Sunday, July 29, 2012

Twisted, by Laurie Halse Anderson

I had read an article about how Laurie Halse Anderson's book Speak has been challenged a number of times in school libraries.  There was a case in Republic, Missouri, in which Speak, Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler and Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut were challenged, with the intent to be removed.  Of those books, only Speak was retained.  Speak is about date rape and I wanted to read it to see what I thought.  The library didn't have it at the branch I was at, but they did have Twisted, which is by the same author.  So I checked it out and put Speak on hold.  That'll be one of the next books I read.

The author:  The back sleeve of the book reads, "Laurie Halse Anderson is the author of the multiple award-winning, New York Times best-selling novel Speak, as well as Catalyst (an ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults) and Prom (a New York Times Best Seller.)" She clearly has credibility and any book of hers will come with the understanding that no matter what people think of her topics, credible sources say she is writing great literature.

Twisted is about a boy, Tyler, who used to be scrawy  and picked on, the ultimate high school nerd guy who doesn't even get the rights to brag about being super smart.  He's failing his AP classes.  He had pulled a prank the year before to stand out, to make himself NOT be That Loser Guy, but it involved ruining school property and suddenly, he's got a bad rep and a probation officer.  He also spent the summer doing hard physical labor as part of his community service and now when school begins, he is not scrawny anymore.  He's had a growth spurt and he's built.  The girl of his dreams notices him, but things aren't that easy.  His dad is really psycho and his mom drinks and avoids the controlling abusive nature of the dad.  When Tyler gets accused of something really bad related to Girl of His Dreams, everyone is all too willing to believe he'd do something like that.

The voice is very realistic.  Anderson captures the pain of the big, awful high school experience so well that it almost physically hurt to read it.  The cliques, the unspoken rules of social conformity-- yep, she caught it all.

SPOILER:  Stop reading now if you hate spoilers.

My one complaint is the ending, which I felt was really fairly unrealistic and rushed as far as his resolution with the father, but she's an award winning author, so I guess I just have a different opinion.  That's okay.  Overall, I think this is a very good book and captures the estranged teen voice well, ending with a hopeful message that involves reinventing oneself.

MLS the works

I am excited to announce that I have begun my Master of Library Science degree from Texas Woman's University (TWU), with an eye towards becoming a school librarian in a few years.  I love books and love kids, so it seemed like a logical choice.  I'm finishing up my first two classes now, and I've learned so much!

My studies this semester have taught me a lot about the difference between book selection and book censorship and how easy it is for librarians to self-censor book choices in order to avoid controversy.  I've also learned that librarians are generally fierce defenders of the First Amendment, which includes the right to receive information, and the courts have ruled that children have this right as well, and that this right does not end just because they are in a school library.  So, a school library has the unique mission of supporting the school curriculum, but it also is there to support children's love of reading and their right to read age-appropriate materials in the library even if not everyone agrees with the ideas in the books.  I'll be reading some of the more frequently challenged MG and YA books out there right now to see what's going on.

As I review books here now, I am doing so partly as a reminder to myself of what I've read and what I, personally, thought about it and things I noticed about it.  It's not an official book review of the type you might see on Good Reads.  There are many great reviews there and I highly recommend that site if you aren't already a member.  :)


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What Goes Into Making a Book at Random House

Here's an incredible look inside Random house, into what goes into making a book.  For me, it highlights all the reasons why a would-be-author might still want a traditional publisher, rather than self-publishing.  These people work really hard!

Thanks to 22 Words for posting the link!