Alabama

Which believe it or not is a book called Finding Alaska. It’s a YA novel so I was able to finish it in one day. Now, though, I’m too tired to write. Goodnight.*EDIT*

PRE-Script: This post is free of spoilers. I’m not out to ruin endings or help anyone with their homework.

Wow, I must have been quite tired. I didn’t even get the name of the book correct. The book is called Looking for Alaska. I’d apologize to John Green but I’m fairly certain that he does not frequent my blog.

There are several good things about reading an entire coming of age novella/novel on a Thursday night.

a. You won’t be tempted to go out to some “ladies’ night” and get hit on by old men while your shoes are sticking to the floor thanks to the healthy layer of cheap beer that coats the floor of every evening establishment.

b. You will spend the rest of the weekend feeling young, but grateful that you made it out of puberty just a bit less traumatized than your average Holden or Charlie, or in this case, Miles.

c. You will begin your weekend feeling accomplished, which will in turn motivate you to be more… well, motivated. I cannot, f course, guarantee this. I can however, tell you that on Friday I was an unstoppable force, a regular aficionado of getting sh*t done. I even paid my library late fines.

d. and if a, b, and c weren’t enough for you there’s always the consolation that you escaped your own life for a few hours and lived an entire story as someone else. In my case it was a whole school year. It’s like free life.

Looking for Alaska was overall, not a disappointment. I was tentative to read it when I realized that John Green is the same author who penned the popular, The Fault in Our Stars. I guess it’s not fair that I immediately am turned off from popular literature but it’s hard not to gag when popular literature continues to spew innocent female main characters with no personality who fall desperately in love with dark men with supernatural/disturbing secrets. I’m looking at you Bella Swan and girl from 50 Shades of Gray.

I enjoyed this book, but is scared me. I know I led a sheltered childhood. I wouldn’t have dreamed of misbehaving in the ways I saw other teenagers doing so in movies and in books. I’d venture to guess that there will always be kid like me, kids who are spectators in mischief and never participators no matter how enticing the activity becomes. And I don’t want to be a book banner or anything but I think if this book were assigned to my child in school I would be really conflicted. There are a lot of experiences in this book that I wouldn’t want my child to imitate. Certainly John green does not create a world where his characters live without consequence, in fact, there are terrible and real consequences to reckless and thoughtless behavior that the novel make abundantly clear in a way that I admired. It’s just that I sometimes worry that reckless behavior is displayed as the norm, therefore, making it normative. Once I get past the maternal goo in my female brain though, the story was captivating, even if often predictable. The three main characters were well developed. Others were not so much but what can you expect a guy to get done in 221 pages?

I liked it. It was entertaining. I think that if a book is well written you don’t have to be overly fond of the characters to feel a connection to them. If I had met any of these characters in the halls of my own High School, I can say almost certainly, that we would not have been friends. I understood the characters though, and I was happy to get to know them. The main character, Miles, is very fond of one of his teachers in a way that I found interesting. The teacher is not very kind to Miles on several occasions, but Miles doesn’t take it personally and still believes the teacher to be brilliant. Maybe that is true and it’s probably wise not to take it personally when reprimanded in class, but I’m not sure it’s a wisdom that most teenagers, or adults for that matter, have attained. In my experience, teenagers take reprimanding quite personally. Maybe in some ways Miles is wise beyond his years; there are definitely many moments in which he is not. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this book beginning to appear on High School summer reading lists. I hope though, that it will be for Juniors and Seniors and not for eighth graders just entering their freshman year. That is the summer that I read The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Supposedly, a modern classic, however, I can’t bring myself to reread it since that first terrifying time.

So, on a scale from 1-10 I give Looking for Alaska a 6.5. It’s brief and entertaining without being trivial. It wasn’t a game changer for me but it easily could be for someone else.

The next titles on my list is The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, by Michael Chabon. Set in Alaska, near present day it is not at all the Alaska that currently exists. Chabon imagines a world where instead of suffering persecution in Europe during WW2, European Jews were offered temporary refuge in Alaska…How thoughtful. I’m only about 150 pages in. It’s a murder mystery- not really the genre I seek out on my own. It’s interesting enough though. There are a lot of Yiddish words that I need to Google. It feels similar to when I read in french with a dictionary and verb book handy. So far, I’m undecided. He is a celebrated author. I’ve heard him described as the best living author. I am unconvinced. It could just be that I despise cops. I’ll keep reading and let you know.

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