My Name Is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson
I expected to cry. The very title says this is not going to be an easy read. After reading the description, I put the book back on the library shelf. Eskimos being mistreated at boarding school? I knew it would make me cry, make me angry. But I went back for it, because sometimes, crying is good. I never remember, though, when I get a book like this, just how upset it makes me. I expected white people who treat Eskimos and Indians like half-humans. I did not expect an insane priest who beats them with a two-by-four, yelling at them that they were destined for Hell at birth. I did not expect the military to come in and treat them like lab animals. I did not expect so many things, so many things that made me so angry, made it so that not only did I cry, but I couldn’t stop. Because even though I did not do those things, nor did my father, nor did my grandfather, nor even my great-grandfather, I feel responsible. Because I am white. Because no matter how much people say the color of your skin doesn’t matter, it does. If I were to go to Alaska, the Eskimos, the Inuit, would look at me through the lenses my people have shaped; they would see all those things reflecting back on me. That’s why it makes me so sick. I never wanted any of that. This is not a true story, but it’s fictional accounts of true stories. It’s only too real. These things happened, and they happened to people still alive today.
I’ve probably made you never want to pick up this book, but you should. Even though it completely tore me apart, I was right when I went back and pulled it back off the shelf. Sometimes crying is good. Knowledge is power, knowledge is inspiration. Inspiration to do something about what has been done.
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
I find the title of this book a little deceiving; it should really be called “D’Artagnan and the Three Musketeers”, because the story is actually about a young Gascon man named D’Artagnan. The Musketeers are only his friends. They are certainly very amusing friends. Anyone who has read this book will never forget Arimis, Porthos, and Athos, their unique personalities, or the scrapes they all get each other in and out of. The two downsides to this book I found was that it started out rather slow (but then again, most old books do), and that there are places where one plot ends and you wonder where the next one will begin? This made more sense when I learned that this, like many books of it’s time, started out as installments in a newspaper. The characters’ way of looking at women and their relationships with them also caught me off guard; this story takes place in a time where marriage was not regarded as much. In fact, it seems that if one fell in love with a married woman it only made the romance more exciting! Of course, because this is a comedy first and foremost, nothing serious or objectionable ever happens. All they do is visit each other in the middle of the night and exchange handkerchiefs. Despite these things, however, I ended up loving this book. Adventure after adventure, characters that become your best friends… you can’t get much better. It’s huge; it took me a long time, it sometimes made me roll my eyes, but it also made me laugh, sometimes even out loud, and it made me hold my breath in suspense; especially at the end. I would definitely recommend this book for high-school students, though it would be too much for most middle-schoolers. My favorite character would have to be Athos; I will forever remember the picnic in the fort tower. But you will have to read the book to figure out what I’m talking about! Then you can come back here and tell me who your favorite character is!
Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen
Prepare to have your mind blown. Prepare to be outraged. I’m homeschooled, which means I don’t even read the standard textbooks, but there are historical lies in here that I have still heard. That’s how much they’ve seeped into our culture. That’s why they’re so hard to get rid of. Even worse than the lies, it seems to me, are the things we leave out, the important things in our past that we never hear about. I would recommend this book to everybody. In fact, I can’t say enough for it. It will not only inspire you to have your children learn history differently, but it will also inspire you to look deeper for yourself. And, as my one friend and I have discussed, it will make you want to write your own textbook. I do not think I am really up to that, though. I do want to read more about the parts of my past no one ever told me about, however; the parts that the “experts” say aren’t important. Because I have read some, and I know for myself that they are important. History doesn’t have to be the dry stuff they write in textbooks; if you read books by people who have been there, either in real life or even just at the dig sites, the stories start to come alive. They start to mean something. They start to do what history is meant to do: show us our past so that we can learn from it and hopefully do better. Good history can inspire us to run just as hard, even harder, than the amazing people we read about; to respect what they did and to reach even higher. That’s what history is all about, and no one shows is better than Loewen. You can’t miss out on this book!
The Invisible Heart by Russell Roberts
The subtitle of this book puzzled me: “An Economic Romance”. Economics and romance, huh? Sounds odd. But it wasn’t, it was wonderful. Things I’d wondered about for a long time, or things I ran across in my other books, finally made sense. To see economic theory take the shape of a man, to have him tell you what he thinks in the form of a conversation with someone who isn’t quite convinced, was amazing. Plus, it was a good story. I could forget I was learning about economics because I was so wrapped up in the story. The romance wasn’t that strong. In fact, for most of the book, Laura thinks Sam is a weirdo. It’s still ends up being very sweet, but it isn’t so much that your highschool-aged son will hate you for making him read it. You can just ask my Mom how much I loved it. It seems like the whole time I was reading it, every conversation turned into me warmly relating what I’d figured out, thanks to Sam. Even though I finished the book over a month ago, parts of it will come back to me when I’m confronted with economics in real life. All I can say is, thanks Roberts!!