Saturday, July 29, 2017

Review: The Devil's Arithmetic

The Devil's Arithmetic The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I was fourteen years old, I was nominated by my school district to receive an award known as the Raoul Wallenberg award. This honor was given to one kid from each school district in the state, and less than twenty kids per school are nominated to be considered for the honors program. The award was given to those whom school officials believed to emulate the spirit of Raoul Wallenberg, who selflessly saved hundreds of thousands of Jews from Nazi death camps in Budapest.
Fast-forward five, six years later, and I've picked up this book for Yearning for YA. The writing just felt okay to me, and the first few chapters are by no means the most thrilling, but once this story got going it really began to click with me.
I honestly felt genuine fear and frustration throughout the story, and that tells me that the author did a really nice job capturing the fear and uncertainty for the people in the death camps. I liked how both present and past came together in this story to show the main protagonist the true significance of the persecution of the Jews in the WWII period, so she better understood why her family in the present came together and gave thanks for the life they live in the present.
After all, the people in power during that time, toward the end of the war, tried to clean up their mess, but it still remains a stain on world history, and there is a reason we will never forget it. And the author illustrated that perfectly.
There is one small thing that bothers me, though. As I said, present and past connect in this story. The main character gets transported to the 1940s by opening a door in the present day and suddenly the present day is gone and she lives in the WWII era and it's as if the present hadn't occurred yet. This bothered me because it is never explained how she ended up in the 1940s, not to mention how she returned to her present family. I wanted a solid explanation for that, and I felt cheated.
Otherwise, though, it was a pretty nice little story with a very profound message to give.
Honestly, back when I received the Wallenberg award, I didn't understand what the big deal was about what he'd done. But with this little peek into the history for the Jewish people, I feel like I finally understand why people like him are so honored and remembered.
Heroes don't just exist in storybooks, after all....

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Review: Hoot

Hoot Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is listed under Project: Yearning for YA. To learn more about this project, click here.

I've had a love/hate relationship with YA literature in recent years. Depending on the hand writing the story, YA can be good, great, just okay, bad, or absolutely atrocious. I read Hiaasen under Project: Yearning for YA and I'm no expert on the subject, but I think this little story was interesting. The writing wasn't terrible and the story kept me coming back to find out what would happen next. Like most YA novels that I've read, I was thinking the story would end up not telling me everything I wanted to know. Some YA novels have this crutch where they refuse to tell the main protagonist (and therefore the reader) anything specific about the world in which the book is set or certain situations the main character may get tangled up in. I was afraid the story would go that route, but I was pleasantly surprised when we were given answers (even if I didn't understand some of those answers upon first glance).
What Hiaasen has done here is woven a weird little story that did not seem all that big of a deal at the start. But sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to gain the reward the book offers. I found what this book wanted to say touching, deep, and beautiful in its own little way.
Sometimes, YA can be just as profound as the adult novels and classics it rivals.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Project: Yearning for YA

So it's been a while since I've posted a review of a novel (besides Journal 3 Special Edition) but I just got Hoot by Carl Hiaasen today and I just finished it a few minutes ago. I should have a review posted either tomorrow or Friday for it.
Anyway, I'm scheduled to take a YA literature course this semester, so I figured why not have a little fun with it? Project: Yearning for YA will cover all of the YA novels I read and how I feel about them, what I like about them, dislike about them, and as the course progresses I'll talk about trends in YA and why there are trends and what they entail. Details to come! 

Thought this was interesting....