Girl in Translation, Miller’s Valley

Girl in Translation:

This book came to me by way of a colleague suggesting it as a summer reading choice for our eleventh grade next school, and I’m excited to say we have chosen it! The narrative follows Kimberly, an immigrant child from Hong Kong who arrives in New York City with her mother and begins work at a sweatshop while also navigating her new public elementary school. We follow Kimberly as she matures, moves from public school to an exclusive private school, falls in love, and continues to straddle the worlds of American and Chinese cultures. I think it will tie in well with our themes of American identity and the American dream, as well as offer good prompts for personal essays, and I finished it in one night, unable to put it down, which is another good quality for a summer reading choice.

Miller’s Valley

Anna Quindlen has a new novel? Of course I’m on board, as she has written some of my favorite contemporary fiction, including titles like Every Last One and Black and Blue. This novel has a more melancholy tone, as a family struggles with understanding the ties that bind them together, and how they might be further affected, and perhaps broken, by the loss of their hometown. The erosion that can happen in loving relationships and the bittersweet nostalgia of losing a place you miss but might no longer desire are only some of the threads winding through the narrative. There’s a somewhat surprising ending that I’m not sure felt truly earned or authentic to me, but I think if you liked her recent Still Life with Bread Crumbs, you might enjoy this one too.


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Five years ago, I start keeping this reading blog in an attempt to gather all my thoughts on reading, writing, and literature.

This May, even though it’s the hectic end-of-year season, I’m starting again.

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In honor of What She Read’s Poem in Your Post Weekend Blog Hop, I offer you a poem I just found this week, courtesy of the amazing Jim Burke, who posted it on Twitter.

The Seven Of Pentacles

Under a sky the color of pea soup
she is looking at her work growing away there
actively, thickly like grapevines or pole beans
as things grow in the real world, slowly enough.
If you tend them properly, if you mulch, if you water,
if you provide birds that eat insects a home and winter food,
if the sun shines and you pick off caterpillars,
if the praying mantis comes and the ladybugs and the bees,
then the plants flourish, but at their own internal clock.

Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground.
You cannot tell always by looking what is happening.
More than half the tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.
Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet.
Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree.
Spread like the squash plant that overruns the garden.
Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.

Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.
Live a life you can endure: Make love that is loving.
Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in,
a thicket and bramble wilderness to the outside but to us
interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.

Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen:
reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.
This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always,
for every gardener knows that after the digging, after
the planting,
after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.

~ Marge Piercy ~


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While I Was Gone

Cover of "Rilla of Ingleside (Anne of Gre...

Cover via Amazon

Yes, I disappeared for a little while there, but rest assured, I’ve been reading.

This past holiday weekend on a long bus ride, I polished off two very different books, Getting to Happy and Freedom: A Novel (Oprah’s Book Club), and I liked both, for very different reasons. On a plane ride before that, I read two different slices of American history in Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line and For the Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz Age Chicago; again, both were fascinating and enjoyable, but for very different reasons. Then today, I bought an old childhood favorite of mine, Rilla of Ingleside (Anne of Green Gables, No. 8), and read half of it already.

The problem is that in this frantic, hectic, end-of-the-school-year time, I just haven’t carved out any blogging time. I’ll be back soonish though, so if you want reviews of any of the books I’ve just mentioned, give me a shout here and I’ll whip one up. I’ve got a poetry post ready for the weekend, and will get back on my regular schedule sometime in the near future.

No, really.


Filed under Children's and YA Literature, Fiction

BTT: Age Appropriate

Cover of "Diary of a Wimpy Kid"

Cover of Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Do you read books “meant” for other age groups? Adult books when you were a child; Young-Adult books now that you’re grown; Picture books just for kicks … You know … books not “meant” for you. Or do you pretty much stick to what’s written for people your age?

Today’s Booking Through Thursday question is one I’ve actually thought about before throughout my reading life.

As a kid, I often read books that were appropriate for where I was with my reading skills, but were not at all appropriate for me emotionally or developmentally. So I ended up reading books like Catcher in the Rye way before I was really ready for them, which spoiled me on some amazing books I could only appreciate after re-reading them. I’m trying to avoid this mistake with my own kids, because with some of my favorites, I want the introduction to go perfectly.

Now, I rarely read young adult or picture books for pleasure unless I am reading them with or for my own children. By “for,” I mean that when my kids are reading something I’m not familiar with, like Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, I try to read either one book in a series, or a single book, so I know what they are reading. Books have always been such a huge influence on me that I want to know what might be influencing my own kids.

I’m trying to read more YA lit because I think my students might be (or should be) reading it, and I’ve found some good examples of ones I would absolutely want my students, or some day my own children, to read. But just for pleasure? Never occurs to me.


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Lucy of Green Gables

I had a lovely book-loving mother moment Tuesday after the girls’ softball practice. Lucy had gotten a really solid hit on the first pitch and was feeling really satisfied and proud about it, and I said, “Yeah, the feeling you get when you know the bat has gotten a big piece of the ball is such a great feeling, right?”

She said, “Yeah, my bat hit that ball with a big thwack! just like Anne’s slate on Gilbert’s head.”

Then it was my turn to feel satisfied and proud.

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Not in Theaters: BTT

a souvenir from U.S.A

Image by masaaki miyara via Flickr

And–the reverse of last week’s question. Name one book that you hope never, ever, ever gets made into a movie (no matter how good that movie might be).

Oooh, this is a tough one. Tough because sometimes you can’t anticipate what terrible choices people will make (like totally miscasting Gillian Anderson as Lily Bart, let’s say).

I think, however, my final choice will be a movie that probably will never get made: The Catcher in the Rye, which has been tabooed as a result of Salinger’s tight control on all his work, and probably always will be. I don’t want to see anyone as Holden or Phoebe, I don’t want to see any of the book get excised, and I just don’t think his voice could be clearly transferred onto the big screen.

How about you?


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