Monday, September 11, 2006

Looking for Alaska...literally and figuratively...

I have two reviews for you today. One, Looking For Alaska, deals with a young man's coming-of-age struggle as he finds his place in the world. It is both humorous and philosophical in nature. The second, Alabama Moon, is another coming-of-age novel; however, Moon Blake is many years younger than Miles Halter and has an even longer journey he must take to make sense of his surroundings.

Green, John. 2005. LOOKING FOR ALASKA. New York: Dutton. ISBN 0525475060 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

LOOKING FOR ALASKA is a coming-of-age novel starring Miles Halter and his eccentric cast of friends. Miles had always been different from his peers; for years he’d been searching for the “Great Perhaps” but he finally begins to understand the meaning of life when he ventures forth into the great unknown leaving his familiar home and school in Florida for his new life at a boarding school in Alabama. Miles, like all the characters in LOOKING FOR ALASKA, has his own eccentricities. Mile’s eccentric obsession—besides his love for philosophy—is his fascination with memorizing the last words of famous people. “It was an indulgence, learning last words. Other people had chocolate; I had dying declarations” (11). Miles, nicknamed, “Pudge,” is soon initiated into a close circle of friends including his roommate Chip Martin (the Colonel) and Alaska Young. It is his relationships with his friends—Alaska in particular—that will change his life forever.

LOOKING FOR ALASKA is well written. It is at times laugh-out-loud funny such as when Pudge and his friends are playing pranks on their peers or pondering the glory of the bufriedo, a deep-fried burrito, and at other times deeply touching such as when Pudge and Alaska are discussing the meaning of life and what it means to truly live.

John Green's Weblog
John Green's Bio

Key, Watt. 2006. ALABAMA MOON. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux. ISBN 0374301840. [Suggested Grade Levels 6-9]

Moon Blake, a.k.a. “Alabama Moon,” is a ten year old boy who bears more weight on his shoulders than any child should ever have to endure. Raised in the forest by a father of questionable mental health, Moon knows more about nature and living off the land than almost anyone. But when his father dies due to complications from a broken leg--he refuses to have Moon seek help from the ‘outside’ world--Moon learns that what he knows about deers, snakes, rabbits, and squirrels won’t help him when it comes to surviving in human society. And human society seems to be a fate Moon can’t outrun as more people become aware of his existence. How can the state allow a ten-year-old-boy to run wild in the forest without proper care and schooling? But can a boy who has only been taught to mistrust and hate ever learn to trust and love other humans or is he destined to be a wondering loner like his father? His father’s dying words spoke to him of his dream that Moon would be able to make his way to Alaska and live free and strong with others ‘of his kind.’ As Moon struggles between awakening dreams of his own--friendship, love, and companionship with his peers-- and his father’s dying request, the boy becomes a strong and confident young man finally free to make his own decisions and merge his two realities.

Watt Key Official Site

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

reminds me of my own upbringing. Well, the "father of questionable mental health" part anyway.

Sounds like a great book - another good selection by Ms. Becky.