#IMWAYR

This is my first attempt at the blogging meme entitled “It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?”  My focus for this post will mostly be the book Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson with information about some other things that I am working on.

To start with, I recently finished the book Chains, and I don’t exactly know what to make of it.  On one hand, I greatly enjoyed the themes of love and family.  I especially liked how the main character, Isabel, was determined to protect her younger sister, Ruth.  Isabel did not care about the Revolutionary War insofar as trying to find out which side would be more likely to help her and her sister attain the freedom they had been promised.  However, I felt that the entire book was problematized by a white woman writing about the experiences of a young black girl.  To some extent, I get that Anderson was trying to write about a period of history from the perspective of a marginalized group, but this could have been done in a different way.  Anderson could have written the book from the perspective of a woman who had formerly been an indentured servant, and in fact has such a character in Chains.  However, she did not do that.  Instead, Anderson took a personhood that was not hers to characterize.  I really have issues with people trying to just use a character like Isabel without being part of the centuries of culture and history that she tried to depict so… I don’t want to say ignorantly because Anderson seemed to have made an attempt to do her homework, but without being part of the culture herself then how could she ever truly understand?  Either way, I would recommend this book for its interesting take on history, but I would have to warn against it for its blatant appropriation of culture, history, and personhood.

chains

Other than that, I have yet to start The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, but I will be doing that soon.  Also, I am still working hard to get through Forbidden Language: English Language Learners and Restrictive Language Policies by Patricia Gandara and Megan Hopkins.  I have also accrued quite an extensive PRO/TBR List that spans almost five pages in my notebook.  It includes titles from multiple different sources and genres that I have found from reading Book Love and the fantastic blogs and Twitter accounts that we have been exposed to throughout this class.  I am quite excited to start working may way through it even after this class ends.

absolutely true diary of a part-time indian

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8 thoughts on “#IMWAYR

  1. I love the Monday reading meme–such a nice community and I find so many new books I want to read. You make some provocative points about Chains. I would like to know more about Anderson’s research for these books (because Chains is the first in a …. trilogy?). They are prizewinners, and I wonder about the recognition of books written about a cultural, racial, or ethnic group that are not written by members of those groups. It’s tricky. I want to argue that writers shouldn’t be limited to their own cultural, racial, or ethnic groups (and we could expand that to any kind of group–disability, sexual orientation, gender, etc.), but at the same time, we have to reflect seriously on privilege and cultural appropriation.

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  2. Did you think that Anderson misrepresented that period of history? Did she not research enough? What exactly did you dislike about her transporting her character into that period of history? I have not read this book, so I am not asking these questions to contradict your opinion. I was just wondering because everything I have heard about Laurie Halse Anderson has been praise. Great blog! I enjoyed reading!

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    1. It was not the period of history that I had an issue with but the appropriation of a character and life that was not necessarily hers to appropriate. The best way that I can explain is that in a world where marginalized people struggle every day to have their voices heard and respected, it is problematic that a white woman could so shamelessly appropriate the voice of a young black girl only to be published and win awards without even blinking. It is the extension of privilege and the perpetuation of a racially imbalanced power dynamic that I have an issue with.

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  3. Thank you for your thoughts on “Chains”. I haven’t read it yet, but was considering it. I really enjoyed “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” though!

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  4. All of these books seem like they are out of my comfort zone. Do you think I would like them? Do you think someone with a tendency to put down books that lose her interest will make it through them?

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    1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian has an ability to keep a person hooked through its masterful integration of fun and engaging illustration. That may make a difference in whether or not you keep at it. It is also a very easy read for all that it deals with some difficult topics like death and addiction.

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