Write Me Up

Official writing with some random thoughts

Book Review on Enchantment by Orson Scott Card April 28, 2014

Filed under: General Blog-tastic Writings — Dorothy Lynn @ 10:59 am

Enchantment by Orson Scott Card

Enchantment is a retelling of the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. It is not quite a modern retelling, but it is not all in the past either, which is why it is so ingenious. The story takes place in Russia, where a boy named Ivan Smetski learns he is now becoming a Jew in order to leave the country. His parents are seeking political asylum, and since his mother is a Jew, they decide to convert in order to get a visa to leave the Soviet Union. When the story opens, Ivan is ten years old and has no idea why his parents are suddenly changing their entire lives. In the process of leaving, they go to stay with his cousin Marek for a while in the countryside. As he explores the woods, he comes upon a strange place—a valley-like clearing in the forest, with a pedestal in her middle, upon which is a young woman sleeping. His curiosity is sparked, but he soon discovers there is some creature protecting the woman and he runs away. Soon after, his family leaves the country, but he never forgets that clearing or that young woman.
The story then skips ahead to Ivan as an adult, where he decides to research for his doctorate in Russia. He returns to the country, leaving behind his Jewish fiancée, Ruthie, in the United States. But he cannot get the forest clearing out of his head, so before he returns home after finishing his research, he decides to return there. What happens next is quite literally magical, and he ends up waking the young woman, who is a princess of Taina named Katrina. However, here is where the story takes a completely unexpected turn. I won’t explain more because there is so much joy in how Card unfolds this story, but I will say that Ivan gets himself into many complicated situations.
Orson Scott Card took the bones of the fairy tale, and he created a realistic setting where it could take place. He throws in element of magic and time travel to make it work, but it does not detract from the realistic nature of the retelling, and as always, his characters are completely solid and wonderfully written. His villain is absolutely terrifying and each time and place and culture (of which there are many) are expertly researched. Before I read is book, I didn’t have much knowledge of Russia and the Ukraine’s history, but now I am curious to know more (especially given the current events happening in that area of the world). Fairy tale retellings are one of my favorite types of books, and this one is so good. It almost reads like historical fiction, but there is nothing dry or boring about it, and it also brings up many different questions about religious and political tension.
In short, read this book. Orson Scott Card is an excellent author and this may be one of my new favorites.

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Book review on Hatchet by Gary Paulsen April 19, 2014

Hatchet is a book about a Brian Robeson, a thirteen year old boy who crashes in the middle of the Canadian wilderness and must learn to survive for almost two months by himself. He has only a hatchet and a windbreaker and some vague knowledge of survival stories.

I read this book because my fifth grade students are reading it in their English class. Honestly, I think the reading level is above fifth grade. The vocabulary is sometimes very specific, and while I like books that challenge students, there is almost no explanation of the vocabulary and fifth graders don’t quite have the skills to look up the words for the amount of new vocabulary there is in this book.

It is an okay read, fairly fast paced, but typical as far as survival stories go. It seemed pretty realistic, even at times to the point that I was slightly amazed that this kid didn’t know how to do certain things, like how to make sparks to start a fire. I didn’t really like Paulsen’s style of writing though. It could be because he was trying to make things abrupt, like the situation in the book, but it felt choppy and amateur. There were also many punctuation mistakes and misspellings (although that could have just been this printing of the book).

I like the ideas that this book introduces, and I like the informational quality to it, but overall I thought the story was incredibly underdeveloped. In the beginning of the book, Brian is completely preoccupied with his parent’s divorce and the “Secret” that he knows about his mother and the other man, but there is no follow through with this storyline, and absolutely no character development for Brian. I wouldn’t recommend this book, even though it won a Newberry Honor. There are so many things that could have been done better in the plot development to make it a story, not just an informative anecdote.

I did really enjoy reading about the wildlife in the book though, especially since it takes place in the same type of wilderness where I just spent the last week. There is even a section where Brian hunts some birds, which I instantly recognized as grouse, and I just went grouse hunting for the first time last week. So, if you enjoy reading survival stories and learning a little bit about plants and animals in the Canadian wilderness, by all means read this book. But if you want something that involves survival and better storytelling, I would advise against it.

