Trust & Honesty


OK, so this is a different sort of blog post. I want to start branching away from just reviews. In part, because up until now, I have managed to have all my deep discussions with my year 13 class, but I know that in another couple of weeks I will not get to see them daily. This makes me quite sad, and so I need to look for another outlet for these discussions.

This whole blog post stems from the conversations that I have had with my year 13’s over the last couple of days. It started yesterday in fact, with a discussion about honesty. Why is it so hard for us to tell the truth? Why do we run from a version of ourselves that tells nothing but the truth? It was pointed out to me that ultimately no lie every lasts – there was a very clever statement about time revealing all lies.

Then today in class I was introduced to Lang Leav. (Thanks Hannah!)  Let’s take a moment to say how in love with her I am! I found this poem Keys which I really loved. It is so true, and so sad at the same time. It is interesting – when I read novels, especially YA novels one of the things I look for is to have a cathartic ending, I need to be able to feel and see a sense of hope.

However when it it comes to poetry, I seem instead to be drawn to a dark sadness, which reveals the deepest crevices of mankind.

Trust. On the surface it seems quite simple. We are programmed from a very young age to trust those around us. Think about babies, and small children, they trust blindly, they trust everyone. Until that trust is broken. So why as adults, and arguable, worse than that – teenagers, why do we struggle so much with trust?

I think the reality is that the two are tied together. Trust and honesty. We require both in order to really feel content. We choose our friends based on those who are trustworthy and honest. Unfortunately it usually takes being burned a few times to find out who those friends should be.

Would the world be a different place if we maintained the trust and honesty we had as children? Or would that make us all naive? If we look around at people that we know, people who are too trusting we consider to be naive. We think that their rose tinted glasses mean that their view of the world is not realistic. We marvel at the trust that children show us. Yet in reality should this not be where we all are? Should we not all just trust and be honest and the world will be a better place?

Is that how it works??

The final line of Leav’s poem “Never forget your words” strikes me as the most important. It is our words that have the power to shatter some one’s trust. To shatter someone’s hopes and dreams. They may seem little, but they can always have a big impact!

Mrs K

Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Written by Benjamin Alire Sanez


So I read this book over the weekend, in fact, really over the space of two days. It was hard to put down. One of my students had read it and recommended it to me and had warned me in advance that this was a dark book and that I would not be able to read things afterwards.  However, I am not writing this on Monday, and have just had a massive debate with him about it. Where he saw darkness I saw hope.

This book was about a teenager searching to discover the secrets of the universe. At the start of the book Aristotle is 15. He feels isolated, growing up in a family with siblings way older than him. He is desperate for a place that he belongs. And while it would be easy to delve into the isolation that he felt, instead I focused on the hope. He headed out for a walk and learnt to swim. It was there is met Dante. His first real friend.

Over the course of the book you see him and Dante discover life, they chase girls, they share friendship, get jobs and get licences. I am struggling a little bit because I don’t like to give away the story in these reviews.

At the same time as I read this book I also watched the first two seasons of Atypical. (Netflix show) both the book and the show to me have a lot in common. They are both coming of age stories. I would love to get Aristotle and Dante for year 13. To teach as something to aspire to, something to show that despite the darkness of growing up there is hope there too. That you parents will become real people, that they will support you regardless. That keeping everything inside is not the answer.

The book is told from Ari’s point of view. The prose is short and almost poetic. It sings as you turn each page.The dialogue is pitch-perfect. The story is quiet and gentle, but it pulls the reader through the narrative beautifully.

“Words were different when they lived inside you.” This was definitely one of my favorite quotes from the book. It is that beautiful idea that sometimes it is easier to feel things and to keep things inside than say it out loud. This led to a fascinating conversation with my year 13s who talked about how easy it is to say things when you write them or text them versus saying them out loud.

Maybe I will do a second blog where I actually talk about what happened and how I felt!!

In the meantime – go and have a read! I cannot recommend this book enough!!

