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Collin read The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney (the seventh book in the Diary of the Wimpy Kid series) while we were still in Las Vegas. He's since finished Sailor Twain by Mark Siegel, and Scott Westerfeld's Levithan. Next up on his to-read list is Kill Order by James Dashner. On our way home I read My Friend Dahmer by Backderf, The Shadow Collector's Apprentic by Amy Gordon and Almost Home by Joan Bauer (on homelessness and hope). I loved the Backderf and Bauer's books, the other was over-done, the language seemed stilted or forced somehow.
Backderf's commentary on adult indifference strikes home. I see teenagers in my classrooms everyday that long for connection: with parents, with teachers, with adults who care about them. How tragic that Dahmer--as horrible as his life of crime turned out-- never found that. How could the adults around him have ignored his drinking? Why didn't anyone stand up and say, "something is wrong" and find him some help? Questions that haunted the author, I'm sure, after listening to his ALAN panel presentation. Well done, the book tells a tragic story--the art and the blackness that seeps into and around Dahmer adds layers to the telling.
Instead of gathering books for the Project for Awesome auction, this year Colllin attend at the behest of a middle-school teacher. Joan Kaywell introduced us to Mr. Pauling at FCTE. He and Collin worked out an ALAN deal, so the books Collin received as part of his registration were signed for his students and classroom library. We mailed them off with a letter yesterday. You can read Collin's letter to the class at his blog here.
Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught is my favorite so far. I finished it yesterday before Collin woke up, so he didn't catch me clutching tissues and crying on the couch. It's about students in a special education program--they are the "alphabets" (ADD, ADHD, OCD, ODD, SCHIZO). When Sunshine, one of a trio of best friends goes missing, Jason must wade through the voices in his head to aid the FBI in their search. He suffers from Schizophrenia and divorce, his "colonel" Mom brings a lawyer to the search headquarters knowing Jason will be an easy target as law enforcement creates early "persons of interst" lists and demands DNA samples. Most of the novel captures the first (critical) 24 hours of Sunshines disappearance. Well crafted, Vaught hones language until it rings true to each character and "alphabet" she portrays. Move it to the top of your to-read pile, or set aside what you've already started and jump into this one. It made me grateful for my family, my son, recovery, and so much that I take for granted. It's a good reminder and a great read.