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For Marilyn April 9, 2014

Filed under: General Blog-tastic Writings — Dorothy Lynn @ 11:26 pm
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The more I learn to love people, the more I realize that every other feeling grows with the growth of love. Love is the overarching emotion, and even emotion is not the right word for it, because love is more than just emotion. It is a bond, a knot, a string tying the lives of people together, a physical sensation, and a spiritual event. That is why no one can really capture it in words, why it never goes out of style, why art and culture and civilization revolve around it. Deeper love means deeper joy. Deeper love means deeper anger. Deeper love means deeper sorrow.

In the past couple of years, I have had a few sorrows thrown into my life, most of them revolving around this beautiful little village in the middle of southeast Alaska. But as my love for the place grew, so did my sorrow for what has happened there. Then, not only the place, but the people. Then, not just the people in general, but one person more than anyone I’ve ever loved before. He is my best friend. He is strange and rough and crazy and loving and kind and caring. Soon he will be my husband. And today he lost the most important woman in his life—his mom.

And I don’t know what to do. For the first time in my life, I have absolutely no idea what to do. And I know that I can’t really do anything, because nothing will fix it. I am a fixer, a problem solver. I see the most complex problems and immediately I analyze them, study them, and try to figure out a way to fix them. But when I encounter something unsolvable, something like poverty, corruption, evil, death—I avoid it. I turn around and try not to focus on it because I know that I can’t change it. It’s selfish of me. I care about the problems in the world around me, but I don’t invest myself too much in the lives of others, because then I will have to own the fact that I can’t really solve their problems. But with him, I can’t avoid this. I have to face it, because he is my person. With other people, I almost always pull away when I know I have to, when I am leaving, or things are changing, or things get hard. I don’t even really do it on purpose, I think it is just selfish instinct. But with him, I could never do that. I just can’t. It would be wrong in every possible way, because I love him so much. But that makes me realize too that it is wrong every time that I pull away from others simply because I can’t mastermind a way out of their problems.

Ultimately, this means that EVERYTHING has to change. I can’t run away from sorrow anymore. I have to own it, and feel it, and admit that I can’t fix it, which means that I can’t run away from anyone ever again. Deeper love for one person makes me see that I am more afraid of love than I ever thought, but it also makes me see that I have more potential to be close to people than I ever thought. And in the middle of this horrible helplessness, I am grateful, so so grateful, that I have had the opportunity to even experience these feelings, this love and this sorrow. He and his family have helped me to see people so much more clearly.

Gunalcheesh, thank you, Kelly. I love you, and I love your family, and thank you for dragging me out of bed and taking me to meet your momma and papa at 7:30 in the morning after I hadn’t showered for four days. Thank you for taking me to your home during christmas so I could spend time with your family. Thank you for loving your momma so much and taking care of her and staying strong for your family. You are a good man, and I know she is so proud of you.

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Book review on A Light in the Attic April 4, 2014

Filed under: Book Reviews — Dorothy Lynn @ 7:58 pm
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She Silverstein was a poetic genius. The poems that he wrote for kids are silly and fun and serious and deep. He has poems about dragons and flying carpets and about misunderstood clowns and men with too many hats. A Light in the Attic is like a storybook, and very simple to read for adults, yet here are so many poems where I find myself thinking more about life and humanity than when I read poems written for adults. What I love most is that he doesn’t shy away from writing about difficult emotions and events in life that are hard to process. Just because his poetry is for children doesn’t mean that it has to be superfluous piddlefluff. (Yes, I made up that word, but it’s okay, Shel Silverstein said it was okay.)

Here are a couple of my favorites.

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On love April 3, 2014

Filed under: General Blog-tastic Writings — Dorothy Lynn @ 1:42 pm
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“The world moves for love. It kneels before it in awe.”
-Edward Walker, The Village

 

Things that are going through my head right now: April 1, 2014

Filed under: General Blog-tastic Writings — Dorothy Lynn @ 11:15 pm

I wish flying wasn’t so expensive.
I wish teleportation existed.
I wish I had 500 more dollars in my bank account.
I wish that virtual hugs were good enough.
I wish I was in Alaska.
I wish being human didn’t suck so much.
I wish I could fix these problems.
I wish I didn’t have to sit here and do nothing.
I wish I wasn’t always thinking about it.
I wish I was less stressed about this whole situation.
I wish I could sit and do nothing all day.
I wish I could hold his hand right now.
I wish my future mother in law could make it to my wedding.
I wish she could see her grandchildren someday.
I wish that death didn’t happen.

And a million other things.