Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

As I think about all of Apple’s latest innovations, I’m also remembering the person who knew we wanted all these things.

Book Club Mom

stevejobsSteve Jobs
by
Walter Isaacson

Rating:
4 book marks

This biography gives us the full picture of Steve Jobs, good and bad. It is a detailed history of Jobs, his life and his creations at Apple, NeXT, Pixar and Apple again. And it’s a look at the impatient frustrations of a perfectionist who, with the genius of vision and presentation, liked to distort reality, had poor people skills and thought no rules applied to him.

I don’t know what to think of Steve Jobs. He derived his happiness from creating and was driven to do so. Isaacson shows a man who manipulated people, berated them, and often ignored his wife and children. He regularly took credit for ideas that came from his creative team and rearranged facts to benefit his point, all with no regrets. But time and again he enabled people to achieve the impossible by refusing to believe that something could…

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Onion John by Joseph Krumgold

onion-john
Onion John

by
Joseph Krumgold

Rating:
4 book marks

Everything changes the year Andy Rusch turns twelve.  Until then, being a kid was easy in the 1950s.  And in the small New Jersey town of Serenity, baseball, friends, school and helping out in his dad’s hardware store fill Andy’s days.  Then one day, he befriends the town’s hermit, Onion John.  John lives up on Hessian Hill, in a makeshift house built of stones.  He is a fixture in town and an expert gardener, but people keep their distance because John is in his own world and speaks a language nobody understands.  When Andy takes the time to listen, he opens his mind to John’s world of naïve superstition.

Mr. Rusch has big plans for Andy, including college at MIT and he doesn’t approve of the friendship.  He wants Andy to get out of Serenity and be the first man on the moon, a vision Andy has trouble sharing.  His dad tells him he must forget John’s foolish ideas and focus on this dream.  Andy wants to please his father, but whose dream is it?

In an effort to understand, Mr. Rusch reaches out to Andy’s friend.  The story takes a turn when Mr. Rusch and the townspeople decide they know how to better Onion John’s life.  A new and modern house will civilize John and bring him into the real world.  Although John tries hard to embrace his new circumstances, his old ways get in the way, disaster follows and then there’s no going back.

Onion John is the story of an unlikely friendship and how well-meaning people get caught up in an idea and fail to see that change doesn’t always work.  Andy understands, because, while he’s becoming an adult, he’s still a part of John’s childlike fantasy world.  And sometimes a child’s logic is the best.

It would’ve been better for everybody if he didn’t try so hard, to change.  First, he wasn’t very good at it.  And second, I didn’t see anything wrong with the way he was.

This interesting coming of age story is a little dated, but its themes of family, community, dreams and doing the right thing are timeless.

Click here to read more about Joseph Krumgold on Goodreads.  He was the first author to win the John Newbery Medal twice!


Note:  Summer is over, but I’m still reading my Summer Reading Challenge books!  I chose Onion John to fill the category of a book that was published the year I was born.  I discovered later, however, that it was published before I was born, but that it was awarded The Newbery Medal the following year.  I say that counts!

Take a look at my choices for the 16 in 16 Challenge:

Book 1 – A Book You Can Finish in a Day:  The Good Neighbor by A.J. Banner
Book 2 – A Book in a Genre You Typically Don’t Read:  The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson
Book 3 – A Book with a Blue Cover:  The Vacationers by Emma Straub
Book 4 – A Book Translated to English:  I Refuse by Per Petterson
Book 5 – A Second Book in a Series:  Brooklyn on Fire by Lawrence H. Levy
Book 6 – A Book To Learn Something New: The Beginner’s Photography Guide by Chris Gatcum
Book 7 – A Book That Was Banned:  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Book 8 – A Book Set Somewhere You’ve Always Wanted to Visit:  Calmer Girls by Jennifer Kelland Perry
Book 9 – A Book with Non-human Characters:  The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Book 10 – A Book Recommended by a Librarian:  Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
Book 11 – A Book Being Made into a Movie this Year:  A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Book 12 – A Book with Bad Reviews:  The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Friday Fiction is back! Twelve: Chapter 12 – “Letter from School”

Friday Fiction

Welcome to Twelve, a new book of Friday Fiction! This story begins the summer Emily Kingston turns twelve and is about a friendship that changed everything.

I hope you enjoy it!


CHAPTER TWELVE – LETTER FROM SCHOOL

I went home from school with a letter from Mr. Kearny.  He told me I had to have both my parents sign it and give it to him the next day.  He also said that he and I were going to have another “chat” the next day at school.  I didn’t know what I was going to say to Mr. Kearny, but I put that out of my mind.

I walked up our street and thought about what I would tell Mom and Dad and I started to worry.  I only wanted to have it be normal at home, with no problems like me getting into a fight at school.

