Young Adult in Classrooms

Over on YA Interrobang, there is an article that was published this last week called “Why I Need YA Lit.” I was deeply touched by it. I won’t go into the specifics of the article, I’d really much rather you guys read it for yourselves because it is really powerful and brings up a lot of good points, one of which discusses YA literature in classrooms. This particular point brought up a memory for me that I’d like to share with you:

When I was in 11th grade a book report was assigned. I was rather excited because I was allowed to pick any book I wanted, as long as it was in my age range and it had to have a stamp of approval from my teacher. My teacher did state though, that if it was in my age range she would more than likely approve it. This meant that the genre of Young Adult was acceptable because I was certainly in that age range.

Young Adult had been my escape throughout high school. I was socially awkward, shy, and had a very hard time relating to other students/kids my age. So, I turned a lot to reading and my reading was very much full of YA literature because I could relate to it much more easily than the required reading I was given in school. To have this book report on a book of my choosing was such a wonderful thing in my eyes because it meant I could finally integrate something I loved into my school work. I don’t recall the book I had selected for the book report, it escapes my memory, but I can say for sure it was YA because of what happened on the day the teacher was approving books.

She was taking us one by one at her desk and writing down our choices. When it was my turn, I went up to her desk and handed her the book. She glanced at it for a moment and then stated, “This is unacceptable. This isn’t a book that will challenge you or anyone and does not live up to the standards of what we have been reading in class. Pick something else.” I remember that I had to excuse myself to the bathroom because I was so upset and insulted. I was so upset and insulted because not only had she accused me of picking something beneath my intelligence level, but she thought that my selection of YA- something I loved so much- wasn’t worthy of the classroom.

After that incident, I almost lost my love for reading. I started to question what I was reading and if something was wrong with me because I was choosing books that weren’t in the classroom. In the end, I was very lucky to overcome that. However, how many other students have had this or a similar situation happen to them and they did lose their love of reading? This absolutely angers and scares me.

There is nothing wrong with the required reading that is already in the classrooms. While I (and others) may not have always connected with the novels in school, we can still learn from them. However, what is wrong with adding in a genre (YA) that has some amazing stories and characters that can teach us just as much as what is already required?

I can tell you that my teacher (and many others out there) are wrong when they say that YA isn’t a “challenge” or is “unacceptable” or “below” what is already in classrooms. I have learned tremendously from Young Adult, even now at the age of 25. And I can promise you that I will continue to learn from it as the years go on. I think YA in classrooms would greatly have benefited me and think it can greatly benefit kids now and in the future. It could/can help kids find that connection with reading and spark a love for it, as well as learn from it.

I think I will end it here with this post because I could go on and on about this topic. Again, be sure to head over to YA Interrobang, and read the article “Why I Need YA Lit” because it is really fantastic- it gets you thinking.

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Top Ten… er… Eight Favorite Movies

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Eight Favorite Movies

These are just some of my favorite films. Honestly, I had a hard time just picking ten because I guess in some ways I love films. These are the ones I have on my List of Favorites. I could too, mention a ton of animated Disney films, but I will resist listing them for the whole list would end up being Disney films. With that said, I also must warn that this is going to be a lengthy post, so I do apologize in advance. I wanted to do a little more than just list the movies, but also give a little blurb on each. Anyway, on to the films!

Waterloo Bridge (1940)

Waterloo Bridge (1940)

Waterloo Bridge is definitely my number one film. This is a film that stars the lovely Vivien Leigh (you may know her more commonly as the feisty Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With The Wind) and she is alongside Robert Taylor. It is about a ballerina (Myra) who meets an officer (Roy) during World War I and they quickly fall in love and set out to marry. However, he ends up called and they are unable to wed, but she vows to wait for him. But because she went to marry him and missed a show, she is fired. For a while, she lives in poverty because she doesn’t want to trouble her fiancé. When she sees in the paper that he is dead, she is left to fend for herself in the world. I won’t go into anymore detail because I don’t want to ruin the plot twists and what not, but it is really such a beautiful and tragic film.

Gone With The Wind (1939)

Gone With The Wind (1939)

As stated above, a film starring the Vivien Leigh and this time she is alongside Clark Gable. Surprisingly, I’ve never read the book entirely (I’ve read bits and pieces because when I first set out to pick it up I was in middle school and the size completely daunted me), but if it is anything like the film I know it is great. This film follows Scarlett O’Hara through her life during and after the Civil War. There is so much I could go into in terms of plot, but it would take me a whole post to do that. This story… oh my goodness- there are no words to describe how incredible the story is, but also Scarlett herself. I think Lisa at The Most Happy explains Scarlett exceptionally well in a recent post she wrote on the character, which you can read HERE.

