When I read, I enter another universe and can completely tune out the ‘real’ one I’m in, effectively rendering me deaf to the rest of the world. Engrossed in a story, I will not hear you speak to me unless you break my line of sight with the book. As a result of all this reading, I have come across a few gems, a few barely tolerable creations and then books which moved and changed me.
My mother had read this book in her early twenties and rightly guessed that it would speak to my eighth grade dream of becoming an actress. Had my life been a movie, my reaction to reading this book would have been a foreshadowing of poor choices to come. It would have helped to explain why I chose to be with He-who-will-not-be-named over RR. Why I chose Soldier Boy over Catholic Guy and so on until I finally met Hubby. (By which time I had finally learned from my mistakes.)
The story is about a middle class Jewish girl in the mid 1950’s who has dreams of becoming a star. (Hence the name she has chosen for herself.) She meets and falls for a cad who would only continue to use her (though at the time I was convinced he could change!), but she leaves him and marries the guy her parents want her to and who gives her a continuation of the middle class life she is accustomed to.
It is here that I threw the book so hard at my bedroom door that it not only broke the binding of the book, but it left a hole in my door that I successfully hid for about four years with some random poster. I did not approve of her choice since it meant giving up her dream AND she chose the wrong guy.
Thankfully, I have since stopped trying to change men, but it was a pattern for me to pick the guys who were most likely to shatter my heart.
My mother got into genealogy during my teen years and she took me to do research one Saturday. I was not interested in looking through records at the library, so I found a book and began reading. I read quickly since there was no telling when she would be done and once I started, I was aware that I wanted to finish this book. It took me about three hours to read it to the end.
This is a story about a young boy named Conrad who decides to skip visiting his mother in London to find his father who is living in New York. Along the way, he meets a girl who is just as confused as he is. Together, they face the battle of self-discovery. It is like a love story, but I don’t think they ever kiss and they lose track of each other. But they make a pact to say the other person’s name everyday at a certain time and think of each other then. The title is the last sentence in the book.
This was probably a book I requested through the Scholastic forms the school sent home every month.
I usually wanted at least five books, but my parents only allowed me to get two each time. (I think they should have taken me to the library more often… ) I read this book about five times. The heroine succeeded in doing something I was not capable of at the time. She broke free.
The story is about a young girl who writes an article for the school newspaper about her belief that the school should be more inclusive in its holiday celebrations (sound familiar?) and refuses to retract it after people are offended by it. Her favorite teacher resigns in protest of Summer’s civil rights being violated. I really wanted to be Summer. She sounded so cool and self confident; something I have rarely been.
Judy Blume is an awesome young and teen lit author and was my favorite author growing up. From Ramona to Margret, Blume accompanied my growth as a person. This book stands out because I was probably a bit young to read the material when I did. As a result, it really stuck with me. (I also remember underlining all the cuss words in it, so shocked was I to find them!)
In this book, the heroine’s father was shot and killed in a robbery. Her mother decides to move the family to New Mexico for a change of scenery. Dealing with her pain and grief, the heroine meets a young man who helps her work through her sudden and traumatic loss.
It’s the loss that I remember from the story. The description of her trying to clean up the blood and crying that her father would survive remains with me. Loss is difficult for anyone but for children it is especially hard. I’m glad I read it.
5- Unknown title
In the sixth grade, I had an amazing math teacher whose policy was, once you were done with your work, you were free to read. She had a bookcase in front of her desk and it was filled with books you could read in class or take home. She only asked that you bring it back or replace it with another book of your own. As a result of books coming and going, she was not aware of all the material that was there and this was the undoing of the bookcase.
I picked up and began reading a book about two teenage girls. One was a lesbian, the other most likely bi-sexual, since she was not sure of her own feelings throughout the story. They begin a physical relationship which they keep secret until the one girl is raped by her brother’s friend who has been spying on them. He threatens to reveal their secret if she tells, but she does anyway.
I don’t know if I spoke to my mother about the content, asked questions about homosexuality, or if she just happened to pick it up and read it, but after my mom read the book, my teacher got read the riot act. The story has stayed with me not just for the content, but also because of the reaction from my mother and then my peers at school. There was a decidedly cool response to me after the bookcase was culled of unknown books. We were no longer allowed to bring our own and we could not take any out without signing for them.
You might notice that all of the books I have listed were read around my middle school years. It says something about that stage of our development, I think. All the books (for which I have titles that is) are linked to Amazon. They are all worth reading.