Tag Archives: memoirs

We Love Poetry – How I Discovered Poetry

How I Discovered Poetry
Title:
  How I Discovered Poetry

Author:  Marilyn Nelson

“This is the story of Marilyn Nelson’s own childhood, and of America in the 1950s. This highly decorated poet —National Book Award Finalist, recipient of the Robert Frost medal, Newbery Honor Winner — has created fifty eye-opening, intimate poems that tell the tale of her development as an artist and young woman during one of the most turbulent decades in our nation’s history. These poems, spanning her fourth to fourteenth years, touch on many aspects of that time: racism and the Civil Rights Movement, the “Red Scare,” the shadow of the atom bomb, and the first stirrings of the feminist movement.”

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian: Coming-of-Age and Identity Conflicts

9f1e9-parttimeindianTitle: The Absolutely True Diary of A Part-Time Indian

Author: Sherman Alexie

You must read this book because…this novel tells the story of a Native American teenager named Arnold “Junior” Spirit who suffers from physical ailments including hydrocephalus (which he refers to as “water on the brain”) and lives on a poverty-stricken reservation in eastern Washington. It’s first and foremost a bildungsroman (coming-of-age story) that focuses on Arnold’s transition into adulthood after he transfers to Reardan High School.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone, but its themes and messages would resonate most with teenagers and young adults who would find it to be more relatable. It explores topics common in teenage-oriented books such as bullying, identity, self-esteem, while also delving into the many economic hardships the protagonist must face as he develops and grows. However, the novel continuously maintains a dichotomy of tragedy and humor as it successfully deals with issues such as alcoholism and death while lightening the mood with a combination of funny comics/drawings and the protagonist’s sardonic narration.

The novel covers such a wide range of themes that anyone can find an aspect to empathize with and yet also looks at more unfamiliar subjects such as the struggles of Native Americans in modern society. There is rarely a dull moment and both the plot and narration are highly engaging.

In my opinion, this novel truly contains something for everyone and is most certainly worth reading.

Read this if you like…

–Ziqi, Greenwood, Teen Blogger

GWD

Wild: The book, and now… the movie!

WildDo you like hiking? Nature? How about reckless adventures? Emotional memoirs?

If you answered, “yes” to any of those questions, I recommend checking out the book, and now the film, Wild.

Wild, a first-person memoir by Cheryl Strayed, tells the story of her expedition on the Pacific Crest Trail in the summer of 1995. In the four years leading up to her journey, her mother died (Cheryl was 22), her stepfather and siblings became disconnected from the family, and Cheryl turned to drugs to cope with her loss.  After wandering around the country for several months, she comes home and divorces her husband.  Feeling that she has lost her path in life and having nothing more to lose, she decides to set out, alone, on an 1100-mile long hike from southern California through Oregon.  Having never backpacked before, Cheryl describes the physical and mental struggles that challenged and healed her along the trail. Told with the utmost honesty, reflection, emotion, and suspense, the story of Wild is a deep and inspiring exploration.

The book was published in 2012 and received critical acclaim from the likes of Oprah Winfrey and The New York Times.Wild

The film was released in December 2014 and stars Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern.  Overall, the film excellently captures the interplay between past memories and current challenges on the trail.  Witherspoon portrays Cheryl with true emotion, strength, and bravery.  IMBd gives the movie 7.5 out of 10 stars. That’s really good!

So, whether you’re an adventurous type or someone who searches for meaning in stories, a dedicated book lover or a film fanatic, I would recommend reading, or watching, (or both), Wild.  It might just make you want to take off on an epic hike of your own!

Check out the book!

Here’s where you can see the movie in the Seattle area.

–RuthMabel, Greenwood, Teen Blogger

GWD

Desert Solitaire – memorable experiences with the wilderness

Desert SolitaireI finished Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey with beautifully written scenic imagery. This book is about the author himself, Edward Abbey during the time he was a ranger in Arches National Park.

This book itself gave such a sense of comfort the entire way through, the independence and closeness to nature that Abbey experiences and describes places the reader in his feet. I really enjoyed this book– the writing and simplicity makes it easy. The symbolism throughout the book gives it depth and dimension. Abbey also describes different memorable experiences with the wilderness which is quite captivating and a freshness to it that keeps you reading. As a result I do recommend this book, it provides something that not a lot of modern books include.

–Sophie, Columbia, Teen Blogger

COL

Teen Reviewed: Running with Scissors

Title: Running with Scissors

Author: Augusten Burroughs

Summary: A memoir about a boy’s bizarre childhood featuring his mentally unstable mother and her psychiatrist, whose family and lifestyle take in Burroughs. Dr. Finch believes that a person can make their own decisions at age 13, meaning chaos. Some anecdotes evoke a cringe and nervous laughter (the behavior of Yale-certified Dr. Finch and his analyzation of his stools to predict the future, say) while others leave me wondering how Burroughs made it through in more or less one piece.

Six word review: Crazy, almost unbelievable growing-up experience, recounted.

What I couldn’t get enough of… the lack of any predictability. It was impossible to guess what would happen to the characters, what road Augusten would turn down. Part of this was Burroughs’ loose chronology with each chapter serving as an anecdote. The other part was the total craziness of the Finches.

If Augusten was in a high school yearbook, he would be voted… nothing, because he never went to school. He got out of it with the help of Dr. Finch, who gave him the means to purposely land himself in a mental hospital.

On a deserted island, Augusten would probably… practice his hair care skills and write. At a more sensitive point he discussed not wanting to be a writer because if he inherited his poet mother’s gene for writing, he might inherit the crazy gene too. I’m glad he wrote anyway.

Online resources: Author website

– Greta, 16, Teen Center Adviser 

Book Group: Always Running

La vida locaWhen the Library brought Luis Rodriguez to Seattle in November, students at Consejo read his book and wrote about their reactions to it. Over the next few weeks, we will be publishing some of their thoughts.

This is an inspiring book, it speaks the truth. It’s an everyday life for a teen out in this crazy world. Every single paragraph has detail that makes you believe its your life being told. It’s like a movie in your mind.

This book motivated me to find the way to break the cycle of the gang history in my familias past generations by helping others. People in similar struggles that can’t find a way to fight against the life style you once lived, that had you chained up. You opened the eyes of many teens to find the key to freedom and unlock the chains keeping them from a better life. Gang life has affected many but reading your book has motivated me to go to college and leave the past and become the future .

 Alondra, 15, Teen Blogger

 

Book Group: Always Running

Always RunningWhen the Library brought Luis Rodriguez to Seattle in November, students at Consejo read his book and wrote about their reactions to it. Over the next few weeks, we will be publishing some of their thoughts.

It’s really sad how Luis saw all this. People getting shot, beaten, and lots of arrests. He saw people selling drugs and heard that people that he knew had commited suicide.

Luis said that when he had turned eighteen years old,  about twenty-five of his friends had been killed by rival gangs police, drugs, car crashes and also suicides. What I felt when I read that part was that he has really been through a lot. But I know he had been through more than that. His mother was the only one in their family that actually completed high school. His unclies, Kiko and Rodolfo, crossed the border to find work, and they came back with NICE stories from the other side of the border.

Lilith, 13, Teen Blogger