He, 19. She is married and 43, but a chance coupling on the tennis courts sparks the connection that weaves them inextricably together over decades.
A rambling, stream of consciousness narrative takes us back through the ages, the choices, the thrills of turning heads in a society that whispered and snubbed them– and well ahead in to the future and the regrets, the complications and the misgivings.
Would you rather love the more, and suffer the more; or love the less, and suffer the less? That is, I think, finally, the only real question.
Read about other of Chapters/Indigo’s CEO, Heather Reisman’s picks, or Heather’s Picks!
I dismissed Jodi Picoult out of hand in the past. But by relinquishing whatever pretences I had about Picoult, I have been pleasantly surprised with her work. I wrote about House Rules (here), and Small Great Things (here) and I am equally impressed with this loan, A Spark of Light.
In this novel, she tackles the abortion debate.
Innocently enough, Wren asks her aunt to take her to the clinic to get a prescription for birth control. Unfortunately, it is also the day that a gunman takes aim at the clinic, and everyone inside. Wren is caught in the cross fire, and her dad, Hugh McElroy is the hostage negotiator at the scene.
The narrative unravels in reverse, as we see hour by hour how everyone has found themselves in the clinic– revealing the layered and complicated stories of the women and the doctors and nurses. This cast of characters open the spectrum of choices and views around this debate and unravels the nuances of women’s healthcare, reproductive choices and the laws that keep womens’ bodies in check.
It’s a saccharine sweet love story; wildly predictable; and short on captivating writing.
But, it is told from a point of view and about characters that are rarely centrepieces in teen romantic fiction. The main character is a Korean American young man, a Limbo, he calls himself– straddling the customs, traditions and languages of the two cultures he inhabits. His parents would prefer he “date Korean” and this poses the obstacle and underpinning of the story’s plot. From there, it is a sweet boy meets girl story with a calculable twist.
Not my favourite YA novel, but it wins for bringing racial characters and intersecting racial issues to the forefront.
This is the first of five YA reads in a Book Relay I am participating in. Our Literacy Lead never lets us down when she recommends titles, and this is no exception.
Tiger Tolliver is dealing with grief. A hollowing out, a grief she is totally unprepared for. And now, there is life before it happened; after it happened; and maybe, there will be now— if, she can make friends with the dark.
Glasgow rendered me to tears– for the feelings I have felt and processed in losing people throughout my life; to the promises I make to my own son, like June Tolliver did: [that]”I’ll always be here. I’ll never leave you.”
For kids that need it and are ready for it– Glasgow tries to make sense of the loss she felt in her own life losing her mother, through the character of Tiger. Tiger switches between telling her story in first person, and then on several chapter openings, she switches to a second-person account, telling the reader: “Here are the things you think about when your mother dies.” In this way, Glasgow forces the reader to imagine himself or herself as part of the experience. Tiger’s grief is immense and heavy, you cannot escape; but you may learn to understand, to empathize, to make sense of the raw feeling of this profound loss.
“I feel the way characters do in fantasy books and movies. Like when tremendously powerful forces move through them. Like, giant lightening storms or thunder clouds of electricity or power, or something like that, whips through the person, momentarily paralyzing them, and then when it’s done, they fall to the ground, hollowed out, and usually another character rushes in to find them, and picks them up, and takes care of them, and looks all around, like, What the hay just happened?
That is happening to me.
An excellent read. Definitely put it on a classroom shelf, there very well may be someone who needs this book.
Title: Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
Author: Trevor Noah
Date Read: October 27, 2019
I think Trevor Noah is a brilliantly witty and savvy political analyst. I think he does outstanding work as the host of The Daily Show. When I saw his memoir, I knew I wanted to read it– but it was the title that truly caught my eye.
Noah grew up in South Africa during apartheid. He writes: “…which was awkward because I was raised in a mixed family, with me being the mixed one in the family. My mother, Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah, is black. My father, Robert, is white. Swiss/ German, to be precise, which Swiss/ Germans invariably are. During apartheid, one of the worst crimes you could commit was having sexual relations with a person of another race. Needless to say, my parents committed that crime.” (Noah, 21).
Noah’s memoir is written the way you would expect– in a way that helps you make sense of complicated issues, like apartheid; race relations; poverty; domestic abuse– but also with his irreverent sense of humour and masterful wit.
Through his memoir Noah reveals an origin story that is thoughtful, educational, alarming, and wonderfully comedic. His relationship with his mother reveals a complicated and enduring connection between a woman that refused to let racism, apartheid, or rules of any kind guide her life, her love, or her decisions. I fell in love with Trevor’s mother, you will too. It says it all in his dedication: “For my mother. My first fan. Thank you for making me a man.”
Here is an excerpt from his opening chapter:
Sometimes in big Hollywood movies they’ll have these crazy chase scenes where somebody jumps or gets thrown from a moving car. The person hits the ground and rolls for a bit. Then they come to a stop and pop up and dust themselves off, like it was no big deal. Whenever I see that I think, That’s rubbish. Getting thrown out of a moving car hurts way worse than that.
I was nine years old when my mother threw me out of a moving car. It happened on a Sunday…
excerpt from Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (p.5).
I loved this memoir for the stories and their wit; but mostly for the illuminating education and analysis of apartheid and the entrenched racism of South Africa. Noah writes: “Relationships are built in the silences. You spend time with people, you observe them and interact with them, and you come to know them—and that is what apartheid stole from us: time.”