Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Olive's Ocean and La Linea

Even though this summer has been busy with Professional Development and a writing class, I have been enjoying reading and writing like crazy.  I wanted to give an update on my book-a-day challenge here.  I am trying to read a total of 76 books in the 76 days of summer vacation that I have.  As of right now I have read 40 books in 24 days.  I am super excited about this and look forward to surpassing my goal for the summer.  Let's see if I can keep it up!

     In La Linea by Ann Jaramillo, Miguel finally gets the message that it is time for him to journey north to join his parents and the twin sisters he hasn't met yet.  He gets everything together and goes to Don Clemente to pay and get the instructions for his trip.  He has a going away party, says good-bye to his grandma and his sister and takes off on the journey.  From day one this trip north is full of dangers and surprises, including a stowaway sister that Miguel now has to take care of.  This book is full of adventure and describes some of the very real danger that people face to try to come into the United States.  Miguel and his sister have been suffering as many children in Mexico do, waiting for the day when their parents will have the money to send for them.  I have seen families that are separated like this, waiting to someday be able to bring the rest of the family here.  I would highly recommend this book to teens, especially to Mexican-American students.  I think that a lot of them will find a story that they can connect to.  For teachers, I think this would be an excellent read-aloud that would highlight the issue of immigration policy.

Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes tells the story of a young girl Martha who is just starting to figure out her identity.  The book opens with a scene in which a woman Martha has never met introduces herself as Olive's mother and leaves a journal page with Martha.  Olive was a girl in Martha's school who had died recently.  Martha is confused by this at first because she and Olive had not been friends.  When she reads the journal page she discovers that Olive might have wanted to become her friend.  This starts Martha thinking about how people treat each other.  Then, when Martha's family takes their annual trip to her grandma's house, she starts to notice things around her.  Her grandmother and she start to exchange information about themselves each day and Martha grows throughout the summer.  I really liked this story.  There is some beginning teenage love in the book, but it is really a story about the relationships forged in a family and the way that a tween can negotiate the difficult years of friendships and broken hearts.  I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys realistic fiction.

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