Story of a Girl

Author: Sara Zarr

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2007
Pages: 192

For Ages: 13 and up

Rating: ****

 
     16-year-old Deanna Lambert can’t seem to get away from the night her dad caught her having sex with her brother’s seventeen-year-old friend, though it was three years ago. Deanna wants people to realize she’s not that thirteen year old anymore, she wants her dad to treat her like a person, and she wants more out of life. She feels trapped living with her well-intentioned but dysfunctional family but doesn’t know how to fix things.

 

     In Zarr’s deft hands this story rings true with poignant three-dimensional portraits of a struggling small town family. Where it could have easily have been slight and stereotypical, Zarr adds depth, understanding, and tense storytelling to explain the feelings of a girl who’s made a mistake in a way that rarely gets taken seriously.

Homeless Bird

Author: Gloria Whelan

Publisher: Harper Collins, 2000

Pages: 186

For Ages: 10 and up

Rating: ****

 

Thirteen-year-old Koly’s rural Indian family is so poor they must marry her off so there’s one less mouth to feed.  Her father tries to find the best match he can but at the wedding they are shocked to discover Koly’s teen husband is sickly. It’s too late though.  Koly is trapped in life where she’s unwanted but can’t escape. When things seem bleakest, Koly uses her intelligence, compassion, and help from others to build herself a new life.

 

The daughterling insisted I read this.  I’m glad I finally did what I was told and read this gem. I felt like I was a young rural Indian girl struggling to find myself.  I highly recommend this book for girls 10 and up. It would make an excellent mother-daughter book club read.  I also recommend it for adults. The writing is beautiful and the story universal enough that adults, especially adult women, will enjoy this short but powerful story.

 

January 2008: Inbrief

 Quote:

“Some parents try to build a fence around the ocean and some parents simply teach their children to swim.”
I really like this quote but can’t remember where I read it.

 

Highlights, both sad and happy:

My cousin’s teen daughter died this past month.  She’d been battling brainstem tumors for four years.  I’d last seen her when she was three years old. She and my son ran around Lake Michigan, charging down steep steps to the water, building ditches in the sand, and picking out their own videos to relax to before running off for another adventure.  She was intelligent, friendly, and curious about everything. My son had such a good time playing with his second cousin he still remembers their days together.  Since then we’ve followed her life on the family website.  Even after her illness her parents and brother continued to fill her life with fun, interesting activities.  The family went to whaling watching in Washington State, pushed her wheelchair through volcano tubes in Hawaii, had parties for her and all her friends, watched her paint, and worshipped in their close-knit church community.  She lived a short but full life and I feel enriched for briefly knowing her.

 

January was a kid-filled month.  Every Friday the Internet gaming café (aka our basement) was full of teen boys playing World of Warcraft or Rock Band. On several days pre-teen girls played The Sims or watched Gossip Girl in our living room.  When the boys went out, the girls claimed the basement as theirs and played hour after hour of Rock Band.  Our busiest Friday was the night I ordered over $100 of Chinese food to feed 8 teen boys in the basement and 6 pre-teen girls upstairs.  Lots of fun.

 

Fiction Books Finished:

**** Rebel Angels, by Libba Bray

**** Homeless Bird, by Gloria Whelan

 

Non-Fiction Books Finished:

*** Healing Your Sinuses, by Ralph B. Metson, M.D. with Steven Mardon

 

Still Reading:

Literacy In America (almost finished!)

 

Movies:

***    Live In Maid– on DVD in Spanish w/ English subtitles

**** Juno– I actually went to a movie theater for this one.

***   The Simpsons Movie– on DVD w/ French dubbing and English subtitles. 

 

Music:

Kate Nash

Sia

Sara Bareilles

Regina Spektor
Songs etched in my head from listening to hours of Rock Band: “Paranoid” by Garbage, “Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi, “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by the Clash, and “Creep” by Radiohead.

 Sub Jobs:

½ day- music teacher

2 days- 1st grade, Ms. J’s class

1 day- sub sampler (2 hours each in K,1st, and 2nd grade classes)

2 days- computer teacher

1 day- 2nd grade, Ms. W’s class

 

TV Enjoyed:

Most of my TV watching is on DVD now.  Please let the writers get a fair deal soon!

*** Gossip Girl– Can’t wait until the strike is over & my daughter and I can watch again

*** Ugly Betty– Season 1 on DVD with Spanish dubbing and English subtitles

*** Smallville– Season 1 on DVD with French dubbing and English subtitles

*** Dead Like Me– Season 2 on DVD

**** Friday Night Lights– Not quite finished with my Tivo’d recordings