After just bingeing the Netflix series “The Crown” I fell in love with Kate Quinn weaving the story of Osla, a debutane World War Two codebreaker and girlfriend of Prince Philip of Greece, in two vacellating stories: 1940 and 1947; allowing the reader to see past come to future, and, spoiler alert: Prince Philip doesn’t marry Osla. Three women’s stories are shared: Osla, Mab, and Beth are the codebreakers united at Bletchley Park past (1940), and now (1947) must resurrect their old alliance and crack one last code together before Philip marries Elizabeth.
Kate Quinn is also the author of The Alice Network, which I have not yet read, but it has been recommended to me, and I likely will.
"If you were a man and you wrote funny pieces about daily life, they called it satire. If you were a woman and you wrote funny pieces about daily life, they called it fluff." (Quinn, The Rose Code).
Jenny Lawson is a vulnerable, courageous, and hilarious memoirist. I love the way she openly discusses depression and anxiety, and the hilarious way she does it. There are tough stories there too, but they are honest and brave. Jenny is relatable but eccentric– her life is broken, in the best way possible.
Jenny has written two other memoirs: Furiously Happy and Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and they are amazing for all the same reasons. These memoirs are mirrors for those who struggle with mental health and wellness and windows in to the world of depression and anxiety for those who are reading to learn.
“I can tell you that ‘Just cheer up’ is almost universally looked at as the most unhelpful depression cure ever. It’s pretty much the equivalent of telling someone who just had their legs amputated to ‘just walk it off.’ ” (Lawson, Broken).
I watched this series recently on Prime Video. I really enjoyed it. I knew it was first a book, and so I had to backtrack and read it. The book was better. And the series was pretty awesome.
The story is set in Shaker Heights, a planned community near Cleveland, Ohio. Everything in this community is planned out– the heighth of your grass, the colours of your home… and when Elena Rochardson rents to Mia Warren, we realize that the house is built to conceal the fact that is a duplex, separate entrances are within the front door, but from the outside the house on Winslow Avenue looks just like the rest. Appearance is everything in Shaker Heights.
Elena and Mia have a strained relationship through the course of the novel that intersects with their differing parenting styles; the relationships formed between their children; and the court case regarding the custody of a baby with whom each woman is differently connected.
Ng is a beautiful writer and many passages stood out as compelling. This one caught my attention in both the TV adaptation and while reading.
“Parents, she thought, learned to survive touching their children less and less. As a baby Pearl had clung to her; she’d worn Pearl in a sling because whenever she’d set her down, Pearl would cry. There’d scarcely been a moment in the day when they had not been pressed together. As she got older, Pearl would still cling to her mother’s leg, then her waist, then her hand, as if there was something in her mother she needed to absorb through the skin. Even when she had her own bed, she would often crawl into Mia’s in the middle of the night and burrow under the old patchwork quilt, and in the morning they would wake up tangled, Mia’s arm pinned beneath Pearl’s head, or Pearl’s legs thrown across Mia’s belly. Now, as a teenager, Pearl’s caresses had become rare—a peck on the cheek, a one-armed, half-hearted hug—and all the more precious because of that. It was the way of things, Mia thought to herself, but how hard it was. The occasional embrace, a head leaned for just a moment on your shoulder, when what you really wanted more than anything was to press them to you and hold them so tight you fused together and could never be taken apart. It was like training yourself to live on the smell of an apple alone, when what you really wanted was to devour it, to sink your teeth into it and consume it, seeds, core, and all.”
In sentence study, I share sentences with students that stand out while reading. After we notice and note what’s going on, they are invited to try and imitate the techniques. Take a look at this one:
“My ankle sang a terrible song like my tooth ache had sunk to my foot. Rot and damp and hopelessness and hunger and fear and anger twisted up in a clamp around my ribcage.” (The Marrow Thieves, p.13)
Dimaline uses personification of the ankle singing in pain, and then adds the simile of tooth ache pain- she makes clear the terrible pain, giving readers a relatable pain to connect with. The second sentence bumps along with and, and, and, and, and… adding on all of the things piling up on the chracter. This technique is easy for students to imitate!
I feel lost. My identity is very much wrapped up in my teaching. I love what I do.
I miss my students and colleagues, I miss the excitement of interacting with people everyday and exploring their curiosity and ideas. I miss being able to commiserate with my friends. Moving online with my team and students is not the same as being together in our school. People are anxious and overwhelmed and not sure how to best move forward.
It could be any day of the week, as we have lost all of the markers that delineate one day from another. It’s like living in the movie GroundHog Day. I believe today is Tuesday, because Mommy School was up and running, the emails from school have not stopped and I think Isaac might have an online piano lesson this afternoon.
There are many lessons that will come with this time, I hope we will be better able to see them as we try to move forward through this quagmire. I will try to write through the successes as we continue through.
I did want to link this article from Edutopia, as it has lots more great YA Book Recommendations, that might be just what you (or someone you’re spending your days with) needs right now.
“22 Young Adult Novels to Help Students Process the Pandemic (or Forget It for a Bit)” Check it out here. Order online from your local book store!