When I walked into the house, Mom was in the kitchen and, even though I hadn’t wanted to go in the house and tell her about the fight, it felt so good to be at home and to see her face.  Out of nowhere, tears welled up in my eyes.  I did the best I could to wipe them away before Mom looked up.

“Hi Emily,” she said.  She smiled, but when she saw my face, her face changed.  I don’t know how moms know this, but she took one look at me and right away she could tell something was wrong.  I had just been so glad to see her, but then when she looked at me and her face changed, all I wanted to do was run upstairs.

Mom asked, “Is something wrong, Emily?”

There I was on the spot again.  I didn’t like lying to people, but I didn’t see any other way to go.  I was starting to understand why people don’t always tell the truth.  I didn’t want to get in any more trouble by telling another lie, but I needed time to figure out what I was going to do.  So I said, “I’m okay, Mom.  I’m just a little moody.”

Mom looked at me for a clue.  Then her face changed.  “Ohhhhhhhhh….,” she said, with an all-knowing look.  I felt sick about it because I realized that Mom was probably thinking I had gotten my period.  Because I wanted to get upstairs, I let the idea stick.  “I’ll be in my room, Mom.” and she said, “Okay honey.”

Mom said, “Emily, if you need anything, just let me know.”

I answered, “Okay, Mom, I’ll be fine” and I ran upstairs.

When I got up to my room I sat on my bed, turned on the radio to make some noise and I called Jackie.  I told her everything that had happened, the fight, my talk with the principal, Mom thinking I got my period.  Then I told her about the note I had to have signed.

“Well, what are you going to do, Emily?”

“I don’t know.  I really don’t want to tell them about the fight.  If they find out, the next thing they’ll do is ask me all kinds of questions about how it started, and how I know Marcy and whether Marcy had ever bothered me before.  I just don’t want to tell them about all that.  If I tell them all that, they will tell the principal and the teachers and then I’ll be a total loser at school.  Marcy will torture me for who knows how long and it will be worse.  She’ll be even worse to me if I get her in trouble.  Plus I’m the one who started the spitting!  How am I going to explain that?”

“Listen, Emily.  You’re right.  No way can you rat on Marcy.  She will get back at you.  You don’t have to tell your Mom and Dad.  Bring the note to me and we’ll figure out what to do about the signatures.”

“I don’t know, Jackie.  I’m already in enough trouble.”

“Look, I’m not saying we’re going to fake the signatures, Emily.  Just bring it over here, we’ll look at it and see what we can do.”

I sat on my bed and wondered.  Would one more lie take care of the whole problem?  I had a bad feeling about Jackie’s advice, but I couldn’t see any other way out of the mess.  “Okay, Jackie.  I’ll come over.  I’ll bring the note, but I’m not saying I want you to do anything about it.”

I went over to Jackie’s apartment.  Her mom was already home, so we went right to Jackie’s room, shut the door and looked at the envelope.  Mr. Kearny had brought it down to 7th period and my English teacher had handed it to me at the end of class, so I never had a chance to look at it.  It was a school envelope and had “Mr. and Mrs. Kingston” typed on the front.  It was sealed.  That was already a problem.  If I opened it, how would I close it back up without Mom and Dad noticing?  If they never see the note, though, maybe Mr. Kearny doesn’t have to know I’m the one who opened it.  I felt sick.  I was already in trouble and I was getting deeper and deeper into a crazy mess of stories.  I wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep track of all the things I was doing.

Jackie came over to me.  “Let’s see.”  She took the envelope out of my hand and looked at it.  “Okay,” she said.  “Let’s open it carefully, just in case we want to close it back up.”  I had no idea how she was going to do that, but she looked like she knew what she was doing.  I hadn’t noticed that the envelope wasn’t completely sealed.  Mr. Kearny must have just barely licked the glue on the flap.  After a minute, Jackie had successfully pulled the flap away from the back of the envelope.  It looked a little wrinkled, but we could probably fix that.

She opened the letter and said, “Want to read it first?”

I took the letter from her and read.  There were two paragraphs.  The first one started out with “I regret to tell you that today your daughter, Emily was involved in a fight with another girl…”  Mr. Kearny used a lot of serious words:  “Troubling, disturbing, worrisome…”  The second paragraph talked about my first “chat” with Mr. Kearny and Mrs. Smithfield and the one I was going to have with him the next day.  Sure enough, Mr. Kearny asked my parents to sign the letter and add any comments at the bottom.  Now things were getting even worse for me.

“Okay, Jackie.  Even if we do somehow get my mom and dad’s signatures on here, how are we supposed to put a comment at the bottom?  This is getting really bad.  I think I should just show them the letter, tell my parents the same thing I told Mr. Kearny, that it was an accident, and get it over with.”

