Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The City by Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz might have to go back on my favorites list after The City. It's the coming-of-age story of a musical prodigy named Jonah, taking place in the 1960s.

It's hard to share much of the plot without diminishing the pleasure of discovering the power of music, art, love, and friendship through Jonah's eyes. All you need to know is that poetic writing, twisting plot, magical realism, and unmitigated terror made this book hard to put down.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

I read I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai with my book club earlier this year. It's the memoir of a girl from Pakistan whose refusal to be bullied by the Taliban into not attending school led to being shot in the face.

One part of her story is an education about the history of Pakistan. I was surprised to learn that Pakistan used to be a Buddhist country where many monks lived. Sunni or Shia? Explained. How did the Taliban get its hooks into Pakistan? Recounted. I joked with my book club that this book is Pakistan for Dummies, to which they laughed and agreed.

The other part of the book champions the value of education for everyone. Malala's father is a teacher who opened a school for boys and girls. She says:

Education had been a great gift for him. He believed that lack of education was the root of all of Pakistan's problems. Ignorance allowed politicians to fool people and bad administrators to be re-elected. He believed schooling should be available for all, rich and poor, boys and girls. The school that my father dreamed of would have desks and a library, computers, bright posters on the walls and, most important, washrooms.

My book club consists of a speech pathologist, school psychologist, occupational therapist, reading interventionist, and primary grade teachers. As educators, this touched us to be reminded again how fortunate our students in America are to have public education available to every individual. If the Taliban wants to blow up schools just for educating girls, it is easy to see how important education is and how much it threatens them. "Though we loved school, we hadn't realized how important education was until the Taliban tried to stop us."

The last quote is the one I had to read aloud to my friends and so I have to share it here too. "The Taliban could take our pens and books, but they couldn't stop our minds from thinking."

Many best wishes to Pakistan and their struggle to educate their children.