Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sunrise was at 5:42, sunset will be 8:49. 9000 steps yesterday-just couldn't make myself walk the next thousand. It's overcast and in the 50's! It will get up to the 80's, they say, and I will have to water the plants again.

Matched, by Allie Condie was one of the first books in a long time where I thought, ooh, this is GOOD. Teachers are going to like this! For a dystopian novel, it was different. It had tinges of other books like Fahrenheit 451 and The Giver, but still different.

Cassia is almost ready to be Matched. All teenagers at the age of 17 are matched by the society they live in to another, to be with for the rest of their lives. Cassia has been friends with Xander for years and when her name is called and his picture comes up on the screen, she is quietly thrilled. No one else she knows has been matched with someone they already know, who lives in the same town. Almost everyone goes away after the matching.

She is already beginning to think about their future, how comfortable and familiar it will be, when a different photograph flashes over Xander's: Ky Markham's face comes and goes in an instant, and in that very moment a whole different world, full of doubt and uncertainty, excitement and mystery, begins to roll out like a ribbon before her.

The Society says it was only a glitch, go on and plan your life with Xander, nothing to see hear, folks, except that The Society doesn't make mistakes.

Ooh, it is really good! In this look at the future, The Society has discovered that being presented with a lot of choices is not good for the populace. In this time, there are 5 songs, 5 books, 5 poems, 5 pieces of art, few things that will allow one to think about or yearn for, all sanctioned by The Society; everything else is banned. People are matched to jobs, spouses, locations. Also in this time, people are only allowed to live to the age of 70 where they are given a celebration of life and then euthanized. Few people question this, but the changes in the world are relatively new, only 3 or 4 generations along, and so far, so good.

When Cassia's grandfather approaches his "celebration", he gives her a memento, everyone is allowed a few personal items that no one else has, and in it she finds a scrap of paper with a few words on it, a poem she has never seen or heard before, that begins "Do not go gentle into that good night". These words shake her to the core-her grandfather was healthy and intelligent, there was no need for him to die, it is just more efficient for The Society to place a limit on the resources the elderly consume.

This one poem is the beginning of Cassia's questioning of The Society. As she finds more and more information about the past, in an underground society that has only snippets of banned articles, The Society starts to watch her, instituting new rules and laws that affect everyone. As the restrictions get tighter, Cassia feels freer and freer-obviously there is much The Society has to hide.

This is a really good addition to the dystopian fiction out there. Ages 13 and up. (Dutton Books, November 30, 2010. Hardcover. $17.99.)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Delirium, Lauren Oliver

Delirium, by Lauren Oliver...the only book that could have dragged my eyes away from the view out of the little plane I was on as we flew up the Oregon coast into Washington at sunset.

Venus was the only thing in the sky, huge lights on the ocean (trawlers and fishermen on their way home? I thought they were stars until my mind made that little adjustment and put them below the horizon) heading into the Columbia, the sun still setting long after anyone on the ground could see it, mountains casting extraordinary shadows for miles. And Delirium, a tale of a dystopian time not too far from now, an amazing story about a world where love and emotion are carved from brains at adulthood.

In this time, it has been discovered that most of the world's ills could be cured if only emotion could be controlled. If love, if emotion, could be removed from a life, the delirium that causes a person to stop eating, to cry after heartbreak, heartbreak itself, the need to dance, to scream, to kiss a boo-boo, if these could be removed, people would be calm and better able to make good decisions and live quiet, not quite happy lives. Their lives with tasteless food and slow walks with other people who also eat only to nourish and walk only to exercise would be enough for them. There would be no keeping up with the Joneses, no worry about where you live, no wondering about what you'll be when you grow up. You will have a life.

But what if the operation doesn't take? What happens when love doesn't go away? What if the memory of a woman who danced and sang, who hid her laughter and sock-sliding from the world, who died, has infected her daughter? What do you do when the world you live in says that at age 18 you will no longer race your friend around the track, that you will no longer notice the way the air feels at sunrise, that those memories of your mother will no longer matter- You yourself will be the same as everyone else, a body in a bed, in a house, in a neighborhood filled with others just like you.

