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I haven't been as book crazed this week as I was last week, what with the madness of packing up my classroom, but I am OFFICIALLY on summer vacation now! Let the nonstop reading begin!! I do have a few titles to share with you though, don't worry!
Scored by Lauren McLaughlin
Summary from goodreads.com: Set in the future when teenagers are monitored via camera and their recorded actions and confessions plugged into a computer program that determines their ability to succeed. All kids given a "score" that determines their future potential. This score has the ability to get kids into colleges, grant scholarships, or destroy all hope for the above. Scored's reluctant heroine is Imani, a girl whose high score is brought down when her best friend's score plummets. Where do you draw the line between doing what feels morally right and what can mean your future? Friendship, romance, loyalty, family, human connection and human value: all are questioned in this fresh and compelling dystopian novel set in the scarily forseeable future.
My thoughts: Yes, I know, another dystopian teen fiction...what can I say, they are my crack. :) This book was definitely no Hunger Games or Divergent, but it did set an interesting scene for what a technology-gone-too-far world could look like. The start of the book was a little slower than most reads in this genre, but I found myself genuinely intrigued by the idea that kids and teens were "scored" based on their actions and words by "eyeballs," or cameras dangling everywhere that monitor their every move. The point of these cameras isn't to create a police state, but rather to provide opportunities for the underprivileged to find opportunities based on their scores, and "even the playing field." For example, Imani is from a low income community, but if she rises up to a certain score, she will be guaranteed a scholarship to college and will have secured an advantageous future. The thing is, though, that not only do the scores create a completely creepy big brother state, but they also create an every-man-for-himself mindset, with kids focusing on one thing--improving their score no matter the cost. Interesting, right? The story was a little slow at first, like I said, and I wasn't thrilled about the ending--it seemed to end way too suddenly with many things still unresolved. That being said, it definitely offered some food for thought!
Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories compiled by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones
Summary from goodreads.com: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Discover how Lauren Kate transformed he feeling of that one mean girl getting under her skin into her first novel, how Lauren Oliver learned to celebrate ambiguity in her classmates and in herself, and how R.L. Stine turned being the "funny guy" into the best defense against the bullies in his class. Today's top authors for teens come together to share their stories about bullying—as silent observers on the sidelines of high school, as victims, and as perpetrators—in a collection at turns moving and self-effacing, but always deeply personal.
My thoughts: I couldn't wait to get my hands on this one after I heard about it via goodreads awhile back. Bullying is one of those things that is a reality in every classroom in every school (not to mention many adult environments too). I don't know about you, but I am constantly unsure of how to handle bullying. I've tried a variety of ways to address it with my full class and with individuals, but it seems like there is no one right answer. That doesn't mean I will give up trying, but it's hard to see kids being bullied and feel powerless at times. I haven't read the whole book yet, but the stories I have read are powerful and beautiful. Some are deeply sad, others are hopeful, but all ring loudly with messages from the authors about what they've learned, how they've changed, and how they've grown from their experiences. I actually read one story, the R.L. Stein one, aloud to my 5th graders last week. Most were too graphic or mature for 10 year olds, but this story had enough innocence and humor in it that it was appropriate, while still sending a message about bullying. (We did a little activity while reading as well that I'll share more about another time...) Anyways, I can't wait to continue reading this book, and it would definitely be a fantastic resource in high school classrooms I'd think.
What have you been reading this week?
As usual, all cover photos and italicized summaries are from goodreads.com. :)