Sunday, February 06, 2005

Happy Super Bowl Sunday to one and all. It is a cool misty day in the islands. I feel sorry for the tourists who hoped to watch the game in their swimsuits at the beach bars. It is a bit chilly for that. But, I guess if you are coming from snow country this is still paradise weather wise. We had dinner with friends on Friday night and walked out on the dock to check out the sailboat he just bought - 43 footer. We can see it from our balcony. It is a big sailboat, but I wouldn't have enough room for my books. :-/ While out on the dock we were looking up at the stars - the sky is so clear down here it is as if you could reach up and touch them. No light pollution like in Houston. Made me think of growing up in Upper Michigan - I thought everyone had the Big Dipper hanging over their house at night. :-)

Just finished grading YA Literature Discussion Posting on how we define YA literature. One of the students found a great quote that states teens crave books with characters who are real, inspiring, and flawed. She just described Darren in Joyce Carol Oates' upcoming novel, Sexy. It will be out in a few days - February 15th. Darren is one of those "beautiful" boys who wishes he were more macho like his dad and older brother. And unaware of the effect he has on people, he is showing off that hairless beautiful body in his tiny Speedo every time he gets up on the high board. Darren is being watched, by both the girls and the guys. One of the guys watching is his English teacher Mr. Tracy. Tracy doesn't do anything more serious that offer Darren a ride home, but Darren knows there is a reason he is uncomfortable being in a car with the English teacher who gives him better grades than he deserves. But when the other jocks, who aren't getting good grades from him, decide to play a "joke" on Tracy and slide an envelope with kiddy porn under the principal's door indicating that Tracy is into it, Darren buries his head in the sand rather than stand up for Tracy. You just don't narc on your buddies, no matter how much you know you should, but the "joke" is getting out of hand. The police get involved and they know Darren was in Tracy's car.

Sexy is one of those books I picked up and read right through. Granted, it is a quick read, with some of the chapters being a mere page long, but I found Darren such a disquieting and almost unlikeable character that I kept reading. The ending is a bit too abrupt and gets him out of the situation too easily (a distant uncle to spend the summer with), but I am not sure how much more of Darren I could handle. Or maybe it was the dad and older brother I found so disconcerting. I think it was all the characters! All of them were so flawed, so "real" that I felt as if I were prying into this mixed-up teen's most private fears. In other words - it isn't a book I will forget. Nor have I been able to forget any of the other YA books Oates has written - Freaky Greens Eyes is still my favorite but Sexy gave me goosebumps.