It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 8/28/17

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It’s the second Monday of the school year, and I am already beat. This past week has been nothing but go, go, go for me, and instead of entering this week refreshed, I am dragging myself forward at the speed of a turtle. I can already tell this week is going to require some serious caffeine and determination.

AND some serious bookage (is that even a word? If it isn’t, I think it should be.). You guys. I am ashamed to say it, but my reading life is looking a bit dismal at the moment. My days are filled with boiling classrooms, stiflingly hot rayon shirts (darn my habit of not actually reading the fabric before buying online), and middle schoolers. I need to get back into the habit of reading for fun instead of reading as a chore. Feel free to drop any and all reading suggestions below – I’m always up for a new adventure!

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This week, I read This One Summer written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki. This was my first taste of graphic novels, and I must say, I am impressed. Wow – who knew pictures could enhance a story line so much? The story showed depth and explored real questions teens have. Readers follow the lives of Alice and Windy, two city girls who spend their summers beachside in Awago. Awago Beach has always served as a refuge of sorts for Alice, but this summer is different. Between Dunc, the boy harboring a secret that could potentially change his life forever, and her parents’ fighting, Alice’s summer is nothing like the past. The most heartwarming part of this novel is Alice and Wendy’s friendship. Through thick and thin the girls have each other to lean on, which is refreshing. This graphic novel doesn’t shy away from tough subjects, including (but certainly not limited to) depression, miscarriage, teen pregnancy, gender stereotyping, and the ever-uncomfortable teen years. With beautiful illustrations and a solid plot line, this is a graphic novel I would recommend to anyone looking to crack into a new book.

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I also finished up Huntley Fitzgerald’s YA novel What I Thought Was True this week. If you consider yourself to be a fan of happy endings and YA love, this is a book for you. Gwen Castle wants two things: to escape the life she was born into and to forget what happened with Cassidy Somers, the dreamboat transfer. As Gwen grapples with her version of the past and Cassidy’s constant presence as an out-of-place yard boy on the island, she struggles to define reality and escape what she believes to be the biggest mistake of her life. Can she let go and move on? Or will she be stuck in the past, refusing to acknowledge that a future is there for her to take? First love, summer, and swoon-worthy moments fill the pages of this novel. This is one of my favorite summer reads of 2017.

 

 

 

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To those that play with or against my brother.

I almost cried sitting in the bleachers at my old high school tonight.

The sound of old pop songs blaring through the speakers welcomed me back home along with lots of hugs and questions about school. I chatted politely with people as I impatiently waited to watch the JV boys game. I promised Kellan, my younger brother, I would make it to a basketball game over break, and it was finally happening.

His 2 minutes of fame finally rolled around, and I was again reminded of how much I love the sport of basketball and the area I grew up in. Kellan has always loved basketball, but I wasn’t ever sure I would be able to see Kellan play in an actual game. Kellan has Down syndrome, and with no Special Olympics nearby, I always assumed that his basketball career would end just as soon as it started. I never thought I’d see him wear a Medicine Valley jersey let alone play during a high school basketball game. I believed his basketball career would consist of time spent with my siblings and me in the high school gym. I can’t tell you how many hours he spent running up and down the court those weekends, but I can tell you that basketball was (and still is) his passion. Watching him on the court today brings me more joy than you can imagine.

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That being said, I wanted to write this blog to really say thank you.

To Kellan’s teammates, thank you x100. Thank you for opening your arms and hearts to Kellan. Thank you for treating him with respect and accepting him. I have been out of school long enough that I don’t know all of you and you don’t all know me. That’s what makes this even more amazing- you’re loving Kellan even though you never knew my siblings and me. Kellan talks about practice and you boys more than you could ever imagine. The time he spends with you is his favorite part of the day. Thank you for being a support system. Thank you for letting him have time to shine. Thank you for always helping him when he needs it. He loves you so much; thanks for letting him truly be a part of a team.

To those that play against Kellan, simply saying ‘thank you’ will never be enough. You are absolutely amazing. As his big sister, nothing gives me more joy than to see him doing what he loves. I cannot put into words how much it means to me that you show him respect. You all play a huge role in helping his dream come true. Thank you for allowing him to shoot as many times as it takes to make a basket. Thank you for cheering just as loudly as the home crowd does when he makes a shot. Thank you for allowing him to occasionally foul and not getting upset by it. Thank you for accepting his hugs instead of high fives following the game. I have so much respect for all of you, and I want you to know that.

When I started this post, I mentioned the water works that threatened to break lose at the game tonight. As I sat in the stands, my eyes kept flickering back to the opposing team’s bench. You don’t normally see players cheering for their opposing team, but that’s exactly what was happening. Players from South Loup (the opposing team) were cheering louder and more animatedly for Kellan than some people that actually knew him; how incredible is that? These teenage boys who have never met Kellan were cheering him on and celebrating his success. Some even hugged him following the game. And this isn’t a one time thing; in fact, it happens nearly every time Kellan plays. The sportsmanship demonstrated by opposing teams is unbelievable. It’s something we can and should learn from.

I tear up every single time I see Kellan step on the court in a jersey. As he has continued to play, it’s become evident that basketball helps to bridge the gap between Kellan and others. It’s more than just a sport, and I am forever thankful that we live in an area full of teams that are supportive of Kellan and his desire to play.My only hope is that you boys understand how much of an impact you have on my brother. He is happiest when he’s playing basketball; thank you for allowing him to do so. My heart bursts hearing him excitedly talk about his games. You are all creating an environment of love and support that is helping Kellan grow. Win or lose, I hope you all walk off the court with a sense of satisfaction and happiness knowing how much your actions have meant. You all have my respect and love.

