Book Report: May and June

Book Report: May and JuneIt was HARD to make time to read in May and June. When Memorial Day hits everybody's all like, "Yay, summer! I'll slow it down!" where, as a teacher, we are gearing up for the end of the year. That means two things: controlling rowdy kids and packing up. Kids can smell the sweet, empty days of summer ahead of them and they are as crazy, if not more than, the beginning of the year. By the time I climbed into bed, I could barely lift my arms to hold a book. But I did read and found two really great books that I've been telling everyone and anyone about (and now you!). Schooled by Anisha Lakhani. Spoiler alert: this is not one of the books I've been recommending. Maybe it was because it was about a new teacher and I know too much. Maybe it was because it was about the private school world that I grew up in. Whatever the reason may be, I was not a fan of this book. Here's what it's about: a recent grad from Columbia goes against the wishes of her parents and friends and becomes a private school teacher at a prestigious Upper East Side private school. She soon finds out about the underworld of tutors and grade changing and how an underpaid school teacher can afford her very own Chanel bag. I didn't go into reading this book with high expectations but I was disappointed. It is a light chick lit read and I read through it fairly quickly. But I found it unbelievable that, for as smart and passionate as the main character claimed to be, she didn't figure a few things out. Like how did her parents not know she planned on being a teacher? You can't just wake up one day in college and say, give me a student teaching experience, I want to change the world! The angst with her parents and friends just didn't serve the main plot of the story which was about the idea of tutors. That part was at least entertaining. I just didn't like that, though the author had been a teacher herself, she presented this novice teacher as a "teacher" who knew nothing about student motivation or how to navigate the politics of teaching. Well, this is certainly a long enough review for a book I didn't warm up to. Schooled makes for a good, solid beach read but don't read it if you're a teacher or know anything about being a teacher.

Paper Towns by John Green. This is my second John Green novel and I know it won't be my last. I have to admit that I picked this book up after seeing a preview for the upcoming movie adaptation. I also loved The Fault in Our Stars. The magic of a John Green novel is that there may be teen characters at the center but the themes of his book transcend age, gender, or circumstances. Anyone can relate to the feeling of thinking they know someone when, in fact, they know nothing. That's the premise of Paper Towns. High school senior Quentin Jacobsen has always been intrigued by his next door neighbor, Margo, since they were kids. When she knocks on his window one night and asks him to embark on an epic mission of revenge, he follows her. That's all I'm going to give you now because you have to read it. This is a book that made me laugh out loud, shed a tear here or there, and want to devour every sentence. I'm excited to see the movie but I don't know how they'll be able to do the book justice.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio. The reason I picked this book up was because Wonder was the novel study book for the fifth graders at my elementary school. My friend and reading specialist gave it such high praise for the power of the story I knew I had to give it a chance. The story is about August, a fifth grade boy with a severe facial deformity. Auggie's parents decide that this will be the year to send him to a mainstream school. The story follows August's first year and Palacio shares not only Auggie's perspective but the thoughts and feelings of those around him, including the bully. I want everyone to read this book. It is not a challenging book to read but it challenges the way you think and how you react to anyone who is different on the outside or on the inside. I definitely cried more than once while reading this book because it hit me so hard as a teacher and as an adult who remembers how hard it is to grow up, different or not.

What have you been reading this summer?