Nearly twenty years ago, Jacqueline Woodson first tackled the same subject matter as depicted in The Hate U Give (2017) in her typically poetic and poignant style in the novel If You Come Softly (1998). It is a story of first love, an interracial one between fifteen-year-old Jeremiah and Ellie who meet at their private school. They have to deal with how society treats them because of their relationship. In the end, this modern day Romeo and Juliet comes to an abrupt end when Jeremiah is fatally shot by police–despite his privileged background. Woodson continues these characters’ story with Behind You (2004) which focuses on the […]
The story of Sharon Creech’s Jack from Love That Dog (2001) continues. Early in his school year, Jack reveals to his teacher that 1) he hates cats, and 2) his college professor Uncle Bill does not believe that the poems Jack had written in the previous school year are “real” poems because they are short, lack rhyme, a regular meter, symbols, metaphor, onomatopoeia, and alliteration. Thank goodness Jack has Miss Stretchberry as his teacher again because she tells him that all those elements his uncle mentioned are not requirements. A poet writes according to his own images, rhythms, and sometimes chooses elements […]
Fangirl (2013) is another of Rowell’s character-driven YA novels that has been well-received by readers and well-reviewed by critics. As of this post, it has a slightly higher rating on Goodreads (4.12) than her very much revered Eleanor & Park (4.11), also published in 2013. Rainbow Rowell is an engaging writer, so for all I didn’t like about the book, Rowell is gifted in being able to create memorable characters and worlds that seem relatable and authentic. Still, I could not get beyond thinking that this story is just OK. Read the full review.
“Running ain’t nothing I ever had to practice. It’s just something I knew how to do,” explains Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw from Jason Reynolds’s National Book Award finalist Ghost (2016) when he comes across a track practice on his meandering run home from school one afternoon. A seventh grader, Ghost also has “a lot of scream in him” that has resulted in many altercations at school that have put him on a path to delinquency. Read the full review.
Who killed Mr. Chippendale, and why? These two questions drive the narrative in Mel Glenn’s Who Killed Mr. Chippendale?: A Mystery in Poems (1999). Told from the perspectives of various characters representing different sectors of the school and community reacting to the murder of Mr. Chippendale, Who Killed Mr. Chippendale is developed through a series of interlocking free-verse poems. Many characters are introduced, the majority of whose voices are heard once and help to create a nuanced portrait of Mr. Chippendale–a mystery to his own colleagues despite his twenty years of teaching English at Tower High. Read the full review.
My pleasure while reading Sharon Creech’s Love That Dog (2001) just could not be contained as evidenced by the Cheshire grin plastered on my face from the beginning to end of this novella. Related in free verse from the perspective of Jack through dated entries that span a school year, Love That Dog is quite charming and delightful. Read the full review.
A bit of trivia from Eric Braeden’s autobiograhy, I’ll Be Damned (2017): Firstly, his years of active engagement in sports and physical activity has served him well: At 76 years old, Braeden has a body that most men would envy. For Pajiba-lingo connoisseurs, as an admirer of a particular type of older man, yes, Braeden’s body activates my lions. He has no formal acting training and “fell into” acting by chance. For years early in his career, he was typecast in roles as a villainous German which he grew weary of, mainly because he thought German was being made synonymous with […]
“Huh?” was my response when the local radio update featured a clip of Jose Baez, the lawyer of former Patriots’ tight end and convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez, accusing the medical examiner’s office of holding Hernandez’ brain hostage and requested that the family’s wishes be honored by releasing the brain to Boston University for CTE analysis. Seemingly out of the loop, this is how I learned of Aaron Hernandez’ death by suicide a day before. Other than being surprised by the timing of his death–days after exoneration of a double homicide–and lamenting the tragic nature of Hernandez’ life and all parties […]