Booktube Videos | My Honors Contract

Here are the booktube videos I made for my Honors Contract this year.

Racial Diversity (direct link)

LGBTQ+ Representation (direct link)

Mental Illness (direct link)

Religion (direct link)

Full Fathom Five, Art vs. Artist, & Ghostwriting (direct link)

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Book Pages 9: Mosquitoland by David Arnold

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Arnold, David. Mosquitoland. New York: Penguin, 2015. Print.

After Mim Malone’s parents get divorced, she is dragged from her home in Ohio to Florida to live with her dad and new stepmom. She’s a dreamer and often impulsive, so when Mim hears that her mother is sick, she decides to run away from home back to Ohio via Greyhound. Along the way she encounters a strange and unique cast of characters – some nice and some not-so-nice – and she also encounters herself. It’s a journey to see her mother, but along the way she may just find herself instead.

Let me get this out of the way: I absolutely loved this book. I was captivated from the very first page and I had a hard time putting it down for even a minute.

Mim was such a wonderful, interesting, and fun character to follow. She’s independent, intelligent, quite funny, and crazy in the best way possible. At one point she decides that she will begin talking in a British accent to her fellow passengers on the bus just for the heck of it. But she’s also messed up. The divorce and the move and her mom getting sick have taken a toll on her, hence the tagline: “Mim Malone is not okay.” Sure, she makes some terrible decisions, but who hasn’t? The other characters were wonderful, too. She met some unique people during her journey, and I loved reading about each and every one of them.

The only real problem I has with it was that it is not realistic or even that believable. It’s a common cliché in young adult books for teenagers to go on these wonderful adventures, free of adults and other authoritative figures. I’m often drawn to books  of this type, but I’ve recently become more skeptical and a lot of the time I’m pulled out of the story because I’m thinking about how unrealistic it is. But it didn’t bother me very much in Mosquitoland. I realized part of the way through that it really isn’t about the journey, it’s about how Mim changes and grows as a person along the way.

David Arnold has a wonderful writing style, and this was only his debut novel. I’m looking forward to reading his next book, Kids of Appetite, very soon.

When I think about if this is a classroom-worthy book, I’m conflicted. Yes, I loved it and there’s nothing inappropriate about it, but I’m not sure about an overarching theme. Perhaps something about grief in times of difficulty, whether that may be a family member getting sick, divorce, or moving away from the only home you’ve ever known.

Overall, a wonderful book, but maybe not the best thing to teach a high school class.

Book Pages 8: Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann

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McMann, Lisa. Cryer’s Cross. New York: Simon Pulse, 2011. Print.

Kendall Fletcher lives in the small Montana town of Cryer’s Cross. It’s the kind of town where everyone knows everyone else and nothing bad ever happens, until the book starts, at least. A freshman at the local high school goes missing and the town is in shock. Then another kid goes missing and the townspeople realize there is something wrong. On top of that, two siblings move to town, and they seem awfully suspicious.

This book has been on my radar for quite a while. I recently saw it at my favorite used bookstore and I was in the mood for something a little creepy (it was around Halloween), so I finally decided to pick it up. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the biggest fan. It wasn’t very creepy or scary, granted, it’s pretty difficult to scare me, but I did like the overall atmosphere.

The biggest problem I had with Cryer’s Cross was the narration. It is told from a third person present tense point of view, and I can’t remember reading anything else with that point of view. Or if I have, it was better executed. Here it felt very cold and detached, and not at all descriptive. It made it difficult for me to get into the story.

One interesting thing about this book was the fact that Kendall, the protagonist, has OCD. I do not have OCD or personally know anyone who does, so I can’t say if the portrayal was realistic or not, but it’s always nice to see those kinds of things being represented, especially in young adult books. I think mental illness is a subject that deserves to be written about more because many adolescents do struggle with things like that.

Apart from that one unique characteristic, I didn’t really like any of the characters. They just weren’t interesting. There was also a very unnecessary and unrealistic romance subplot thrown in, and it was almost insta-love. And above all of that, the big reveal at the end was unsatisfying. With that being said, I probably would have enjoyed it when I was in middle school or ninth grade. I read a lot of mildly creepy books back then.

I don’t think I’d ever teach this in school. I mean, there aren’t any real “teachable” aspects except Kendall’s OCD. I think students may enjoy reading it purely for entertainment, especially around October, but, unfortunately, I can’t see it leading to any valuable discussions.