Saturday, August 1, 2015

LI832 - Reflection Journal Week 7

  • Cart, Chapter 9
  • Fink, Chapter 6


Sigh. All the failure.

Moving on.


Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn


Charm and Strange is charming and very strange. Ok, maybe not so charming. It's actually very dark and sinister. Andrew Winters is plagued by his past and by the monster that lurks deep within him.

He's a werewolf...

Or is he?

I always enjoy an unreliable narrator. And Andrew's view of the world is off kilter at best. He's lost, alone, and carrying a dark secret within him. He thinks he's a werewolf and projects that over how he interacts with people and the world. According to him, his entire family are werewolves.

Except in this case, his wolf is hiding something horrible.

I can only describe the twist in this story as a "gut punch." When I figured it out (prior to the reveal) it turned my stomach. A wolf doesn't have to walk on four legs. Sometimes it walks on two and preys on the young.

Ultimately, this story is about surviving trauma and moving forward. It's a good read, but will leave you feeling uncomfortable.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Despite its lighthearted title, this story packs a punch. It delves deep into the issues of what Native Americans have struggled with for a long time. The loss of culture, their home, and their spirituality. This story was so authentic sounding, I honestly thought it was autobiographical.

Arnold Spirit is an outcast in some ways from his own tribe. He's different. He has hydrocephalus, is small for his age, stutters, and wants to go to a school off the reservation. He wants more. He wants a better life.

Unfortunately, that means being ostracized by his tribe and his best friend because he wants to attend a predominantly white school. Arnold struggles with his own identity as he works to integrate into a different culture, while at the same time, maintaining his connection to his people.

The story is often self-depreciating, but in a way that I've seen in the Native American culture. But through it all, there is a sense of optimism. And in the end, he somehow manages to become his own person and yet not lose his connection to family and friends. 

Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson

I've been told that Woodson is a "controversial" author. I generally don't pay attention to such things unless the controversy involves, racism or sexism.

Beneath a Meth Moon is a story of addiction. Told from the perspective of Laurel, a girl who had every thing and ended up an addict. It's a harsh tale of the desperate struggle to survive when all you want is "the moon."

Once again we have an unreliable narrator and the structure of the story bounces around as it drags you deeper into the addiction. Time losing meaning. I described it to someone as feeling like I was on meth (not that I know what that's like), but the jarring back and forth and wandering reality/fantasy just grabbed onto me.

I probably would never have read this book if it hadn't been for this class. I seriously loved it. It isn't an easy read. But I think it was a very accurate portrayal of the descent into addiction and the struggle to climb out.


Juno (2007)

"It all started with that chair."

This movie was zany, sarcastic, and full of heart. Juno decides to lose her virginity and ends up pregnant. The father? Her social awkward friend.

Despite it's goofy dialog there is a very strong message here. Juno decides against an abortion when a classmate declares that after so many weeks, the fetus has "fingernails." Instead, Juno decides to give up the baby to a family that can't have children.

It isn't cut and dried. She struggles with the stigma of teenage pregnancy and the consequences of it all. In addition, the adoptive family has it's own issues that threaten the adoption.

In the end, Juno makes a heartbreakingly difficult decision, but one that was in the best interests of her child. So, in a way, it's about empowerment and making the right, and non-selfish, decisions. Ultimately, she made the decision on her own, but her family, and the child's father, supported her in a way that I think a lot of people should, but don't always.

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