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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Go Set a Watchman

Harper Lee

Regardless of when Harper Lee wrote Go Set a Watchman, it is impossible to believe it was not meant to serve as a second novel, follow-up on To Kill a Mockingbird

How else to explain its deftly placed updates on our favorite characters and the subtly interjected flashbacks? Without knowing the big-hearted, larger than life Atticus lionized in TKAM, how would the reader of GSAW understand the depths of Scout’s emotion seeing Atticus reduced to the size of a small-minded bigot?

Despite the book’s terrifically funny first chapters, Scout is mortally wounded mid-way through – and then left for dead by the unnamed narrator, who is presumably an older Jean Louise.

Read as a companion piece to Mockingbird’s satisfying morality play, the messy mixed message of GSAW is an unsettling shock to the conscience -- perhaps so shocking, Harper Lee thought better of publishing it. Why kill a mockingbird?

Well, as an African American reader who has long loved Lee’s first novel, I delight in this devastating addendum. I revel in this opportunity to put things in perspective – to return to Maycomb and see it as Tom Robinson and Calpurnia saw it. I celebrate Harper Lee for keeping it real.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Printz Award 2015

I'll Give You the Sun
By Jandy Nelson

Once inseparable, twins Noah and Jude are torn apart by a family tragedy that transforms their intense love for each other into intense anger. Timelines twist and turn around each other in beautifully orchestrated stories of love and longing (from the YALSA website).

Lauren Oliver for the New York Times Book Review:

"Bold, even breathtaking. You get the sense the characters are bursting through the words, breaking free of normal metaphors and constructions, jubilantly trying to rise up from the prison of language . . . The book celebrates art’s capacity to heal, but it also shows us how we excavate meaning from the art we cherish, and how we find reflections of ourselves within it. . . . I’ll Give You the Sun is a dazzling mirror."

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