“Emily, you know your parents aren’t going to let it go.  They’re going to ask you a ton of questions.”

Jackie went to her desk and grabbed a piece of paper.  I went over to her and saw that she was practicing signatures.  They looked terrible.

“Jackie, there’s no way Mr. Kearny will think my mom and dad signed that!  Plus, what if he compares it to other stuff that they’ve signed?  I’m dead!”

“You’re right.  Maybe I need to practice a few more times.”  I sat down in one of Jackie’s bean bag chairs and Jackie turned and we looked at each other.  Then Jackie said, “Wait, here’s another idea.”

“Listen to this:  what if we tell my mom and she signs her own name to it and says that you were staying with me for a few days while your parents were on a trip and that she will be sure to tell them when they get back?”

“That’s crazy!  Why would your mom agree to do that, Jackie?  That’s just one more lie on top of all the other ones I’ve told today!”

“My mom’s cool.  She would do it.  I know she would.  All we have to do is ask.  Come on, let’s do it.”

I don’t know why I said okay.  I was desperate for a way out of this mess.  I didn’t think Mom and Dad would understand at all.  I thought, well, Jackie’s mom was pretty cool.  And she was an adult.  It would be like I was taking the whole problem to her and she was taking care of it and I wouldn’t have to deal with any of the problems with the envelope, with Mom and Dad’s signature and comments.  So I said, “Okay, Jackie.  Let’s tell your mom.”

We went into the kitchen to tell Mrs. Conroy.  The radio was on.  She was sitting at the kitchen table, smoking a cigarette and reading a magazine.  There was a cup of coffee on the table too, half empty.  Jackie did all the talking and told her mom the whole story and sure enough, Mrs. Conroy was cool about it.  I thought wow, how many moms are there who would cover up for their kids’ friends?  She signed it and wrote the comments that Jackie said she would.  We put the letter back in the envelope and I was all set.  After that was done, Jackie’s mom said, “Emily, have a seat for a minute.  Jackie, go on down to your room for a bit, will you?”

Jackie said okay and went down to her room.  I looked at Mrs. Conroy.  She was so different from my mom.  And I couldn’t imagine what she was going to say to me.  I didn’t know what to say to her either, so I sat and waited.

“So Emily, I guess you’re wondering why I would cover for you by signing that letter.”

“Well, yes, but thank you for helping me.”

“You know, Emily, I like you and you’re doing me a big favor by hanging out with Jackie so much.  I mean, you know her dad and I split and, since I have to work, I’m not home as much as I was before.  I don’t worry as much when she’s with you.”

She had already finished her cigarette so she reached over to the coffee cup and drank that down.  Then she pulled another cigarette out of the pack and put it in her mouth, flicked her lighter and lit the cigarette as it bobbed up and down on her lower lip.  I couldn’t decide if I thought that was cool or disgusting, but since she was helping me out, I thought it was okay.

She took a drag from her cigarette, and she started talking again even as she was still breathing in.  I wondered how she could do that.

“You hang in there, kid.  Okay?”

I said okay and then I said I had to get home.  I told Jackie bye, and I left with the letter.  When I got back home, Mom said, “How are you feeling, Emily?”

I smiled and said, “Better now, Mom” and I really did feel better.  That wasn’t a lie.  I was glad to not be telling a lie, even though I was sitting on a whole pile of lies.  I figured the mess was finished.

I was so busy taking care of the problem with the letter that I still hadn’t thought about the talk I was going to have the next day with Mr. Kearny, but I decided I would just wing it.  Maybe I would say I was upset because my parents were away and I missed them and being at my own house and that when Marcy and I bumped into each other, all of that kind of came down on me.  Maybe I could tell Mrs. Smithfield, “girl-to-girl” that I felt kind of moody because I was getting my period.  That would be a crazy lie, but it might end the whole problem at school too.

Of course, on top of that, I still had Marcy to deal with, but maybe she would just be glad I didn’t tell about all the other things I thought she had done, and after all, I didn’t exactly know for sure that Marcy was the one who messed up my lockers and who threw the mashed potatoes in my face.  Maybe she would be relieved and would stop messing with me because I kept her out of trouble.

Dad was home and Tommy came into the house and to dinner with a face flushed from running around outside.  He had been in a big after-school game of football in a friend’s back yard and was full of stories about it.  I sat at the table, relieved.  And I was glad that Tommy had a lot of stories about his football game so that I could just sit and listen instead of answer a lot of questions.  And on top of that, I was glad that I had Jackie as my best friend, and glad her mom was so cool to cover for me.

I went to bed that night hopeful that my problems were behind me.

