Saturday, September 8, 2012

An update

Yikes! It's been a really long time since I posted! A couple of weeks ago, my son turned on a burner, then forgot about it and left the house. I came home from work two hours later to find a ruined cooktop, and a house full of black, stinky smoke. Thankfully, the house did not burn down, but the fire did knock out all of the electricity in that side of the kitchen, and also our internet, phone, and cable service (I'm writing this at Panera's). The electrician should be done restoring power to that part of the house tomorrow, then I will call the cable provider and buy a new cooktop and hopefully we will be back up and running! Yikes!

In between starting school and  calls to repair people, I have been reading a little.
Right before school started, my friend Kyle (who you know as The Boy Reader) invited me to a wonderful lunch in his backyard. After lunch, Kyle handed me THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS. "You have to read this," he said. "It reminded me of your family." I took it home and devoured it that afternoon.

Victoria Jones is a young woman raised in the foster care system. When the book opens, she is in the process of being emancipated (and don't even get me started on how the foster care system turns children loose into the very big world when they turn eighteen). At one point during her foster care years, Victoria lived with a woman who knew a great deal about gardening and taught her the "meaning" behind different flowers, so she apprentices herself to a woman who is a florist. She also enters into a relationship with a young man from her past…

Kyle was absolutely right. I did need to read this book. Author Vanessa Diffenbaugh has been (maybe still is?) a foster parent, and she tells this story with huge compassion and caring, and yet a strong sense of reality. She totally "gets" the brokenness of kids who have grown up in the foster care system-- how much they want to love and trust, how hard it is when to give love when you have never been loved or cared for, and how it impacts relationships forever and ever… I also loved the way Diffenbaugh crafted this book, with chapters that alternated between Victoria's current life and her instances from her past. This is one I will read again and again, and pass on to friends in similar life circumstances.

And on a much, much lighter note…I love when an author writes books for a variety of audiences- so that kids can visit an old friend again and again and again. Jennifer Holm is definitely one of those authors! Kids love, love, love BABY MOUSE! They grow into MAY AMELIA, and then when they hit middle school, they can find Holm's work in a whole new way, through SEVENTH GRADE IS WORSE THAN MEATLOAF and her newest book, EIGHTH GRADE IS MAKING ME SICK.

EIGHTH GRADE IS MAKING ME SICK is the second book in what I really hope will be a series. Ginny Davis and her mom, stepdad, and siblings and have just moved into a new house. Ginny has big goals for eighth grade, including making the cheerleading squad, but then her stepdad loses his job, her mom becomes pregnant, and her brother gets in trouble with the law…

What I love, love, love about this series is that it's not told in words, or at least not words like they are seen in traditional novels. Instead, it's told through a series of artifacts- report cards, bank statements, post-it notes, book reports (I wonder how Holm chose the books and authors she would include!) and even a few poems-- that totally capture the reading life of an eighth grader.

This is one middle schoolers are definitely going to enjoy!

1 comment:

Mary Lee said...

Good to hear your voice again.
Glad the house didn't burn down.
Hope other son in AZ is managing not to burn down the house, too.