I recently finished a long-ass book (Infinite Jest, quite amazing) and then a nonfiction book (Mountains Beyond Mountains, quite inspiring but, you know, nonfiction) and there I was, at eleven o'clock at night, wandering the living room realizing that I didn't have a book to read and I was about to go to bed and what the hell was I going to read? So I picked up this:
And I read it. And there you go. I mean, I like to read a kid's book every now and again (I suppose that's pretty obvious already) and sometimes it's just the thing before bed, something lighter and more willing to be humorous and, I don't know, close to the surface in some emotional way that I find touching.
I read it and it was…good. I mean, it's about a very loud fifth grade and how they make a vow/contest not to speak for two whole days, and the ways it changes them, and affects their views of each other power. It's interesting. Both my collaborators had been full of high praise, which is part of why I picked it up. But I was sort of, I don't know, frustrated. There was something inescapably adult in its tone, a sort of kindly English-teacher type grownup, which I found off-putting, and it was missing something I was looking for (no doubt unfairly) which was a sort of lunatic passion somewhere in it. Which, when I come to think of it, is always what I'm looking for in any book. A book that sort of sets your head on fire (in a good way, I mean). But of course, not all books can do that. And if I had a kid who was too deeply committed to the boy vs. girl wars, or talked all the time without stopping, I might give them this book. And meanwhile we'll all keep searching for the other books that are out there. Do tell, if you know any.
4 thoughts on “Love vs. Like”
I love reading kids’/teen books. I take them out of the library and even buy them once in a while, in addition to having (and frequently rereading) a large collection of my own leftover from when I was that age. Maybe I’ve never grown up?
I love love love Madeleine L’Engle’s young adult books and still get something out of them each time I reread. Also, Cynthia Voigt and even Paula Danziger once in a while.
I recently read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson which was very powerful, and Science Fair by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson was pretty funny.
My 9-year old has started this strange habit where she vanishes into her bathroom for about 10 minutes every night before I sing her to sleep. I’ve taken to pulling down books from her shelves – A WRINKLE IN TIME, DADDY LONG-LEGS and right now I’m reading BETSY AND TACY GO DOWNTOWN. It’s complete pleasure! (so I don’t even mind about the bathroom thing…)
My daughter just bought this book this week, read it, and handed it over to me, saying, “You should read this. It’s a good book.” I have really enjoyed other Andrew Clements stories, especially The School Story and Frindle.
I always love it when they hand a book over to me with that seriousness and generosity. It’s sort of the recompense for losing the bedtime story reading.