Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Monday, September 19, 2011

What I'm Reading Now

I recently read and thoroughly enjoyed Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks. I happen to be a huge fan of Brooks' style of historical fiction and her writing; I loved Year of Wonders and People of the Book. Caleb's Crossing made me appreciate both the author and the historical realities she confronts in her writing that much more. This is the story of the first Native American to graduate from Harvard.  There is little known about the young scholar so Brooks weaves a compelling and intriguing tale. Her narrator is a young, smart and curious girl from a Puritan family who desperately wishes she could receive the same educational opportunities as the boys in her community, including her not-the-brightest-bulb brother. She and the young Native American who her missionary father seeks to provide an education develop a secret and profound friendship. Such a satisfying read!

If you've been following this blog for some time, then you know that one of my great joys is matching up adult and children's books that complement one another. I cannot help but think that the perfect young reader companion to Caleb's Crossing may be Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. This semi-autobiographical novel for young adults tells the story of a teenager who leaves his  his reservation to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only thing close to a  Native American is the mascot. This 2007 National Book Award for Young People's Literature winner has been on my must-read list for a while. The time has come. And the timing is perfect because next week (September 24-October 1) is Banned Books Week and it so happens that The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is one of the most frequently banned books of the last decade, because of references to and depictions of domestic violence, drug abuse, racism, poverty and sexuality and the use of profane language. Banned Books Week is a national celebration of the freedom to read. Hundreds of books are challenged in schools and libraries every year and you can be sure that some of your favorites are on that list (ahem... Judy Blume?!). I try to read a frequently challenged book every year around this time to take my own little stand. Bring on the Diary...

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Robin!! I didn't know about Banned Books Week... & incidentally I had a conversation last night about fiction for young adults. trying to remember what I read as a child & young adult vs. literature now (bearing in mind I'm not too keen on categories). I'm also looking for something to read at the moment - in one of those phases where I'm reading fiction but would like to be - so I think I'm gonna follow your lead and get myself a copy of Sherman Alexie's book. I'll keep you posted!