Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Boy, nothing says I'm back at work than bi-weekly posts. I must tell you, I'm having a blast. We're knee deep into Anglo-Saxon literature and we're ripping Grendel's arm off tomorrow. You can't get better than this. We added two more books to our senior summer reading list this year - and after having read over 45 books this summer (yes, I'm addicted to reading), I totally forgot about them. So, I've torn through The House of the Scorpion and Wintergirls in the last week.

I liked House of the Scorpion a little bit. It's a very, very easy read and lacking the description and flowing sentence structure that I enjoy. It was more than"See, Spot. See Spot run." but very simplistic in style which although frustrating to me did match the style and audience of the book. If you're a fan of futuristic (without being blatant) cloning yet with the coming of age twist, this is an excellent book as told with the clone himself being the protagonist.

It's Wintergirls I'm afraid of. I didn't get the chance to read this before it appeared on our summer reading list, and I'm not sure if I would have agreed to put it on there. After reading the back flap, I didn't want to read it. I thought long and hard - litterally for days - about not reading it and just grading the assignments against each other, but I knew that would be unethical. I had to read it. I chose to block a lot of myself out as I read it and skim it at the most to just get the basics down. I failed. Within the first page I was sucked in - and I'm not sure if that was a good thing or not.

The book is a fantastic first person narrative centering around an anorexic senior in high school, her friend who has just died from complications from bulimia and her own relapse and guilt stemming from her friend's attempt to contact her 33 times the night of her death. It's powerfully told and I now have a sincere respect for people who struggle with both diseases, however it is SO well told that it's my fear that it can be used as a manual and support guide by girls who are desperate enough to overlook the overall encompassing themes. Fragile teens - possibly entertaining the notions or susceptible enough to be guided by them, would focus on the positive aspect of the main character, Lia's, progress in her weight loss and be numb to the rest. Honestly, in the days since I've completed the book, I've even caught myself becoming more aware of my food intake and have had to stop, pause, and re-evaluate before progressing.

Every student who has read the book that I've talked to has loved it. Perhaps I digested it more directly because I was hypersensitive of the subject before reading - having had a collegue whose daughter had been hospitalized and rightly should be dead from the disease just one year ago. It's not glamorized in the novel, far from it, but we all see what we want to see - which is a sad, but applicable fit. My colleague said she tried to read it, but could not descend into Hell again - even within the confines of fiction. She's bringing it to the attention of a psychologist she knows in the field to see his opinion of removing it from our list. Do I recommend it? YES - for those who know and understand what they're reading. It's the most powerful teen-fiction book I've ever come across.

Now, I've got to start reading Paolo Coelho's The Alchemist. I read it about four years ago, but kids are writing so much nonsense down on their data sheets that I'm starting to question whether or not the things they mention are accurate.

On the garden front- things are winding down fast. It would be better if I was watering regularly, but I'm ready to let go. The yard long beans are starting to die off, but the second planting of the boy's beans are coming on strong. I never got one bell pepper, but a few jalopenos are still out there. I chopped off the basil plants and dehydrated them for use this winter. The tomatoes are small and cracked, but still harvested every other day or so. I had 12 medium sized ones I pulled today which I put individually in tin foil and in the freezer for soups and stews this winter. Four tomato hornworms bit the dust today as well. I don't care how many you see or even if you expected to see one, those boogers are just disgusting.

Project for this week - take garden pictures to post!!! I'm catching up on your blogs - but they're a bit confusing read backwards like I'm doing. ;)

The morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams!


  1. " If you're a fan of futuristic (without being blatant) cloning yet with the coming of age twist ".... alright, Ribbit.... ROFL!!! Yet another genre that I never would have dreamed of :)

    Seriously though, nice to read your reviews! I am hoping to be able to start reading more and more as the garden dies off this year. I assumed you were pretty busy back at school, glad you had time to check in. That's a good idea about the basil, I don't know if I feel like doing freezer cubes this year, but they need to be pulled soon.

  2. Erin, the pesto I made I just stuffed into baggies and flattened. One less step than the freezer cubes.

    You know, the House of the Scorpion book was obviously futuristic, but not in your face with a whole lot of made up names, places and junk that distract you from the story. I generally CANNOT finish a sci-fi or fantasy book, but this one was doable for me. I think because it was very simplistic. The protagonist is a kid who was cloned to be used as parts for the ruler of an opium district. There was a point where the book could have been over since this story line fizzled out, but it kept going - not sure if it earned any points by doing that or not. I suppose I was generally unimpressed, which makes me feel a bit stupid given all of the bling of the awards it has won.

  3. Ok, I admit I am not a reader. But is Grendel a Beowulf reference? I guess if it is I actually remember something from my senior literature class.

  4. I don't tend to read fiction, but Wintergirls is something I might read. I've never understood this disease....perhaps it would give insight.

    It's definately time to let the garden go. I'm sick of it. The daily trudges back to the kitchen with MORE STUFF is getting tedious and I'm tired of dealing with it. My freezer is full and once I'm done digging potatoes and onions, I can relax and ENJOY whatever is left before the frost comes and FREES ME!!

  5. Kris - You're right!

    Sue - It will most certainly help you understand the disease. It's amazingly well done.

  6. Now my teen's interested in Wintergirls, but says she hates badly-written, good story books. We all love to eat here and don't have eating disorder worries, but I can see your points.

    What fun to get to Grendel with a new batch. I'm still focusing on basic comp, and not my garden.

  7. Great summary of those novels- almost makes me want to read Wintergirls... almost... sounds like a tough ready emotionally.