Sunday, February 15, 2009

Challenging, but enjoyable

Now, this is a book that is very hard for any high school student to read, at least for Wheatley. It ought to be described as "intellectual's prose" or something. It's called The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbary, translated from French by Alison Anderson. It's crammed full with vocabulary and also proper nouns.
Anyway, the plot focuses on two different people: Renee, a 54-year old concierge of an eight-apartment building for the rich, stating in her second journal entry: "I am a widow, I am short, ugly, and plump, I have bunions on my feet and, if I am to credit certain early mornings of sefl-inflicted disgust, the breath of a mammoth;" and then we have Paloma, an amazingly smart 12 1/2 year old girl occupying one of the apartments with her mother, diplomat father, and obnoxious sister (all whom she promptly cuts down to size), loves haiku poems, and plans to commit suicide on her 13th birthday by setting her apartment on fire and taking an overdose of sleeping pills while no one is around.

Both characters share very intelllectual minds, embrace Japanese culture, keep closeted their superior minds over society, and write in journal entries social, artistic, theological, philosophical, and cultural criticisms and commentaries and finely detailed happenings in their building. When a new resident arrives, a Japanese gentlemen titled Monsieur Ozu, both persons' lives and plans are put into completely new environments in which they find themselves exposed and beginning to look at things anew.

I suppose this would be a read more for college students or something, but I was truly able to enjoy this book. Even though I refused to pull out a dictionary every time I came across unknown words, I was able to feel everything. It's funny, scornful, elightening, and also inspiring.
You can most definitely find this in Borders or Barnes & Nobles and Jo Beth recently brought it into the IMC. It has praise from numerous magazines and newspapers, national and foreign, and is oficially an international bestseller. I'd have to put this up as one of the greatest books I've ever read.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dairy Queen

This is one terrific little book. DJ, a farm girl from Wisconsin, where cows and football rule, tells her story with a clear and humorous voice. She is a typical HS student with older brothers who were stars on the school football team. DJ also shares a passion for football, and all sports. Unfortunately, her father is no longer able to take care of the farm due to hip surgery, and all the work falls on DJ. A former track and basketball star, her dreams of team sports are lost due to the demanding schedule of running a farm. At the same time, Brian, the QB from the opposing school's football team, has come to Scwank farm to help DJ with the chores- by order of his coach. Neither Brian nor DJ are happy with this situation, but DJ could use the manpower and Brian is supposed to learn the meaning of work, or his coach will not let him play. Over the course of a summer, DJ and Brian work side by side, and eventually, come to help each other, and form a very unique relationship. DJ and Brian earn each others respect by being true and honest, but still being teenagers. DJ eventually takes on the role of Brain's trainer, and DJ decides to go out for the boys football team- I kid you not! The beauty of this book is the dialogue and characters- they are so endearing and true. I cannot wait to read the sequel The Off Season

Thursday, February 5, 2009


The B.A.A. has selected Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro as our next "group read". Ishiguro's book is haunting, both in his subject matter and his writing style. As a reader, the story envelopes you - and you find yourself part of the unraveling truths that the main character discovers, as she reflects upon her years as a student in the cloistered world of Hailsham, a private school where studetns were always told they were "special". Now they are discovering what "special" really means. The B.A.A. welcomes new memebers- we meet Wednesdays after school. Stop by the IMC to pick up a copy.