Saint John Don Bosco:

"Never read books you aren't sure about . . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?"

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko

An intriguing title... An excellent perspective on the issue of race... Witty dialogue... Too bad the book loses its charm about half-way through once you realize where it’s going.

This story alternates between Kirsten and Walker’s points-of-view. Walker is the only African American boy at the private school Kirsten attends.

~ Kirsten’s mom and dad fight constantly in front of them and are on the verge of divorce
~ plenty of cra_’s, Go_d’s, but_’s.
~ the teen talk can be pretty blunt: “feels like there’s a giant bulls-eye painted on my naked brown booty.”
~ a teacher who seats children by zodiac sign; a palm reading (which the Hispanic character responds to with a sign-of the cross)
~a friend starts wearing tight clothes that “show her butt crack.”

The DaVinci designation derives from the plot premise as well as how it is handled. Walker is Kirsten’s half-brother. Kirsten’s dad loved Walker’s mom,Sylvia, and they made Walker, but Sylvia didn’t love Kirsten’s dad. Kristen’s mom had her before she was married to Kirsten’s dad, 2 months apart from Walker’s birth, although, according to her mom, Kirsten’s dad did not actually cheat. Nope. Kirsten’s mom explains this. They were in an on-again, off-again relationship that was apparently, (do the math), off long enough to get quite “close” to Sylvia, and thus have babies with 2 women, 2 months apart.

Conveniently enough, Kirsten and her sister accept this all with great aplomb, and Kirsten’s mom even makes efforts to be friendly to Sylvia. The whole moral quagmire of a mess is vaguely explained with the comment that grown ups make mistakes and kids have to forgive them.

Apparently, they have hope of achieving all this reconciliation without recourse to God’s grace. A tall order indeed. Not only is there no mention of repentance of heart, there is a strong spiritual blindness as to what needs repentance and conversion of heart.

Children gradually find out on their own that their parents aren’t perfect. Such a shocking shove forward from a book is not helpful.

(This author's book, Al Capone Does My Shirts is a big award-winner. I'll be reviewing it soon since I already let my older tween read it.)


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