Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Spiegelman, A. (1991). The complete maus. New York, NY: Pantheon Books.

296 pp. (illus.)

Winner of The Pulitzer Prize
(yeah, that's all. . . )

Here's what Miss Martha says about THE COMPLETE MAUS . . .

This is Art Spiegelman's biography of his father, Vladek Spiegelman, a survivor of Nazi occupied Poland, the death camp at Auschwitz, and the march back to Germany. This printing of the book includes both MAUS I and MAUS II, which were originally (and are still available as) two separately published works, along with other material that was previously printed in RAW, the comic magazine created by Art Spiegelman. The biography is interspersed with autobiographical material from the author, about his writing process, his relationship with his father, his marriage, and more. The entire biography/autobiography is illustrated. The metaphor for Jews v. Nazis is mice v. cats. Poles (loyal and dis-) are portrayed as pigs. Dogs represent friendly folk of various persuasions.

This book contains disturbing scenes of . . . well. . . the Holocaust.

In the third grade, I took an eight week class called "Jewish Persecution." Yes, you read that correctly. I said 3rd grade. As most of you know by now, my educational background is nothing if not eclectic. I watched film reels from POW camps, I made a Jewish armband and had to wear it around school with my 14 classmates. We were ostracized and ignored by everyone else in the school for the whole day we wore our armbands. I had to move a 5 lb. pile of coffee grounds from one side of the classroom to another, with only a teaspoon as a tool. I read Anne Frank, and had to take on the persona of a Jew hiding in an attic; I wrote in this persona every day for six weeks. I watched portions of documentaries in which former Nazis described what their lives had become (ruins) from taking part in anti-semitic activities, and in which Jews described what their families had become (fractions or zeroes) at the hands of the Nazis and Nazi sympathizers. Nobody won. Everyone lost. People were destroyed by the hatred and the violence and the fear and the intimidation. . .

And in 7th grade, I switched schools and, in meeting a new group of schoolchildren, learned that anti-semitism was alive and well in the U.S.A. I was shocked. Sick. How could we know what we do about the Nazis? The death camps? The effects on both criminals and victims? AND STILL PRACTICE RACISM???!!! It took me awhile to learn that very few of my schoolmates knew much, if anything, about Dachau or Auschwitz or, or, or. . .

It is vitally important that we teach our children NOT to hate. It seems to me that we, as a nation, shy away on a daily basis from showing news about the Sudan, about Bosnia, about POW camps, displaced person camps . . . horrors that are going on AT THIS MOMENT. If I want to have a better idea of what's going on, I'm more likely to find out through the BBC than any American source. Ignorance isn't the answer.

MAUS is an outstanding (Pulitzer prize-winning) way to teach history, tolerance, and humanity. It is rich and compelling. Art Spiegelman has honored every moment suffered by every Holocaust survivor by spending YEARS of his life transcribing HOURS of interviews with his father and illustrating them in breathtaking metaphor.

If you have not picked up this book, please treat yourself. There is no better book for introducing this portion of history to young people. There is no better book for raising issues of ignorance, racism, hunger, oppression, and genocide that people are facing in our world today.

At first blush, this book appears to be a heavy, heavy read. Do not be discouraged. Art Spiegelman balances his father's biography and the history of the Holocaust with autobiographical material beautifully and seamlessly. The reader is able to breathe and reflect at regular intervals during the course of the book. We do not spend every moment in a death camp. We also celebrate life, it's small victories, the love of a family and extended community, and a sense of triumph that we are here, now, and able to talk about the past at all.

While I realize that I more than doubled up by reading the entire collected MAUS work, I didn't feel I had a choice. How could I possibly read only MAUS I, and not know how Vladek Spiegelman survived to tell his story to his son? Believe me, it was worth the time invested.

So what age group? Appropriate for class? Well, obviously I'm probably not the right person to ask. Clearly I think that we need to pro-actively teach multi-culturalism in early elementary classrooms. "Kids, here's what it means to be Muslim. . . Jewish. . . Buddhist. . . Fundamentalist Christian. . . African-American. . . Samoan. . . Hindi. . . Inuit. . . " and on and on and on. Not everyone agrees with me. I get a lot of, "Martha, 8-9 year olds? It's too much, too early, too quick, too soon." I'm sure those kids carrying guns in Sierra Leone felt the same way.

