Tuesday, February 12, 2008
In the past few months, as part of my new interest in young adult lit, I've been reading lots of young adult lit that's been coming out of Australia. (It helps to be married to a rockin' middle school librarian for such recommendations!) It started with Markus Zusak's Printz honor awarded book, THE BOOK THIEF (now one of my all time favorites). Tho, this was based in Nazi Germany, it was written by an Australian and I really dug his writing style, so I started reading, one by one, the entire Zusak catalogue. The next Zusak I read was FIGHTING RUBEN WOLFE and followed that up with it's companion/sequel, GETTING THE GIRL. More of that well-done Zusak style, and these are coming-of-age type fare and set in Australia. Closed out the Zusak canon with I AM THE MESSENGER, another coming-of-age type story (tho main character's bit older, but still figuring it out) but with a mystery spin and, also, set in his native Australia. I love the language, the slang, the personalities, and the surroundings. Australia just seems like such a unique and exotic place.
I should add here that I never thought too much about "Oz", particularly. I mean, I thought about it plenty, as a kid, when Croc Dundee had his go back in the 80's. I thought he was cool with the knife and the accent and the crocs and beast-taming abilities. But it was Julie who really got me to take a second look. Julie, shortly after her college graduation, lived for six months in Australia--backpacking, working, sight-seeing--and loved it. So I have a lot of reason for being so interested. She's got lots of good stuff to say.
Anyway, my next look into Australian YA lit was another Printz Honor book, SURRENDER by Sonya Hartnett. I should also add here, that it helped that I saw the acceptance speeches of both of these authors at the Printz Award ceremony in Washington D.C. last year. Helped sell me on these books. Loved SURRENDER too. A bit more abstract (though THE BOOK THIEF was strange in it's own right), so a little bit hard work at times. But, a real compelling story about a troubled young Australian teen trying to find a way out of his messed up life. Told through the eyes of two different "characters" with alternating chapters. Characters in quotes, cause it's kind of up for interpretation in terms of who's who. You know, read it.
Now, by strong recommendation from the little lady, I've started reading John Marsden's TOMORROW series. This is totally different from the previous reads. Still set in Australia, this is freakin suspense and full-tilt scare. A group of teens go on a camping trip deep in the Australian bush and when they come back, they find their country's been invaded and conquered by another people (never named). They have to decide if they want to fight to get their families back (now in captivity) or stay in hiding and let the "grown-ups" sort it out. Well, they fight. It all seems so real. It's not like an action movie (or FOX news?) where there's good guys and bad guys in war and you go in and kill 'em and everything's right and it's gonna be ok. It's brutal and twisted and so questionable and scary. These kids have to grow up and fast. I'm in the final pages of book three now (I think there's 7).
In other news, it's been snowing just about non-stop for the last week or so. We got about a foot and a half last week and getting more now (the drifts at the end of the driveway are almost as high as I am). Thankfully, I don't have to commute to work anymore, except from the bedroom to the the studio across the hall, but it's still been a pain with the constant clean-up and all. Being from South Carolina, we only got about a 2-incher snow a year, at best. This stuff is hammering.