Push- Sapphire

Push by Sapphire has received a lot of attention after being turned into the award-winning movie “Precious.”  I picked a copy of it up at a bookstore a few months ago and then forgot about it.  I’m glad I read it now though.  I had a feeling I would like the book but was not prepared for the way in which it was written. The novel is written from Precious’ point of view and is written as if she wrote it- and as a girl severely lacking in reading and writing skills this means that there are phonetic spellings, lots of swearing, and also slang.  I did find it easy to follow though and read it rather quickly.

I think this is a great book for English teachers to read because it reminds us of what deficiencies our students may be coming to us with that we might not think of.  i.e. the inability to read or write.  Due to the graphic descriptions of rape, incest, and abuse I would be hesitant to use this in my classroom.  I think it has a message that could be discussed, but having worked with students coming from this type of a background themselves I would be concerned about triggering flashbacks and or re-traumatizing them.  I would however recommend it to students in 11th and 12th grade while explaining to them that there are some rather graphic scenes, and letting them make their own mind up about whether they want to read it or not.

Overall I really enjoyed the book.

Awards:

2010 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults- YALSA

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes- Chris Crutcher


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Staying Fat For Sarah Byrnes was a great read.  The story is told from the perspective of a teenage boy who is overweight.  He tells about his friendship with a girl named Sarah Byrnes, whose face is horribly disfigured due to burns suffered when she was three.  Along with issues of appearance and friendship,  the book also touches on religion, abuse, and trust.  There is mystery and action in the story that keeps you interested till the end.  I rooted for the characters the entire time.  I think this book is definitely classroom appropriate for high school.  It is an easy read, but is great for discussing theme and other elements of literature.  I would recommend this book to any student.  It will appeal to both both teen boys and girls.

Awards:

ALA Best Book for YA
SLJ Best Book for YA
American Booksellers Pick of the List
California Young Reader Medalist
1995 Joan Fassler Memorial Book Award
ALA Best of the Best Books for YA
Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review
1994 South Dakota YARP Best Books
Nominee 1995-1996 Iowa Teen Award
Nominee 1995-1996 SC YA Book Award
Nominee 1996 Young Reader’s Choice Award
Nominee 1996-1997 ILF Rosie

Wintergirls- Laurie Halse Anderson (ARC)

I just finished reading my Advance Reader Copy of Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson.  I LOVED it.  I read it straight through in about three hours.  It centers on an 18 year old high school senior, Lia’s struggle with anorexia, self-injury, and grief.  I found the story to show a very clear picture of the struggles that teens suffering from these afflictions.  It is obvious that Anderson did her research.  It is easy to identify with all of the characters in the novel.  Along with the major issues addressed, Anderson touches on familial relationships and the nature of teen friendships.  Though this is a realistic fiction there are parts that seem more fantastical in nature- but I feel are open to interpretation.  (I know that’s vague, I don’t want to spoil anything!)

 

I HIGHLY recommend this book.  It can be used in a high school classroom, or recommended as an option for independent reading.  The book is set to hit the shelves March 18th.

Teachers and Librarians can find a discussion guide here to use with their classes or book groups.

Anderson also provides links to information about eating disorders on the Wintergirls website.

Whale Talk- Chris Crutcher

I just finished reading this book almost entirely straight through.  I found it interesting, engaging, and felt it touched on several key issues for teens today.  The protagonist is a 17 year old male, and is multi-racial.  The book deals with racism, child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, the mentally handicapped, the physically handicapped, obesity, and the general need for acceptance that most teens can relate to.  I thought the characters were likeable and easy to relate to.  There are even great multi-syllable vocabulary words- thanks to one brainiac character.  The novel revolves around a make-shift swim team, so it may be of interest to swimmers, or other athletes- especially those who don’t play the “big sports” like football, basketball, and soccer or hockey.  I could see this being a book that is used as a classroom read for 9th-12th graders.  The language is easily understandable, but the themes are complex enough for any high school student to glean meaning from.

Awards:

ALA Popular Paperbacks for YA 2005

ABC Children’s Booksellers Choices Award 2002

Washington State Book Award 2002

Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award 2002

Outstanding Sports Book Award/YA 2002

ALA Best Book for YA

TLA Tayshas List

New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age

ALA Top 10 Best Books for YA

Book Sense 76 Pick