And what if there is a electrified fence to a wild space that keeps you safe, and a boy who came from there who makes you delirious?

Oh, this was so good. I have the manuscript- no publisher, no page numbers, no copyright info- so I was unable to go into the book with any kind of idea of it. It has white double-spaced pages, front page with only black title and author, bound in a plastic binding with a clear plastic cover. The only intimation of the innards was when the store's children's book buyer, handed it to me and said, "I think you're going to like this."

I like dystopian fiction. I like that it makes me think. I like that sometimes I can see where decisions made today may lead in the future. There is a whole lot of it out there in the kid's book world, especially since Hunger Games, and Delirium is among the best.

I went to the technical side of my brain and searched around for more info about the book, publisher, due dates....and found some cover art for the advance reading copy and a due date of February, 2010. It will be published by HarperCollins. Ms. Oliver has a contest related to the book posted on her site I'm almost sorry to have seen the cover, to have found out who the publisher is; the idea of this plain, simple manuscript floating around as if someone was whispering to me was like a secret only a few of us knew. For a while, it was only me and Lena and hope. Ages 13 and up.
Sunrise was at 5:41, sunset will be at 8:50. 7532 steps yesterday- I had a lot of deskwork and catalogs to get through, lots of computer work, not much walking from place to place.

I did walk around the store once and was completely caught up in Justina Chen Headley's North of Beautiful as I went. I had to squint to see the pages in the sun which did nothing for the truly wicked headache I woke up with.

Worked through the headache, caught the bus and tried to read with the headache. The sun didn't help, and anytime I changed the balance of my head I thought I'd throw up.

Dennis was on my connecting bus and he saved me a seat! Yay! Didn't even know he was on it! What a wonderful surprise!

We were only on this bus for a little while and had to walk from Jackson and Rainier to our house because the bus' trolley lines got caught in the electrical wires. A long, hot, uphill, walk, made easier because of the company.

Took a shower, had a snack, and went to bed with Justina and Terra where I finished North of Beautiful between brain pulses. I watched the sky change color as night came. Cool breezes and belling curtains-the smell of cold seawater filled the room.

Headache's almost gone. I can feel it lurking behind the sinuses on the left side of my head.

PS- North of Beautiful is really good- Terra is a girl with a birthmark on half of her face. Her life, her friends, her art have all been defined by it. What happens when you meet someone new who doesn't seem to notice the one thing that has made you you?

Terra meets Jacob in an accident on her way home from laser surgery to "fix" the mark. No makeup, swollen, he sees her only as she is: smart, funny, controlled, scared, with a birthmark. Her friendship with Jacob is based on honesty because he has seen her as she is, without the careful attendance to her makeup and control over the various pieces of her life. She can't hide who she is, or what she wants to be, from him.

As Terra and Jacob become closer, the rest of her family is beginning to implode. Her father, a man with some serious control issues, and her mother, with different kinds of control issues, and Terra, who has her own set of issues about taking care of her family, are about to say and do things to each other that they may never be able to fix.

North of Beautiful was good. Absolutely worth giving to someone 14 and up. Lots of different ways to investigate the idea of a life's journey and how to navigate the topography of it. (Little Brown.)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

there is a reason for summer

Sunrise was at 5:36, sunset will be at 8:55.

I got home after my late shift on Wednesday, at 8:30, and could tell my lights were on when I turned into the driveway. Lake Union was packed with sailboats as the sun was setting, the sails luminous against the water.

It's a beautiful summer day today, highs in the mid-70s and I'm going out to sit under the umbrella and read The Secret Lift of Prince Charming by Deb Caletti. The water is burbling, the bees are humming, the birds are chirping, I've swept the patio and weeded and cut back the holly trees, and now I am going to read.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Sunrise was at 5:26, today, and sunrise will be at 9:04. Bandon's sunrise was at 5:50, sunset (and it should be a beautiful one) will be at 8:56. I walked 8134 steps yesterday. I felt I was too busy to take my breaks, I DID eat lunch, so I didn't walk around the mall. I need to take my breaks and go a-roamin'. MUST. GET. STEPS.