Mrs K

Genre: Young Adult Fiction; contemporary, romance

Review: Trusted Bond

Trusted Bond Written by Mary Calmes

9542292This is the second book in the Change of Heart series. I actually liked it more than the first one, probably because there was a little more action. I was a little dubious about ever reading the second book because I thought it would just be more of the same, but this book left me quite satisfied with how the story went.

It is an interesting book. It still has a LOT of very detailed gay sex, although not as much as the first book. The story and the world still absolutely fascinates me.

I may have pondered this on my blog before, but it intrigues me that we are living in a world where so much literature is currently about mated pairs.  In a world with higher divorce rates, and arguably more family violence it is interesting that in our literature we seek to read about couples who mate for life and mate instantly, where the choice is removed.

I enjoyed seeing the relationship between Jin and Logan continue to grow, and also really enjoyed the fact that Logan understood Jin, and despite the power imbalance in the tribe, their relationship was one of equals.

As with the first book, I enjoyed this and would recommend it, but do be aware of what you are getting yourself into. It is very graphic.

Mrs K

Genre: Romance, fantasy, Gay & Lesbian

Review: Spark

Spark Written by Rachael Craw

imagesSo this was a book that I read because I was lucky enough to be arranging for the author to visit our school. She was able to come and talk to a range of our junior students about writing and books and the whole process. I think it is so important to get authors in to talk to our kids, and especially for them to see the process. Way to often I have had kids who think that any writing process is about writing once and it is complete.

Anyway, because I was saying that the kids should read the books, I thought I should also have a read, so once I finished Magician I launched straight into Spark.

I was excited about the premise – it certainly sounded right up my ally! But what I really struggled with was the feeling of not having all the information. From the beginning of the book I felt like I did not have enough information to fully understand what was going on. I get that this is often part of writing a book – to drip feed information to keep your audience reading. However in this case FOR ME it was not enough. Even be the end of the book I felt like I did not have a good comprehension of the world.

What I did like – was that despite a plethora of dystopian literature available at the moment this felt original. Also the action was quite fast paced, and that kept me engaged.

I felt like because the story was told from one characters point of view I was able to relate to her very well, but that I felt very little for the other characters as they were not developed enough.

Over all it was a no from me. I won’t be reading the rest of the trilogy, which does disappoint me a little bit but is just the way it is!

Mrs K

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance

Review: Magician

Magician written by Raymond E Feist

Wow. So as I finish this book, my overriding feeling is that of disappointment. Disappointment at myself, that it has taken me so long to read! I absolutely loved this book. No big surprise, written in 1982 with a massive following, really it is just I who is slow.

It is quite long, and I do wonder if I would have read it a little faster if It had been chunked down into two or three books. Feist creates characters that are absolutely remarkable. By the end of the book, I felt like I did not just know these characters, but wanted to head down to the local for an Ale with each of them!!

One of the things I really liked about Feist’s writing was his telling of the passing of time. The book took place over about 12-15 years, but it was just kind of slipped in when it was important. He did not need to tell us all the mundane bits of everyday life, he focused on the big changes. I think this is really important, as many authors these days focus on creating almost a slice of life novel, where the whole novel takes place over days or months and we get full detail. Here it was really nice just to see time passing, and whatever the situation characters just falling into life.

I think the worlds that he created were amazing, they had so much depth, and were realistic, in particular I enjoyed the moments as each group of people begun to learn more about the other people.

The ending was fantastic, obviously I am not going to give it away, but wow! I just loved it. That last line was brilliant, and showed the humour that none of the characters ever lost.

There was so much going on, each of the parts of the book had their own story, all different but part of a fate woven together which created the big picture.

If you – like me, are a big fantasy writer and you have not given this book a chance – then you need to stop what you are doing and have a read! I will definitely be reading the next in the series, although I will stop and read the three short books I have waiting on my kindle!

Mrs K

Genre: Fantasy, Speculative Fiction