey is Conor’s life. His whole life. He’ll say it himself, he’s a hockey beast. It’s his dad’s whole life too—and Conor is sure that’s why his stepmom, Jenny, left. There are very few things Conor and his dad love more than the game, and one of those things is their Doberman, Sinbad. When Sinbad is diagnosed with cancer, Conor chooses to put his hockey lessons and practices on hold so they can pay for Sinbad’s chemotherapy.

But without hockey to distract him, Conor begins to notice more. Like his dad’s crying bouts, and his friend’s difficult family life. And then Conor notices one more thing: Without hockey, the one thing that makes him feel special, is he really special at all?

I think this one works for me because of Connor’s voice. It is so authentic. He’s not a great student. He is an excellent hockey player. He loves his Dad and his dog, Sinbad. He just comes across as a very real kid, with very real kid worries.

I’m not going to lie, I teared up a few times (not during the hockey parts) and when I finished, I just had to sit, holding the book for a few minutes before I could move. Such a lovely, lovely book.

 

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