Monday, February 28, 2011

Difficult But Beautiful Books

I've read two books in the last few weeks that have really affected me. I'm a huge fan of the Printz award, so when the new books were announced, I immediately downloaded Nothing by Janne Teller (yay, Kindle!).

I'd been looking forward to reading Nothing because it was compared to Lord of the Flies, which I just finished teaching with my honors 9 students. I go over Golding's idea of the potential for evil inside everyone repeatedly with them and wanted to see how Janne pulled it off.

All I can say is wow. She packed a punch that I didn't see coming and it continued to hurt more and more as I went deeper into the story.

The book centers around seventh graders and while at first it seems innocent, it eventually sees impossible to go on.

But....she makes you want to read on.

There was no way I could stop reading this book (especially since Golding's idea of the potential for evil is very evident in this book) and the end leaves you gasping. Seriously. I put it aside when I finished it and sat for at least twenty minutes just thinking about it. The story haunts you.

I recently recommended Laurie Halse Anderson's Wintergirls to a bunch of my students, but I warned them of the same thing. It's a hard book. There might be times when you want to stop, but the story stays with you and it's very very powerful.

Elizabeth Scott's Living Dead Girl is another great example.

I love books like this. I think it shows the true talent of a writer to be able to give us a difficult story that at the same time can be written in a beautiful way. It's a bit of an oxymoron, but a talent that I find incredible.

Have you read books like this? Books that you want to stop, but you can't. What are they? I'd love to hear your views!

And don't forget to enter my DIVERGENT arc contest. I'll pick a winner a week from today. Each time you re-tweet, blog or Facebook, you get more entries. You can let me know if the comments if you do! Good luck!


Stephanie said...

Thanks for checking out my blog! Some of my favorite books are difficult books (I love Laurie Halse Anderson--Speak is one of my favorites, as well as Wintergirls). But I definitely need a shot of something fun afterward!

Meredith said...

I never made it through Wintergirls. I plan to, at some point, but it was just so heartbreaking and difficult. There's something beautiful in that, though--you're right that it's worth it.

Aleeza said...

how can anyone forget ellen hopkins?! her stuff, from what ive heard, is so visceral and poignant it be can be hard to digest. i own a copy of crank and cant wait to read it.
i also have to recommend a book i seem to be talking about All. The Time. It's called Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma, a novel centered of incest (!) and its done so wonderfully that you cant help but really get the story. at the same time, it IS about incest, and incest is never, ever, ever a pretty topic. the author herself claims that forbidden is and will be the hardest thing she's ever written. i think i can safely say the same from a reader's point of view.
you should give it a try :)

KO: The Insect Collector said...

Wow- I saw when this won and have been waiting to see a review. Very intriguing. Will add it to the list.

Kristan said...

Oh my word, LIVING DEAD GIRL sounds terrifying. And yet I am intrigued… Honestly though, I'm not sure I could take it. I mean, the nightly news makes me cry.

Out of curiosity, would you even be allowed to teach a book like that in your class?

Sophia the Writer said...

ooh thanks for the rec!

I just finished reading Before I Fall and that really stuck with me. (It actually caused me to dream of the adult version of high school...Beverly Hills)

Krispy said...

I always want to read books like this, but I have to be in the right mood for them because like you said, they stick with you. I'm curious about Nothing now. I remember hearing about Living Dead Girl, but it seemed a little too intense for my reading mood at the moment.

Thanks for the recs!

Lola Sharp said...

I love the simple, sad, lower cased title: nothing

That alone speaks volumes.

I love books that haunt me for days, weeks, years. If you are asking about YA only, have you read: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly or the Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson or Before I Fall by Lauren or anything by Ellen Hopkins?

I'm off to tweet your contest again. I never win contests, which is okay, because I'm happy to pimp...but hope springs eternal. I'm crossing my fingers and toes for this one...if this book is as well written as I hear it is.


bibliophile brouhaha said...

I am brand new to your blog, but I feel you - I always have attracted to the truly difficult books, the ones that sink into your bones and kind of temporarily rip your emotions a part.

Carol Riggs said...

This sounds intriguing! I love Lord of the Flies. And I know what you mean about Wintergirls--it was almost crushing to read it, because you feel what the MC is feeling.

Carolyn Abiad said...

Last dark one I read was The Marbury Lens. I'll add this to my TBR too!