I believe that young adults read to escape. At least, that is why I did when I was young. I read things like Crank and Impulse, books about drug use and crazy parties. I think it was because my life was so mundane, so seemingly boring. I think it can be very dangerous for children to be able to get a hold of those books at a very young age, so I also recommend screening the books your child or YA is reading first so that you can further decide if this is a must read or if it is simply not needed to be read at a young age.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian would have been a very interesting book for me as a young adult. I think that learning about the real side of Native Americans and their lives on reservations from an early age would have been, and still is very helpful for me and honestly everyone on this planet. Perhaps with these tools being accessed at a young age, the Dakota Pipeline would not be such a hot topic of controversy. Implanting sympathy is one of the best things that you can do for YA students in my opinion. in All the books I read had happy endings, and when I personally read, I read for the creative and most of the time unrealistic blissful endings. Do most books have that climax or turning point where something does not go as planned, or a tragic event? Yes, but most come full circle leaving the reader at least content if not elated with how it ended. That has clearly not been the case for the last two novels we have read in class.
I related to the characters in this story in a different way than most of the other blog posts I am reading about. When I was very young my brother left our public school to go to a private school, and so I somehow understand both sides of Junior’s story. As the proud sister of a very smart child, and the jealous sister who stayed behind in public school, while my brother was sent to a better, more expensive school. I always wondered why my parents did that, and through reading this book I have been able to come to more comfortable terms with it than ever before.I think that it was a matter of age,. I think that it was a matter of environment. I was older. I had a friend group. I was adjusted and happy and fine. My brother, on the other hand, was a loner, always bored, always depressed, and by pushing him out of his element, he flourished. It is not to say that I am not a very intelligent and well-read person, but I believe the point that I am trying to make is that we are all products of our environments and that some environments suit one person better than another. Does anyone else have a similar story?
I think that the idea of “writing in blood”, or “to save our lives” is very appropriate in Alexie’s novel. As I stated above, without these stories, children don’t get a chance to peer into an Indian reservation. And as I also stated above, that is seriously SO important. It gives perspective. It gives sympathy. When given the opportunity to explore books about people that you know nothing about, it gives the reader a chance to destroy ideas of bigotry and racism and other forms of hate in the world. I also believe that writing specifically about these things is a good thing. Yes, Native Americans should be included in all stories. But for the sake of TEACHING about the reality of things, I also think that these books that are exclusive to one culture and one lifestyle and very valuable and should continue to be pushed on humans to read.
ETC #5-“How Novels Speak against Each Other“-Morris
I ‘m reflecting on the reading of the novel Monster and how the events took place.
Meyers had the flashbacking in this novel going back to streets conversations and then in the prison cell. I see this concept difficult for the reader of the 9th Grade class in the article by “Groenke & Youngquist” because they could not follow the narrative. The research also mentioned that the teens were good at “Multimodal, such that linguistic modes of meaning interface with visuals, audio, gestural and spatial patterns of meaning” and “screen is the dominate form of communication” The relief I found was that this age group still needs their English teacher to help them “form and navigate the postmodern fiction”. In novels I read I will sometimes re read the same page over for further understanding, but as I want to work at getting more students to read I hope that English teachers are not just being the teacher who uses all the visual devices and are still requiring a print book. It’s one thing I’ m overtaken by is the less reading in the classrooms in the Public school. Teachers are allowing the multi-devices on claiming the students can concentrate more with music on. I’ m not the one measuring the score on this but feel it would be an interesting area to work in education. As I look and see the different young adult novels that can strike the interest I can understand the writer Woodson, “Who can tell my story” but the story will be listened too and read if it has the same qualities that are interfaced with visuals, audio and spatial patterns in it.
I believe that Myers resists and challenges perceptions of voice and authenticity the most when Steve takes the stand in his trial for murder. I was expecting Steve to make an attempt to somehow convince the jury that he was innocent and a good kid, and I was nervous for him too. But he simply answered the questions and that was it. I think the is meant to represent the fact that, facts are facts. We can ignore them if we want, but it doesn’t change them. We can make a big show about our innocence, or we can be innocent. However, I think many readers have questions about Steve’s innocence because of how he is treated by O’brien at the end of the book. When he is found not guilty he goes to give her a hug and she quickly gets up and walks out. It was just a job to her, and even though she was defending him she didn’t really believe he was innocent.
