Monday, November 14, 2011

Review: Carrying Mason by Joyce Magnin

Joyce Magnin. Michigan: Zonderkidz, 2011. 153 pp.
Rating: Don't Bother
Promises are made to be kept.

Thirteen year-old Luna Gleason, the third of six children, is not your typical teenager. Following the surprising death of her best friend, Mason, Luna decides to move in with his special needs mother, Ruby Day. Luna and Ruby Day quickly fall into a routine that is threatened by exposed secrets prompted by the arrival of Aunt Sapphire, Ruby Day’s aunt.
Luna, despite the obstacles, never wavers in her perseverance to help Ruby Day. Her appeal to her father was a delight.  “But Daddy, you said I couldn’t carry Mason and I did. I did that just fine. You said I’d never bait a proper hook, and I do that like a champ because Mason taught me. Ain’t you the one who is always saying, ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me?’ All things, Daddy, not just some things. Even fight Aunt Sapphire and her fancy foxes and big car” (102). Magnin wonderfully illustrates the Christian principle of sacrifice. Even though Luna could have been killed or seriously hurt, she “stretched out as close…to the back wheels of Sapphire’s car” and didn’t hesitate to offer up her life. “Frederick can run me over if he want but I’m not giving up.” My favorite line of the novel is Luna’s mother's response to her husband's question about Luna’s actions. “She’s laying down her life for her friend.”

Review: Black, White, Other: In Search of Nina Armstrong by Joan Steinau Lester

Joan Steinau Lester. Michigan: Zondervan, 2011. 222 pp.
Rating: Striking

Identity is a concept familiar to all, something people struggle with daily and not easily defined. We all ask, “Who am I? Our gifts, talents, experiences, and ancestors make us who we are. For most, adolescence is the first attempt to piece together the puzzle of ourselves. Grappling with identity is frightening, but even more terrifying is being a biracial teen struggling with this issue when the world familiar to you crashes down.

In Black, White, Other, Nina Armstrong, a product of a white mother and black father, seeks to regain her identity once her parent’s divorce completely alters the life she has always known, forcing her to view her surroundings in a manner alien to her. Rejected by friends for refusing to pick a side and live in a world that is either black or white, Nina stands alone. Feeling a connection to a dead ancestor, Nina sets out to explore how her life is akin to her enslaved great-great-grandmother. We follow Nina Armstrong on her tumultuous journey as she attempts to answer the elusive question, “Who am I?”