Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Selection by Kiera Cass

A former student who was moving left me a collection of books for my classroom.  I was familiar with some of them, but unfamiliar with others.  I picked up The Selection by Kiera Cass.  I read the blurb and decided to read it.  I couldn't put it down--and I knew my students would love it.

This book is the first in a series by Cass.  (And I hope she comes out with the next one pretty darn fast!)

In a futuristic America, the country is in a caste system and life is controlled by your place in the system.

However, the prince of their country is of marrying age.  One girl is drawn by lottery from each of the 35 provinces.  It doesn't matter what caste the girl comes from, she gets a chance to live in the castle and meet Prince Maxon and his parents, the King and Queen.  The family of each girl selected receives money for their daughter being one of the selected.

For the girls, this is like an episode of "The Bachelor."  They live in the palace, and Prince Maxon can request private dates, send them home, or group date them.  And all the time, the country has groups of people attacking the government/castle.

America Singer finds herself a selection of her province.  She has a secret love who she really doesn't want to leave behind, but the opportunity to provide for her family is too tempting.

Much like Hunger Games, this book makes you think about the future of our country and how our lives could change.  Whereas Hunger Games appealed to both sexes, this book probably appeals more to girls.

The first student to check out this book, finished it in two days.  She stayed up late reading.  She passed it off to another quick reader today.  And so the book begins its round of Tiny Town High students.

I'll just make this prediction right now:  The Selection series could be the next hot Twilight series. 

Message to Kiera Cass:  Please don't make us wait too long for the next one! 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Girl In Translation by Jean Kwok: Unforgettable

I read a lot of things that I don't remember two hours after I read them.  In fact, some I can't even write a post about because I can't remember them.  This, however, is not one of them.

Kim and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to modern day America.  They end up in NYC, working in a sweat shop and living in an apartment with roaches, mice, windows broken out, and no heat.  Kim struggles through the American school system. There are relatives that exert power over their lives, and these relatives are jealous and small people, but there are good people on the outer border of their lives who offer a bit of compassion and friendship.   I couldn't put this book down.

Is this a fictionalized account of Jean Kwok's life?  I don't know.  All I know is that this story of family loyalty, integrity, hard work and the ability to survive under horrific circumstances, which they kept secret from everyone, moved me.

This book also made me aware of how little I know about conditions in America today.  Do kids still work in sweat shops?  Do employers still underpay their employees (making it impossible to leave) and force them to work in deplorable conditions?  Maybe it is time we all found out.

Yes, this book is fiction.  But... Kwok was born in Hong Kong and immigrated to Brooklyn when she was a child where she worked in a sweatshop. 

I won't be forgetting Kwok's story any time soon.

Great book.