Something New: Tales From A Makeshift Bride by Lucy Knisley

This last couple of weeks has been rough and I have been slacking in the graphic novel department or reading at for that matter. I did read Thornhill by Pam Smy the other day in under an hour but I feel like if I wrote a review it would spoil it. Seriously though it is an amazing book and you all should find it and read it.

I love Lucy Knisley and that’s pretty serious only after having read two of her books but I have her other two awaiting me. She is fun, quirky, and it is really fun reading about her life.

I loved this graphic novel because it tells the story of Lucy getting married and honestly I have no idea how she did it. She literally wrote this graphic novel and planned out the graphics all the while planning her actual wedding. I seriously have no idea how she did it. I don’t have a boyfriend nor I am even thinking about marriage but I know when it happens I will beyond stressed out so kudos to you Lucy!

Lucy not only draws fun pictures to illustrate her wedding planning adventures but she includes real pictures including her dress, which spoiler alert has POCKETS!!! I own two dresses that have pockets and if I could find more I would. Sometimes the only reason I will wear a cardigan is so I can have some pockets. I’m also really tempted to sew my own wedding dress just so I can sew in pockets.

Lucy highlights some really important social issues surrounding marriage, questions some of the more traditional stuff and reached back in her family and John’s family roots as well to bring in some of their traditions. It’s just so neat to read about what Lucy and John chose to do for their wedding and how they made it their own. I love the idea of making your wedding your own.

This book made me burst out in laughter and giggle all the while reading about Lucy’s antics as a stressed out bride ,some of the crazy things she did in the name of love (stealing a cat), and her ultimate realization about marriage.

-A

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Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green

First off Mom if you are reading this, don’t cry.

It’s the most unexpected books that you end up loving the most. I didn’t know what to expect when I pulled a 500 page graphic novel off the shelf at Barnes and Noble but I knew I wanted it. I really didn’t know what to expect other than it was a memoir about a girl who dealt with anorexia. That is not the only thing Katie Green dealt with and my heart broke again and again as I read her book. Not only because of what Katie dealt with but because I saw myself many times in her drawings and it breaks my heart to think I will have students like me, like Katie, like countless other students who never got the help they needed.

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My anxiety started around the 8th grade and Facebook has been so kind to remind me of that dark phase of my life. In a way though it is reminding me of how far I have come and how even though that scared little girl is still part of me she no longer defines me.

Katie doesn’t know exactly when her eating disorder started but she thinks it was around middle school. Middle school is a rough time and for me that is when it all started as well. She was looking for control and sometimes eating is the only thing people have control over. She controlled how she ate, how many calories she ate and what she ate. Sometimes she just didn’t eat because she had already eaten too much for the day. This continued for a long time until her parents found out and after several failed attempts with doctors, specialists, dietitians her father took her to a rather unconventional therapist.

It would take Katie years and one incident to reach into her subconscious to remember what was really happening during those sessions but that is when her road to recovery really started. She experienced new problems along the way including binge eating, attempted suicide and depression but she never let those stop her from recovering.

I love the pictures in this book and how Katie depicts her illness like a black cloud hanging over her. It’s a hard book to read but one that is worth it because mental health isn’t something people talk about. So many people have mental health issues that it should be talked about more but sadly it isn’t. I know for me at least I never wanted to burden people with my problems, especially my parents. I would just hide myself in my room and cry for no reason at all. I constantly compared myself to my friends and asked myself why I couldn’t get my life together like them, be more outgoing; be more outside myself.

Being an introvert with anxiety can be extremely difficult sometimes.

Katie constantly looked in the mirror and saw herself as fat, disgusting and spinning out of control.

The road to recovery is long and hard and full of a lot of setbacks but don’t let your problems define you because they are not you. You are not your problems, they may be a part of you but they are not you.

It took me a long time to figure out who I am as a person but the minute I started accepting that I am introvert with anxiety who hates the sun, snow and would love to live in Seattle because of all the rain I started to accept the not so parts about myself as well. I started to notice when anxiety was preventing me from doing something and I started to notice I stop letting anxiety run my life.

I’ve been writing poetry about my anxiety and being able to see it in words and on the page helps. It makes it real and not just in my head. Katie Green drew. She went to Art College and then she wrote a graphic novel. She admits she isn’t perfect either, but she doesn’t have to be. We all have demons we deal with everyday. For Katie Green it was an eating disorder that lead to other problems ( I just don’t want to spoil the book) and for me it is anxiety and insomnia.  We just have to learn to not let them define us.

-A

P.S. If you haven’t watched To The Bone on Netflix yet you need to.

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Shamela and Anti-Pamela

As much as I struggled to read Pamela reading Shamela and Anti-Pamela was not that enjoyable either. First of all both stories were written to warn young men of conniving maid-servants who would extort them for money. It totally ignores the abusive relationship, the rape that happens, the rape culture and in fact the authors of Shamela and Anti-Pamela almost seem to be encouraging rape culture. They take the scenes where Mr. B- assaulted Pamela and turn it around so it was Pamela’s idea in the first place. I have read and watched too much about women getting assaulted to just ignore it and be like “Oh, she must have encouraged it” because that is rape culture. Clearly Pamela was bringing that on herself because she was secretly seducing Mr. B- this whole time. It can’t be the man’s fault because in this society and time period it was never the upper class man’s fault.

