March ’16 Update – Ashley

At this point, my blog posts may seem arbitrary and haphazard, but if you look closely, I think you’ll notice a trend… My posts fall very much in line with when we have breaks from school – Thanksgiving/Christmas, Spring Break, Summer Break.  That, my friends, is no coincidence!  That being said, I’ve had a very successful Spring Break 2016, reading-wise!

* The Giver by Lois Lowry (reread) – This is a book that I actually read as a “young adult” myself and remember loving.  I read it again in my Children’s Literature class at USC and still loved it.  As a matter of fact, several years ago for Christmas, I loaned my grandmother a bag of young adult books that I thought she’d enjoy reading.  She has always “passed down” books to me that she read and thought I’d like, and I wanted to do the same.  I used my “unique” love of YA literature to share some books with her that she had never read.  This was the first book I put in that bag.the giver

The Giver introduces us to a society where things seem to run like clockwork.  Every person serves a specific purpose, performs specific tasks, and lives in a very specific way.  Everything in this society is decided by “The Elders” – including who you marry, which child you will raise, and which position you will serve within the community.  In this society, there is no pain or suffering of any kind.  No one questions the way things are… until Jonas receives his job assignment as Receiver.  This will make Jonas the one person in the community who holds the memories of what life was like before “Sameness.”  In his training sessions with the former Receiver, now The Giver, Jonas experiences memories filled with the most wonderful feelings and sensations – weather, happiness, love.  But he also bears the burden of receiving less-desirable memories, like war and starvation.  Jonas begins to wonder if living this life of “Sameness” is really worth all the sacrifices that came with it.

My Take: One of my all-time favorite books!  Without question, this book belongs on any and all lists for young adult readers.  This is the book that first exposed me to the world of young adult, dystopian novels – still my favorite genre!  The world created by Lois Lowry seems so comforting at first, so idyllic, but that image is shattered as we delve deeper in Jonas’ training and realize at what cost this society was created.  As a reader, I feel increasingly disturbed at the injustice that these people were facing unknowingly.  In general, I do not like having things decided for me – I like to make decisions for myself.  Imagining a world where that is not tolerated sets me on edge.  In a weird way, this book seems to have foreshadowed the generation of children we are now meeting.  As a society, we are becoming less and less comfortable with allowing our children to feel pain (physical or otherwise).  We don’t want anyone to feel too special or excluded, so we give everyone a trophy.  We are so terrified of our children making a mistake that we tell them every move to make, never allowing them to figure it out on their own.  We are raising a generation that can not think for themselves.  Are we heading for a world where we blindly accept what others tell us what to do and think?  Where we are so afraid of pain and failure that we make joy and success obsolete?  Food for thought…

** Look here for Tiffany’s review of the same book. **

* The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (new read) –
 I’ve been saving this one for a good, long break because a) the text itself is longer than many others on this list and b) I was pretty sure it was going to be good one and I didn’t want to have to rush through it.  Well, it was a good one, but I didn’t need to worry about waiting for a long break because it ended up being an (essentially) 24-hour read!

LightningThief2014The Lightning Thief is the first book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and chronicles the story of how young Percy Jackson from NYC came to discover his status as a demigod, or half-blood.  This discovery leads to many new adventures, filled with a cast straight out of Greek mythology.  Along the way, Percy meets new friends and learns things about himself that he never imagined possible.  Ultimately, at just twelve years old, Percy is tasked with preventing an all-out war between the three most powerful gods: Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon.  Will Percy, with the help of his friends,  be able to muster up the courage necessary to undertake such an important mission?

My Take:  I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK.  I will, without a doubt, be purchasing the rest of this series ASAP!  It was very well-written yet accessible, which doesn’t always go hand-in-hand.  I definitely think this book earned it’s spot on the list, for a number of reasons.  First of all, I think any book that makes people, especially young people, want to read is worth its weight in gold.  That’s what Harry Potter did for our generation and I could see that being the case with Percy Jackson as well.  Secondly, I see endless value in this book – both academically and personally.  Reading it made me want to go back and reread all those Greek myths that I read back in middle school.  I could easily imagine this book (and perhaps series) being used in classrooms everywhere – the possibilities are nearly infinite.  The characters are well-developed, the plot provides ample opportunities for discussion and comparisons to traditional Greek lore.  That being said, I could also easily imagine this being a great just-for-fun read also!  Overall, this is one of the best books I’ve read so far in this challenge – HIGHLY recommended!