Sunday, June 29, 2008

Three Books Read

I want to share three books that I just finished reading:
Extras by Scott Westerfeld, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie and American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang.

Extras is the fourth book in Westerfeld's Uglies series:
Uglies, Pretties, Specials, Extras
This book is about Aya, who wants to become more recognized (popular), so she can have the status and all that goes along with it in her society. Aya's avenue to popularity is to go undercover with a daring group (Sly Girls) who shun recognition. Aya's plan is to report the story of the Sly Girls and make it public on the feed (sort of like our TV) thus gaining recognition.

I thought this was a fast read. If you like futuristic books (and even if you don't) you might want to pick up Extras. I don't think you need to read the whole series; you can enjoy the books individually.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a semiautobiographical novel about Arnold Spirit, a 14-year-old Spokane Indian living on the rez in WA. Arnold, born with "water on the brain," is the frequent recipient of bullies. Arnold transfers to the rich, all-white high school in Reardan where he expects disaster. But he does manage to make friends with geeky and popular kids alike. Arnold grapples with what it means to be an Indian and what it means to be a tribe and have a sense of community.

I really liked this book. Sherman Alexie took a serious topic and was able to tell the story with humor and sensitivity at the same time. (I also liked his movie Smoke Signals...I haven't read the book yet but I saw the video twice!)

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang is a graphic novel that weaves three different storylines in one book. One is the Chinese folk hero, Monkey King who aspires to be a god; another is Jin Wang, a lonely middle school boy who wants to fit in with his white classmates; and the third is a sitcom of Danny, an all-American teen and his Chinese cousin Chin-Kee (an ethnic stereotype).

This book is about breaking down stereotypes and self-acceptance. I thought this was a powerful read in a very different format...not only graphic novel but also weaving three different storylines together.

1 comment:

Ms. Morris said...

I really enjoyed Sherman Alexie's book, too. It's probably one of the best books I've read this year. However, American Born Chinese is also really good at examining stereotypes and unreasonable expectations.

I want to read the Pretties series - Scott Westerfeld is an engrossing writer!