Mr. Kearny called me into his office during homeroom and asked me for the letter.  I handed it to him and, even though I was just going to let him read the note from Jackie’s mom, I told him right then that I had been staying with Jackie and that she had signed it.  He read the note, took off his glasses to rub the bridge of his nose.  Then he put his glasses back on and looked at me and said, “Emily, I’m going to ask you again what happened with Marcy in the hall yesterday.  You keep saying it was an accident, but I find that hard to believe.”

“It was an accident, sort of.”  Then I told him about missing Mom and Dad and then I didn’t know what else to say because Mrs. Smithfield wasn’t there and I thought about how I was going to tell her about maybe getting my period and being moody because of it.  But I decided that even if I didn’t want to tell that to Mr. Kearny, if I did, maybe he’d be so embarrassed that he wouldn’t ask any more questions.”

I went for it.  I told him the lie about my period and sure enough, Mr. Kearny was embarrassed and he sat down and said, “Okay, Emily.  Homeroom is almost over.  Why don’t you run along so you don’t miss your first class?  And watch where you’re walking in the hall.”

Sure enough, I was off the hook and out in the hall on my way to History class.  I got to class before Marcy and she walked in just as I sat down.  She walked down the aisle to her seat and as she passed me she said “Nice top” and nothing else.  I couldn’t decide what she meant when she said it, so I let it go.  Maybe she was making a joke, I don’t know.

Thank you for reading.


Just jumping in?  Click below to read previous chapters:

Chapter 1 – “Meeting Jackie”
Chapter 2 – “Mrs. Conroy”
Chapter 3 – “Downtown”
Chapter 4 – “Capture the Flag”
Chapter 5 – “The Fight”
Chapter 6 – “Lemonade”
Chapter 7 – “The Fort”
Chapter 8 – “School Starts”
Chapter 9 – “The Locker”
Chapter 10 – “Meeting Marcy”
Chapter 11 – “Fight in the Hallway”


Copyright © 2016 by Book Club Mom

All rights reserved.  All material on this blog is the property of Book Club Mom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Friday Fiction is back! Twelve: Chapter 11 – “Fight in the Hallway”

Friday Fiction

Welcome to Twelve, a new book of Friday Fiction! This story begins the summer Emily Kingston turns twelve and is about a friendship that changed everything.

I hope you enjoy it!


CHAPTER ELEVEN – FIGHT IN THE HALLWAY

School had become a problem. Every day, I worried about what might happen when I got there.  I was still hanging out with Rena and Amy and things seemed good with them, but I felt a distance between them and me.

Every time I went to my locker I worried that there would be something new scratched into the door.  And when I changed for gym, I worried that everyone was wondering why I had a flower power sticker on my gym locker and what I would say if someone asked me.

I began to pay more attention to Marcy because of what she said to me about my pants.  I wondered if she was the one who was behind all the problems I was having.  Marcy was popular in school, but she wasn’t the cheerleader type and she wasn’t super high-fashion.  But she did seem to be in charge of her world and she had a certain way of talking and looking at you with her eyes over to the side, and her face never looked totally interested in what she was saying.   Kind of like she was not only bored with you, but bored even talking about it.  She had a group of friends, but it wasn’t exactly a gang and some of the girls in her group were some of my friends too.  I thought about Jackie’s advice to keep an eye on Marcy or whoever it was who was messing with me.  Even though I wasn’t into plotting revenge, I decided that at least the watching out part of Jackie’s advice was good, so that’s what I started doing.

A few weeks went by and nothing happened.  I watched Marcy, but I noticed nothing different.  Then one morning on my way to first period History, Marcy came up to me and stood right in front of me and blocked my way.  When I looked at her, I saw she was staring me down.  I didn’t know what I could say to get past her.  I didn’t have a chance to say a word because Marcy opened her mouth and said, “Uh, Emily?  Wanna get out of my way?”  I couldn’t understand her reason, but I knew she was messing with me.  She was the one who was in my way, and if I was in her way, then she was going the wrong way because we were in the same class together down the hall.  All of this raced through my head, but instead of talking, I stepped to the left to get out of her way.  But as I moved to the left, she moved with me in the same direction so we were still facing each other.

By then kids had noticed what was going on and some had stopped to watch.  Everyone likes a good fight in the halls and I’m sure they were hoping to see one.  I was so surprised to see Marcy still standing in front of me and I couldn’t think of anything to say, so I moved back to the right to try to clear a path away from her.  And once again, Marcy moved right along with me.  She was expecting that, I think and when we were again positioned in the same place as before she opened her mouth again and this time she said, “Hey bitch, get out of my way!”

