It’s December 11th, and that means one thing: Finals Week is upon us.
*cue the horror movie music.*
Finals week always feels stressful and intimidating. This year, though, there’s an added twist. Not only are we trying to tie up loose ends and finish out our obligations to classes, but we are also trying to find ways to see everyone before leaving and say our goodbyes. As I sit at home writing this, I can’t help but think about how hard returning to Chadron tomorrow and saying goodbye to some of my best friends on Wednesday will be.
Man, college has turned me into a sappy person.
I digress. This blog is about wrapping up my semester of reading, and I have to say that I saved some of the best and most interesting choices for the last week.
My Friend Dahmer was book talked in class last Thursday by the fabulous Timmi. She described it as having a creepy vibe yet being really interesting at the same time. I decided that this semester for me had lacked some of the spookier things, and if I’m being serious about reading outside of my comfort zone, I need to really dive in headfirst. So, I stole this book right after her talk and dove into it at home.
As you might guess, My Friend Dahmer chronicles the earlier life of renowned serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. Der Backderf, the author/illustrator of this novel, takes readers back into Dahmer’s childhood and adolescent years. We see him as both a normal high school kid and also see him arc into a different person as an adult. Backderf takes readers into Dahmer’s personal life through his own recollections of Dahmer as a student in his class as well as thorough research done well after Dahmer’s death. This novel takes us through the years as it attempts to shed light on the signs of what was to come and the help Dahmer didn’t receive. It’s haunting and incredibly creepy. I think the most weirded out person about it all was my dad:
Woah. My Friend Dahmer? Never thought I’d see you reading something like that.
My second book of the week was an equally surprising read. Pregnant Butch by A.K. Summers was hilarious and, well, graphic. Summers holds nothing back in this intensely personal memoir detailing her experiences as a pregnant butch lesbian in the early 2000s. As she embarks down the path of motherhood, Summers has the same anxieties and experiences as every first time mom; from morning sickness to worries about the baby’s health and her own age, Teek feels a bit lost. Add on the fact that she and her partner, Vee’s, experience is unlike other’s and you have an interesting 9 months laid out before you. Is pregnancy only for the ultra-feminine as society leads us to believe? A.K. Summers will make you life (and say TMI) time and time again in this novel.
When I first started my journey into graphic novels, everyone told me that the Maus books were a must-read. I shared this with my mom, and she ordered The Complete Maus for one of her graphic novel-loving students to read. Since I came home for the weekend, I was able to steal this and read through the first part. Wow – what a powerful story. Sometimes I feel as though we don’t talk about certain pieces of history enough to shed light on the hard topics and questions they ask. The Holocaust is one of these topics. I absolutely love that graphic novels like these bring the true, first-hand stories back to the light for our generation and those after us to read and remember.
The first part of Maus, My Father Bleeds History, walks readers through the backstory of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor, and his son, Art’s, relationship with him. We learn how Art’s parents met and married as well as how the war took a toll on their relationship. That is one of the strengths of this story. Not only do readers see the horrors of war, but they also see the direct effects and are able to see the massive changes from pre-war to post. Spiegelman spares no details, barring the true story for all to read. From being a POW to being captured and taken to Auschwitz, readers watch the horror unravel before their own eyes while also seeing the fractured relationship between father and son today.
Jason. Reynolds. Do I even need to say anything further??
Ugh – my love for Jason Reynolds is great. He is a magnificent speaker, advocated, writer, and much more. Long Way Down, Jason Reynold’s newest book, tells the story of Will as he grapples with the death of Shawn, his brother. In Will’s neighborhood, there are rules that must be followed, and one of these rules is revenge; you do revenge, no matter what. Can Will handle taking an innocent life? Can he avenge the death of his brother? As Will rides the elevator down, he must grapple with his conscious and the rules; what will win? This verse novel is one that will grab attention and keep readers at the edge of their seat. Long Way Down is a novel that will raise your blood pressure and keep you turning pages until you get your answers.