How I Fell in Love the Second Week of 16th Grade

the-great-american-whatever-9781481404099_hrGuys, I just finished probably the best book I read this year so this blog is gonna start off with some book talkin. I picked up The Great American Whatever because of the review on the cover; “A Holden Caulfield for a new generation”, from the brains at Kirkus Reviews. Now anyone who has talked novels with me knows I have a have a crush on J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. (As of right now I am making it a thing to have a crush on a book. They’re better than most people and can’t reject you so it’s a win/win situation.) That would make The Great American Whatever like my crush’s cute, younger brother, right? A new crush that made me laugh, read paragraphs out loud to my boyfriend, and cry at least three times. (No worries, said boyfriend is totally aware of my literary love life.)

Tim Federle, one of my new favorite authors, lends his craft to the main character and narrator. Quinn is a sixteen-year-old boy with a disappeared, dead beat dad, a loving yet absent-minded mother and a dead older sister. Was that a little too blunt? I am just preparing you Quinn’s direct dialect. He is an aspiring screenwriter with a knack for dialogue and I loved both his and Federle’s voice through the whole novel. Allow me to give you a couple examples;

“…, dying, “instantly or nearly instantly,” as if the timing of somebody’s death matters. They’re dead. Roll the credits.” (page 25)

“Kennywood amusement park is one of the only two in the country that are registered as National Historic Landmarks, which is to say: These rides are old as f**k.” (page 97)

The story twists as it is revealed Quinn is gay, has one of those ride-or-die, here-for- life best friends, Geoff, and a real-life golden boy to look up to. I realize now it is hard to book talk this book now because there are so many turns and I don’t want to spoil them, but I do need you to know Quinn won’t turn on his phone because of an incident surviving Annabeth’s death, Geoff has a secret, too, and boys, even gay ones, can disappoint like none other. There are also a ton of parallels and facts about movies which I was totally into.

 

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Author Tim Federle (in a theater, how fitting)

 

Looking back at class this week, I realize most of our discussions were a little self-centered. I don’t mean this in a negative way; we are learning how to teach in our own personalized methods. I think the listing our qualities as readers and writers was extremely helpful. I was able to see how my education formed my likes and dislikes about language arts. This means I can change the way I teach so someday if my students write this list they won’t have the same secondary educational scars.

Another educational scar was intensely discussed Thursday. How do we write objectives when we don’t really know what your students will learn that day? I would rather teach my students how to learn, not what to learn.

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