Binyavanga Wainaina writes, in How to Write about Africa, “taboo subjects: ordinary domestic scenes, love between Africans, references to African writers or intellectuals, etc” (1992). She uses satire in this piece to poke fun at the way Africans are portrayed by white people. This traditional portrayal perpetuates negative stereotypes about Africans and African-Americans. It does not depict them as regular people and it intentionally positions them as the “other.” Wainaina is challenging perceptions of voice by writing this piece to begin with. It’s very bold to blatantly point out the many ways in which you and the people from your culture are oppressed and how your oppressors only tell one story of who you are.
There are so many ways that literature is conveyed to the reader. Literature can be in the form of a novel, poetry, or even screen play. In the years of high school I feel that we are introduced to novels, poetry, journal entries, and writing papers, but unless you are going to get into Drama class, it’s hard to interpret screen plays. We all love to go to the movies and watch movies. Its a way for people to pass the time and a means of escape out of their every day lives for many people. But do we really understand what goes on behind the scenes to make a movie?
When I started reading, “Monster” by Walter Dean Myers, I admit it was a little tough for me to get into in the beginning. I asked my boyfriend, “It’s going to be tough getting through this book because it’s written as a screen play.” He responded, “Then since there are shorter paragraphs and not as many words as a novel, it should be an easy read.” I just stared at him surprised by his answer. Ultimately because he never reads! I felt like being an antagonist and saying, “So you read many screen plays, huh?” But decided to let it go.
In the article, “Are We Post-Modern Yet?” Is a very good question. My answer is, “Yes! We could be!” I am responding this way because I feel that what you learn all has to do with your experiences as a reader. If you grow up with parents that do not read at all and don’t even encourage reading, it may be difficult for you to pick up a book and appreciate literature. I say the word appreciate because when you are trying to interpret a book what you are going to get out of it, it’s more beneficial to the reader if you understand what to look for in a book. Just as the article states, we as educators or whatever profession you are going into regarding literature, need to help students and young adults be able to pull key information out of a story. This goes for no matter what the type of literature it is or what genre it is. It was interesting to me how the teacher asked the students before reading “Monster”, if they would watch and episode of “Cold Case” to interpret how the show cuts back and forth to flashbacks and present day. Students and adolescents can learn how to take away different characters, the setting, the plot, narratives, foreshadowing, and flashbacks, and so on. Teachers need to be able to scaffold more for the readers to grab a keen sense of understanding and appreciation for what literature they intend to digest.
Upon reading Sherman Alexie’s Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, I was left feeling sad yet educated. These two terms together may seem strange: sad and educated. Though, they make complete sense. Reading about Alexie’s (or Junior’s) harsh and devastating experiences as a teenager was hard. It made me empathize with him and every other kid who has ever dealt with the same things that Junior did. It made me sad more than anything because I know that it is hard growing up in a world where people look at you as if you do not belong. As an Asian American, I understand Junior’s experiences, and I also know that there are numerous struggles that many privileged children may not ever understand. But that is also why I say that I feel educated after reading Alexie’s book. Even as a twenty-something, I learned a great deal about the struggles of a Native American that I did not know before. I stepped into the world of a poor Native American family. I journeyed through the pain and exhaustion of an ill teenager. I was also able to mentally visualize the courage and triumphs that Junior experienced in the midst of a very hard life. Alexie touched on stereotypes and misconceptions about Native Americans, which shifted my perspective on Native Americans as a whole. I no longer believe those things, and I feel a sense of responsibility to correct those who do not know the truth about Native Americans. This is how I’ve been educated.
When Alexie says that the best books are “written in blood” and that he is “writing to save lives,” I truly believe he means that. Alexie says that he is not writing to protect kids from what they’ve already experienced. Instead, he writes to help the hurt and the beaten-down to cope. He writes his real, deep struggles into a relatable character who adolescents today can see themselves in. He writes to save lives in this way. If Junior could fight hard to claim his place in an unrelenting society, so can everyone else. His message isn’t one that boasts in knowing everything, but it’s one that boasts in the humblest understanding. And that is perhaps the most important thing that anyone can give to someone else – the feeling of being understood.
