Friday, February 24, 2006

I'm taking an online young adult literature course during the month of March, from the University of Wisconsin. I'm pretty excited - I haven't taken any lit courses since I graduated from library school in 2000, and all the books being covered in the course have been written from 2000 - the present. There are several on the reading list that I've already read, but enough that I haven't read to make the class worthwhile. And there are no assignments, no papers & no tests - just online discussion.
So, what does this mean for my reading life during the next month, and thus the blog? Well, there are four required books for each week and four supplementary books. Overachiever that I am, my goal is to read them all, but, in truth, I'll read what I can manage, starting with the stuff I haven't already read and the stuff I haven't read in a while. Here's the complete reading list.
I'm starting with Real Time by Pnina Moed Kass. We've had this one in the library for a while, and I've wanted to read it, but - you know. Anyway, it hasn't circulated well, although the one student who did check it out came back and wanted more like it. Not having read it, that was a hard request for me to fill, but now I see what she meant. I thought she just wanted something else (fiction) on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, but now I know what she wanted.
She wanted 24. That's what this reminds me of. It really is "real time," minute to minute, with some high action, tension, and great emotion. It's told from so many different points of view that at first I didn't like it. I thought it was going to be like so many novels in verse - I'd be frustrated at the end because I like the story but don't get into it enought to satisfy me. But the more I read, the more I got to know the characters. Even though it's in little segments and narratively jumping all over the place, you connect with the characters. It's the story of a German teen, Tommi, who travels to Israel to find out about his grandfather, a Nazi officer who disappeared during WWII. He's met at the airport by Vera, a Russian teen who has lived at the kibbutz for three years. She's spent that time recovering from the suicide of her boyfriend, and now she is in love with Daniel, a soldier whose family lives on the kibbutz. Baruch, a Holocaust survivor and head gardener of the kibbutz, is nervous about supervising Tommi during his visit, afraid working with this German teen will bring back too many memories.
But all these worries and concerns become irrelevant when Sameh and Omar become involved. Fighting for their country, doing what they think is right for their families, these two Palestinian youths' actions will reach out and touch Tommi, Vera, Daniel & Baruch and leave them terrified and confused, but all the stronger for their terrible experience.

Kass, Pnina Moed. Real Time. New York: Clarion, 2004. ISBN 0618442030. $15.00

What I'm Reading: The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things (another required book for the class - I've read it before, but it's been ages)
On my bookshelf: Under the Persimmon Tree by Suzanne Fisher Staples and Born Confused by Tenuja Desai Hidier (another repeat performance).


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