Call # FIC AHD
Welcome back to Miss Pickel’s Picks! It’s been a really long time since I’ve written. I came back to school last month determined to turn over a leaf and keep my blog updated, but somehow we’ve been back at school for six weeks and I’m just now writing my first post. I read a lot of really good books this summer, like Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers series, which somehow managed to be funny, dramatic, thrilling and chilling all at the same time. I’m so excited because Noah is reading the first book right now – I hope he likes it as much as I did! The other book I loved was The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds; I just read a book co-written by Reynolds and I promise I’ll blog about that next!
I just finished a wonderful book based on the Arabian story collection One Thousand and One Nights; I loved it so much that I had to write about it. The novel is called The Wrath and the Dawn; the author is Renee Ahdieh and I think she’s so amazing that I will read everything she ever writes! The book opens when 16-year-old Shahrzad’s best friend has been killed by the new king. For months the 18-year-old Caliph has married a new woman every night and had her killed the next morning. When Shahrzad hears the news about her best friend she is determined to put a stop to the king once and for all, so she volunteers to be the Caliph’s next bride. Her family is terrified and her childhood sweetheart follows her. However, Shahrzad has a plan and she will not be stopped. When the Caliph comes to her room that night Shahrzad begins a story about Agib, the “thief of Baghdad.” The Caliph is mesmerized by the story and as the sun begins to rise Shahrzad leaves off on a cliffhanger. Of course, the king can’t have her killed now; he has to find out how the story ends! The next night Shahrzad wraps up the story about Agib, but starts another tale and the king must again spare her life. This pattern follows night after night as Shahrzad and the Caliph begin to talk about their lives and she learns that there is much more to the young king than meets the eye.
I adore this book for so many reasons. First of all, the language is so lyrical that I found myself reading passages out loud. I also love the way Ahdieh writes her characters; I was drawn to the supporting characters even more than the main ones, especially Despina, Shahrzad’s servant and confidante. I think my favorite thing about the book, though, is how the author takes an ancient story and updates it. I’ve always been interested in mythology, fairy tales and folklore with a twist and The Wrath and the Dawn has become one of my favorites in that genre!
Call # 306.874 ROD
As part of my renewed commitment to my blog I have decided to concentrate on nonfiction for real this year; I am going to try to read one nonfiction book a month. I decided to start with The Pregnancy Project by Gaby Rodriguez with Jenna Glatzer. Maddy had picked it up off the shelf while waiting for an IMovie project to finalize and liked it so much she brought it home to finish. She brought it back the next day, saying she loved it. After reading it cover to cover in one day I can see why. Rodriguez’s book chronicles her senior project in high school, in which she pretended to be pregnant to see how people would react.
Gaby’s mother had her first child at age 15 and subsequently had seven more children, including Gaby, the youngest by several years. Many of Gaby’s brothers and sisters also became teen parents. As she grew up many people, including her siblings, warned her incessantly about becoming a teen mother. At the same time Gaby saw the way people talked about girls who did become pregnant at her school. When it came time to think about what she might want to do for her senior project she thought about all of the stereotypes that she continuously heard, not only about teen mothers, but about people who had teen mothers in their family. She decided that she wanted to find out firsthand what it felt like to hear whispered gossip and feel people staring at her. Gaby came to the conclusion that for her senior project she would pretend to be pregnant and record the reactions of the people in her life. This took a great deal of courage, not just on Gaby’s part, but her boyfriend Jorge’s as well. Gaby and Jorge decided to not even tell Jorge’s parents that the pregnancy was fake. Gaby got special permission from the principal to embark on this project and except for some healthcare professionals with whom she consulted the only other people who knew the truth were Jorge, Gaby’s mother, and her best friend, Saida. Saida was enlisted in the project to overhear the comments made about Gaby and report them back to her. The project culminated with Gaby doing a presentation in front of the entire school, where she explained that she wasn’t really pregnant and why she felt strongly about the project.
I flew through The Pregnancy Project. I loved learning about Gaby’s family, especially her strong, loving mother. As I was reading I felt that the main focus of Gaby’s senior project was to expose stereotypes; she wanted to show her classmates and teachers how easy it is to fall into the habit of stereotyping and how limiting and hurtful it can be to judge people. Gaby’s presentation opened a lot of eyes and I think her book does the same.
Call # FIC BER
I read a lot of books that I love, but every once in a while I find one that I think is so amazing that I want to recommend it to everyone I know. Julie Berry’s All the Truth That’s In Me is that book for me right now. I think it is absolutely incredible in every way. It is gorgeously written and has a resilant heroine who grows stronger as the story goes on. There is also a mystery to unravel and complex characters to follow. On top of all that Berry poses a lot of questions to ponder that really made me think.
The novel is about Judith, who has recently come back to her town after having disappeared two years earlier. The story seems to take place in the 1800s and Roswell Station is a place where people live simply and everyone knows everyone. The night Judith disappeared her friend Lottie did as well and the townspeople are stunned and full of questions when Judith returns alone. However, Judith can’t provide any answers; she has been rendered mute since half of her tongue was cut out. Judith is immediately shunned upon her return; she is treated as ignorant and freakish and her mother blames her for her father’s death. The only friendly face in Roswell Station is Judith’s childhood friend Lucas. Before she vanished Judith thought that their friendship might blossom into something more; now Lucas is engaged to someone else. Judith thinks that her lot in life is to simply to exist and go unnoticed from day to day, but when her village is threatened she decides she has to do whatever she can to protect it. This may mean going back to the life she escaped from. The chain of events that follows opens Judith up to things she didn’t dream were posiible for her: an education, friendship and maybe even love.
I don’t want to write too much more about this book because there are so many surprises in it and I don’t want to give anything away. All I can say is that it’s one of the best books I have ever read and I can’t wait for Julie Berry’s next novel.