Is it ever too early to teach tolerance, appreciation and understanding? Seems like I see a whole lotta "Oops. . . too late to teach it now" when I see how kids treat each other in jr. high and high school. But, as always, I welcome other points of view.

I'd teach this as early as anyone would let me.
Most people would wait for junior high, and tie it in with 8th grade US History. As Vladek Spiegelman would say, "Ech! Feh!"


. . . and that's what Miss Martha says.

The Lightning Thief: Book One of Percy Jackson & The Olympians

Riordan, R. (2005). The lightning thief. New York, NY: Hyperion Books for Children.

375 pp. (in case you were wondering; there's no indication in APA Style where I should list the # of pages. WT-?)

Anyhoo. . .

New York Times Notable Book of 2005
A Child Magazine Best Book of the Year
A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
$7.99 US/$10.99 CAN

Here's what Miss Martha says about The Lightning Thief . . .

(Thanks Katy Moore! I loved this book.)

Percy Jackson has almost wrapped his 6th grade school year at (yet another) boarding school, when a series of mishaps causes his expulsion (something he's experiencing every year of his career as a student thus far.) But, before leaving Yancy Academy, Percy overhears his best friend and his favorite teacher speaking in mysterious terms about Percy's fate. . . Lo and Behold, Percy, as it turns out, is not a regular kid. There are reasons why he's always had a hard time fitting in, paying attention in class, and found himself in strange and awkward situations involving unexplained explosions, floods, disappearances and more. He's a demi-god; a son of either a Greek god or goddess. And his life is about to get pretty interesting. . . . Percy goes to live at camp Half-Blood with other demi-gods (also called heroes) where he learns about his parents, his special abilities, and his mission: to retrieve Zeus' stolen lightning bolt. Percy goes on a fun-filled, action-packed adventure to find the missing bolt and meets a variety of interesting monsters, friends and foes along the way.

I must begin with a little self-share here: sometimes people remark that I use "big" vocabulary words in my everyday speech. I don't even notice that I do this, but I believe these people when they say that I do. I am not one to DELIBERATELY pepper my language with "five dollar words," but I happen to read a lot, and digest and regurgitate vocab from a variety of sources. SO. . . I REALLY appreciate the fact that author Rick Riordan blithely uses fabulous vocab in this book. I started circling words that I would want my students to notice and learn, and by page 83, I had a list of more than 30! Now, lest you think this means the book is made too dense or snooty because of vocabulary, let me reassure you that is not the case. Riordan's use of GREAT words is casual, his contexts are almost always crystal clear, and he deftly helps the young reader figure out what those words (like "dais" and "solstice" and "caduceus") mean. I definitely want to teach this book. Possibly as a whole class read for 6th or 7th grade. And one juicy activity is going to be a vocabulary scavenger hunt.

The characters in the story are fun, fun, fun! We have a great mix of personality types among the young people. Noone is all-good or all-bad. There are monsters, gods, goddesses, gnomes, and the like. There are normal human beings who are unaware of the magical world occupying the Earth (always a fun twist) and sympathetic and unsympathetic parental unit-types. There are strong and weak males and females. There are expected and unexpected alliances.

If you liked The Hobbit (one of my faves) you'll like this book.
If you liked The Phantom Tollbooth, you'll like this book.
If you liked Harry Potter, you'll like this book.
If you liked studying mythology (which I did) you'll like this book.
If you like Greek/Roman history, you'll like it.

There are numerous ways to use this book. It would be great for a whole class, lit circles, free choice, read aloud (although it's too long to read the whole thing, each chapter is almost like a complete "episode" in itself and could be a great mini-story to read to students) or summer reading assignment.

I haven't met any boys or girls that come to mind who don't appreciate a "kid goes off in the big scary world with his friends to accomplish the impossible" story. This is one of those. And, along the way, Riordan teaches a TON of terminology, history, mythology, and . . . vocabulary.

DANGERS: Hmm. IF you were teaching in a religiously conservative school (district) and parents/administrators jumped to conclusions, you could possibly find yourself in a Golden Compass-type quagmire. Examples: gods/goddesses vs. God, characters go to the Underworld, the author puts forth philosophies about what happens to us when we die, there are spirits all around us, we see the walking Undead . . . you get the picture. WHY, I wonder, do we have to worry about these things?!!! Alas, we do. And forewarned is forearmed.

