Books for Me

Bullying, when does it end? Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Hello all my wonderful readers!
I know it has been a while since I have blogged, but I am out of college for the summer of 2015, and I plan on getting back into the blogging world as well as completing my 2015 Summer Reading List that seems to be growing by the day!

With that said and done, let’s talk about what I have been reading.

After much delay with completing homework assignments and getting things ready for my student teaching experience in the Fall (which I am pretty excited for) I final finished the first book on my 2015 Summer Reading List. Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes was a book that I dreaded putting down and stayed up way to many nights during the week getting lost in the life of high school students who had their life flipped upside down in a matter of only 19 minutes.

Nineteen Minutes by Joci PicoultBefore I start talking about the book, I feel the need to express the importance of reading it. If you have ever read any of Jodi Picoult’s  books, you know that she writes stories that are real, and she takes you into a reality that makes you question how you would handle the situation on every page. We see many examples of this, such as in “My Sister’s Keeper,” which was a personal favorite of mine along with “Change of Heart.” What I liked most about Jodi Picoult is that she takes these realities, these stories, and makes it feel as if the story is actually happening in your very own life. Her stories are real, they focus on real issues that most readers do not want to face.

Nineteen Minutes was a book recommended to me by a former classmate and friend, who is also on the path to becoming an Elementary Teacher. She told me that it was a book that every teacher should read, and after reading the first 50 pages I completely agree with her. Any individual who works with kids, whether it be a teacher, a counselor, a friend, and even a parent, should read this book.

Here’s why…

The book talks about Bullying.

Picoult paints a picture of the typical high school setting….different groups of friends (“nerds,” “jocks,” “cheer team,”), and brings focus to a particular student named Peter, who doesn’t really fit into any group and is bullied and teased for most of his educational career. Peter has a tough life, with very little friends and  a thousand enemies as he tries to figure out who exactly he is. The beginning of the book starts with the description of one of the most horrific events I think to ever happen in the United States.

A school shooting.

As Picoult describes this horrific event, she also takes you through the life of Peter who is pushed over the edge and decides to harm and kill many students in his high school. As you find out more about him and the details of his life, the reader becomes sympathetic in a way. Some readers may not be sympathetic towards Peter, yet other readers will see the side of Peter that was hidden away by pain, suffering, and the denial of “fitting in” with his peers.  At the end of the story, Picoult lets the reader decide: did Peter have the right to do what he did at his high school? Was he out of line?

Or my personal favorite..

How does one handle this issue before it becomes out of control?

Sadly, it seems that massive crimes on school grounds are becoming more frequent in this country, and there doesn’t seem to be one set solution on how to deal with a student who comes into a school with a gun planning on harming or killing others. How do kids get to that point? What drives them over the edge?

I believe that educating students on how to deal with emotions and conflict at a young age is a key to developing those skills infuture years. I think that in the public schools today, and even as parents at home, we stress the fact that all kids should like each other and get along. We forget that kids have distinct personalities that set them apart from others. We force kids to like each other instead of teaching them to respect everyone’s differences. We forget to tell our students and kids that it is okay to not like someone and it is okay to be angry or sad with someone as long as you can deal with the conflict in a positive manner. I don’t think that forcing kids to like each other works in a school setting anymore.

Are there other factors to the equation? Absolutely. Kids are a product of their environment. They absorb what they see and hear. Sometimes there are going to be answers to why kids would want to do something so destructive and harmful to other kids or themselves such as bring a weapon to school such as Peter…

Sometimes there are no answers.

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Regardless on how you view conflict, or whether you agree with me or not, bullying and school violence continues to be an issue. Nineteen Minutes takes you inside a typical high school that is trying to rebuild itself from rock bottom. The words of Jodi Picoult ask you to listen to the story of Peter, and challenges you to find the answer to why or what causes a teenage boy with his whole life ahead of him, to make a life altering choice that leads to many injuries and too many young deaths.

How will you solve the problem before it is too late?

“As it turns out, kids are more like us than we think: damaged, through and through.” #jodipicoult #19minutes #teachacceptance

New Thoughts About Rain; Response to Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain

Happy Labor Day to all of my beautiful readers! After starting up my classes for the fall semester, I have decided to settle down in my cozy chair on the wonderful Monday morning and share with you a fantastic novel that I had the liberty of finishing this summer.

So I finished this book before the fall semester started, and I have to tell you that at first I was a bit skeptical. I was concerned mainly with the author’s ability to create a perspective novel from the view of an animal. Despite my initial feelings before I started the book, I opened to the first page with an open mind and was taken on a journey through the mind of a loyal, trusting dog.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein is a story that is told from a dog named Enzo, who lives with his owner Denny. Enzo loves his life with Denny and enjoys being a dog, but what he really desires to be is a human. He looks at his little family consisting of Denny, Eve (his wife) and Zoe (his daughter) with mixed emotions. As a dog, he loves his family and remains a loyal companion in the harshest times, but he envies Denny’s ability to walk, communicate, cook, and use his thumbs. He loves life, but cannot wait to be reborn again into a human’s body.

TheArtofRacinginRainAs much as Enzo desires to be a human, he understand that the life of a human being is not as simple, and sometimes not as enjoyable as he had hoped. He watches his family in both happy times, and in times of despair as this small, American family goes through some very harsh times that will put their faith to the test. Enzo and his family will experience some of the greatest joys and the biggest heart breaks of their lives as they try to understand life death, and the events that happen in between.

This book is pretty hard to describe because I fear that I will give certain events away that will ruin the story. What you need to know as a reader is that if you are looking for a book to put you through an emotional roller coaster, read this one. I think that Garth Stein did a good job at creating a novel that was a told from the perspective of a dog. While I was reading this book I couldn’t help but think about my own dogs. IMG_4859Reading this book was very refreshing to read. If you have time to get away from grading papers, or reading the young adult book your teaching in class, grab this one.