Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Last week I held a poll on my blog as to which book I should read first of the ones I picked up. It was between this one: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie and Forest Born by Shannon Hale. I ended up reading this one because several people said that Forest Born was like the fourth book in a set (didn't know that, thanks for the heads up).
I had mixed feelings about this book (it seems like I've been saying that a lot lately). But obviously, since I'm reviewing it, overall I liked it. I felt like the message of a 14 year old boy rising above a life designed to keep him down was inspirational. It was an honest story that brought out the hardships that Native Americans face--poverty and alcoholism, a system designed to keep them down, and discrimination. The way Alexie laid out these issues was brilliant because he did it through humor and drawings. But he also showed us through the sad times as well.
So you're probably wondering what I didn't like about it then. Well, for my taste, it was a little crude. I would've loved to let my 11 year old read this book when I was through with it because of the issues and lessons it taught about how people mistreat each other. But the language and sexual content of it, although real, didn't add a similar "teaching moment", like the other issues he brought out did, and in my opinion didn't serve a purpose in the story.
Posted by Kasie West at 7:00 AM
Labels: book reviews
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I haven't read that book yet because the format through me off. But just a note, that book is in the older teen section of our library. Must be from the content you were talking about.ReplyDelete
I just bought this book, but haven't started reading it yet. Of course, I won't be looking at it as a YA book. I've just liked some of his movies and poetry.ReplyDelete
Ooh, thanks for the heads up!ReplyDelete
And yay! It looks like you're almost to 100 like me!
That's EXACTLY what I've heard from others about this book. Great review, Kasie! :-)ReplyDelete
See, I think that IS a teaching moment. Maybe not for an 11-year-old, for sure, but "bad examples" can be as much teaching moments as "good examples." And I respect Alexie for being real about it.ReplyDelete
I agree. I picked it up thinking it would be a fun read and then maybe I could even pass it along to my 10 y/o son (the whole cover looked playful and boy-ish). But, I quickly learnd it's NOT for my 10 y/o.ReplyDelete
Important issues. Well told. Value in so much of it --
but a little crass in parts? for my taste, yes. I think this is why I write Middle Grade. It's safer, in a way, for my personal sensibilities.
It's okay for us to say that. Good review.
And - my daughter read Forest Born in ONE DAY (she has read the prior series). She said it rocked.
I had the same reaction. It was a great read for me, but I would have a hard time recommending it to a kid. Like Tess I think the cover is misleading.ReplyDelete
I agree 100% with your review. And we bought it thinking it would be great to put in my husband's sixth grade classroom. His students are 12. Um, no. Can't put something with all that language and sexual content in a classroom in Utah. We ended up tossing it. Sad. :(ReplyDelete
Great review. Sounds like an interesting read.ReplyDelete
Pauling, yeah, I know it's in the older section, but with the lessons taught I felt like it could've been more widely appealing had he left out a few things. But yes, it's definitely in the right place on the shelves. :)ReplyDelete
Linda, you'll enjoy the book. I did enjoy it. It was very well crafted.
Jenni, yeah just 5 more. (not that I'm counting)
Shannon, thanks. Yeah, apparently others feel the same way.
Natalie, while I agree with you that sex in a book can be a teaching moment (I think especially the "bad" examples can do this), but I think it's the author that needs to provide the teaching. Teens don't want to read a book and then listen to their parents go on about the things that were wrong about it. I thought he did such a good job with the alcoholism, for example (and other issues he brought up). He showed us that it was happening, he showed us that everyone on the "rez" did it. He could've left it at that and not gone on to provide the lessons the character learned from it--the fact that a family member and a friend died as a result of it, the fact that the character believed it was the cause of most of the problems they faced. I thought that was a wonderful teaching moment. But with the sexual stuff, he brought it up and then he said everybody did it, no exceptions. And that was all. There was no point to it.ReplyDelete
Tess, yes, that's exactly how I felt. And also, good to know your daughter liked Forest Born. I guess I better pick up the first 3 books so that I can read it. :)ReplyDelete
Lois, yes, I'm with you, I enjoyed it but wouldn't feel comfortable recommending it to teens.
Elana, that is sad. But it is definitely not for a sixth grade classroom. Too bad, because I honestly think it could've been.
Patti, it was a good read and very enlightening. I'm sure you would enjoy it.
I like your reviews, Kasie. You present both sides (positive and negative) very well.ReplyDelete
I haven't read the book and don't have anything to add, but I do have one question: Did I miss Monday's Maddening Unhelpful Advice? I know it's late Thursday, presently, but dagnabit, I've come to depend on that advice no matter how long it takes me to get over here to heed to it. Can I have it Friday?ReplyDelete
LOVELY review. Thank you!ReplyDelete