The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

I read this book for a class but it was such an eye opener and honestly I think it is a book that should be read in every high school classroom. I live not too far from an Indian reservation and my job puts me in contact with a lot of Native Americans that live on the reservation. I can tell a lot about them in the items they purchase and I’m not going to lie I have passed judgement on them. Reading this book made me reevaluate my opinions of them and their purchases. One of the big things that got me was the illustrations specifically the illustration where Junior compares himself to a white kid. It was his shoes that hit me the hardest because even though I grew up poor my parents always made sure to buy me good new shoes for the school year and I see Native Americans coming in and buying crappy plastic shoes that are not going to last six months let alone a whole year and it breaks my heart.


Junior is an fifteen (?) year old kid who is entering his Freshman year of high school at an all white school off the reservation. He knows in his heart he needs to get off the reservation and the first step to doing that is going to a different high school. Of course anytime you leave your hometown for someplace new it is almost always seen as a betrayal and that is no less with the Native Americans who see Junior leaving the reservation as turning his back on his people and culture. Not only does he lose respect from his people but his best friend, Rowdy, as well. Junior or his given name Arnold has to make the first of extremely tough decisions in his life and that is continuing to go to Reardon, the all white high school. He not only faces the pitfalls that come with being a Freshman he is also perceived as different because of his ethnic background. People will always prejudge and Junior’s experience is no different.

This story is not only tough because of the Racism and Prejudice Junior experiences but the things that happen back on the Rez. At one point Junior says he has been to forty some funerals and it breaks my heart reading that. The kid is only fourteen or fifteen and he has been to forty some funerals. I can probably count the number of funerals I have been to on my fingers. There is a lot of blunt conversations in this book about sex and other sensitive subjects so I wouldn’t recommend it to Junior high kids even though that is technically the demographic. I would teach it to older high schoolers, not only because it is an easy read but it also teaches students a lot about life on a reservation.


The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

The first time I ever heard of Alice Hoffman I was looking at a copy of The Museum of Extraordinary Things. It looked really interesting and I absolutely love historical works of fiction. I actually ended up reading The Probable Future before I read the other book and ever since then I have been hooked. There is just something about Hoffman’s way with words that makes the story come off the page. It’s like Hoffman has her own form of magic ;). Her words are lyrical, inviting and come so easily to the tongue that putting them all together creates a wonderful story that one never wants to put down.


I actually did not know this story was going to about French artist Pissarro’s parents until I read the name Pissarro and started putting two and two together. I thought this just a historical work of fiction about two worlds clashing, however I was pleasantly surprised. My favorite class I ever took in college was an Art History course and if I wasn’t so dead set on becoming a teacher I would have chosen some degree in the art appreciation field. I remember studying Pissarro but he didn’t stick like some of the other artists such as Cézanne, Monet, Manet, or Degas.

I wasn’t sure where this story was headed and I appreciated that it covered most if not all of Rachel Pissarro’s life and that of her closest friend. There were plenty of love triangles and hidden family connections to keep me reading until I fully understood what was happening. It truly is the story of the marriage of opposites and how they made it work despite all the forces working against them. Rachel is the strong woman heroine that everyone wants to read about. She cared what people thought but she honestly cared more about her own personal happiness considering that it had been taken too often from her and those she cared deeply about. This isn’t only the story about a marriage it’s the story of a woman learning to love herself after growing up with a loveless mother. It’s the story of a woman taking control of her own life after being married for business purposes. It’s the story of a mother learning to let go of her favorite son. It’s the story of families reconnecting across oceans and old secrets being put to rest.

If this story had been told by any other author I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much. Hoffman has a way of bringing a story to life and making you emotionally invested in characters you may or may not like. It’s the kind of story that makes you find a quite corner so you can read for hours uninterrupted.


We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

I had a lot of expectations going into this book and honestly it really didn’t fulfill all those expectations. I was expecting a ghost story that made me shiver while reading in a dark room in the middle of the night and all I really got was a psychological study. Everything I read said it was a ghost story and even my cousin who is a librarian called it a ghost story but honestly it is more of a mystery because I am pretty sure no one is dead, because if someone is dead then everyone is crazy.



The story is told from the perspective of Merricat Blackwood who is an unreliable narrator considering the story is about her and she can shape it however she wants. This is what adds to the mystery because Merricat talks in an almost child like voice that is never quite telling the whole story.

Merricat lives in her family home with her older sister Constance and her elderly uncle Julian, who was left crippled from the poisoning. Merricat has a cat for a friend, Julien, and spends most of her days wandering around the woods that surround their home. She goes into town on Tuesdays for groceries and library books but sadly that all changes when cousin Charles comes to live with them. Charles Blackwood is a cousin to Constance and Merricat and while he says he is only there to help in Merricat’s eyes he is there to bring change.

Merricat’s defining characteristic is the fact that she doesn’t like change and will do anything to ensure that life will always stay the same between her and Constance. I can’t for the life of me think why Constance stays with Merricat, but after one losing one’s whole family maybe you cling to the family you have left?

