Shakespeare, Alexie and Chicago!

My reading has been a bit slower than usual lately due mostly to my workload. But I have read a couple of interesting titles in the past few weeks.

I read Juliet, by Anne Fortier. The book was loaned to me by my Mother in Law, and while it’s not something I probably would’ve picked up on my own, I enjoyed it. I wouldn’t have picked it out on my own because it looks from the back cover more like a romance novel than anything else– but what I found inside was (while bordering on romance) an interesting story with religious and historical perspectives intertwined in a story about the original Romeo and Juliet.

We all know that Shakespeare was the master of plagiarism, writing his plays from the oral stories of yore. Granted, he took stories that likely would have been lost in the shuffle and made them immortal through his craft, so we’ll give him his due credit. In any case, this book was based on the rumor that Romeo and Juliet were actual people based on an actual event that happened in Italy. The book chronicles a modern woman’s search for her history, and in doing so she discovers the true story of Romeo and Juliet. It was a fun read.

I also read Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.This had been on my radar for a while because of all the work I do with adolescent literacy. Alexie seems to have mastered the young adult novel– just angsty enough to pull in a reluctant young reader, but with hopeful and clear writing. I enjoyed the story, but won’t write much about it here because I handed it over to some others to read and don’t want to give away the end. Essentially though, it’s a story (based on Alexie’s life) of a young boy who lives on a reservation and decides to go to the mostly white school in a town near his home.

The story is sad, and unfortunately most of it is based on fact. But Alexie has a way with words, and he manages to stay hopeful without being unrealistic.

I’m off to the International Reading Association Conference in Chicago next week. I still marvel at the fact that there is an entire conference about reading… I hope to meet many like-minded professionals and improve my abilities to help others understand the work that goes into student literacy. I’m sure I’ll share more later!

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