Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Saturday, November 20, 2010

What I'm Reading Now

I am coming to the end of Jonathan Franzen's book Freedom. While this book has received a great deal of media attention and accolades, I am reading it because my husband Jeff, who reads a ton of non-fiction but only one novel each year, read and loved it. I'm thoroughly enjoying the book and, though the characters are unlikeable, I desperately want to know what happens to each one of them. Each character is more complicated than he or she first appears and Franzen does not shy away from peeling away the layers. His book is a commentary on family and a commentary on America post 9/11. The book is captivating and thought-provoking.

When I am done, I will be reading The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney. Franzen's Freedom is at least partially responsible for this decision. The date rape of one of Freedom's protagonists was a defining moment in her life and the development of her character.The protagonist in Whitney's The Mockingbirds, a young adult novel that published earlier this month, is also a date rape victim. In this case, rather than staying silent, the young victim enlists the Mockingbirds--a secret society of students at her boarding school dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow peers. It's a story about the importance of taking a stand and speaking out, which the protagonist in Freedom was dissuaded from doing. The pairing of these two books satisfies my interest in reading "companion" books.

For a meaningful contrast, young adults who read The Mockingbirds may want to consider reading or re-reading Laurie Halse Anderson's powerful 1999 novel, Speak, about a high school freshman who becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether until she begins to heal from a trauma that is revealed as the story unfolds and refuses to remain silent.

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