Wrapping Up the Semester
Here is what is probably my last blog post of the semester, and it has been super fun to be a part of this class. Slowly, but surely, I am powering through the final few assignments I have left, studying for final tests, and preparing for summer classes. I’m not gonna lie, this semester was rough. At one point, I seriously thought about dropping out of college because I just could not handle the stress, but I fought through and made it to the end.
Hole In My Life by Jack Gantos
This weekend I powered through the last three books I had checked out for this class but had not gotten around to yet. The first one I read was Hole In My Life by Jack Gantos. In the book he details the events that precipitated his involvement in drug smuggling that landed him in prison. Gantos is very candid about his experiences and his thoughts and feelings throughout the process. To be honest, I’m not sure who I would recommend it to or why. I mean, I guess I would recommend it to people interested in memoirs, especially prison memoirs, but beyond that I don’t really know. The most interesting aspect of the story was that Gantos really only got into smuggling because he needed money to go to college. With that in mind, I would probably make it mandatory reading for people who think that financial aid is some sort of handout and that college should be expensive. That is an entirely different rant, so I’m just going to leave that thought alone.
Rules by Cynthia Lord
The next book I read was Rules by Cynthia Lord. I liked the writing style and found it to be an easy read, but I was rather conflicted about how Lord approached the topics of disability and neurodivergence. This book is about an adolescent girl whose younger brother is autistic. The plot follows her struggles with identity in a household where she is expected to take care of her brother at every turn, but is simultaneously reprimanded for how she goes about it by the parents who forced her into that role in the first place. I could get behind a book dealing with parentification and sibling bonds, but then it almost turned into a pity party for the girl because she has to “deal with” her autistic sibling. At times it was almost good where the girl would rail against people othering her sibling for being autistic, but then at times she herself would other the young brother as well as another character with a disability. Then, weirdly enough, the book completely deviated from the brother-and-sister storyline into a could-it-be-young-love storyline and I almost put it down completely. I would probably not recommend this book as it feels rather ableist and fails to uphold Lord’s reason for writing this book which was to address the topic of autism from the perspective of a neurotypical relative (which is in itself problematic when not done correctly and this was not done correctly).
Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers
This was the third book that I read this weekend, and I did not mind it but I was not blown away by it. The book was about an adolescent boy in a juvenile correction facility where he is put into a work-outreach program through the local senior center. As he works at the center, he begins to straighten out his life and figure out his goals for the future. Simultaneously, he begins to think more about others outside his immediate family and learns to make meaningful connections. To me, this felt less like Monster where the story was important and the method of telling it was crucial. Instead, Lockdown felt more like a cautionary tale or like one of those speeches where a former inmate will go around to schools and tell their story in an effort to keep those kids from going to prison. Because of this, it felt trite and lacked the depth that Monster had where that book dealt with individuality and identity. Lockdown felt more like it was pushing the reader to think more about how their actions affect others (like a PSA) and it kept me from really connecting with the narrator and the book’s theme.