You've Got Mail (1998)

You’ve Got Mail (1998)

I absolutely love You’ve Got Mail. I can remember when it was on those paid channels back in 1999 and it played over and over again all day- I was constantly watching it, even at nine or ten years old. I think what I loved about the story was that it featured the Internet (which I was incredibly fascinated by at that point in time) and books were a large element within the story. Oh, and it is set in New York City, which I have always loved. It really is a cute, lighthearted film and is always good to watch when you need to be uplifted.

Atonement (2007)

Atonement (2007)

I did attempt to read the novel of this film, but for the life of me could not get into it. Despite that, I did pick up the DVD of the film, which I think I picked up because it was on sale for $5 somewhere and I figured why not. But despite being unable to get into the novel, I absolutely loved the film (and still do!). The story is incredibly tragic, but it was beautifully done. The story is one of those that really teaches the lesson that things may not be what they seem and that can be dangerous.

Moulin Rouge! (2001)

Moulin Rouge! (2001)

I am a sucker for musicals. I am not sure how to describe this film because it is rather strange. I think what I like about it (besides the music) is the very twisted plot, specifically the love story and how tragic it is (Wow, I am realizing how tragic many of these films are!).

Divergent (2014)

Divergent (2014)

I jumped on the Divergent train a bit late (see what I did there?). I remember back in 2013 I had heard that the film was in the works and decided that I had to read the book before it came out and too, I wanted to see what the hype was about. I ended up LOVING the book so of course I was hesitant with the film. I was actually really hesitant with Shailene Woodley playing Tris (I didn’t really watch the television show she was in on ABC Family, but I had seen an episode or two and I didn’t like her in it). However, she certainly proved herself to be Tris and too, the screenwriters, director, and producers certainly did an excellent job of translating the book to film. Yes, there were several changes and certain things were cut, but I can understand that with book to film adaptations certain things need to go because a film would be incredibly long. Overall, this (I believe) turned out wonderfully and I am looking forward to the adaptation of Insurgent and the two-part adaptation of Allegiant.

HP & the POA (2004)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

I *may* get crap for this because I know a majority of people thought this to be the worse HP film. I have not read the series all the way through yet (I am currently in the process of doing it), but I did read POA weeks before the film and I must say I thought it was rather good. I was disappointed with how much they cut out, but in terms of what they kept I thought it was good. I know many people didn’t like this aspect, but I loved how dark the film was. I don’t know, maybe it is because this was the first HP book I read and the first time I got into seeing the movie (previously I had not been into going to the theatre and seeing the first two) that I loved it, but I stand by this being one of my favorite films.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

I can sort of remember the first time I watched this movie. I must have been six or seven and I found myself so fascinated by the dark elements and the stop motion aspect of it. It since was one of my favorite films and has had my enjoying many of Tim Burton’s other films.

 

Screencap Sources
Cinemarx (Waterloo Bridge) | IMDB (Gone With The Wind, You’ve Got Mail) | Screenmusings (Atonement) | Movie-Screencaps (Moulin Rouge!, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) | Screencapped.net (Divergent) | Disney Screencaps (The Nightmare Before Christmas)

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Review: Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid

Let's Get Lost by Adi AlsaidLET’S GET LOST
by Adi Alsaid
Published by Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: July 29th, 2014
ARC received via Edelweiss – 352 pages
Goodreads | BN.com | Amazon

I was kindly approved for an ARC of this novel by Harlequin Teen via Edelweiss. In exchange, I am providing an honest review.

ABSTRACT (via Goodreads)
Five strangers. Countless adventures. One epic way to get lost.

Four teens across the country have only one thing in common: a girl named LEILA. She crashes into their lives in her absurdly red car at the moment they need someone the most.

There’s HUDSON, a small-town mechanic who is willing to throw away his dreams for true love. And BREE, a runaway who seizes every Tuesday—and a few stolen goods along the way. ELLIOT believes in happy endings… until his own life goes off-script. And SONIA worries that when she lost her boyfriend, she also lost the ability to love.

Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. And when Leila leaves them, their lives are forever changed. But it is during Leila’s own 4,268-mile journey that she discovers the most important truth— sometimes, what you need most is right where you started. And maybe the only way to find what you’re looking for is to get lost along the way.

REVIEW
I think the best way to start this review is by stating that reading Adi Alsaid’s Let’s Get Lost has been an absolute privilege. Adi Alsaid has truly created a beautiful novel that explores the affects we, human beings, can have on each other. It seems simple, the idea of each of us affecting another person and someone affecting us, but Adi Alsaid captures not just the simplicity of it, but the complexity as well.

