I finally got around to reading the two John Green books that were at the very top of my summer reading list, and was more than a little bit disappointed. To begin with, these were not books I could hand out to my 6th. graders…or even my eighth graders. These were, most definitely, high school books. So, I was disappointed in that – so many of my kids loved The Fault in Our Stars and wanted more of Green – but these are not the books for them. Looking For Alaska described this way in Green’s web page:
Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words–and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.
Alaska is a captivating character, and I loved her. And Green’s witty, irreverent style is easy to become carried away by; I found myself enjoying the writing a lot more than the story itself, which seemed to wander a bit. Spoiler alert! Alaska is killed in a car crash towards the end of the book, and I found the whole resolution of the story somewhat confusing and pointless. Still, I loved the characters Green created in Alaska.
I don’t think I can say the same for the ones that people An Abundance of Katherines, however. Here is a blurb for the book, as described on Green’s website:
When it comes to relationships, everyone has a type. Colin Singleton’s type is girls named Katherine. He has dated–and been dumped by–19 Katherines. In the wake of The K-19 Debacle, Colin–an anagram-obsessed washed-up child prodigy–heads out on a road trip with his overweight, Judge Judy- loving friend Hassan. With 10,000 dollars in his pocket and a feral hog on his trail, Colin is on a mission to prove a mathematical theorem he hopes will predict the future of any relationship (and conceivably win the girl).
Green’s sense of humor is every bit as sharp and quick in this book as well, but I just could not get into the characters. There was an absurdist bent to this story, which meandered far too much to hold my attention. I thought the mathematical aspect (the theorems Colin is trying to construct), a clever device … but it soon became tedious, as did Green’s clever-for -the-first-three-chapters habit of foot noting this and that . And I found the characters undeveloped and one dimensional. I had checked out Paper Towns to complete my John Green marathon, but I think I may put it aside until later this summer.
The Teacher’s and Writer’s Collaborative is a New York City based organization that is devoted to fostering a love of writing through workshops and collaborative programs and publications. It’s poetry program in the five boroughs generated the fabulous poems collected in A POEM AS BIG AS NEW YORK CITY.
Each poem is written to capture the essence of New York City, as seen through the eyes of the children who ride its subways, visit its sites, walk its bustling streets. It is a wonderful tribute – and the gorgeous illustrations by Masha D’yans are just perfect.