Maybe it’s just me.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
Now here’s a children’s classic my mom’s been bugging me to read for years that I finally picked up after assigning it to about a dozen students for a sci-fi project. Although I’m not much of a science fiction fan, the book was imaginative, weird (in a good sort of way), and quick. A Wrinkle in Time basically tells the story of an awkward teenage girl named Margaret who always finds herself getting into trouble. Her father had left years earlier on a top-secret scientific mission, and most people (but not Margaret) thought him dead. One day, Margaret finds herself with her younger brother and an attractive jock from school observing a set of odd neighbors who show up–and before they know it, the three end up hurtling through an intergalactic tesseract (wrinkle in time) to recover her father, once and for all.
Overall impressions of the book? A pretty fun read, although I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed by the suddenness of the ending–the conclusion to the book left me feeling much like Mockingjay did (of the Hunger Games series): like it had been written hurriedly and like it lacked the detail of the rest of the story. However, for the intended audience (older children and young teenagers), it would probably hit the spot.
My Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
Rumble Fish by S. E. Hinton
If you’re like me, your only exposure to S. E. Hinton has likely been through her famous YA novel The Outsiders, which became a favorite of junior high teachers everywhere and even spawned a 1983 movie featuring Patrick Swayze and a youthful Tom Cruise. Like The Outsiders, Rumble Fish showcases the more “rough” side of adolescence, complete with gangs, street fights, teenage drinking, and general adolescent rebellion.
The boys I assigned it to loved it, naturally.
Rusty-James had always wanted to be just like his older brother, who everyone called the Motorcycle Boy. The MB was constantly bailing Rusty-James out, and he was notoriously feared, admired, and respected by all the fellow teens of the streets. However, through facing some tough obstacles on his own, Rusty-James starts to reconsider his lifelong quest of following in his brother’s footsteps.
Unlike the ending of A Wrinkle in Time, I thought the ending of Rumble Fish really made the book. Unfortunately, due to the use of symbolism and subtlety of language, I found that the majority of my students who were assigned this book didn’t really “get” what had happened at the end. While this would be a great book to use to teach beginning symbolism, it probably should not be assigned to lower readers without some explicit guidance.
My Rating: 3.5 stars
The New Testament
All I’ll really say about this one is this:
If you haven’t read it, you should.
I’ve been slowly working my way through the NT since the middle of my mission, and this is only the second time I’ve read it all the way through. If you’ve studied the NT and are looking for a way to get more out of it, I highly recommend reading Jesus the Christ (by James Talmage) at the same time.
It will completely change forever the way you read this part of the Bible.
Who Put that Hair on my Toothbrush? by Jerry Spinelli
On a significantly less serious note, Who Put that Hair in my Toothbrush? is the story of an epic sibling rivalry between brother Greg and sister Megin, who are just a couple years apart and always at each others’ throats. The main conflict follows them through small pranks (flushing the toilet while the other is showering) to heart-crushing backstabbings. While the main conflict definitely focuses on the sibling rivalry, each sibling has a fun side plot of his/her own, complete with Greg’s first-time major crush and Megin’s first experience with loss.
Overall, this book has two major endearing qualities: one, it’s completely, laugh-out-loud hilarious, and two, it’s utter relatability will resonate with anyone who has ever had a sibling that’s close to his/her age, had a first crush, or dealt with a tough blow at a young age (in other words, just about everybody). Oh, and a bonus: my students all loved it, too. You know you’ve assigned a winner when one of your students (who doesn’t normally profess to love books of any kind) says, “I’m so sad this book is over!”
A winner, indeed.
My Rating: 4.5 stars
Do you like Young Adult fiction? What’s your favorite?