-RG

Week #1:5 Stories About Me

 

Man, do I love books. I always have. My love for books started at a young age and has continued on since then. I find that whenever I have a terrible day or I’m incredibly stressed out all I have to do is open a book and I immediately am transported into an alternate world. This week, I was asked to write a post about my experiences as a teen reader and what led me to where I am today. The following stories are reasons why I love books and how they made me into the person I am.

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Growing up, I was what could be considered a “goody two-shoes.” In fact, I have been told numerous times by my big brother that I am that exactly. I followed my parents’ rules on almost everything. I always did my chores and ate my vegetables. However, I broke one rule almost every day; I never followed the bedtime rule. Every time I went into my room, my light would stay on for extra hours simply because I couldn’t set my book down. Thirty minutes turned into two hours of reading once I got lost into the world of whatever book I was reading. Although I started doing this at a young age, I still find myself doing this today. Even though I seem to have less free time the older I get, I still enjoy reading and try to find all the time that I can to devote to it.

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My entrance into the world of Young Adult Literature was spearheaded by none other than the Harry Potter series. I still remember my feelings of anxiety when I picked up the first book. It was the summer between my fourth and fifth grade school years, and my mom had suggested that I start reading it. Would I like it? Could I understand everything in it? After reading the first chapter, I was immediately hooked. Suddenly, the Muggle world didn’t hold a candle to the world of Hogwarts. The imagery and magical qualities of the books opened my mind to new thoughts and allowed me to live as though I was attending Hogwarts. I read the first six books within two weeks and was hooked. Since then, I’ve re-read the series numerous times, and each time I read it I’m able to go back to the carefree times of that summer. To this day, I am still waiting on my admission letter to Hogwarts.

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My class was the one that all of the teachers gossiped about in the teacher’s lounge. We were the ones who talked in class and gave substitutes hard times. However, I was not necessarily included in the “we” portion stated above. When my class started talking after finishing assignments in class, I pulled out my book to read. When I was younger and had to ride to school with my parents, I would immediately go to the library and read while waiting for the bell to ring. While my classmates were more interested in talking or running around the classroom giving teachers a hard time, I was more inclined to sit quietly and read my book. So, I guess if I were asked if I were like my classmates in this respect I would have to say no. We read everything from poetry to the classics, and most of my classmates today will probably still tell you that they hated English in high school. They often despised the literature that we had to read and, in my opinion, this pushed them away from all of the wonderful literature out there. As my friends moved away from their love of literature, my love for reading only intensified. Through my English classes, I was entered into a world of different and new literature. Although classics never stole my heart, I still read them as I continued to read my young adult novels.

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When I was a senior, I was as involved as I could possibly be. From basketball to speech and from FCCLA to my duties as class president, I was constantly on the go. However, everything changed one December night as I sat on a gym floor unable to walk without falling. My genetics had (finally) caught up with me, and I had torn both my ACL and my MCL just like my sibling, parents, and numerous family members before me. I remembered my moment of panic right when the doctor told me what I already knew: I was done with sports for my senior year and, if I was smart, for good. What in the world would I do now that I was hurt? I couldn’t drive myself places and would be spending a good portion of my spring semester both in pain post-surgery and in North Platte (a town about forty-five minutes away from my hometown) for physical therapy. This meant less time devoted to friends and less time spent on the activities that I loved. I was, of course, devastated. I had surgery over my Christmas Break and spent most of that time hooked up to an ice machine at my house (seen in the picture above). But, with all of this free time, what did I rediscover? My absolute love and passion for books! I spent my free time escaping my own reality and entering into the world of books that I loved. I re-read old favorites and found some new series that I fell in love with. It was over this break that I decided to enter into the field of English Education. I used books to help me get over the hump of that period of time, and I knew that I would forever love and appreciate them.

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I know that to many of you this appears to just be a picture of an apple. However, to me, it’s much more than that. A red apple holds with it so many incredible and awful memories of my teen years. I, like so many fan girls before me, was a lover of the Twilight series. I remember my feeling of joy when I found time to crack open a novel from the series and read it, regardless of how many times I had read it before. I remember the feeling of deep, very real, depression that hit me when I read New Moon (Disclaimer: This was incredibly real. My friend and I bawled while reading New Moon, and I think that I would still cry today). I felt like my heart was being ripped apart, just like Bella’s was in the novel. Honestly, I think that my mom was probably a bit worried about me during that period of time. It was here that I realized that books have the ability to change us. Once we find the perfect book or series, we can let them consume us. I felt like I lived in Forks, Washington. I wanted to read and be apart of that world more than I can communicate on paper. These were the books that helped me through my awkward junior high years. I knew that I could escape every time that I read one of them, and that was my solace. Whenever I had a friend issue or something happened that upset me, I immediately dove into a novel to take my mind off of the situation. I will forever be thankful to the Twilight series and Stephanie Meyer for that.

So, there you have it. My odd, somewhat strange path with young adult books that led me to where I am today. Sometimes I wonder where I would be without the guidance that Albus Dumbledore gave me or the strength that I pulled from the character of Bella. Without books, my life would be dull and boring without a question. My reading as a teen opened up so many doors and possibilities that I love and am thankful for to this day. My past experiences have intensified my passion and spark for reading, and I can’t wait to continue with that as I go on in life.

Cheers,

Regan