I like the child like voice of Merricat because even though she is eighteen it is like she never quite got past that year that she was sent to live in the orphanage after her family died. In some ways acting like a child is a defense mechanism and one of the reasons I believe that Constance forgives Merricat so easily is because she is all Constance has left. I also think Constance feels responsible for what happened to the family because in a way she herself was responsible for Merricat. However, it is hard to curb a siblings psychopathic tendencies so Constance shouldn’t feel all that responsible.

I must say I was hoping for a more dramatic ending but it was a suitable ending considering the whole story. I really thought Merricat was going to do something a little more drastic but in the end she got what she wanted and both her and Constance were happy.


Cruel Beauty by Rosamond Hodges

I am a huge fantasy nerd/geek and I love a good spin on a fairy tale. I devoured Hodges book Crimson Bound and I devoured Cruel Beauty. As a kid growing up I was never a huge fan of Beauty and the Beast despite sharing some similar qualities with Belle. That being said I have been getting into a lot of Beauty and the Beast spin offs and Cruel Beauty is in the top five.


My favorite part about this book was how it kept me guessing until the very end as to what was really happening. This is the tale of two sisters and how one of them has been chosen since birth to bring peace to her land-the only downside is that in order to bring peace she has to marry an evil man and then kill him and herself. Easy enough right? Except she falls in love with this devilishly handsome man and finds that she cannot bring herself to kill him because what if he isn’t really all that evil? What if someone else is telling him what to do?

This story was a little bit of a combination of Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella. Nyx not only has to deal with a neglectful father but a wanna-be stepmother and protect her little sister from Nyx’s eventual fate. However when Nyx starts to question everything she has been told can she still save her people and restore her relationship with her little sister? Or will she chose to save Ignifex the man she’s come to love?

I’ll admit the story started out a little slow but it picks up and the ending hits you like a ton of bricks. I almost had a panic attack when I got to the ending but like all good fairy tales there is a happily ever after.


An Open Letter to the Women Marching On Washington

Dear Women of the world,

First of all I am proud of you for taking a stand and marching. This is what America is about-standing up for what you believe and making sure people hear your voice. This country elected a racist, misogynistic, business man who has no experience in politics and rightly you are angry about it so you march to show that you don’t like your new president. I get it. You would rather see a woman in office and so would I, except I would rather it be any woman other than Hillary Clinton.

Of course I’m just a middle class white woman from the Mid-West so who really cares what I have to say. I’m not a minority nor am I poor so does my voice really count?

I was forced to make a hard decision this election year because I didn’t like either of the candidates. When I first heard Trump was running for office I thought it was a big joke. Well it wasn’t and I was left to choose between Hillary Clinton, who left American citizens to die in Benghazi, and Trump who hates Mexicans and women. I didn’t vote for Trump because I hate Hillary Clinton or I want to see America become great again, whatever that even means, I voted for Donald Trump because I would rather see him attempt to appoint conservative supreme court justices than liberal supreme court justices that might actually just ruin this country. Of course I’ll never actually know what Hillary Clinton would have done as she did not become President. The people voted and whether you like it or not that is what happened and instead of protesting your president or trolling him on Twitter (I’m talking about you Misha Collins. I forgive you though because you are allowed to troll whomever you want. It’s still a free country last time I checked, and also I secretly ship Destiel).

I think as American Citizens we should support our president. In a way this march is supporting our president because it let’s him know that American women are not going to let themselves be oppressed. They are going to fight for their rights and I think that is amazing. However and this is ultimately why I am writing this letter because I would like to address what Ashley Judd and Madonna had to say about Trump. Madonna would like to blow up the white house. Ok, I don’t think blowing up the white house will solve any issues considering the White House is a symbol of America and Trump is not the only President to occupy the white house. So what Madonna is saying is that she would like to be a terrorist, much like those terrorists during 9/11 who also wished to blow up the white house? You can choose to disagree with me on this because again this is a country with free speech is is not? Either way threatening to blow up the White House because you don’t like the current president is not an attack against the president but America itself. The British burned down the White House in the war of 1812 because they knew it would make the American people angry. But it’s ok to want to blow it up now because certain people don’t like the president?

Also, DON’T EVER COMPARE SOMEONE TO HITLER! I am ashamed to be a woman today simply because Ashley Judd compared our current president to Hitler. Hitler was Satan’s instrument and he murdered over 6 million Jews, and they don’t actually know the actual count because this genocide took place over four years. So until Trump starts experimenting on pregnant women, the disabled, the LGBT community, those who he deems as “traitors”, innocent people just living in towns who don’t have to identify as anything, and those who helped the Jews who were in hiding, don’t call him Hitler. He is no Hitler and I pray that we will never see another Hitler on this earth. It’s not even an insult to call someone Hitler, it’s a disgrace and one of the worst things you could ever do. Hitler just didn’t make remarks about grabbing women by the pussy, he did more than that. He starved them to death in work camps and then burned their bodies in incinerators. Those who couldn’t work were given a “shower” and then their bodies were incinerated. Watch Schindler’s List and then tell me that Trump is Hitler. Tell me that having the right to have an abortion taken away is the same as being stripped naked, having your head shaved and then forced to do hard labor until you die of starvation, neglect, the elements, or your body just gives up. Tell me that having your child ripped from your arms, while you watch helplessly is the same as having to hear about “Locker Room Talk”. Tell me that having a white male racist president is the same as having your country invaded with no help from a very noble country who since then has been in everybody’s business no doubt making up for the fact that they refused to enter the war until their personal soil was attacked even though they knew Germany invading Poland was wrong. Tell me that America electing Donald Trump is the same as Germany invading most of Europe, killing millions of people, forcing other countries to round up their own Jews and put them in Ghettos (talking to you France), doing unspeakable experiments on human beings, sending people to specific certain camps where death was the only outcome, invading people’s homes dragging them out into the streets and shooting them, and then continuing to oppress people after the war until well into the 1990’s (Oh wait that was Russia, whom no matter what anybody says, still hates the USA no matter how buddy buddy Donald Trump is with Putin).