I froze and I felt my face grow red hot.  I could also feel everyone’s eyes on Marcy and me, and all their voices melted into one low throbbing sound that suspended me in time.   My whole body felt hot and shaky and in that short time, my mind raced through the few choices I had to get away from Marcy.  And out of nowhere, before I had the chance to decide if I was making the right choice, I moved in close to Marcy, opened my mouth and I spat right in her face.

To say that Marcy was surprised would be a huge understatement.  A look of shock passed over her face and when that look was gone, it was replaced by loathing.  And the next look I remember was pure rage and fury.  Then I felt a hand on my hair and she yanked it so hard that a tuft of it came out into her hand.

Now like I said, everyone likes a good fight in the halls at school, but usually those fights are between two boys.  To see two girls fight, that’s a rare event.  So when it happens, well you better believe a crowd will form and it will be a big one.  Before I knew it, Marcy and I were on the floor, kicking and scratching each other and pulling each other’s hair.  I could hear kids from all sides cheering us on, adding to the frenzy.

I don’t know what I was thinking by spitting in Marcy’s face and then getting into a fight with her.  This was my first fight ever and I was not very good at it.  After about a minute, it was clear to me and I’m sure to Marcy too that she had a huge advantage over me.  I didn’t decide to curl up on the floor and cover my head, I just did it.  And even after I had stopped kicking and scratching, Marcy was not through with me.  By then she was sitting on me and she had grabbed my arms and pinned them down on the floor, one on each side of my head.  I turned my head to look at her and I understood her trap too late.  She smiled a smile that looked anything but friendly and sort of made a slurping-in kind of sound with her mouth and I realized what was coming.  Just as she was spitting in my face, just as I was feeling the double humiliation of being beaten and spat on, Mrs. Smithfield came out of her classroom.

From then, all I could hear was her yelling at kids to move away and then I felt a hand on my arm and it yanked me up.  And by then I could that see our principal Mr. Kearny had done the same to Marcy.  Soon we were both being marched down to Mr. Kearny’s office.

My heart pounded, its beat was loud in my chest and I couldn’t imagine what I was going to say in front of Mr. Kearny.  When we got to his office, Mrs. Smithfield let go of me and told me to sit in the chair that was outside Mr. Kearny’s office.  Mr. Kearny led Marcy over to a different chair, away from me and told her to sit.  Then he and Mrs. Smithfield went into his office and shut the door.

My face was still wet from Marcy’s spit and the first thing I did was wipe it off with my sleeve.  I was glad I didn’t have any make-up on that would have been smeared all over my face by now.  I didn’t dare look at Marcy, but I secretly hoped the spit on her face had dissolved and smeared some of the make-up she had put on that morning.

We sat for a long time.  There was nothing to do but sit and I kept my head down hoping no one walking by would stare at me.  I wondered how bad I looked and if anyone would be able to tell I was missing a tuft of hair.  I looked sideways over to Marcy’s chair to see what was going on with her.  I figured she had already checked me out to see what kind of damage she had done.  Before I had the chance to do anything more, Mr. Kearny’s door opened and Mr. Kearney stepped out and asked me to come inside.

As I got up to go into the office, I walked by Marcy.  She lifted her head and said just loud enough for me to hear, “Just remember, bitch, you’re the one who spat at me first.”    I didn’t say anything, but I could feel my back muscles get tight.  I walked into Mr. Kearny’s office.  I had never been in the principal’s office before and, even though I was there because I had been in a fight and was probably in a lot of trouble, I couldn’t help but look around and notice the things he had on the walls and on his desk.  He went over to his desk and sat down.  Then he told me to sit down in a chair across from his desk.  Mrs. Smithfield was sitting next to me.

Mr. Kearny spoke first, but not to me.  “Mrs. Smithfield, would you please go get a wet paper towel so Emily can wipe her head?”  I didn’t realize it before, but I also had a big scratch on my forehead and it had been bleeding down the side of my face.  After Mrs. Smithfield left, Mr. Kearny looked across his desk at me and said, “Emily, I want to know what happened out there.  You have never been in trouble at school, but what I saw out in the hall was very disturbing.”

I wondered what exactly it was that he found disturbing.  Was it that two girls were fighting?  Was it that half the school was surrounding us cheering us on?  Was it that I was essentially getting pounded by Marcy?

There’s an unwritten law between kids at school and it is simple.  Friends or enemies, you don’t snitch on another kid, that is, unless you want to be pounded on and messed with again and again for the rest of time.  I definitely felt like it was Marcy’s fault for stepping in front of me and starting everything, but I thought about Marcy’s warning and decided I’d better say nothing bad about Marcy.  I also didn’t want to admit that I spat in Marcy’s face.

I gave it my best shot.  “We just got in each other’s way.  We were both in a hurry.  It was an accident.”