I really enjoyed reading this book, in a way that I haven't enjoyed a book for a long long time. I was taken on an adventure, I got to see some monsters, I saw some familiar faces (even one with a reptilian perm!) and I met some interesting but fallible characters.

AND, most importantly, I realized that, if I teach this book, I will have an excuse to air video clips from CLASH OF THE TITANS. Harry Hamlin in a loincloth anyone?

I plan to read the rest of the series. I'll blog about it.

Yep. Thumbs skyward. Read on, people.

. . . and that's what Miss Martha says.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A General Comment from Miss Martha


First of all, thanks to everyone who's responding to my blog! Finding something new every time I log on to my blog is so cool, and it reminds me of that juicy anticipation I used to feel when someone would hand me my yearbook after signing it, and I couldn't wait to sequester myself to see what they'd written . . . okay, so here's my comment:

This evening, I read Elizabeth's blog on SMASHED. It is possible that Elizabeth's Radar of Loathing registered higher in response to this book than my own Radar of Loathing registered in response to SPEAK. All that is to say: I'm pretty sure that I have a lot more respect for Laurie Halse Anderson's writing craft at least (and, in this case, Elizabeth has a point. Anderson is a much better writer.) BUT, it was very very interesting to read Elizabeth's (as always) insightful comments. And so I responded to her blog. And I noticed that Deanna responded to Elizabeth's blog. THEN, COOL COOL COOL, I returned to MY blog, and noticed that Deanna responded to MY review of SMASHED, too! What an awesome dialogue. I really lurve this blogging thing. And, here's what I said to Deanna:

Deanna -
Thank you for responding to my blog, too. I read Elizabeth's blog earlier this evening, and posted a response as well. It seems to me that, regardless of the title or author, our conversations in class and on-line always come back to: Do we want to open a Pandora's box in our English/Language Arts classroom? And if we do, then how are we going to justify that choice to our administrators and the greater learning community at large? What are some of the reactions we should anticipate from our students' reading of a controversial book? Can we name specific strategies that we will employ as teachers when we are faced with (anticipated and unanticipated) dramatic reactions from students and our learning community at large? These are interesting, challenging, exciting questions. I continue to thoroughly enjoy our spicy debates!! -- Miss Martha

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

LOVE THAT DOG: a novel in verse by Sharon Creech

Creech, Sharon. LOVE THAT DOG. New York: Harper Collins, 2001, 86 pp.

Creech is a Newberry Award-winning author. This book has the following endorsements:
Carnegie Medal commended book
New York Public Library's "One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing"
Book Sense 76 Bestseller
ALA Notable Book
School Library Journal Best Book
Publishers Weekly Best Book
Christopher Medal winner

Here's what Miss Martha says about LOVE THAT DOG . . .

Jack is a (12?) year old boy in Miss Stretchberry's class who is struggling with his assignments to write poetry. As his teacher introduces him to Frost, Williams, and other great poets, Jack responds with writings of his own that turn out to be (oh no!) poetry in themselves. Jack's writing assignments gradually reveal some very personal information about his life, and his yellow dog, Sky. Creech takes us on a verse-driven journey through Jack's awakening as a writer and poet, and turns us on to a number of poems that we might like to read, too, suggesting that we, as readers, might have some poetry of our own to write. Along the way, Jack develops a great admiration for Walter Dean Myers and . . . wait, you've gotta read the book to find out!

This is it! This is the companion to HEARTBEAT. No, wait, I want the girls to read this one, too. Augh. Actually EVERYONE should read this book. Wait, there's another one of my gross generalizations. . . . okay. . . .

This book is a must-read for anyone who's ever loved a pet.
This book is a must-read for anyone who ever said they couldn't write.
This book is a must-read for anyone who's written, but has now stopped writing.
This book is a must-read for anyone complaining of "writer's block."

This book confirms my (still relatively new) adoration for Walter Dean Myers.

Jack's voice is incredibly real throughout the book. Creech's language is expertly chosen, and I'm reminded of writers who talk about "removing all the extra words" because this is what I think they were all going for. There are no extra words. Jack's personality and prose drew me in immediately because I felt emotionally safe and intellectually comfortable. Then, towards the end, when more of Jack's story was revealed, I found myself deeply touched. I had kept my heart and mind completely open to him, never disconnecting from the text a single time.

