Saturday, August 15, 2009

Slam by Nick Hornby

This is an early post...sorry! I am leaving for my mother's house in CT and am not sure what the internet access will be so I thought I would blog early...just in case.

This book was Nick Hornby's first foray in to YA fiction, and he has since written others for teens. I enjoyed his adult novels, but this is the first I've read of his YA works. I liked it! A lot! I think perhaps I was drawn to this book because I live with a 17 year old skateboarder. I really wanted him to read the book, but so far I have not convinced him! I think all teenage boys should read it...if nothing else it is a good cautionary tale.

I found myself drawn to Sam's character. I liked how he was honest, funny, and tries to do the right thing. I liked his relationship with his mother as well. I thought Hornby's insight into this topic of teen pregnancy was realistic as well as cautionary! I loved how it wasn't a "happily ever after" makes you realize that stuff happens and the answer isn't always to get married and live happily ever after, sometimes you just have to cope...and that the concept of family is flexible. Plus, it is nice to have a book on this topic told from the male perspective.

I did find a couple aspects of the novel a bit bothersome- the fact that it takes place in took me a while to get used to the language and British references, and the sections where he goes into the future. The whizzing forward sections where a bit confusing at first, but once I "got it" I like how it moved the story along...and I liked the glimpse of him and Alicia at the end. Overall I felt this book was well written and I could easily recommend it to students...although, because of the writing style I think it would work best for more sophisticated readers. I can't imagine that everyone in the blog will love this book, I am really anxious to see what you all thought!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Leonardo's Shadow by Christopher Grey

15th Century Milan comes to life in this novel by Christopher Grey. As I was reading it I immediately thought that this would be a great book for our Global I historical fiction project. From what little I know, and now I would like to know more, this seems to be an accurate depiction of this time period. I like how the author intertwined details about the politics, religion, customs, and geography of this time period. Perhaps our global bloggers can comment? I also liked learning about alchemy and paint-making. I also felt it nicely combined adventure and mystery, and I liked Giacomo's voice as narrator (although, you know me, I wanted to know who his parents were, and what happened to him! :-) )

However, there were a few things that bothered me. The author alludes to Leonardo's sexuality, either that needed to be addressed or it should have been left out. I wish there was an author's note at the end to explain this and some of the historical aspects of the book- for example, was there really a problem with the last supper?

Do I think this book would have a wide range appeal? Probably not, but for fans of historical fiction, or for those required to read this genre, this would be great. I think it moved along quickly, there was plenty of action, and most students would be familiar enough with DaVinci, The Last Supper, Michelangelo, make the book more meaningful. Overall, I liked it! Wondering what the consensus was!?