Mr. Kearny kind of laughed, but he wasn’t smiling.  “That was some accident, Emily.  I saw a lot of anger out there, a lot of kicking and scratching.  I want to know why you two were fighting.”

I started to feel trapped.  I don’t think Mr. Kearny had any idea what it was like to be a kid, let alone a kid who was just in a fight.  I thought about Marcy outside the door and I wondered what she would be saying to Mr. Kearny when he called her in.  I didn’t want to look at Mr. Kearny, but I could feel him looking straight at me.

“Emily, you need to tell me what happened out in the hall.”

I looked up and there was Mr. Kearny, staring into my face and he seemed to be way too close to me.  I could see right through his glasses into his eyes and looked at the rest of his face, his wayward eyebrows, his bald head, his ears that stuck out too far.  I wondered, if there had been hair on his head, would his ears have looked so big.  My thoughts wandered into a whole different section in my head, thinking about Mr. Kearny’s face that was too close.

“Emily!”

I broke free from my thoughts and spoke, “Nothing happened out there, Mr. Kearny.  It was an accident.”

I knew my lie was ridiculous and I knew that Mr. Kearny could tell I was lying, but it bought me a little bit of time.  Just then, Mrs. Smithfield came in with her wet paper towel.  She came over to me and, instead of handing me the towel, she wiped my forehead herself.  I wanted to wipe my own head, but I didn’t think I had much of a choice, so I sat and let her do the job.  It was not a deep cut and when she finished she sat down and looked hard at me.

“Emily, you are a good student and have never been in trouble in my class.  What’s going on here?”

Here we go again, I thought.  But again, I did not want to talk about the fight or any of the problems I’d been having.

“I’m fine, Mrs. Smithfield.  I told Mr. Kearny that it was just an accident.  We were both in a hurry and we crashed into each other.  That’s what happened.”

They both looked at each other and Mr. Kearny stood up and said, “Okay for now, Emily, but we’re going to talk about this some more.  I’ll be sending a note home for your parents to sign.  Between now and then, you should think about what happened and be prepared to talk to me again tomorrow.  You can go to class.”

Mrs. Smithfield stood up too and added, “Emily, why don’t you stop in the Girls Room and clean up a bit before you go to class.  I called in a substitute, but I’ll be down to class in a few minutes.”

When I got out of the office, I quickly walked by Marcy and went down the hall to the Girls Room.  I looked in the mirror and I did look pretty bad, but at least I hadn’t been crying.  I splashed some water on my face to get rid of the rest of Marcy’s spit.  Then I dried it off with one of those terrible paper towels.  My hair was a mess but I had no brush, so I used my fingers to straighten it out the best I could.  I tucked my shirt back in. There wasn’t much more I could do.  I would have to act like I didn’t care about the mess in the mirror.

I did not want to go back to class.  I knew everyone would be wondering what happened to me and Marcy.  I hoped someone had grabbed my books during the fight.  All I wanted to do was leave, but I walked down the hall and into my classroom.  The room went silent as I went to my seat.  Another one of the History teachers, Mrs. Hinchman, was in the front of the class.  She walked over to my desk and handed me my notebook and my History book and said, “We’re on page 257, Emily.”

I wondered if Marcy would come back to History class, but she did not.  She wasn’t in my next two classes, but I saw her at lunch.  I stayed far away from her.  Amy and Rena kept asking me what had happened in the principal’s office.  They both had seen our fight in the hall and wanted the full story.  I kept saying, “Nothing.  Nothing happened.  Mrs. Smithfield wiped my face and then I went back to class.”

“Wow, Emily,” said Amy, “You two were really going at it.  I can’t believe you!  What were you thinking, spitting in Marcy’s face?”

“That was wild!” added Rena.  “I bet that’s the last thing she thought you were going to do.”

“Listen,” I said.  “I don’t want to talk about it, okay?  Let’s just finish lunch.”

The Amy said, “Well maybe you don’t want to talk about it, but it’s all everyone in the whole school is talking about.”

Thank you for reading.


Just jumping in?  Click below to read previous chapters:

Chapter 1 – “Meeting Jackie”
Chapter 2 – “Mrs. Conroy”
Chapter 3 – “Downtown”
Chapter 4 – “Capture the Flag”
Chapter 5 – “The Fight”
Chapter 6 – “Lemonade”
Chapter 7 – “The Fort”
Chapter 8 – “School Starts”
Chapter 9 – “The Locker”
Chapter 10 – “Meeting Marcy”


Copyright © 2016 by Book Club Mom

All rights reserved.  All material on this blog is the property of Book Club Mom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Summer Reading Challenge – The Awakening by Kate Chopin

the-awakening

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

A Book with Bad Reviews

Rating:
3 book marks

Here’s a book I’ve been meaning to read for a long time.  I knew that The Awakening, published in 1899, represented an important expression of feminist ideas, a controversial subject at the time.  I did not know that it is also a story about depression.

