Wednesday, October 31, 2012

And the Mountains Echo - a new novel by Khaled Hosseini

A new novel from the author of The Kite Runner (This post is from The Book Case - The BookPage Blog) Fans of The Kite Runner (and there are millions of them) will be excited to hear that author Khaled Hosseini will return in the spring with his first new novel in six years. Though publishing company offices were closed throughout New York in advance of Hurricane Sandy, Riverhead Books, a division of Penguin, managed to spread the word this morning that Hosseini’s next novel, And the Mountains Echo, will be published on May 21. KHALED HOSSEINI “I am forever drawn to family as a recurring central theme of my writing,” Hosseini said in the announcement. “My earlier novels were, at heart, tales of fatherhood and motherhood. My new novel is a multi-generational-family story as well, this time revolving around brothers and sisters, and the ways in which they love, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for each other. I am thrilled at the chance to share this book with my readers.” An AP report quotes Penguin President Susan Petersen Kennedy as saying the new novel will take place “in different parts of the world” and will offer “a clear experience and characters you can identify with even if their lives are very different from your own.” Hosseini was a practicing physician in California when he wrote The Kite Runner, a surprise hit in 2003 that illuminated Afghanistan’s tortured history through the powerful story of two boys. The novel sold more than 10 million copies in the U.S. and was followed by A Thousand Splendid Sons, his 2007 novel that focused on the suffering of Afghan women. Though American curiosity about Afghanistan has dimmed during the past decade, Hosseini has earned a following with his fine writing, and readers are likely to follow wherever his new novel takes them.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Group Picture-Kings of Colorado

Our pajama breakfast meeting was a huge success! Thanks to Susan for an enormous selection of food: croissants, bagels, French toast, bacon, biscuits, fruit, nutella, the list goes on...

Kings of Colorado was difficult to read at times for some of us do to the brutality and cruelty involving young boys and the horses. But, overall we found it to be an excellent novel. We had much to discuss about this one!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Siege: A Family's Journey Into the World of an Autistic Child

I chose this book because it was mentioned in Love Anthony by Lisa Genova. As an elementary teacher I have seen many children on the autism spectrum, but never truly had a child with autism in my classs. This intrigued me; as did Love Anthony. I ordered the book last night from Amazon, but sadly they didn't have the e-book...I'll have to make do!!
In 1957 when Jessy Park was born (called "Elly" in this book, but later identified by her mother in the sequel "Exiting Nirvana"), very little was known about autism. Elly/Jessy presented behavior that Kanner described more than a decade earlier (1943) when he first coined the term "autism."

Elly/Jessy was largely nonverbal for much of her childhood and had difficulty connecting names to people. She loved mathematics and could do complex equations and recognized many polygons. She developed a fascination for counting that has since stayed with her. In 1961, Elly/Jessy then nearly 4 was formally diagnosed with autism. She was enrolled in special needs programs and made progress. She also as is noted in "Exiting Nirvana" proved to be a very talented artist.

This is an excellent book that chronicles in minute detail autistic behavior and a family's love and acceptance. Elly/Jessy's three older siblings love her unconditionally as do their parents. Theirs is an intellectual family whose literary pursuits are quite evident throughout this account. It is one of the best early personal accounts of autism in a family.

What makes this book unique is that when it was published, it rightfully challenged the parent blaming routine that was the order of the day. Elly/Jessy had three neurotypical (NT) siblings which automatically flies in the face of the disproven and completely asinine parent blaming. At no time was she neglected. She was loved, nurtured, encouraged and accepted.

Her special interests in counting and polygons are recognized as an asset, an ability. Fortunately, she is not charged with "perseverating," a harmful and damning word that has caused more harm than it ever helped. It is an extremely judgmental, negative and destructive word in any tense that is best avoided. At no time is that harmful word ever applied to the NT population and the behavior is not limited to the autistic population either. That word is best replaced with "special interests," "repetitive verbalizations / behaviors" which are more accurate and also speak to tolerance whereas "perseverate" simply does not.

The book closes with Elly/Jessy at age 8, making progress in her way and at her speed. She and her mother have blazed new trails that continue to weave throughtout autism awareness and acceptance today.
Clara Claiborne Park is the author of several books. She has recently retired from the English Department of Williams College, and is a prominent speaker about autism. Her account of her daughter's life with autism continues with EXITING NIRVANA.

Monday, October 1, 2012

November Book Choices!

This month, we'll select a book from the dystopian genre.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood | Paperback, 311 pages

A gripping vision of our society radically overturned by a theocratic revolution, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid's Tale has become one of the most powerful and most widely read novels of our time... Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife. She may go out once a day to markets whose signs are now pictures because women are not allowed to read. She must pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, for in a time of declining birthrates her value lies in her fertility, and failure means exile to the dangerously polluted Colonies. Offred can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name. Now she navigates the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life in breaking the rules.

Brilliantly conceived and executed, this powerful evocation of twenty-first-century America gives full rein to Margaret Atwood's devastating irony, wit and astute perception.

The Handmaid's Tale won the 1985 Governor General's Award and the first Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1987, and it was nominated for the 1986 Nebula Award, the 1986 Booker Prize, and the 1987 Prometheus Award. It has been adapted for the cinema, radio, opera, and stage. You can get the audio version, read by Claire Danes, at Audible. It has a 3.97 rating on Goodreads.

Helper12 by Jack Blaine | Paperback, ?

Helper12 works as a Baby Helper in Pre Ward, the place where babies spend their first six months of life before they’re tracked for vocations and sent to training. She does her job well, and she stays out of trouble. But one day, the Sloanes, Society members who enjoy all the privileges of their station—family unit clearance, a private dwelling, access to good food and good schools—come to “adopt” one of the Pre Ward babies. The Director makes a deal and the Sloanes walk out with a brand new child.

They also walk out owning Helper12—the Director sells her to them, and there’s nothing she can do but go. At the Sloanes, Helper12 enters a world where people should be able to enjoy life—with high position and riches come the opportunity for individual freedom, even the chance to love—but that’s not what she finds. The Sloanes are keeping secrets. So is their biological son, Thomas.

Helper12 has some secrets of her own; she’s drawing, which is a violation, since Baby Helpers aren’t tracked for Art. And she’s growing to love the child she was bought to care for—at the same time that Ms. Sloane is becoming disenchanted with her impulse baby buy.

When all your choices are made for you, how do you make some for yourself? Helper12 is about to find out.

Helper12 has a 3.46 rating on Goodreads. That's all I know about it...where did this weird a$$ book come from?!

The Running Man by Richard Bachman/Stephen King | Paperback, 317 pages

The Running Man is set within a dystopian future in which the poor are seen more by the government as worrisome rodents than actual human beings. The protagonist of The Running Man, Ben Richards, is quick to realize this as he watches his daughter, Cathy, grow more sick by the day and tread closer and closer to death. Desperate for money to pay Cathy’s medical bills, Ben enlists himself in a true reality style game show where the objective is to merely stay alive.
Richard Bachman was a Stephen King pen name. You can read about the situation here. The Running Man has a 3.66 rating on Goodreads.
Karen is hosting the November meeting. It will be the BCS meeting where  we'll choose books for 2013.

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