Yes, I am reading realistic fiction. It is also what I am trying to teach myself how to write. So I read and read and read. However, the two I read this week are very different. It is amazing how a genre can be so different.
I started with Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt. I was not drawn to the description but thought I need to see what Gary is up to. Wow! What a beautifully written book. The story is hard – a young 14 year old is being placed with a foster family who lives on a farm. He is coming out of a juvenile facility for almost killing a teacher, he is a father of a child he has never seen, he is withdrawn and shattered.
Schmidt places this story in the depth of a winter giving you a chance to watch this young man unfold with the melting of spring. He writes in short crisp sentences that drops you right into the emotions of this young character and the family he finds himself in the middle of.
This is a heart breaking story of truth and understanding. A story that reminds us to look behind the behaviors of our trouble youth. There is always a story hidden there that helps us to connect if we are willing to take the time to listen slowly and when they are ready to share. In this text we watch as this foster family builds trust through non judgement, simple clear tasks, expectations and love. A beautifully written story.
My other read this week was to return to the quirky writing of Polly Hovarth with the first book in her series My One Hundred Adventures. ( I reviewed Northward to the Moon last week. It was book two. Nothing like reading things backwards.)
This was just a delightful as Northward to the Moon. Jane Fielding is seeking a summer of adventures and begins by praying for them. The adventures she finds herself on are not quite what she was hoping for. There are misunderstandings, people who are looking out for themselves definitely not Jane and the immaturity of a young girl in a small town.
It makes for a great read with humor and wild stories but as always Hovarth manages to slip in some lessons about life, family and friends. (It might help to read them in order especially if you are a kid.)
Both of these would be great read aloud books for very different reasons. I had not though about it while reading but now I realize they would make a good compare and contrast read. They also would be good mentor text –
- to discuss writing style
- use of humor or not
- the importance a setting can play in story (both authors used setting in amazing ways to support their stories and the characters personality) – one is in the winter on a farm – the other is summer on the beach
- Both have two main characters who are “friends” that they learn to depend on help them (two boys/two girls) but in very different ways
- Both have families, family jobs and family love but they look very different with similar results
I must say it was a fun week of reading and thinking about the wonderful things authors do when they sit down to write.
Now the trick is can I learn to do a bit of that myself.
Happy Reading and Writing!