How to be happy inside oneself.  That is Edna Pontellier’s chief struggle.  The novel begins at Grand Isle, a vacation resort in the Gulf of Mexico, off the shores of New Orleans.  Edna is twenty-eight, married to Leonce, a successful businessman and they are summering with their young boys and other wealthy families.  It is during this summer that Edna begins to question her marriage, her role as a mother and the choices that led to them.  A close relationship with Robert Lebrun, the son of Grand Isle’s proprietor, teeters on the edge of infidelity.

Edna’s outward appearance suggests happiness and success, but her inner self has always known something darker.  She begins to feel that above all else, she will not be happy until she tends to this side.  Instead of merging her outward persona with her private identity, however, Edna’s two beings bang up against each other.

Chopin writes:

At a very early period she had apprehended instinctively the dual life – that outward existence which conforms, the inward life which questions.

Edna’s modern ideas are bound to shake up her life, during a time when women played submissive roles in marriage and society.  Women were expected to fit into the conventional scheme.  To sacrifice for their husbands and their children.  But Edna, in an argument with her friend Madame Ratignolle, states that she would never sacrifice herself for her children, or for anyone.

I would give up the unessential; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give myself.

From this point begins Edna’s awakening, and when Robert abruptly departs for Mexico, Edna suddenly feels that she has been denied his love.  Summer ends and nothing will be the same when the Pontelliers return to New Orleans.  Edna exhibits increasingly reckless and alarming behavior and it’s only a matter of time before something gives.

I’ll leave out the ending and simply state that its finish made me completely change my feelings about Edna’s character.  I was sympathetic and supportive at first, but her final actions make me think two things.  One, that Edna had a pretty good life before her awakening.  She had money, servants, and people to take care of her children.  While Leonce had certain expectations of Edna and her role as wife and mother, he took his role as husband and money-maker seriously.  It seems natural for him to think that she hasn’t held up her end of the deal.  My second opinion is that this first idea can’t apply to Edna’s character, because, above everything else, she is suffering from depression and no amount of logic or reason can change her thoughts.  How strange, however, to merge an awakening of feminist thinking with depression.  I’m left unsure of the story’s message.

I chose this book for my Summer Reading Challenge (yes it’s still summer!):  to read a book that got bad reviews.  Chopin’s book was not well received when it was first published, partly for its ideas and partly because of its racy subject matter.  It was nearly forgotten until the 1960s when Per Seyersted, a Norwegian scholar, rediscovered the book and its feminist message.

Kate Chopin was a well-known author of short stories for children and adults.  She married at nineteen and had six children.  She became a widow at age 32 and began her writing career.  Interestingly, her doctor suggested writing as an outlet to help her cope with sadness and depression.  (Source:  Wikipedia)

Click here to visit the Kate Chopin website for many interesting facts about the author’s life and her books.


I’m still reading!  Follow along as I work my way through my 16 in 16 Challenge!

Book 1 – A Book You Can Finish in a Day:  The Good Neighbor by A.J. Banner
Book 2 – A Book in a Genre You Typically Don’t Read:  The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson
Book 3 – A Book with a Blue Cover:  The Vacationers by Emma Straub
Book 4 – A Book Translated to English:  I Refuse by Per Petterson
Book 5 – A Second Book in a Series:  Brooklyn on Fire by Lawrence H. Levy
Book 6 – A Book To Learn Something New: The Beginner’s Photography Guide by Chris Gatcum
Book 7 – A Book That Was Banned:  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Book 8 – A Book Set Somewhere You’ve Always Wanted to Visit:  Calmer Girls by Jennifer Kelland Perry
Book 9 – A Book with Non-human Characters:  The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Book 10 – A Book Recommended by a Librarian:  Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
Book 11 – A Book Being Made into a Movie this Year:  A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Friday Fiction is back! Twelve: Chapter 10 – Meeting Marcy

Friday Fiction

Welcome to Twelve, a new book of Friday Fiction! This story begins the summer Emily Kingston turns twelve and is about a friendship that changed everything.

I hope you enjoy it!


CHAPTER TEN – MEETING MARCY

It was getting colder and the leaves on the trees were turning.  We were two months into school and I hadn’t had any problems since the mashed potatoes in the cafeteria.  I’d started to make more friends at school, girls who had gone to other schools last year, and some boys too.  But I mostly hung around with Rena and Amy at school and Jackie on the weekends.  Rena and Amy had gone in early for orchestra practice that day, so I walked down Prospect alone.  I was full of energy.  I moved quickly down the hill and my purse bumped against my hip as I walked.  I smiled at that because I had on my favorite flair jeans, the ones with the studs down the side, and I thought they looked good with my purse on the side.