I love this book. I love it. I lurve it. I want every boy who says that poems are for ninnys and sissys and girlie girls to read this book and then look me in the eye and show me that they aren't a little red-eyed or sniffly.

We are all poets. We just need the Miss Stretchberrys of the world to keep making us write, write, write. We'll get there. Here's to the next generation of Stretchberrys and Jacks!

Highly (duh!) Recommended. Go on and getchyou some Creech. I'm gettin s'more. For sure.

. . . and that's what Miss Martha says.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

House on Mango Street, a novel in vignettes by Sandra Cisneros

Cisneros, Sandra. The House on Mango Street. New York, Random House, 1984, 110 pp.

Awards: American Book Award (Before Columbus Foundation) 1985.

Genre: Coming of age story, Latina experiences, Chicago life/neighborhoods, girls' issues, short stories, verse, female narrations

Here's what Miss Martha Says about The House on Mango Street ...

Adolescent Esperanza ("Hope") Cordero introduces herself and the tenants of her new neighborhood over the course of this book. She reveals the neighborhood secrets, dangers, heroes and villains. Although Esperanza is happy to have moved to a house, after living in a series of slum-like apartments, she is disappointed with the cramped, unattractive conditions of the house on Mango Street. She wants to divest herself of the house, the neighborhood and everything that seems to tell her that, as a Latina girl in a working class family, she is destined to live out her days in a Mango street neighborhood by that or any other name. Esperanza is a dreamer, and at times she shares her fanciful ideas about people, places and things. But she is also a pragmatist, and holds back very little when observing the dangerous actions of other girls in the neighborhood. Esperanza faces many tough times during her first year on Mango street. She confronts violence, crime, rape, and the death of a child, to name a handful. Ultimately, Esperanza's strength of conviction leads us to believe that she will rise above her circumstances and achieve whatever goals she sets for herself.

I loved this book. I loved this little girl, and all of the strange and wonderful characters who people her life. It is difficult to believe that I could not drive to this neighborhood right now and see the children playing in the street, the shopkeeper sweeping the walk, and the teenage shut-in sneaking a smoke out her second story bedroom window. Alas, it's just fiction. But what wonderful fiction it is.

Sandra Cisneros deftly uses everyday language (mostly English with a little Spanish) but elevates it at times to a mystical level by infusing her words with the imaginative whims and uncertainties of an adolescent girl. I am grateful that she chose to tell Esperanza's story in a series of short stories, vignettes and free verse poems, because the material is so heavy at times that I think I would have had a very difficult time coping with all of it if the book had been a more traditional novel (for that matter, it probably would have been over 500 pp long!) Because Cisnero's short writings give us just a glance of a leg, a bruise, an emotion or a location, we are forced to put the remainder of the puzzle together in our own minds. In addition to this style pixillating difficult scenes (such as those of child abuse or rape) it immediately pulls us into the story and we become lost in Esperanza's world. Without actively responding and engaging to the words by finishing out the images in our own minds, we wouldn't be able to comprehend what we are reading.

There is enormous potential here for classroom lesson plans. I can see this book as a read aloud -- the teacher could pick and choose from Esperanza's many observations about people and life. There could be a recurring introduction of this book into the classroom, as a bridge to other writings on a variety of themes and topics. Esperanza could become a member of the class, so to speak, her observations inspiring students to write reflections on their own houses, neighborhoods and community members.

It is particularly exciting to me that Esperanza is a Latina adolescent. She is a great person and a terrific role model for both girls and boys. Her cultural heritage is a bonus because, when we listen to her ideas and dreams, she sounds just like the rest of us. Her insides are similar to those of many many adolescents. In our communities in NWA, it is important for us to build bridges of understanding and shared experience between people of different cultures. The House on Mango Street can help do just that. And once we realize how much we have in common with Esperanza, we can respectfully learn more about her cultural heritage. (!)

Age appropriateness? Depending on the segments you choose to share, you could start as early as 5th grade with this one. The more mature topics would be appropriate for a high school classroom up to 12th grade. This is one of those tricky books to pigeonhole because of its breadth and depth. If it is not assigned as take-home reading, its use would be up to the discretion of the teacher, so age-appropriate material could be easily selected.

This was a real gem. If you're in need of a Latina heroine, Esperanza's your girl.

And that's what Miss Martha says.

