After finding out the Judy Blume is writing a new book (for adults) to be published this year, I thought that I would reread Forever. This was the book that everyone wanted to read when I was a teenager. It was passed around and it was a source of information for many teens. I was surprised to learn that it was first published in 1975 but not that some schools and libraries had tried to ban it.
It is a story of a teenage girl and her first love. It deals with sex, pregnancy, possibly homosexuality and death. Although it is almost 40 years old, the content is current today and the parents in the novel were very open and honest. It was fairly explicit and descriptive but identifies issues that would be good for discussion.
I enjoyed reading many of Judy Blume’s novels so am keen to read her newest novel, made for the adults who had enjoyed her books as teens!
A sequel to the book (and movie) If I Stay (#37), Where She Went picks up the story of Mia and Adam, three years after the fateful accident that killed Mia’s family. To ensure that this was age appropriate for my daughter, I read this young adult novel and came to understand the effects of Mia and Adam’s grief as they lived their separate lives.
Mia’s physical wounds had healed and she had been accepted and graduated from Julliard. She was living her dream of Cello performances yet was alone and experiencing survivor’s guilt. Adam’s band had become a great success but he was alone, unhappy, not getting a long with the band, struggling with the attention of fans and journalists while self-medicating with cigarettes and prescription medications. Both were lonely. Both were grieving their loss alone.
Adam happened upon one of Mia’s performances and they spent the night visiting Mia’s favourite places in New York while tentatively talking about their “break up” and past. Through this trip, the couple comes to understand the ramifications of Adam’s pleading promise to Mia as she decided whether to live or die following the accident.
This was an easy read and it was nice to find out what happened to the couple in the aftermath of the terrible accident. As for age appropriateness, while there were adult-type references, there was no description of the actions. It is really more a book for teens than pre-teens.
After attending the book launch (see previous blog post), Erin and I were inspired to read a selection of Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch’s books. We took turns finishing this novel during our holidays. In this companion book, a prequel to Stolen Child (#38), the reader understands what happened to the sister left behind.
Lida was sentenced to a work camp. She lied about her age, avoiding death in a “hospital” only to work long hours first in the laundry and subsequently doing the risky and delicate work of building bombs. Like her other novels, this novel teaches us part of the terrible history of WW2 and is a story of compassion, caring and hope as a group of children look out for each other in order to survive.
It is hard to believe that humans could treat others so terribly. It seems impossible that these actions (and worse) occurred in the last hundred years. This is another story that needed to be told and should be read by students everywhere!
Following the launch of this terrific book last week (see post below), I devoured it as we relaxed beneath the trees on a campsite at the Pinery. Similar to this author’s previous novels, this story wove together history and a compelling story of injustice, hope and tenacity to survive in terrible conditions. This book also had a Brantford connection, which is a treat to read!
This novel, Forchuk Skrypuch’s fifth book about the Armenian genocide, alternates between Ali and Zeynep who are writing in journals to each other during their separation. Ali leaves Anatolia to find a better life in Canada, settling in Brantford and working in a foundry. He ends up placed in an internment camp in Northern Ontario after being identified as the very people he was fleeing from. Zeynep remains behind waiting to join him, living with missionaries and helping at the hospital. During this time, the Young Turks were working to extinguish the Christian Armenians by killing the men and forcing the women and children to march through the desert, starving to their deaths. Zeynep continues to write in her journal, writing at the American consulate office, as the importance of her journal and the documentation of these terrible crimes has been recognized.
Both Ali and Zeynep show incredible bravery and compassion as they help others avoid persecution. The author shared that while the book is fiction, “every single thing in my book happened”. This book is important to read and as Zeynep says,
“what I have witnessed is evidence of a terrible crime and the world must know about it, because, he says, that what we forget, we are bound to repeat”.
After reading the Stolen Child by local author Marsha Forchuck Skrypuch (book # 38), Erin and I were privileged to attend today’s launch of her newest novel, the Dance of the Banished. This book was celebrated, along with the unveiling of a plaque commemorating the 100th anniversary of Canada’s first national interment camps, at the Ukrainian Catholic Church of St. John in Brantford. One hundred plaques were being unveiled today across Canada at 1100 hours.
During his address, the Father of the Ukrainian church shared that “we need to remember history and sometimes it is not very pleasant”. This was in reference to the Ukrainian and Armenian people who travelled to freedom in Canada yet ended being labeled as the very people that they had escaped from. During a dark part of Canadian history, 100 years ago, these immigrants were rounded and placed in internment camps. While the seriousness of these camps was commemorated, Dave Levac, MPP (Speaker of the House) shared that the celebration was about the “power to overcome and never give up” and how it is important for Canada to acknowledge what happened, apologize and then bring the communities together. We enjoyed the dedication of the plaque, which included singing and prayer in Ukrainian, complete with incense and holy water.
Forchuck Skrypuch has done a great deal of research into her novels and she shared that although this new book is fiction, “every single thing in my book happened”. Erin was thrilled to have her Stolen Child signed and leave with 3 newly autographed books. I know that we will both enjoy these books and learn about Canadian and world history along the way. Look for a future blog post about these books coming soon!
Congratulations Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch! Your novels honour history in a way that emphasizes hope, forgiveness and perseverance while reinforcing that we need to learn from this unfortunate history to ensure that it does not repeat itself. We are looking forward to reading your newest novel!