Sunday, August 31, 2014

Newbery Challenge 1998

My Newbery challenge is to read every medal and honor books starting with the present and going backwards. Because the enormity of this challenge, I'm electing not to reread books that I have read since 2004.

For 1998, I had already read:

This left two honor books to read:

Lily's Crossing is set in 1944, during World War II. Lily's father is sent to build bombs in Detroit, leaving her to spend the summer with her grandmother at Rockaway Beach. Lily is not a saintly protagonist; she lies, sneaks into movies and is disrespectful to her grandmother. Her lying becomes problematic when she meets a Hungarian refugee, Albert, and promises to help him return to Europe via boat to help rescue his sister.

I obviously know what the verb "wring" means, yet I still found the idea of wringing the necks of pigeons, injured from gunshots, shocking and quite horrifying. The main character, Palmer, would agree with me. He seems to be suffering from PTSD, haunted by memories of Family Fest, a festival that includes a shooting contest involving 5,000 pigeons. Palmer is conflicted with his desire to fit into a gang of friends and his feeling about participating in acts of cruelty, including bullying a girl who is his neighbor and friend, as well as becoming a Wringer. 

So both of these books were beautifully written, and I was sure I would be rating them both as five stars. Then I got to the endings. Both suffer from the Okay For Now problem. Both start as straight-forward historical/realistic fiction, but their endings move them to the realm of implausibility. I found myself thinking, "Really? That would never happen." I realize this is an adult perspective, but it did damper my reading of the book a bit. They were excellent despite this turn so I rated them both 4 stars.

On to 1997!

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