I was very struck by Woodson’s article “Who Can Tell My Story”. I think that it is a much more productive method of explanation for authors than Wainaina’s “How To Write About Africa” (Wainaina, 1992). That is not to say that the criticism of cultural appropriation, and single story outsider narration is not necessary or correct. It is. But it does not provide an answer. Woodson tells us that is alright to tell a story that is not your own, as long as you are part of the story (Woodson, 1998). Woodson tell us that, “While I have never been Jewish, I have always been a girl. While I have never lived on the Upper West Side, I have lived for a long time in New York. While I have never been a black male, I’ve always been black. But most of all, like the characters in my story, I have felt a sense of powerlessness in my lifetime. And this is the room into which I can walk and join them.”(Woodson, 1998). She gives the writer a place to connect a truth, to the story that thy feel they must tell.
In my previous post I discussed the kaleidoscope through which we view the world. Each of us may see a different dominant colour, a different pattern, but behind that lens the truth is the same truth. Woodson tells us much the same thing. In Monster we see the struggle of Steve Harmon to define himself as the subject of the lens of others. He shows us the guilty robber, the monster that his attorney sees, the person that his parent’s believed in; and in one very notable image on page 198, how he feels about himself, face blurred, identity confused (Myers, 1999). We see in that one image the summation of Steve’s story. Who gets to tell Steve’ story? The person representing him? Or Steve? His parents? Or Steve? We should be asking these questions of our readers too. Who gets to tell their story? When we encounter our young adults readers, or consider them academically, who are we allowing to tell their story? Psychologists and brain experts who say that they can’t make decisions because their *insert medical term here* isn’t fully developed? Their parents who will always see them as a child in need of protection?
Myers, W. D. (1999). Monster. New York: Harper Collins.
Wainaina, B. (1992). How to Write About Africa. Granta.
Woodson, J. (1998, January 3). Who Can Tell My Story. Retrieved from The Horn Book: http://www.hbook.com/1998/01/authors-illustrators/who-can-tell-my-story/#_
Why wouldn’t the best YA books be written in blood? YA books should be an accurate reflection of a young person’s life, both outside and inside. Be thankful, you are privy to hearing what is inside. I have never understood the idea of censoring young people from seeing and learning things as if ‘out of sight and out of mind’ would protect them. Also, if they have already experienced trauma, what would be the point of pretending that it didn’t happen?
True Diary was especially interesting to me because the issues Junior dealt with are the issues many people of color have to face. Do I remain loyal to ‘my people’ and ignore my wants, needs, and dreams? Will people think I have betrayed my people if I do X,Y, or Z? On the other hand, they are the usual prejudices and assumptions from whites. How do I respond to the insults, slights, and microaggressions?
For example, Junior struggles with going to Readon where he will have better opportunities. However, many in his community reject him as being red on the outside and white on the inside. Many people of color, especially if they are biracial, are accused of wanting to be white, acting white, or betraying one race over the other. Rowdy’s response to Junior wasn’t that surprising. Next, Junior gets a white girlfriend. This is the ultimate betrayal. Does she like him because he is a new flavor?Does he like her because she is a trophy or a signal that he has ‘made it’ and become acceptable to whites? He’s one of the ‘good, safe’ ones. Look no further than the athletes that are vilified (rightly or wrongly, your opinion) for dropping the black girlfriend and getting a ‘Becky’. Is it a real relationship? Is this just to fit in and the ultimate signal that you have achieved the white ideal.
I have my thoughts. However, my mother is white, my father is black, and I have been criticized for dating white, marrying white, dating black, and marrying black. I have seen and heard a wide variety of ideas from men sincerely liking me to wanting sincerely to fetishize a woman of color.
What bothered me the most about Junior’s story is that he seemed to idolized his white school as his saviors. They were understanding. They were nice. They cared.
Sorry. That isn’t everyone’s experience. However, this is a YA novel and maybe if Junior is allowed to grow up, get dumped by his blonde girlfriend, kicked in the teeth by racism a few times, and stung by the realization that they see you as you and you will never be them, and that is okay. His idolization may be tempered.
I would comment they are written like this because they are more interesting and more appealing to the reader. What I think the writer Alexis is trying to convey is that circumstances of someone’s death or poverty is why we are going to read these stories and that it is a way for us to know of some of the misfortunate things that happen in poor reservation lifestyle. We are not just going to seek out a story of the poor Indians reservation and hard life they live until we hear that a death was involved.
