Friday, January 9, 2009

Books Four, Five, and Six

So...I've been teaching two novels at school, and I finished one on my own.  Which leads me to books four, five, and six.

Four--Sarah by Marek Halter

This book imageDB was a fictional account of the life of Sarah, wife of Abraham.  It was written by a Jewish author whose family narrowly avoided being imprisoned during the Holocaust.  His biography was really quite fascinating.  He has had an interesting life.  Sadly, the biography was one of the more interesting things about the book.  It was somewhat entertaining, but highly explicit in a lot of ways.  I think I'm too much of a realist to enjoy some of his fictionalized accounts.  It was an interesting, if not highly inaccurate, portrayal of these biblical characters.  It's actually the first book of a trilogy, but I don't plan to read the others.  I think one of my major disappointments was that I had read Francine Rivers' Lineage of Grace Series last summer, and had hoped for something along those lines.  It definitely wasn't.  Which makes sense.  I just didn't think it through.

Book Five--The Last Safe Place on Earth

lastsafe   This is possibly my favorite book I teach all year.  I am doing it with my sweet morning classes right now, and it's been such a delight.  Many of them are starting to really get into it--and we've been working our foreshadowing skills to the bone.  This novel is about a boy who is a sophomore in high school.  His family lives in a suburb that is very affluent and supposed to be very safe.  It reminds me a lot of Carmel, IN, which means nothing to you if you aren't from Indiana.  Basically, the family moved there to get away from violence, but they spend then novel realizing that their nice, perfect community isn't totally what it seems.  It deals with a lot of issues, including teenage drinking leading to car accidents and death, a family dealing with alcoholism (and no one else knowing about it), religious extremism, censorship, and a whole lot more.  I can't put it all into words without giving away too much.  This is a Young Adult Literature book, so it's an easy read.  I so recommend it.  I love this book.  And several of my students are starting to get into it too.  I could see them about to pop out of their skin with responses to a scene we read this morning.  I loved it.  It was written in 1995, so we've had some fun with a few of the dated references to, things like this student who a total big deal carrying a "cellular phone" around or excitement/astonishment that the local newspaper is "fully computerized."

Book Six--Deathwatch

This is possibly my least favorite book I teach all year.  I'm doing it with my not as sweetdeathwatch afternoon classes.  The opinions are pretty split.  I am surprised by some of the responses, however.  There are students I was sure would not like this book that are really enjoying it.  It deals primarily with a manhunt out in the desert.  It's been a good segue into discussions about man's inhumanity to man, and the way people mistreat others.  Parts of it are fairly intense, with some fairly graphic descriptions of a man near his death trying to survive.  They have definitely elicited a few "that's gross" comments as we've read aloud.  It is getting some of my boys who NEVER read to read, though, so that's something.  I have one student who hasn't read but one of the short stories I assigned prior to this who is reading ahead and doing well on his quizzes and everything.  So for that, I don't totally discount Deathwatch.

I'm really excited to tell you about Book Seven.  I think I'll finish it this weekend...and then I'll share!

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