Review, Reflect, Respond
You need to be fed by other people's creativity
I had bonus points from Scholastic and had to use them up since I'm not a teacher anymore. I chose this one, I guess being influenced by the trailer I saw about it, and kind of into Young Adult SciFi, such as Divergent. Not that thrilled about it, but I did read it all the way through. It is a series and I am not hooked. Made me wonder though, about why I didn't like this and I did like Divergent and The Hunger Games. I think it was that the basic conflict is evident and relevant. In Divergent, it is about putting people in categories. In Hunger Games, it is about classism and oppression. Also, yay for female heroes. In Maze Runner, there is abandonment, cruelty and violence, almost for its own sake. I'm sure the idea is maze-like, and if you follow the series, you will work your way through the maze of the plot, and the gist of the story. Don't think I'll be doing that.
My friend Nancee gave me this book, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, upon my retirement and it has so many gems that spark my thinking, that I have to respond right away even though I am not finished with it.
"... we all want truth, that truth which Jesus promised would make us free. But where do we find it? How could it have happened that even in the church story has been lost as a vehicle of truth? Early in our corruption we are taught that fiction is not true. Too many people apologize when they are caught enjoying a book of fiction; they are afraid that it will be considered a waste of time, and they ought to be reading a biography or a book of information on how to pot plants. Is Jane Eyre not true? Did Conrad, turning to writing of fiction in his sixties, not search there for truth? Was Melville, writing about the sea and the great conflict between a man and a whale, not delving for deeper truth than we can find in any number of "how to" books?
The impression I have of the Common Core Standards is that there is less emphasis on fiction and more on non-fiction. Hopefully, this creates a backlash against bureaucratic measures and make people conscious of the need for fiction and the truth of human endeavor within its stories.
Kingsolver is my current favorite author, so I am reading my way through all her books. This was her first. I am reading her work all out of order; this one precedes Pigs in Heaven, which I read this summer. No matter, as both novels stand alone as stories unto themselves. This one is from Taylor's point of view, Pigs is from her mom's. Both inform, through story, about the Cherokee people and their place in the social fabric of America. There's something very magical about Kingsolver's work. Her characters are compelling, her stories are moving, but also she makes an attempt to connect us with the natural world, thorough the characters and the story.
Picked up this book at a Goodwill in Honolulu. Had to. It's about Kona. I really enjoyed it, even though it seemed outdated. It was first published in 1991 with a second printing in 2004. Sinclair depicts well a part-Hawaiian woman's struggle with identity, and how she comes to terms with it. There are many aspects of her struggle: Hawaiian vs. Caucasian, city vs. country, wealth vs. poverty, man vs. woman. My criticisms of maybe vocabulary being too obtuse (Okay, I'm guilty too), attempts at pidgin missing the mark, and some spelling questions (Managa instead of Manago Hotel, e.g.) were overcome by the good storytelling and the characters' - representing two generations of part-Hawaiian women - unfolding.
This was a gentle, beautiful movie. The journey was not just the physical and cultural distance between a Michelin rated restaurant in the French countryside to a new Indian restaurant 100 feet away. Clearly, it was a journey for the main characters to become better, fuller, deeper people. If you enjoy character development that moves a story line, you will love this movie. To have a character make the journey believable is the great challenge for a writer. It is satisfying when it does, when it all makes sense without being predictable. Like a good dish, when it all comes together, not only tasting good, but feeling good, it is a wonderful feeling.
I went to see the movie on a recommendation from one of my 5th grade students last year. I loved the movie, and now the book, the first of a trilogy. Stories about dystopian societies are powerful vehicles for making statements about current state of affairs. In this case, how the need for control, and everyone staying in their own factions, overrides a more fluid, humane, and civil social structure. Reading such novels, especially for young people, helps to develop a moral sense. Readers should be asking themselves: Which faction would I belong in? Am I divergent? And more important, would I be able to recognize injustice, inhumanity, and evil when confronted with it? Would I have the courage to be on the side of justice and good? Today, August 2, 2015, the hugest dilemma the world faces is happening between Israel and Palestine. This is not an easy dilemma to take sides on. Both sides want to win you over. Both sides spew propaganda. How do you know who to believe? I have my thoughts on this for another day, but my point it is, young readers need to practice thinking about and talking about moral dilemmas, to participate intelligently in the conversation as adults. Another book that will soon be in the theaters is the Giver. I loved reading that as a Read-Aloud when I taught language arts years ago. I will have to read it again, but I recall it is another dystopian cautionary tale.
Once I find an author I like, I read all their work. This is my fifth Kingsolver (Prodigal Summer, The Lacuna, Poisonwood Bible, Pigs in Heaven). As is typical of her work, she pulls you in by creating painfully human characters enmeshed in some kind of critical conflict. This one, set in Appalachia, tells of a restless young woman, seemingly trapped in her station in life as a young mother. She finds purpose and worth as she learns about the plight of the monarch butterfly in the context of climate change. Yes, it's that huge. But, as always, Kingsolver brings it all together. Not only do you follow this compelling character rising to her potential, you learn a heck of a lot of science in the reading.
Kingsolver's work is one huge reason why FICTION is so necessary in today's world.Who really wants to spend their leisure time reading about climate change? monarch migration patterns? Appalachian culture? But fiction has a way of making all the non-fiction (the science) relevant to our lives.