Hey guys! After last week's RANT about a terrible teen "book" (yes, I'm putting book in quotes because it was so bad), I'm thrilled to have an awesome read to share with you this week!
Wringer by Jerry Spinelli
Goodreads Summary: Sometimes he wished it would come after him, chase him, this thing he did not want to be. But the thing never moved. It merely waited. Waited for him to come to it. In Palmer LaRue's hometown of Waymer, turning ten is the biggest event of a boy's life. It marks the day when a boy is ready to take his place as a wringer at the annual Family Fest. It's an honor and a tradition.
But for Palmer, his tenth birthday is not something to look forward to, but something to dread. Because -- although he can't admit this to anyone -- Palmer does not want to be a wringer. But he can't stop himself from getting older, any more than he can stop tradition.
Then one day, a visitor appears on his windowsill, and Palmer knows that this, more than anything else, is a sign that his time is up. Somehow, he must learn how to stop being afraid and stand up for what he believes in.
My Thoughts: Wringer has been on my to-read list FOREVER, and I'm so glad I finally got around to reading it! However, I must have never read the jacket carefully because it turns out what I THOUGHT this book was about was pretty different than its actual plot! This happens to me ALL the time, as I just add books on goodreads without really reading the summary. I actually went into this book thinking it was a dystopian novel, but it's actual realistic fiction. As you can tell frmo the plot, it's definitely got some intense, dark content--shooting pigeons and then wringing their necks isn't exactly Goldilocks.
What I love about this book are the important themes it brings up. In true Spinelli-style, Wringer gets to the root of some big issues while keeping the perspective totally through the eyes of the child protagonist. Not only does Spinelli explore the broad concepts of right and wrong, but also the tougher issues kids face about standing up for what you know is right even when it means standing up to your friends and family. Wringer also deals with friendship--the protagonist desperately wants to gain acceptance into a little group of neighborhood "hoodlums" as his mother refers to them, but when he is accepted, he finds out he really doesn't like them and their behavior. He'd much rather spend time with his youger female neighbor who he's embarrassed to speak to in public. Wringer would be an AMAZING book to launch a discussion about how hard it is to stand up for what's right in front of your friends.
I would definitely recommend this book to some of my advanced reading 4th graders, and if I still taught 5th grade, I would consider it for a read aloud. There are just so many good themes in here that it would be perfect for stimulating class discussions and critical thinking responses.
(Summary and cover image courtesy of goodreads.com!)
Link to your What I'm Reading Wednesday post below!