When Donald Trump has proven himself to be as horrible as Hitler was, then you can call him Hitler but until then just shut the hell up Ashley Judd.

I’m proud of you women marching on Washington but Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t need to threaten to blow up the white house or compare JFK to Hitler to get rights for African Americans. He believed in the power of the people and peaceful protest. He had a dream and he fought for it but he didn’t have to call people names or threaten acts of violence to achieve his dream. March on Washington and show Trump that his remarks have landed him in the dog house but don’t endorse celebrities who condone acts of violence. Take a note from Hitler, violence doesn’t get you anywhere and eventually will lead to your suicide and the death of millions of innocents.

You don’t need violence to change this country, you need marches on Washington. Keep marching ladies because that is what America is about. The freedom to march and let your president know that you will not sit back and watch, instead you will get out, done pink hats and let him know that women have come a long way since 1920.


Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

I grew up hearing about the famous Slaughterhouse-five and when I finally read it I must say I was disappointed by all the hype. I started reading the novel thinking it was a science-fiction novel and while I still agree it is one must not read it as if it is SciFi. The reason for this is I was expecting something like off the SciFi channel and what I really got was a bitter old man who had a dry and dark sense of humor. It didn’t make me enjoy the story less but trying to read it as a science fiction novel was disappointing. Reading it as someone who was trying to recall the most traumatic event of his life and put it into words, helped a lot more than looking for killing aliens.


I didn’t know quite what to make of Slaughterhouse-five but somewhere in chapter seven Vonnegut explains that it was easier talking about what happened to him in Dresden if he wrote it as a science fiction story than trying to remember what actually happened. Most of the time when we read a war story we want the blood, gore and violence because usually brave acts come with these but in reality they were just children trying to survive while being constantly shot at. The book is more aptly named The Children’s Crusade because it isn’t a glamorous war story because war isn’t glamorous. Thanks to Hollywood children grow up believing war is glorious and something everyone should want to do. That’s not true and above all that is what Vonnegut was trying to say in his novel.

It’s actually a pretty quick read and everything stated in the book is pretty straight-forward. I wouldn’t necessarily say it is the best read aloud in a high school classroom nor necessarily a book to study in the classroom but I wouldn’t hesitate recommending it to students and discussing it with. It takes a different perspective on war and one that I think all people should know.


King Henry VIII and the Tempest: Shakespeare’s Romances/Histories

After reading King Henry VIII and the Tempest I can understand where people would think they are romances but personally I think they should be considered History plays instead of romances albeit The Tempest has more characteristics of a romance then King Henry VIII does.



King Henry VIII is the history surrounding his famous divorce from Catherine of Aragon and his marriage to Anne Boleyn. It also covers the other trials of various “traitors” and even Cardinal Wolsey. Honestly it has been a while since I read it but from what stood out to me the most about this play was the portrayal of Catherine and Anne. Catherine was seen as very sympathetic and Anne was simply in the background as far as the plot line goes. She only has lines in one act of the play and the scene she is, is her coronation and then she disappears from the play. Scholars say that has something to do with Queen Elizabeth being on the throne or King James but honestly I think it was nice seeing Catherine as sympathetic because too often the focus is on Anne Boleyn and her beheading. Countless books and movies have been dedicated to poor Anne Boleyn but what of King Henry’s wife Catherine of thirty plus years? I would much prefer to watch or read a story about her and the divorce trial because there was more to it than King Henry’s wandering eye. Shakespeare’s play did a very good job of exploring that different side of history.


I didn’t enjoy the Tempest very much nor did I enjoy the movie version by Julie Taymor. It wasn’t exciting enough for me and the overall depiction of the native Caliban just reminded me of early colonization and my overall hatred of people who categorize people as “other” based on something about their appearance, personality, religion, etc. I couldn’t sympathize with Prospero or Miranda, even though I think she is a very much overlooked character. Miranda was an extremely strong female and she had Ferdinand wrapped around her little finger. I didn’t believe very strongly in their love story either because the whole play occurred in the period of three hours and even most disney princesses take longer than three hours to fall in love. I liked the character of Ariel and in the time period I would understand why this story would appeal to Elizabethans, the new world and all, but to someone in the twenty-first century whose idea of exploring new lands is Mars, it is just not exciting.