Thursday, February 16, 2012

Something to Hold by Katherine Schlick Noe

It's kinda funny to check out the different kinds of books Alysa and I read. While we both get completely consumed by certain authors and series, she reads more fantasy books and chick lit and I read coming-of-age stuff. I think it fair to say that we both feel like we have heavy loads to read for school: her most recent school read was What is the What? by Dave Eggers. As an instructor at a college, I am always juggling a solid handful of books during the semester. I know we both love to read, and what we choose to get swallowed always intrigues me. One of the super-cool things I see happening these days is how when other teacher friends come over, they often ask Alysa what she is reading. These teacher friends are readers too, and they are always searching for great lit, particularly through the eyes of a teen reader like Alysa.

In November I attended a national literacy conference for educators. There I met several authors and saw dozens of amazing looking books, some of which I have written about on this blog. But this book, Something to Hold, caught me in a special way. I could be this girl on the cover. The moment I saw it, I knew I had to read it. Seriously if you and I sat down with old photos my dad took from when I was young, I can almost guarantee you we would find at least one like this: me jumping over a stream, hair pulled back, out in the wilds. I also knew that I wanted a quieter time to read this book, that something about it spoke in a calming way. Maybe it was the familiarity of the cover shot, maybe it was the title: who knew?

Part biographical, this book leads us through the early teen life of a girl whose father works for the government on a reservation. The girl finds her own way to push back against the ugly racism, unfairness, and brutality she experiences or witnesses at her school and in her life during the early '60's. She finds her own grounding through her willingness to stand true to what she believes in. I enjoyed the book and can see many girls like me reading it, particularly the young outdoor set. This is the kind of book I would have loved to read as a young girl. I imagine I would have read it several times, having identified personally with a number of the girl's struggles.

And what would Alysa do with this book? First I doubt I have ANY pictures of her jumping over streams; her way of being and mine are just different. But I can imagine her connecting deeply with the truth telling the runs through the storyline, and I believe she might see herself as the girl in the text, having been there in the trials of ugly words and actions, all by folks who sit beside her in her school. No vampires and boyfriends in this book, but worthy subject focus and realistic issues fill the text with merit. I am glad the cover spoke to me so convincingly.

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