I may be wrong in the understanding of this. Correct me if I’m wrong. One thing is I am a very much sympathetic to sad parts of our history in any of the situations that have happened, the writer Alexie in my opinion is really helping to express the situation of the circumstances of being a poor Indian and pursuing your dreams you have to overcome these kind of situations. But I don’t know if this is all true, there are so many ways this country has helped Indians to improve their life. This book is showing that abuse of alcohol runs high in this community but this same thing can happen in any high unemployed areas of people. If you want to let the alcohol drive your population down it can do damage, but if you offer the services to help people get free from this they can change their lives, just like it was written about the many times Junior had to show the rez that he was going to go to a better school and not let anything stand in his way. I consider the tensions that may have been written about and as the universal history of our country like we took the Indians land from them ( a popular comment by many), but at some point we have to just move forward. All of us were not around when this history was made, we may not like it but maybe if we looked at it with our eyes of the county being formed and things were not all done maybe in the best ways. As a final comment I lived in Florida for six months a year or so ago and loved it; I read many history books on the Florida history, culture and read stories of the Indians and I just had tears in my eyes reading about this kind of history.
What I think it means when we take Alexie’s belief that he is “writing to save our lives” is that he is writing to put a voice there for children who have experienced or is experiencing demons in their lives. Like he said he is giving readers words or a story to be able to fight the monsters. I do agree that the best YA books are written in blood because those are the books that are most relatable to many adolescents in this day in age. Books written once blood could be a gateway or scapegoat for many children who don’t know how to deal with life changing scenarios. Books like this could be their hope or something to let them know that they are not the only ones in life that this is happening to and that they are not alone. Also that they do not have to deal with it alone either. I don’t think that these books should be looked down upon because they help many children who are coming of age or just need direction. In Alexie’s article he expressed that he did not know what to say to a teen who was from a well privileged background. He could not understand what he could possibly be going through because he was from wealth. I believe that every teenager suffers from some sort of expectation that they have to live up to, no matter their background. The moment that a teenager begins to feel like they are losing themselves to please others, or just simply losing their identity is enough to suffer from and be unhappy. It is enough to go through a depressing time in their life and if they can’t express that or escape it, they suffocate. Books written in blood allow for them to do that, to relate. Alexie’s book is different from Winger because Ryan Dean came from a wealthy background and Junior came from a poor Indian reserve. The problems that Ryan Dean dealt with were minor in comparison to what junior dealt with. They are similar in the retrospect that all teens face problems in their adolescent life, especially about fitting in or wanting to feel included.
Why do young adults read? Do they read to just read, do they read because they have to, do they read to escape, do they read to fantasize about their own life, or do they read to connect to the tragic real life situations the character is experiencing in the book? I only question this because as I recall, I never read books like Winger or The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian as a young adult. All the books I read had happy endings, and when I personally read, I read for the creative and most of the time unrealistic blissful endings. Do most books have that climax or turning point where something does not go as planned, or a tragic event? Yes, but most come full circle leaving the reader at least content if not elated with how it ended. That has clearly not been the case for the last two novels we have read in class.
Which is why I personally struggled with this week’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian where just at the start of the book, Junior shared how his family dog died. It was clear right from the beginning that this was not one of those books with the main character leading towards that happy ending. This is why I have literally not finished the last ten pages of the novel for the past few days. I am a reader who wants that happy ending, and my fear is that Junior will not receive that, especially considering all the traumatic life events he has already endured. Aside from my personal struggles this week as a reader, this week’s novel does not just correlate with the author “writing in blood” but what the author of last week’s blog stated, about authors having to be creative to catch the young adults attention while reading.
As stated in this week’s article, “I write to give them weapons—in the form of words and ideas—that will help them fight their monsters. I write in blood because I remember what it felt like to bleed,” I believe these monsters surround everyone, those not even living in poverty. So these weapons of words to me are comfort for others, relaying the message that you’re not alone in the many aspects of your life and that it can get better and you can survive! Which is why I questioned at the beginning, why exactly do young adults read? The young adults today are surrounded with traumatic events, or life situations that seem impossible to overcome. This is why authors like Sherman Alexie share their personal struggles so that the young adult can relate instead of fantasize about what their life could be like, instead of dealing with their reality of poverty, drug or alcohol addiction, and eating disorders. My interests as a reader does not matter, what does matter is understanding these books and utilizing them for our young adults to connect with, so that they understand they are not alone in dealing with the struggles of their life. These books give young adults an outlet to deal with topics that are not always “talked” about in homes or even within school.