Thursday, November 21, 2013

Inner Beauty Friday - Book Club!


Once again it is Friday and time to link up with Heather from Blonde...Undercover Blonde. for Book Club!

This week I read two books.  One fiction and one non-fiction, both were quite good!

First I read "Why do Only White People Get Abducted by Aliens?" by  Ilana Garon (Catchy title - right?)

Why Do Only White People Get Abducted by Aliens?: Teaching Lessons from the Bronx

 Here is the synopsis from "According to Ilana Garon, popular books and movies are inundated with the myth of the hero teacher the one who charges headfirst into dysfunctional inner-city schools like a firefighter into an inferno, bringing the student victims to safety through a combination of charisma and innate righteousness. The students are then saved by the teacher s idealism, empathy, and faith. This is not that type of book. Here, Garon reveals the sometimes humorous, oftentimes frustrating, and occasionally horrifying truths that accompany the experience of teaching at a public high school in the Bronx. The overcrowded classrooms, lack of textbooks, and abundance of mice, cockroaches, and drugs weren't the only challenges Garon faced during her first four years as a teacher. Every day, she d interact with students dealing with addiction, miscarriages, stints in juvie, abusive relationships, and gang violence. These students brought with them big dreams and uncommon insight and challenged everything Garon thought she knew about education. In response, Garon a na├»ve, suburban girl with a curly ponytail, freckles, and Harry Potter glasses opened her eyes, rolled up her sleeves, and learned to distinguish between mitigated failure and qualified success. In this book, Garon explains how she realized that being a new teacher was about trial by fire, making mistakes, learning from the very students she was teaching, and occasionally admitting that she may not have answers to their thought-provoking (and amusing) questions."

My thoughts - Almost the whole way through the book I thought the stories were very interesting but that Garon was treating the serious problems plaguing these kids with a bit too much humor.  I then got to the Epilogue where she rounded up her thoughts a bit and it all became more clear why she told her story the way she did.  And honestly my issues with her story have to do more with the "overly" serious way I see the world than with her writing.  It is a very eye opening look into an inner city education.    

Next up - "Insurgent" by Veronica Roth
Insurgent (Divergent, #2)
Here is the synopsis from "Every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves, and herself, while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love."  (shortest synopsis ever?)
My thoughts: I always like the 2nd book in the series it seems - (Same with Hunger Games and Delerium).  Tris got less serial killer-ish in my mind and more "real".  The only thing that I didn't really like is it seemed like 80% of the book is just a build up to the final book.  There's all these unknown things that no one can tell people, and secrets people are keeping that you know are going to be the basis of the third book - which I get (that's how you sell your next book).  I just wanted a little more meat to this part of the story.  Even the cover is kind of like I feel about the book - there's the broken city but the train is going out of the city on a bridge (this book) to the unknown that is very scary, but why?

Have you read anything great lately?



  1. I should check out Garcon's book. As an educator (and white young-ish female) I get really annoyed by all of those white girl saves the poor kids' school movie depictions. I'd love to read more about the inner-city school experiences. Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. I struggled with Insurgent. I felt like it was kind of a limp middle piece with a lot of whining on Tris' part and nothing really happening to move the story forward until the very end. Overall it seems like the whole trilogy could have been condensed waaaaay down or else rewritten so that there would be some meatier plot points in the middle. I hope Allegiant will be better but I'm not getting my hopes up. :)

  3. You were smart to wait and read Insurgent once Allegient was already out so now you don't have to wait. Will be interested to see what you think about that one.

  4. If you're going to work with urban kids, you have to have a sense of humor, or the darkness will eat your soul and destroy you. I used to work in a school for troubled kids, and out of the adorable 7-to-12-year-olds I worked with, once they became teens and young adults, one was shot and paralyzed in a drive-by shooting (his family eventually took him off the respirator, and he died), one stabbed a man in the neck in a botched robbery and went to prison for attempted murder, and another one was an accomplice in a shooting in which a 1-year-old girl was killed. Trust me, you HAVE TO have the humor.

    I predict you will like Veronica Roth's third book. I could barely stand to put it down, but at the same time, I didn't want the series to end.

  5. Just wait till you read Allegient! I'm starting to feel differently about it now that I've had some time to think about it. But it's definitely a book that's been getting some crazy reactions from people.