I laughed at some parts but overall I was angry and disgusted. Not that I really liked Pamela either because it too seemed to be encouraging rape culture by saying Pamela’s reward for defending herself was marrying the man who was assaulting her. However, I feel like Pamela was sending a much different message than Anti-Pamela or Shamela was sending. The story of Shamela basically said Pamela was a farce and it really was a story about a girl who seduced Mr. B- for his money and was sleeping with Parson Williams on the side. It made it out to be Pamela’s fault and so all the sexual assault that went on in Pamela wasn’t real and in fact she was encouraging it because she wanted Mr. B-‘s money. Anti-Pamela is the story of a girl who goes around sleeping with various men for money basically the opposite of the virtuous Pamela but all in all it sending the message that all young servant girls are out to seduce young wealthy men and you must be aware of them. It glossed over all the sexual assault in the book and only addressed it as Pamela’s fault. It is very frustrating to read and not very enjoyable except for when Mr. B- was called Mr. Booby because that is funny.

I can see the critique being made by these authors but as someone in the twenty-first century I can see how these parodies perpetuate rape culture. Not that Richardson was doing a better job but at least he was acknowledging that young women do get assaulted unlike Fielding or strangely Eliza Haywood. I would have thought Haywood, as a woman, would have at least addressed that but she seems more focused on the scandalous tale of a mistress and her “adventures”. There is questions of rape in her novel “Love in Excess” but it is also questionable if those are better defined as rape fantasies. I don’t know what critique Haywood was making because it almost seems as if she is just making fun of Pamela whereas Fielding is making a specific critique which I disagree with wholeheartedly.

Both these parodies bring up really interesting questions about the times they were written in, why they were written and what they are possibly saying about love, rape, seduction, and the overall marriage game.

-A

#IMWAYR Page by Paige and Ghosts!

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This weekend between readings of Pamela I read Page by Paige and today I read Ghosts! Page by Paige written by Laura Lee Gulledge is literally the graphic novel of my life. Just like Paige I was quite and lived a lot of my youth in my head, writing out stories in my case, and not really branching outside the pages of my notebook. It wasn’t until I got to college that I really started to bloom and it took Paige moving to New York to find herself outside of the pages of her sketchbook.

I love graphic novels because A) they don’t take long to read at all and B) the illustrations are always so beautiful and bring the book to life!

Page by Paige is a powerful coming of age story that uses pictures to tell the story and the  pictures are just beautiful. After Page moves to New York with her parents she finds herself using her sketch notebook as a way to cope. She has a list of rules and as the months go by Paige finds applying those rules to not only her drawings but her life as well.

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I also read Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier just today and I loved it! The drawings are adorable, sincere and might make you cry.

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When Caterina has to move to Northern California for her sister’s health she thinks the world has ended. When she discovers the town where she moved to is full of ghosts she wants to run away and never come back. When Caterina finally meets the ghosts she freaks out, a lot, but her little sister Maya convinces her that maybe there is more to them than just whisps of air.

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What happens though when Maya gets too sick to go the Day of the Dead Party and Caterina must face the ghosts alone?

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This story made me laugh and cry and laugh again. Caterina’s little sister has cystic fibrosis and the way the family dynamic is written is amazing. It’s a great story that deals with loss, death and the fear of losing someone you love. It’s an amazing graphic novel that everyone should read.

-A

 

Art, my first passion

When I was a kid I wanted to be an artist. My mom got me watercolor pencils, I always had a coloring book and a sketchpad. I am terrible at drawing, absolutely terrible as people in my BLOCK class now realize. However, I loved art and I remember setting up an easel and paining and even those weren’t the greatest I still loved doing it. I still love to draw and paint even though I don’t do it as often as I should.

I was homeschooled so I never really did take an elementary art class and the art teacher at my old high school was mean, rude and never gave enough time, so I never wanted to take an art class with her. I moved as a junior and then it never fit in my schedule even though I knew BMac was an awesome teacher. As a freshman in college I was encouraged to take an Art History course by my amazing advisor and it was and still is my favorite course I ever took (there were two parts but I count them as one).

What does this have to do with anything? Well my cousin married an art teacher. She is amazing. She has a FB page where she posts what her students are doing in class and this last week she shared their sewing projects. They drew a picture and then sewed it. How cool is that! She is constantly posting awesome amazing projects that her students are doing and her classroom looks amazing. I wish I had a teacher like her. Someone so passionate about what they are teaching that even kids who probably don’t like art that much do because they get to sew! They get to create their own art and bring it to life! She loves what she does.