HEAT, a novel by Mike Lupica

Lupica, Mike. HEAT. New York: Puffin by Penguin Group, 2006, 220 pp.

Awards: None (yet) but this is a #1 New York Times bestseller, and that's not too shabby. Mike Lupica is an accomplished author with many titles under his belt. And, uh, that Carl Hiassen guy likes this book a lot.

Genre: Cuban Americans/adolescents, baseball, the Bronx, growing up in the city, surviving the death of a parent, non-traditional families, boys & girls athletes

Here's what Miss Martha says about HEAT . . .

First of all, I cheated. . . I cheated because, although I hadn't already read this book, I've already read and re-read all of Mike Lupica's books for us "grown-up" types. (Wild Pitch is my fave, in case anyone cares.) So I had a pretty good idea that I'd love this book. And I did. Confession over, let's move on.

Michael Arroyo is a 12-year old boy growing up in the Bronx, and he's got something every boy (and man, for that matter) would love to have -- an ace pitching arm that's already being compared to that of legendary Sandy Koufax. He has Manny, his best friend, confidant and catcher, and he's met the girl of his dreams, a beautiful girl named Ellie, who also has an amazing arm. But, beneath Michael's ducky surface is the rest of his life, and he's paddling like crazy to stay afloat. He and his brother Carlos are on their own after their father passed away. They are illegals who came over on a boat from Cuba. They are constantly afraid of being found out by DHS, and they are barely keeping the electricity on and Oreos stocked in the pantry. The pitcher's mound is the one place Michael feels completely confident and comfortable. But he's thrown off the mound, too, when a rival team's coach challenges whether Michael is really 12-years old, or if he's too old to play in the Little League anymore. Without proper paperwork to prove who he is and when he was born, Michael may not only get permanently ousted from the League, he could also face much more dire consequences . . .

If you've Wild Pitch by Mike Lupica, all you need to do is take those characters and dial them back 20-25 years. We have a lot of the same stuff here -- best friends pitcher and catcher, fabulous strong woman character, nail-biting play-by-plays, and lots of humor to break up the tension. Having said that, I didn't care! I still loved it. Keep in mind that I am a total sucker for baseball stories, so I am definitely jaded.

Mike Lupica does a terrific job creating memorable and realistic adolescent characters. At times, the repartee between the characters feels a little forced, but I think this may be due to the fact that Lupica is more accustomed to writing about and for older readers (and also could be because he needs an editor who spends more time listening to the word choice and rhythms of city street kids . . . ) But, I have no doubt that as he continues to write for adolescents (and he already has -- a book called Travel Team that allegedly rocks) he will loosen up a bit and stop being so self-conscious with the teenspeak. False dialogue plucks at my ears because I'm a playwright and a Theatre person; so, I hear the words in my head as I read them. And sometimes these just border a bit on the corny.

But here's what's not so corny. This book does a tremendous job of addressing the question: "What is family?" in a time when the traditional nuclear family is largely a thing of the past. Michael and his brother Carlos have a sprawling if untraditional family made up of (among other people) a Super, a neighbor, a coach, friends' benevolent mothers, and eventually, a SURPRISE friend (not telling you -- you gotta read the book.) If I were an immigrant kid or someone being raised by people other than a traditional mom and dad, I would stand up and cheer several times throughout this book.

Do you remember the old-fashioned Disney movies, when our hero gets in a pretzel and then crazy things happen, and then everything ends up being okay? That's what HEAT is like. But it feels authentic when it's happening. And you aren't sure if they're going to win the big game, escape the DHS officials, keep the electricity on, end up in juvvie . . . and you hang on until the end, through each suspenseful inning to find out if those Arroyo boys are going to make it.

This book would be a terrific free choice book for a reader's group. I can easily see a table of 5th or 6th grade boys chatting it up about Michael, baseball, and (whether they intended to or not) what it means to be a good friend and family member. Girls would love this book, too. Ellie is a strong character and a darn fine athlete. And, it turns out . . . oops. Read the book.

The play-by-plays of the baseball games could be a lot of fun for a read-aloud in class. Teacher and/or (willing) kids could take on the persona of a game announcer. Doesn't that sound fun?

Great issues. Great characters. Suspense. Summer. Baseball. What else do you want?

Somebody tell Stephanie Stidham that her reluctant reader will love this book if he likes baseball at all.

Read it, people. It's fun. And it has a great ending.

And that's what Miss Martha Says .

Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood by Koren Zailkas

Zailckas, Koren. Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood. NEW YORK: Penguin, 2005, 339 pp.

Awards: None. This book has been favorably and extensively reviewed by those nice folks at The New York Times Book Review, as well as The Los Angeles Times Book Review, Anderson Cooper on CNN, Entertainment Weekly, and enjoys a starred review at Publishers Weekly . . .

Genre: Autobiography (non-fiction), teen drinking, drug/alcohol abuse, coming of age, women's issues, alcoholism.

Here's what Miss Martha says about Smashed . . .

Koren Zailckas (ZELL-Kiss) took her first drink of alcohol while sitting on the kitchen floor with her fellow 14-year old ne'er-do-well cronie, Natalie. Immediately, she fell in love and lust. Alcohol would continue to outshine every teen idol, boyfriend, or natural high for the next 9 years of her life. Zailckas chronicles her tumultuous affair with alcohol from middle school through college graduation, and on to the moment in her early twenties when she put down the bottle for the last time. She takes the reader along with her as she drifts from highs to lows, from parties to hangovers, and from being a follower to being a self-possessed, though still fragile and introverted, young woman. She spares few details in her honest retellings of frat parties gone bad, of waking up in a hospital after an overdose, of personal and shared experiences with blackouts, and of the reasons why she believes she sought alcohol the moment after she met it for the first time . . .

I've never been one to shy away from hosting happy hour on my front porch or wiling away an evening listening to live music while sharing a pitcher of this or that, but I don't think I'll be doing either of those activities any time soon without reflecting on the myriad factoids and stories about women and alcohol that are documented by this (23-year old!) author in her memoir. The first-person narrative sucks you in immediately. Koren Zailckas is a complex and accomplished writer who blends beautiful prose, hard sociological, psychological and medical facts, and stream of consciousness re-tellings in a well-paced, emotionally honest parable about young women and alcohol. Actually, it's about women and alcohol, in general. I didn't know, for example, that the number of women who binge drink (have more than 4 drinks in one sitting) more than 3 times in 2 weeks has tripled in recent years (!) And there's more, a lot more . . .

I chose this book partly because I was looking for a memoir (always something that appealed to my friends and me in high school) and also because I ran with a fairly hard-drinking crowd in high school. I wanted to see what the author had to say. I'm so glad I picked up this book. While I found it incredibly disturbing, I am grateful for being disturbed. Sometimes it takes a book like this to jar us out of our comfortable preconceptions that we take for granted as "truths." For example: many of us feel that alcohol isn't as dangerous as hard drugs. Zailckas proves otherwise. Many parents would rather their teens drink than do drugs. Zailckas pokes plate-sized holes in that preference.

Zailckas takes us from 14-year-old Koren through 23-year-old Koren, and through all of the stages of her emotional and physical development and experiences. She addresses issues of sexuality, self-image, cliques, academics, mother/daughter relationships, addiction, and depression, to name a few.

I am now going to make some more (see SPEAK blog) irresponsible gross generalizations: EVERY parent of an adolescent should read this book. EVERY teenage girl should read this book.

There. I feel better.

Now . . . moving on to being a responsible classroom teacher: This book should be recommended carefully. It contains scenes of drunken abandon, suggested rape, drug use, sex, and wanton drinking games described in detail (how would you like some parent to tell you that their teen learned a drinking game from an assigned reading?!? I'm sure Clawhammer would love that phone call!!) . This is a book that I might suggest to a high school girl who has friends who are drinking a lot. I do not doubt that this book, once it found its way into the hands of one teenager, would be passed around in school hallways much like Go Ask Alice and Can Steffie Come Out to Play were back in my day. Zailckas' honesty is compelling, as are the horrors she relates. Teens are simply too curious to shy away if given the opportunity to read books like this one. Unfortunately, teens also believe they are going to live forever, and often have an "it can't happen to me" attitude. For those who are deeper, more realistic thinkers, this book could serve as a much-needed cautionary tale.

Unless I were in a highly progressive high school environment, I don't think I'd even teach excerpts from this memoir to entire classrooms. I'm going to continue to wrestle with this book. I'll keep you posted on my blog.

Highly Recommended! (having said that -- it's a commitment, 300+ pp. and emotionally wrings you out to dry. Haha. Dry . . . )

And that's what Miss Martha Says.