Reading Roundup: Loss and Resolution in Latinx YA Literature

Vamos a Leer | Loss and Resolution in Latinx YA LiteratureBuenos días a todas y todos,

Happy fall!  I hope this finds you each doing well and enjoying the changing of seasons.

Fall, my favorite time of year!  For me, it is characterized not only by the falling leaves, the crisp air, and the distinct scents that come with the changing temperature, but also with a gentle nostalgia, heightened reflection, and sense of calm.  In accordance with our theme for this month, we’re honoring this moment of reflection by pulling together a Reading Roundup that highlights strong protagonists who have experienced some form of loss and resolution in their lives. We hope that this will also be good preparation for teachers who are looking for resources that can help bring these difficult topics into the classroom.

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Book Review: In Darkness

Nick-Lake-In-DarknessWe’re a little late in getting this review to you–but late is better than never, right? In Darkness was our last selection of this year’s book group.  It’s a really unique book, and one we all really enjoyed.  This will be our last book review until August when we’ll be back with our first book for the new school year!

In Darkness
Written by Nick Lake
Published by Bloomsbury USA, 2012
ISBN: 978-1599907437
Age Level: 14 and up

Book Summary: (From Goodreads)

In darkness I count my blessings like Manman taught me. One: I am alive. Two: there is no two. In the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake a boy is trapped beneath the rubble of a ruined hospital: thirsty, terrified and alone. ‘Shorty’ is a child of the slums, a teenage boy who has seen enough violence to last a lifetime, and who has been inexorably drawn into the world of the gangsters who rule Site Soleil: men who dole out money with one hand and death with the other. But Shorty has a secret: a flame of revenge that blazes inside him and a burning wish to find the twin sister he lost five years ago. And he is marked. Marked in a way that links him with Toussaint L’Ouverture, the Haitian rebel who two-hundred years ago led the slave revolt and faced down Napoleon to force the French out of Haiti. As he grows weaker, Shorty relives the journey that took him to the hospital, a bullet wound in his arm. In his visions and memories he hopes to find the strength to survive, and perhaps then Toussaint can find a way to be free …

My Thoughts:

In Darkness isn’t an easy read. How could it be when it takes on the brutal past of a country born of the first slave revolution and the traumatic contemporary history of one of the world’s poorest countries? It’s a disturbing and serious read, but one which I think holds great value for both young adult and adult readers. Continue reading

Our Next Good Read. . .In Darkness

It’s our last book group meeting of the school year!! I hope you’ll join us May 5th at In DarknessBookworks from 5:00-7:00 pm to discuss our next book.  We are reading In Darkness (ages 14 and up) by Nick Lake.

Here’s a sneak peek into the book: (from Goodreads)

In darkness I count my blessings like Manman taught me. One: I am alive. Two: there is no two. In the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake a boy is trapped beneath the rubble of a ruined hospital: thirsty, terrified and alone. ‘Shorty’ is a child of the slums, a teenage boy who has seen enough violence to last a lifetime, and who has been inexorably drawn into the world of the gangsters who rule Site Soleil: men who dole out money with one hand and death with the other. But Shorty has a secret: a flame of revenge that blazes inside him and a burning wish to find the twin sister he lost five years ago. And he is marked. Marked in a way that links him with Toussaint L’Ouverture, the Haitian rebel who two-hundred years ago led the slave revolt and faced down Napoleon to force the French out of Haiti. As he grows weaker, Shorty relives the journey that took him to the hospital, a bullet wound in his arm. In his visions and memories he hopes to find the strength to survive, and perhaps then Toussaint can find a way to be free …
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¡Mira, Look!: Nick Lake

nick lakeWhile it’s incredibly difficult to believe this time is upon us already, we have come to our final ¡Mira, Look! post of the school year.  For this climactic moment, we are proud to feature an equally climactic author: Nick Lake. Not coincidentally, one of his most recent books, In Darkness, is also our featured title for May.

Nick Lake was born in Britain, but he grew up in Luxembourg because his father was on assignment as a civil servant of the English Parliament. There is not a lot of information available about Nick Lake’s upbringing and background, but we do know that he currently lives in England with his wife and daughter and that he presently works as the Editorial Director for fiction for Harper Collins Children’s Books. Continue reading

Book Giveaway!! In Darkness

in-darkness 2It’s our last giveaway of the school year!! We’re giving away a copy of In Darkness (ages 14 and up)written by Nick Lake–our featured novel for May’s book group meeting!! Check out the following starred review from School Library Journal:

Trapped in the rubble of Haiti’s massive 2010 earthquake, teenage Shorty desperately waits for rescue. While in darkness, events of his traumatic, violent life replay in his head. He is haunted by his father’s brutal murder, his twin sister’s disappearance, and the armed gang activity that has been his means of survival in Site Soléy (Cite Soleil), a very real and dangerous slum. As he faces death and struggles to understand the external forces that have shaped him, Shorty gradually feels the uplifting spiritual presence of revered slave liberator Toussaint L’Ouverture and draws strength and hope from the man’s extraordinary life, determination, and idealism. The pervasive Haitian voodoo belief in spirit transfer empowers Shorty and connects him with Touissant across time. In alternating chapters of “Now” and “Then,” Shorty’s and Toussaint’s stories unfold. The relentless oppression, poverty, violence, and instability of the country is vividly conveyed through Shorty’s stark, graphic narrative. Toussaint’s story provides historical background for the socioeconomic and political conflicts that continue today. As the author notes, he portrays the essential spirit and history of Touissant with some omissions and simplifications. For example, Touissant learned to read as a boy, and not late in life, but this factual inaccuracy does not diminish the account of his charisma and significance. The entangled actions of gangs and government, the complicated relationship between Haitians and foreign-aid organizations, and the rich mix of Creole and French patois provide insight and authenticity. A striking cast of characters, compelling tension as Shorty confronts his own death, and the reality and immediacy of Haiti’s precarious existence will captivate secondary readers.–Gerry Larson, formerly at Durham School of the Arts, NC
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WWW: Book Trailers for Latino Children’s Literature

Hello, all,

This week I’m highlighting a feature that’s emerged in the era of online books and accompanying digital promotional campaigns: book trailers.

Book trailers, in case you haven’t heard of them, are video trailers for books.  Pretty simple.  They are videos meant to help potential readers become engaged and get excited. Book trailers are interesting in both a before and after sense.  Before a reader ever picks up a book, the trailer may provide the impetus for him or her to actually open the cover and flip through the pages.   After a reader has finished a book, the book trailer concept allows him or her another avenue to express and react – many book trailers come not from the big publisher behind the book, but rather from individual readers who post a video on a community video service like YouTube. Continue reading

¡Mira, Look!: Américas Award Commended Titles

Hello, all,

In the past few weeks I’ve shared the winner and honorable mention for the 2013 Américas Award. This week I complete these announcements by sharing the titles from the final award category: commended titles.

Each of the commended titles is worthy of extended discussions.  They’re all remarkable books and as such I find it difficult to narrow the conversation down to a single post.  For the time being I’ll keep it brief, but only so as not to spoil future posts.  Spoiler alert: in the future, look for longer posts from us regarding Sáenz and Lake. Continue reading