On my way to my locker, I saw kids in groups looking at me.  I ignored the stares, but I felt sweat under my arms.  I wondered if there was more trouble at the locker, but a quick look at the front and my locker looked okay.  I opened it, put my jacket inside and grabbed the stuff I needed for my History class. I saw Rena on my way to class.

“Hey Rena.”

“Hi Emily.”  Rena stopped and looked at me.  Not a good sign.

I asked her why she was staring at me.  “I’m not, it’s nothing,” she said.  “Did you do your History homework?”

I always do my homework, so I wasn’t sure why she’d ask me that.  “Yes, did you?”

She said she did and by then we were just outside the classroom so I didn’t have the chance to ask her why she was acting so strange.  When I walked into the classroom, kids turned and looked at me.  Our teacher hadn’t come in yet.  Some kids were standing around and sitting at different desks, but no one was near mine.  I said hi to a couple of kids and headed over to my desk.

When I sat down, a girl I sort of knew came up to me and said, “Hey, Emily.  Nice top.”  I looked at her.  “Thanks Marcy.”  I thought that would be it, but then she said, “It goes nice with those jeans, don’t you think?”  “Thanks,” I answered.  But then Marcy wouldn’t stop.  “I bet you had those jeans last year.  Am I right?”  They were from last year and I wondered how she knew that.  “I did, why?”  Marcy leaned over me and got about six inches from my face.  She smiled and opened her mouth to speak, as if she was getting ready to tell me something private, but when she did, her voice became much louder, loud enough for everyone to hear her.  “Well, I can tell because, well, tell me if I’m wrong, but did you think those jeans were so hot that you felt you had to cram your fat butt into them for another year?”

I knew that was the kind of question you didn’t answer, but that was the only thing I did know about that morning in History class.  My ears burned with the sound of kids laughing, at me.  I kept my face down.  I swallowed as hard as I could and thought again about a fight Tommy once had in the yard.  Which kid had he been when his fight broke out?  The the kid everyone was laughing at or was he the other kid?  In a wild flash I wondered if I could tackle Marcy and hold her down, like Tommy had done in the yard, or if she would be the one on top pushing me down.  The weight of the whole day ahead pushed down on me.  If this was how it had started, I didn’t know how I would make it until 3:00.  I looked over at Rena, but her head was turned, in friendship, shame or laughter, I didn’t know.  The laughter stopped when Mrs. Smithfield came in and announced, “Pop quiz this morning!  Put your binders under your desk and take out a pencil.”

Something happens when you’re at the bad end of a joke.  I was the elephant in the room, in last year’s jeans.  Would Marcy have picked on me if I had worn something else or had she only been waiting for the right moment?  Nobody bothered me for the rest of the day, but I knew the story had spread through the seventh grade.

I’m sure Rena and Amy had talked about it, but around me, they acted as if nothing had happened.  I was glad because I didn’t want to talk.  If they were my friends (were they still?) they would understand.  When I got home, I took off my jeans, threw them in the trash, and changed into a bigger size.  There was nothing wrong with me.  If Marcy messed with me again, I would show her that.

Just jumping in?  Click below to read previous chapters:

Chapter 1 – “Meeting Jackie”
Chapter 2 – “Mrs. Conroy”
Chapter 3 – “Downtown”
Chapter 4 – “Capture the Flag”
Chapter 5 – “The Fight”
Chapter 6 – “Lemonade”
Chapter 7 – “The Fort”
Chapter 8 – “School Starts”
Chapter 9 – “The Locker”


Copyright © 2016 by Book Club Mom

All rights reserved.  All material on this blog is the property of Book Club Mom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

fever pic

Fever 1793
by
Laurie Halse Anderson

Rating:
4 book marks

Now that the kids are back at school, lots of middle-schoolers are reading historical novels like Fever 1793, the story of Mattie Cook, a fourteen-year-old girl living in Philadelphia during the Yellow Fever plague of 1793. Mattie must grow up quickly during that summer, as the fever strikes her family and friends. She makes difficult decisions and learns hard lessons about survival, life and love.

Anderson weaves history into her story and the reader learns about these difficult times in early America, as well as about how people lived and how the black population built a powerful supportive network to help them through sickness and hunger. She also includes a great deal about doctors’ different approaches to healing the sick and the heated debate over these methods.

I like how Mattie matures during this time.  Anderson shows how, despite vastly different circumstances, young teenagers of all time periods share similar feelings of love, loyalty and rebellion and must make difficult decisions that ultimately shape their adult characters.

Although the story includes sadness and loss, Fever is more a story of hope and survival with a definite feel-good ending.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!