Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Becoming Naomi Leon

Ryan, Pam Munoz. Becoming Naomi Leon. New York: Scholastic, 2004. Print.
image from: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/8e/Becoming_Naomi_Le%C3%B3n.jpg

My Thoughts
Naomi and her brother Owen live with their grandmother in Lemon Tree, California. They get by on simplicity and the power of positive thinking.

Naomi makes lists. She makes lists about what she worries about, interesting words and "Things that were the good and the bad all rolled into one" including the fact that her mother has returned after being gone seven years (Ryan 30). (As a list maker myself, I smiled when I read about this character).

Owen wears tape. It literally holds him together.

The mother made me want to SCREAM! I was so upset about her selfishness and motivations and her treatment of the kids. I don't want to say too much here, but she is below worthless.

The grandmother tries to do her best to help these kids. I admire her tenacity.

When the family travels to Mexico to find Santiago, I was put off by the connections that actually found him. It was much too convenient (however, much needed for the story, I understand. Besides, fiction at this reading level allows for reality to be put aside some). I did like the sprinkling in of the Mexican tradition of radish carving. I don't know if it is true, but it was a glue piece to the story.

I know that this book is a middle grade book, but I don't think I want my daughter to read it yet. There are some people (characters) that I just don't want her to meet. There are some situations that I don't want her to experience. Sadly, there are so many kids that really live like Naomi and Owen. Maybe I should let my daughter read this so that she can experience through reading instead of reality. I will put it on her shelf, and she will find it to read when it is the right time. I believe books "find" us when we can receive the message.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Roth, Veronica. Insurgent. New York: Katherine Tegen Books, 2012. Print.

image from: http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1325667729l/11735983.jpg

My Thoughts
This is book two of the Roth trilogy. I am just as pleased with this installment as I was the first book of the story.

Tris is learning that people are not always as they seem and situations are not necessarily right and wrong. She is forced to make tough choices and must learn to decide what to do instead of react and go into situations without being prepared. She says, "I feel like I am collecting the lessons each faction has to teach me, and storing them in my mind like a guidebook for moving through the world" (Roth 411). Yep, that's what growing up is. Each person, each situation, each "life lesson" teaches us, guides us and prepares us. Often, we don't understand at the time, but the revelation comes. As I read this book, I kept thinking of myself and the many lessons I've been taught. I also marked this statement because I thought it tied in to the same idea. "We were all placed here, for a specific purpose" (Roth 487). After finishing the book, I can see the double meaning. I do appreciate Roth's characters and writing.

As I didn't spoil much in the review of Divergent, I also don't want to give away this story. I did mark this statement, though. "I decide to keep the shirt to remind me of why I chose [_____] in the first place: not because they are perfect, but because they are alive. Because they are free" (Roth 418). Tris' revelation is understandable.

When some plans are being made in Chapter 38, I kept thinking of Animal Farm. It is easy to feel right when everyone agrees with you. However, just because everyone agrees doesn't make an action right.

The title reference is on page 509. "Insurgent. Noun. A person who acts in opposition to the established authority, who is not necessarily regarded as a belligerent." I wondered when I would see it. The end of the book just leads us into the third book that comes out this fall. I CAN'T WAIT TO READ IT!

Friday, August 2, 2013


Roth, Veronica. Divergent. New York: Katherine Tegen Books, 2011. Print.
image from: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/sites/default/files/2012/09/divergent_veronica_roth_a_p.jpg

My Thoughts
Oh, I enjoyed this book! This is a dystopian novel set in Chicago. There are five factions. What I found as I read this book, that we all are, in part, these five factions. Roth has pinpointed human nature and created an interesting story about what happens when the five factions interact with each other. "Without a faction, we have no purpose and no reason to live" (Roth 15).

The Five Factions
  • Abnegation (values selflessness)
  • Candor (values honesty)
  • Dauntless (values courage)
  • Erudite (values knowledge)
  • Amity (values understanding)
Beatrice is Abnegation. She is supposed to be selfless. After she turns 16, she must choose which faction she will live with for the rest of her life. "I will decide to stay with my family or abandon them" (Roth 5). She chooses...

I don't want to say much about the book because it is SO good, and I want the reader to uncover the story. The title reference is on page 16 (and appears elsewhere in the book), and that fits in to the story. Again, I don't want to spoil it here.

One thing I enjoyed about this book is how I began looking at people (I was in Boston at the time of reading) and "assigning" them to the five factions. I even labeled myself as I recognized the faction traits.

I'm excited to learn that this book is coming out in movie form next March. I hope it will be good. I've started reading the second book in the series, Insurgent and the third title comes out this fall. I can't wait to recommend this book to my students. It is clean (a kissing scene does appear on page 182) and not too futuristic that it isn't possible to imagine. However, there are some violent things that happen.