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I got my placement the other day for student teaching and my first placement is middle school. I have never observed in a middle school nor really thought about teaching middle school (actually that’s a lie but I lean more toward high school when I picture my future classroom). It makes me nervous because I don’t know what is expected in a middle school classroom. My cousin’s wife teaches K-12. I couldn’t even begin to imagine teaching all grades and keeping them all straight but she has such passion and it shows throughout all aspects of her life. I love looking through her FB page and seeing how proud she is of her students, seeing their art, and seeing how far they have come. I want that passion. I have that passion but I so want it to show through all the time. It should show through for all teachers. As an English teacher everyone assumes I teach grammar and writing but I do so much more. I love reading so much and I want to instill that in my students. I want them to become stronger better writers and I want them to succeed. Every student in my class could get an “A”. It is possible if only I am passionate enough and care enough. My students don’t have to walk out of my classroom remembering proper grammar (I still don’t) but I want them to walk out strong readers and writers who know I care deeply about them and their learning.

-A

Check out Tranda’s FB page: RepCoArtRoom

If only, if only I could rewrite Pamela

If I could rewrite Pamela it would be extremely different. No stories about almost rape, rape, violations of the worst kind, young ladies hiding in dressing rooms crying because they feel like no one is defending them.

Pamela would be the story of a young woman who upon finding herself in a compromising position runs away, finds herself a nicer family to work for, finds a nice man, settles down has some kids and lives happily ever after. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way because Richardson decided that he was going to write a novel about a young woman who is constantly in fear that she will lose her “virtue” and is constantly being assaulted on all sides from men who essentially just want to use her.

Pamela writes “Save then, my Innocence, good God, and preserve my Mind spotless: and happy shall I be to lay down my worthless Life, and see an End to all my Troubles and Anxieties!” Pamela could care less about her own life; all she cares about is preserving her virtue which at this point has it really been preserved? Sure she hasn’t lost her virginity in the sense that her hyman hasn’t been penetrated, she has never had physical intercourse. However, she has been assaulted many times without her consent and so at this point I honestly think some of her virtue has been lost. She resists every time and abstains from participating so she is still pure of heart but in the same way that children who have been sexually abused may never have had physical intercourse but things have been done to them so that they are no longer really that innocent about sex. It leaves marks and honestly I just cannot imagine Pamela wishing to marry this man. The things he says about her and the way he treats her; he kidnapped her! Instead of letting her go he kidnaps her, makes a creepy lady watch her every move, and then calls her terrible names in letters that he writes to the creepy lady. It’s awful and yet somehow through all of this Pamela’s reward for protecting herself from sexual assault is to marry the man who is assaulting her. No wonder people wrote parodies, certainly I would and mine would involve Pamela beating the crap out of Mr. B- and then living a happy contented life with someone who wasn’t trying to rape her.

This whole protecting her virtue idea is perpetuated by her parents who when upon finding out she is safe and who kidnapped all they have to say or more accurately her father has to say is “Persist, my dear Daughter, in the same excellent Course; and we shall not envy the highest Estate, but defy them to produce such a daughter as ours.” The first thing I would do when finding out my child has been kidnapped would be to inform the authorities but in the event that I am poor and the kidnapper is rich I still would not write back “Good for you not getting raped. Surely you will be rewarded in heaven for keeping your virtue intact.” I would be concerned how they were faring and yes I would be upset if they got raped but honestly I would care more about them actually being alive then I would be by the fact that her virtue is still intact. It reminds me of Rapunzel and how mother Gothel was obsessed with Rapunzel’s hair and making sure the hair was safe. She didn’t care about Rapunzel as a person and the same goes for Pamela’s parents. Such an emphasis is placed upon her virtue and not her safety. They are fine with the fact she is kidnapped and in danger as long as she doesn’t get raped; she’ll be fine, she’ll come home, everything will be ok, but if she gets raped and loses her virtue then all hell will break loose. At least this is how I feel about what is happening.

I would never want to be sexually assaulted. Nobody does. But if it happened I am not going to end my life because some sick piece of garbage decided to rape me. I know when this was written such a high emphasis was placed on a woman’s virtue but the real message it is sending is that it is ok to marry your rapist/person who assaulted you because for some sick reason that is your reward for defending yourself against them. This books gives me all the feels and I just want to protect Pamela from Mr. B-.

-A

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol

Anya fell down a well and picked up a ghost. So begins the story of a friendship between a girl who never got to live her life and a girl who is just trying to blend in.

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Anya is from Russia and through years of practice she finally feels like a normal American teenager except for when she falls down a well and picks up a new friend. Emily died almost a century ago and she has been stuck in the well ever since. Anya is glad to have a new friend that can sneak answers on tests and get the cute boy in school to notice her but when Emily starts ignoring the fact that Anya’s crush is just a jerk and starts terrorizing Anya’s little brother that Anya decides Emily must go.

This is a great coming of age graphic novel about a girl trying to fit into a high school that makes fun of her Russian roots and learning to find herself. It’s a fun quirky quick read that will make you laugh and make your eyebrows shoot up in surprise.

-A