Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Book Review: Son by Lois Lowry

Book Review of Son by Lois Lowry

Claire is a birthmother in the community in which The Giver, the first book in this series, took place. But something goes wrong during the birth and she is moved on to a new role. She finds herself longing for the baby that was born to her, which is unusual since no one else in the community has feelings like this. Events take her to a new community by the sea. Then she travels to the community we encountered in Messenger. All along the way, her mind is always on her son.

Son (Giver Quartet, Book 4) by Lois Lowry is the final book in the series. It brings together all four of the previous books, the characters and storylines, in a way that is satisfying to a certain degree. I enjoyed Claire's character very much, perhaps the most of all the characters. She was easy to relate to and most of her choices seemed realistic, although I can't figure out how she got away with some of the things she did in the original community.

But there are many issues with this book as well. So many questions are not answered, especially about the world and why it is the way it is, why each community is so different from the others and why they don't interact. I was hoping to find closure on some of these questions. In addition, the fantasy elements in this one seemed a bit overboard compared to some of the others, which sounds odd since the first book featured someone passing memories on to someone else by touching him!

When I first started this series, I would have characterized it as middle-grade fiction; however, this last book in the series definitely falls more into the young adult realm. A central theme throughout the book is reproduction and childbirth. While none of these things are overtly discussed, the book does reference insemination, cesarean vs. natural childbirth, birth control pills and the notion of humans mating in the same manner as animals. My 5th grader read this book before me, and I don't think he truly understood all of the references to these things, but I still don't think I would have recommended this book if I had known about the topics it would cover. Let's just say that I was glad we've had "the talk" already so he didn't come at me with a million questions!

With that said, if you read the rest of the series, you have to read Son. It brings everything and everyone together in an interesting way. I loved seeing how things were interconnected, and hearing a different perspective of the original community that we were introduced to in The Giver. I was just hoping for a few more answers.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Read my review of The Giver
Read my review of Gathering Blue
Read my review of Messenger 

This review was based on a copy of Son that I borrowed from the library.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Week in Review


Good morning. It's Monday and my kids are finally back in school after being out almost all of last week. It's refreshing to have a quiet house and to be able to focus on work today.

Reviews and Blog Posts

Book Review: Night is the Hunter by Steven Gore
Books that Teach Compassion #1000Speak
Saturday Snapshot: A View from My Window

I finished reading Son by Lois Lowry, so I've officially finished that series! Now I just need to write my review. After that, I started reading Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. My book club is meeting to discuss it on Thursday so I need to finish it soon!

We visited the library on Saturday, and C picked up two books, which he read over the weekend: Countdown Zero by Chris Rylander and The Genius Files #5: License to Thrill by Dan Gutman.

M has been reading several picture books for school lately, but she's also still reading Maleficent by Elizabeth Rudnick.

What are you reading this week? It's Monday! is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, so hop over there if you'd like to see what others are reading too. You can also check out the younger version of It's Monday!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Saturday Snapshot

I'm joining up with Saturday Snapshot, which is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads. I decided to take pictures out my office window starting at the beginning of the week, when I knew the forecast called for ice and snow.

This was the view out my window on Monday before the storm...

We started to get some sleet and ice, which landed on the frozen bits of the pond...

By the next day, everything was covered in ice and the kids had their first full snow day...

And their second snow day...

And then it actually snowed, which meant snow day #3...

And snow day #4, since it was so cold this week, the ice did.not.melt!!!

If you live anywhere that actually gets snow on a regular basis, you are probably laughing about my kids having snow days for this little bit of snow and ice. But many of the little, wooded side roads are still a sheet of ice, several days after the initial storm. We were lucky enough to have a plow come through our street and so we've been able to get out and about. But in other parts of the county, it just wasn't safe for the buses. They better go back to school on Monday!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Books That Teach Compassion #1000Speak

Today I am joining with bloggers around the world to speak about compassion. As a mother of a child about to enter middle school, compassion is on my mind. Middle school has a reputation for being filled with mean girls and bullying, kids dealing with hormones for the first time and struggling with their emotions. I worry about how my son will be treated in middle school, and how he will treat others.

I've been pleased over the past several years to see many middle grade books that endeavor to teach children compassion by showing them the struggles other kids face because of their differences in looks, interests, family, etc. And I've been very pleased to see my son's teachers pulling these books into their curricula. It is my hope that these stories will help my son and his friends consider the feelings of others, and also realize that their own feelings of wanting to fit in are universal.

Here are some recommendations of books that may help middle grade readers develop more compassion for their peers. My son has read these in school and can vouch for them. I have not read them myself, so I'm sharing the descriptions from Amazon.

Loser by Jerry Spinelli. Just like other kids, Zinkoff rides his bike, hopes for snow days, and wants to be like his dad when he grows up. But Zinkoff also raises his hand with all the wrong answers, trips over his own feet, and falls down with laughter over a word like "Jabip." Other kids have their own word to describe him, but Zinkoff is too busy to hear it. He doesn't know he's not like everyone else. And one winter night, Zinkoff's differences show that any name can someday become "hero." With some of his finest writing to date and great wit and humor, Jerry Spinelli creates a story about a boy's individuality surpassing the need to fit in and the genuine importance of failure. As readers follow Zinkoff from first through sixth grade—making this a perfect classroom read—and watch his character develop, it becomes impossible not to identify with and root for him through failures and triumphs.

Wonder by RJ Palacio. August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick. Maxwell Kane, a lumbering eighth grader who describes himself as a "butthead goon," has lived with grandparents Grim and Gram ever since his father was imprisoned for murdering his mother. Mean-spirited schoolmates and special ed (for an undetermined learning disability) haven't improved his self-image, so he is totally unprepared for a friendship with Kevin, aka Freak, a veritable genius with a serious birth defect that's left him in braces and using crutches. Max is uplifted by Freak's imagination and booming confidence, while Freak gets a literal boost--hoisted onto Max's shoulders, he shares Max's mobility. Together they become Freak the Mighty, an invincible duo.

Smile by Raina Telgemeier. Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth. What follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there's still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly.

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper. Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there's no delete button. She's the smartest kid in her whole school—but no one knows it. Most people—her teachers and doctors included—don't think she's capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows . . . but she can't, because Melody can't talk. She can't walk. She can't write. Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mind—that is, until she discovers something that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last Melody has a voice . . . but not everyone around her is ready to hear it.

Join 1000 Voices for Compassion and spread compassion throughout your day. Connect with other voices around the world using the hashtag #1000Speak.