No major blog today. Book Group meets tomorrow and I haven't gone in months. I am going to take my cereal out to the patio and enjoy the coolth of the air and read Savvy. I am so HAPPY that I have a reason to re-read this amazing book.

Savvy, by Ingrid Law, is about a girl whose family all inherit a certain savvy, a skill of knowing something, on their 13th birthdays. On Savvy's birthday, everything goes wrong and she is left to negotiate the change on her own.

Funny, sweet, romantic, high jinks galore, Savvy will leave you wondering what your savvy is and hoping that you have one. This is a great book to read aloud in class, a good book for discussion about what each of us has to offer the world.

Yay! I'm off to read among the hummingbirds and jet noise!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

July 3, 2010

Sunrise in Seattle was at 5:17, Sunset will be at 9:10. In Bandon, sunrise was at 5:42 and sunset will be at 9:00. Isn't that cool? One of the first things I noticed when we moved to Seattle was how much longer the days were- it might not seem that noticeable but, believe me,you notice every last ray of sun when so much of your winter day is spent in the dark. Lights on at 4:30. Phooey.

It's a beautiful day on the southern Oregon coast. Blue sky, warm in the lee of buildings and rocks, windy. I went on a morning walk, hoping that would help with the swelling around my eyes. It didn't, but I got a good start on those 10,000 steps.

I walked across the headlands to the great big stairs down to the beach, along the beach to the next point at Face Rock, and back, picking up rocks all along the way. Elastic banded sweats aren't always the best things to wear when loading one's pockets with rocks.

My sweats have little dark spots on them from rubbing sand and sea off the rocks before dropping them into my pockets. They are sure cool, especially the sea glass, and I think I found two agates, too.

Yesterday, I flew to Portland, OR, and from there to North Bend for my high school reunion in Port Orford. I had an allergic reaction to something that swelled my eyes shut just as we were taking off from SeaTac to Portland. No problems with breathing, no throat closure, so 35 minutes later I was met by EMTs with a little, pink, Benadryl pill. Ahh, sweet relief as minutes later, I could feel the swelling go down just enough to enable me to see out of more than just the corner of my right eye. (This photo was taken 5 hours after the Benadryl. The one at the top was the next morning.)

Thankfully, a three hour delay from Portland to North Bend (North Bend's airport's power was out so they couldn't add the weather to the flight plan so they couldn't take off)let the swelling go down enough so I could drive the car I rented.

Man, to have that happen just before a reunion. So not good, to be all swelly and crusty. However, the reunion itself was wonderful. Thanks to Mary and Ed and Shelley and all the others who give of their time and space to the Class of 75 every five years.

I finished Revolution, by Jennifer Donnelly, and it was very good. I have never had a whole lot of interest in the French Revolution but reading this connected a lot of the history dots for me. Great characterization, fabulous writing, good historical fiction, and a good book for those on their way to Paris. It reminded me a bit of Adam Gopnik's King in the Window in that it takes you to the city the citizens know and the weather isn't always beautiful.

Recap: A very sad, young, wealthy girl is depressed after her brother dies. Her family is a mess, she's a mess, her friends are messes. Her dad takes her away from home to Paris where he is working with an old friend who studies French history. Dad studies DNA. Together, they are working to prove whether or not a little heart in a glass jar could be the lost king of France who died in a locked tower.

Andi is a brilliant musician and is on track to be expelled from her tony school if she can't finalize her senior project. Her project follows what her father does, kind of decoding the DNA of music, following how certain musical themes through the years are related then and now. She is given an ancient guitar to play while on break and, hidden in a locked compartment in the guitar case, finds a diary written by another girl 200 years ago that recounts her life while caring for a prince of France. Throw in art-boys, music, and romance in the catacombs under the city and you have a great read for the 14 and up crowd.

Jennifer Donnelly is a really good writer of historical fiction and Revolution will be a good choice for all older teens and adults who are interested in the subject or just want a good book to read. (Delacorte Press. Ages 14 and older. Available October 12, 2010. $18.99).