Thursday, December 9, 2010
Teen author Krysia Anderson perfectly captures the emotional intensity of the confusion, sibling-rivalry, breakdown of inter-family closeness, social awkwardness, and everyday frustrations of a young adolescent in this pre-coming-of-age novella. The action is swift, the emotions real and intense; get ready to relive teen angst when you read this. Along the way, social issues like class and race are touched on and treated with humanistic sensitivity, all taking place in another time and another universe, constructed beautifully with a few deft descriptions and references.
Anderson writes in the Okal Rel Universe of author Lynda Williams. I chose to read this short novella before reading any of Williams' books. Yet I found myself comfortably inhabiting a world not Earth among a people not my own of a societal structure not quite like ours. Still there was just enough allusion to the complex Okal Rel Universe constructs to make me want to read other books in this series. I want to read them not to explain this one, it needed no additional background to be understood; but because the characters and world-building were sufficient to make the Okal Rel Universe come alive and become a place I now want to visit.
Personally, I am impatient to read the promised sequel(s) of this storyline. Krysia Alexander is a gifted storyteller, with just the right mix of human motivations, frustrated emotions, comic relief, and goal-oriented action that overcomes setbacks. I truly believe the middle school and young adult audience will enjoy this one.
Teachers, this book, being 71 pages, is most useful for a book report for those students who like short books yet rich enough to provide thought-provoking questions on motivation, customs, social issues of class, social expectations and friendship. There is mention of genotyping and space flight enough to provide stimulus for a few science questions on genetics, the ethics of publishing personal genotypes, and space flight compared to atmospheric flight. These topics are part of the story, but the science is only marginally part of the book. In all cases, a lesson on one of the topics might be introduced by referring to the instances in the book.
For more information about the Okal Rel Universe as well as any other stories and books by Krysia Anderson in the series, visit the website of Lynda Williams.
This book is a bit hard to find. I had to order it from Amazon.com. The major book stores Barnes & Noble and Borders will order it for you, but probably will not have it on the shelf.
Reviewed by Valerie Coskrey.
Valerie Coskrey's Classroom Tools and Ideas and
Previous mention of this book was made in another article of this blog.
Krysia Anderson can be visited on Facebook.