It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #yalitclass

First off, that was a lot of fun.  Learning is NOT supposed to be fun, ever, remember this.  I’m throwing this notion aside, because that was an entertaining week of reading.  I had not engaged with young adult literature since I was fourteen or fifteen, I suppose.  There is no need for me to further explain how engaged I was with my readings, so I will jump into the books I read.

For week one, I read “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie, and “Under the Mesquite” by Guadalupe Garcia McCall.  I choose these books at random, but was entirely surprised at how similar the books were.  They could not have lined up more perfectly in their themes.  The mood and tone of the two works were different but they had a similar story arc.  I am not going to bore you with a review of the works but I will summarize quickly in blunt terms.  Alexie’s work: male, Native American protagonist who chooses to open his future by leaving the reservation for high school and gets degraded heavily by his childhood community for doing so.  McCall’s work: female, Hispanic American protagonist, whose mother gets cancer which forces the protagonist to deal with grief, while at the same time trying to carve a future for herself beyond high school.  I like the concept of borders that exists in both of these works.  Their is the metaphorical border, which constitutes the two high schoolers having to leave the lives they have known.  Then there are the physical borders: the Rio Grande river, and the reservation line.

Alexie’s work really places the reader into the mind of young Junior, and Junior is a funny kid.  This humorous side of Junior stems from Alexie’s comedic side which is further explained by Alexie, himself, in this clip.

I think all people impassioned by literature can agree to an extent that it is a stuffy subject every now and then.  Especially when trying to discuss it.  The words speak for themselves and drawn out conversations about books, for me, can be completely empty.  Notice I said “can be,” because most times I relish an opportunity to talk about books.  Still, a sizeable dash of humor can make any book or literary conversation more involved.  Alexie certainly keeps it light in his work, but then I would flip a page and he would level you with a blunt recollection of an abhorrent event.  Despite the gut wrenching events, his use of juxtaposition in doing so was impeccable.

Garcia’s work was a verse novel.  I had never read a verse novel, and it was different.  I will have to read a few more to find my overall consensus on the genre.  Here are some recommended verse novels by Goodreads.  I have never read a border novel I haven’t enjoyed, so Garcia’s book was right up my alley.  I’m a total sucker for nature.  Any time an author inserts a natural element and then uses that element as a symbol, I’m in.  To be honest, nature doesn’t even have to be used a symbol for me to enjoy it.  It can just be there as a metaphysical force.  Garcia does just this, she slots the mesquite tree into her novel as the main symbol of focus, and then slips in quick recollections of interactions with nature.  These interactions with nature are not centered on nature.  They are centered on family.  But the natural world in the background helps to clarify the family’s grief.  Below is a book trailer of McCall’s story.

I will updating my blog soon to a premium version so I can insert some themes and hopefully improve the aesthetic quality by doing so.  Regardless, I’m looking forward to reading more young adult lit, and scoping out some blogs to follow on the topic.  I’ll leave you with a padlet I have created for this course.  It is the works I have read, five words describing them, and a redeeming line from the text.  I believe it is open to the public so feel free to post your reviews of young adult lit there as well.

Made with Padlet



Author: Zane Hesting

I am an education student at Chadron State College in Nebraska. My interests include fly fishing, reading books, watching movies, hanging out with family, and exploring.

5 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #yalitclass”

  1. Both of your books sound so interesting. I have friends that absolutely love “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie, but I never thought twice about it. Now I’ll have to give it a try.
    As far as verse novels go, I’m in love. I would suggest absolutely anything by Ellen Hopkins (Crank series, Impulse, Tricks are good to try first…). She make reading verse interesting, and her stories are hard-hitting and gritty.


  2. Alexie really brings a voice that is light hearted and painful at the same time. He creates a character that can laugh at the tragedies, but underneath there is quite a bit of pain. It’s all very human. Since I filled out my Pura Belpre Award Winner with the verse novel I read, I will have to check out some of the verse novels you suggested for that category in book bingo. Thanks for the comment.


  3. I read “The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian” this week. I can’t explain it in a few sentences how much I loved the book, especially growing up near an Indian reservation. I have never read a verse novel either, so thank you for offering some good suggestions! Also, I enjoyed the YouTube clips you’ve provided for us!


  4. I have The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian on my TBR list, it sounds really interesting. When I was searching for books based on the Bingo chart, I typed in Native American authors and this was one of the books that popped up. It is also one that is available in my local library.


  5. The book sure did cover a lot of territory. The author’s sense of humor made the book for me, and I had no idea he was a comic until I finished the book. It is definitely a book that I will place on the shelf. Thanks for the comment.


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