I am a fan of Markus Zusak. He is one of my favorite newer YA authors (along with John Green). I ate I Am the Messenger in just a few hours. The Book Thief was much more difficult to read, and shows another dimension of Zusak’s imagination.
Liesel Meminger lives with a foster family in a small town outside of Munich in the early 1940s. Her accordion-playing foster father teaches her to read, although her career as a book thief begins while she is still illiterate. Her family takes in a Jewish man, the son of a man who saved him in World War I, and Liesel befriends him. The story is narrated by Death, who gives a different perspective on life and war.
The story has the dark humor you would expect from a book narrated by Death.
Since I don’t have a separate blog for my YA reading, I’m going to post those reviews here. I did not have extra time this Thanksgiving break, but I took time to finish two books that have been hanging over my head since the semester began.
The Burn Journals is Brent Runyon’s account of his recovery from a self-inflicted fire that almost killed him. It is incredibly hard to read, because it reminds me that boys can be in incredible emotional pain, yet not know how to reach out… or even want to reach out for help. After Brent survives the fire, he realizes that he does want to live, and he can’t even remember why he set himself on fire in the first place.
My life revolves around boys. I have two of my own, I have a brother who is just 14 months younger than me, we were raised by a single father. I am a Cub Scout assistant den leader and intend to go on to be involved in Boy Scouts next year. My interests as a librarian are middle schoolers… kids the age Brent was when he hurt himself… and reluctant readers. With all the interest and exposure, it’s still clear from this book that I just can’t know what’s going on in their heads, their hearts, and their souls.
One of the things I want to study more is the interaction between kids and the libraries at their schools. I have some suspicions that this relationship can be flawed, but I need to observe more places. I don’t have enough data yet. But I have suspicions that in some places, teens are inadvertently made to feel unwelcome at their libraries.
Here is the comment of a library user: “Hmmm… I have a stupid geography assignment on Bali dued soon… T_T really – why Bali? I really hate going online – most, if not all, of the information online is bogus! And libraries – i don’t do libraries! I hate how its all quiet.. the atmosphere in most libraries feel weird =/ (maybe i’m just weird haha) I HATE THE LIBRARIANS! rude and obnoxious bitches! Gosh i swear they sit there on their fat asses talking on the DAMN phone!! When you need their bloody service they give you the biggest dirty! Man i’d love punch them in the face x_X they all deserve black eyes!” (Found via The Annoyed Librarian) (I agree with Linnypooh– why Bali, except that it’s a big vacation spot for Australians.) It’s not clear if Linnypooh is including her school library in the dismissal, but it is clear that her information need is not being met. (I’m very glad she’s skeptical of online content, though.)
I’m going to start looking for more comments about libraries and librarians from kids and teens. It seems like Linnypooh’s observations fit in with some of the things I have already observed. One of the things that bothers me is that here is a person with an information need, and she feels excluded in the library.
At the beginning of my library school adventure, I read a great article in VOYA about what kind of library service makes teens comfortable with a library. It’s different than what adults want. (For the life of me, I can’t find it, but I will post the citation as soon as I find it.) The most important thing was that teens want to be ACKNOWLEDGED as humans and treated as if their information needs are important. A slight that an adult might brush off can really hurt a teen. I remember being a teen. I was probably more thin-skinned than most, but even the toughest kids were vulnerable sometimes.