Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Refugee, Along for the Ride, and Uglies

Refugee By Alan Gratz

This is the story of three refugee families fleeing their strife and the threats of their homeland. Each story is told through the eyes of their young teenage child. They are fleeing Germany in 1939, Cuba in 1995 and Syria in 2015. The chapters rotate between the three stories, I thought this might be hard to follow but the chapters are short and makes keeping track of the three different stories easy. I think the stories clearly show the risk of the flight of refugees and the challenge of trusting strangers some who are honest and others who are not. I think the stories raises several important questions. When is it too dangerous to stay? When is it worth facing the life-threatening risk to leave? Doesn’t one have an obligation to stay and fight for their country? How should the outside world respond to the plight of refugees? The stories are based on facts which are illuminated at the end of the book. I think this might be the place to start so the reader understands how the author uses fiction to tell historic facts. This is a Scholastic book and is a fairly easy read.

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dressen

This is the story of one summer in the life of numerous messed up people who are mostly related. Auden’s parents are divorced. Mom is a professor and regularly holds court in the dining room with her mostly male graduate students. Auden the narrator, central charater and daughter mostly stays in her room. She has passed through high school mostly choosing to miss out on the meaningless social interactions of her peers, after all they are all so shallow. Then she chooses to spend her senior summer with her father, his new younger wife, and their new baby at their home near the beach. She learns you can care about your jeans and your shoes and know about finance and literature. We are all more than we seem to be. She also with the help of a love interest starts working through a bucket list of high school experiences she missed out on. Of course there is a boy. He is wounded to the soul and they heal each other. Definitely YA in style but not in sex or language.

Uglies by Scott Westerfield

If you could be beautiful of course you would want to be, right. Well what if being beautiful also meant having a ‘go along get along’ change being put into your brain, that wouldn’t be too bad would it. The author seamlessly introduces us to a world where from the time at twelve when you start to turn ugly until sixteen you live in a dorm for uglies where you are schooled and psychologically prepped for the operation that will make you pretty and allow you to move to New Pretty Town where mostly you just party. Shay doesn’t want to turn pretty and she has found a place to run away to. She convinces Tally of the same but before Tally can go she is caught by the Special Circumstances team who want her to lead them to the camp of all the runaways. Themes include what is friendship, what is betrayal, and do we like who we are. There are four books in this series.

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