Thursday, January 13, 2011

Angry Management: three novellas by Chris Crutcher

Chris Crutcher has written nine novels, two collections of short stories and an autobiography. He has won three lifetime achievement awards for the body of his work: the Margaret A. Edwards Award for Outstanding Literature for Young Adults, the ALAN award for a Significant Contribution to Adolescent Literature, and the NCTE National Intellectual Freedom Award. He has been a child and family therapist with the Spokane Community Mental Health Center and is currently chairperson for the Spokane Child Protection Team.
Is it any wonder that I found “Angry Management: three novellas” to be an outstanding book of three ‘short’ stories about teens dealing with anger, prejudice, insecurity, love, power, and hope. Crutcher brings back five of his characters from previous novels as major characters in these stories. They face sexual awakening, body image issues, power struggles, family dysfunction and yet most all come out as heroes for their ability to overcome obstacles.
I was particularly intrigued by a new character, Matt Miller, a devout Christian who actually seems to understand and attempt to take “What would Jesus do?” seriously. He stands up to the school superintendent, the football jocks, and a group called the BattleCry kids, “an organization of aggressive Christians who think they need to define the moral high ground for teenagers who aren’t them.”
Thank you, Chris Crutcher!

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Friday, January 07, 2011

After a year of friends urging me to read it, I finally started "The Help" (Kathryn Stockett) after our Christmas guests (nine days worth) had gone home. Wow! I understand what the 'talk' is all about! This is a book with a lot to teach us about the racial divide and the absolute necessity for the civil rights movement (of the 60’s... and beyond.)
Growing up in the 60’s in a northern state where no-one in our little rural town had any kind of help, we did not have segregation in schools or businesses, libraries, etc. When in middle school, I really admired one of my school-mates who was black and we had a lot of fun together in gym class and the cafeteria, though we never ‘crossed the line’ to spend time in each other’s homes.
Had I not moved to another town, I wonder if our friendship might have grown or dwindled as we entered high school. It is hard to recall the atmosphere of the times from this perspective. I was too naive at the time to even understand that the civil rights movement was happening. My parents sheltered me from much of the world.
Now that I read how my contemporaries in the south were being raised at the very same time, I am utterly shocked! I need to find someone who was living in the south in the 50’s – 60’s who will talk about this. Are these characters realistically portrayed? Could any woman really have been as grotesque as Hilly? Did she/they actually think of themselves as kind Christian women? Didn’t they have any clue as to the way Christ would have them relate to their 'help'? Well, at least LuAnn seemed to understand, but she, like Elizabeth and all the others, was totally cowed by Hilly.
Men, women, and young adults of all colors need to read this book and then discuss where we’ve been and what we still need to attain for true equality. We can't complacently read books like this and think that things are all right now.

I just discovered a great discussion board. For some dialogue between readers of various races and ages check out this link: