Monthly Archives: January 2015

El Deafo, by Cece Bell

El Deafo, by Cece Bell

El Deafo, by Cece Bell

When Cece was four, she became very sick. She had meningitis, which meant her brain was sick too. Cece got better and was able to go home, but her hearing was affected; Cece had to wear hearing aids in order to hear, and even those did not work well all the time. She really didn’t mind all that much until she went to school. There, the fact that she wore hearing aids made her feel different and alone. Until one day, Cece realizes that her Phonic Ear hearing aid, a large device she wears strapped to her chest while the teacher wears a microphone, allows her to hear conversations and events all around the school. Cece, with her super-hearing, seems to have a superpower, and El Deafo is born.

El Deafo is told in a graphic novel format, and it is based on the life of the author/illustrator, Cece Bell. Ms. Bell  illustrates some of the difficulties involved for a hearing impared person living in a hearing world, such as Cece can’t lip read her friends at sleepovers with the lights out, she can’t lip read cartoons, and many people, knowing she is hearing impaired, talk to her in over-exagerated ways, which makes it harder for her to lip read them or hear them at all. However, Cece’s difficulties and her feelings of being different and alone are feelings that every child feels at one time or another. What Cece wants more than anything is to feel that she fits in, and to have at least one true friend. By the end of the book, she gains an understanding of her own self-worth, as well as an understanding that others are struggling too. She even finds her one true friend in Martha, but really, it is clear to the reader that Cece had many friends all along.

This is an excellent book for younger readers. It is a book that not only removes some of the mystery surrounding children with special needs, but also shows how we’re all the same, in spite of many of our differences.

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Filed under younger readers

The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller

s The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller

If you’re like me, you had to read Homer’s Illiad, a tale set during the Trojan War, in high school. And if you’re like me, you would have been less than impressed by that classic tale. I love battle books, I love books involving warriors and swordfighting and acts of heroism and honor, and so I should have loved Homer’s epic story. But the style and language of the Illiad overshadowed all the battling, heroism, and even the swordfighting. Thank goodness Madeline Miller, a high school classics teacher, wrote The Song of Achilles, for her retelling of the story includes everything I love in such books and none of things I don’t.

The Song of Achilles is told from the point of view of Achilles’ friend, Petroculus. Petroculus meets Achilles at the palace of King Peleus, and the two become friends. King Peleus sends the two young men into the wilderness to be trained by Chiron, King of the cave-dwelling Centuars. The young men become warriors become embroiled in the Trojan War, and the rest is history.  One thing I found astonishing about this book was the depth and complexity of her characters. They practically walk off the page. Achilles’ mother, a sea-nymph named Thetis, was such a wonderfully fierce wild being that when she was on the page, I was certain that the gods of ancient Greece were real. Also, Ms. Miller’s prose is so beautiful–every word has a purpose–it is like reading a poem. Her prose touched my soul, I think. While battles rage and kings and warriors maneuver for power, underneath is a sense of quiet calm and hidden depths.

This is a powerful gem of a book. If you are looking for a classic book to enjoy, yet you want poetry and battles and acts of heroism, this is the book for you.

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Filed under adventure, literary

Golden Son, by Pierce Brown

Golden Son, by Pierce Brown

Golden Son, by Pierce Brown

Golden Son, by Pierce Brown is the second book in the Red Rising Trilogy. I reviewed the first book, Red Rising, in February 2014. Read the review here. I gushed over Red Rising…it was a stupendous book, and since that title was a debut novel, it was an even more tremendous achievement. In Red Rising, we met Darrow, nicknamed Reaper, a cast limited red worker who, after a genetic transformation into a ruling class gold, finds a way to make a prominent place for himself in their priveleged ranks. He strives to make the ruling class pay for the death of his wife, Eo, and honor her quest to change society for the better. However, as he works and lives and loves among the golds, he finds that his initial quest may be a naive one. He cares for the golds as well as the reds, and often questions who he is that Eo believed he could make a difference.

In Golden Son, Darrow’s journey continues, picking up immediately after the events in the first book. Darrow has made progress in his goal, one to gain a place of prominence and influence among the golds. Others conspire against him, for they want prominence just as much as Darrow does. Darrow soon finds his battle is a much bigger affair than he realized, and he and his alleys face some truly daunting obsticles. Tensions increase, battles rage, and strageties and alligences shift and realign. Darrow, being Darrow, rises to the occasion, and you can sense that other forces, other tides in society, may be rising too.

I won’t spoil anything here. This is an even more awesome book than Red Rising, and that is saying something. All I can say is read it, and read it now. If you can put either of these two books down once you start, then perhaps you need to have your glasses checked or your head examined. And to Mr. Pierce Brown? My gosh, but you really must write faster. How in the world can I wait to see how this all ends?

Note: Red Rising was on sale in the Kindle store for $1.99 on 1/7/2015. So if you need to purchase it, the time is now! Go for it!

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