I think it is important to understand that this novel, in my opinion, is very much character driven. It is about the characters learning and growing based on their time together. So, let’s start with Leila who is the character that connects all of the other four characters (Hudson, Bree, Elliot, and Sonia). I think the best way to describe Leila is by quoting Hudson:

She was the kind of girl who could make you think your life was not complete unless she was in it. (12)

Though at page 12 Hudson stating this is probably more of being love-struck at first, I think it really applies to Leila throughout the novel in some ways. She really is a character that seems to help bring these characters to a place where they want or need to be. This definitely makes Leila a rather interesting character, but she is also interesting because we know nothing about her past for most of the novel. All that is known at first about Leila is that she is setting off on a road trip and, as she goes through this road trip meeting the characters, she has a profound affect on their lives (and they too have an affect on her). What I loved most about Leila is her drive, wisdom, and seemingly positive spirit, which I believe can be seen in the dialogue that Adi Alsaid has bestowed upon her:

People hurt each other… it happens to everyone. Intentionally, unintentionally, regretfully or not. It’s a part of what we do as people. The beauty is that we have the ability to heal and forgive. (132)

Eventually, towards the end of the novel, we learn about Leila more in depth. Actually, no, that is a lie. I think we learn immensely who Leila is throughout the novel, yet it is towards the end of the novel that we learn of Leila’s past, which I won’t go into out of fear of spoiling the novel. However, I will say that Leila’s past was not at all what I was expecting, which was a fun aspect of the novel, guessing and speculating, yet never knowing. But more about the ending later…

Moving on to the other four characters that Leila comes across, I will start with Hudson, who is Leila’s first stop on her road trip. Hudson starts off the novel as soon to be high school graduate who has a path set for him. He is extremely focused on this path until Leila shows up. He is love-struck. I admit I was very skeptical at this opener because I find that in many contemporaries it is “love at first sight” nine out of ten times. Okay, maybe not nine out of ten times, but it is a common pattern. However, as I read on it became clear to me that this was meant to be for Hudson and Leila, by having this strong connection with Leila, we see clearly what Hudson wants out of life, but the question is whether or not Hudson will go after it. This connection is important for Leila, which is seen more towards the end of the novel.

Following Hudson, Leila comes across a runaway by the name of Bree. Bree has a very interesting outlook on life: “Seize the Tuesday” is her motto and she does have a bit of a problem taking things that aren’t exactly hers. But there are demons that trouble Bree, which we see little by little throughout her part of the novel. Her story, without giving too much away, deals with learning to communicate and also how to trust. Bree’s story (just as you’ll see with each character) is very relatable, which is without a doubt a plus to this novel.

After Bree comes Elliot. Leila comes along in Elliot’s life on his prom night where he has just been turned down by his best friend whom he has loved since he was a little kid. As with Hudson, I was skeptical about Elliot because his big dilemma seemed a bit trivial to me, but it certainly wasn’t fair for me to think that because we all have things that we are passionate about- whether it be reading, sports, or (as in Elliot’s case) another person. My opinion changed quickly because I did realize this and I really credit to Adi Alsaid because he shows how things that may seem unimportant are very important. When you can say a book has taught you something, that is always an amazing moment, so I am giving major props and points to Alsaid for this. But more on Elliot- the adventure with Elliot is Leila trying to help him recover from his heartbreaking moment. In the end, she sets out to help him and readers to realize that while life isn’t necessarily a John Cusak movie from the 80s, it can still be wonderful.

Finally, Leila encounters Sonia. Sonia, as the abstract states, is trying to move on from the death of her boyfriend, but is really having trouble coming to terms with what that entails. Does that mean she can never love again because it would mean losing her deceased boyfriend’s memory? Sonia’s story really got to me because while we all may not necessarily have lost someone, we all get that feeling at some point where we feel we are betraying someone or something by doing something else or being with someone else. I know I have said this multiple times already, but I really can’t express how relatable this book is.

As far as the end of the novel, I admit that I was originally unsure of how I felt about it. After thinking about it and rereading the last few pages, I ultimately believe the ending was fitting and I did enjoy it. However, I don’t necessarily think the ending is for everyone because it could be construed as… maybe a bit “cheesy” (I am not a fan of using that word). But the way I see it is that Let’s Get Lost comes full circle and as a reader I definitely got closure. And let me not forget the fact that it did make me smile.

Looking at the novel as a whole, I think what I loved so much about it is that with all the seriousness came some light-hearted moments that evoked smiles (like the ending) and even some giggles. When an author can balance both seriousness and light-heartedness, their story is typically a winner and I think Adi Alsaid is a winner with Let’s Get Lost. Needless to say I have now problem rating it:

5 out of 5 stars

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a good contemporary with five very relatable characters that teach us as readers a number of important life lessons. And let me not forget the fun that is had with the adventures the characters embark on.

Thank you guys so much for taking the time to read this review. I really had fun with this book and I certainly hope that if this review has persuaded you to pick up the book that you have the same fun I did with it. If you would like to know more about the author, Adi Alsaid, you can find him various places online, which I have linked below. Also, as of the date that this review is posted, Let’s Get Lost is not yet released, but it will be in a couple of short weeks on Tuesday, July 29th! You can click the links above (or right here) to check out the book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and preorder it!

I wish you a wonderful day, week, month, year, life!

Find Author Adi Alsaid Online
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