July 19, 2012

Book Review: Chasing Redbird

For the past few days I have been reading "a harrowing, thrilling, feminist historical novel" by Alice Hoffman entitled The Dovekeepers.  Hoffman's book is so passionately magical that I am trying to read it slowly, savoring every page, and enjoying her narrative voice (THANK YOU to the dear friend that sent me the book!).  Without a doubt, there will be a review of The Dovekeepers on the ABC blog.  However, you will have to wait until I finish the book first!

In the meantime, I recently paused - for less than 24 hours, mind you - to read Chasing Redbird.  Written by Newberry Medal-winning author Sharon Creech, Chasing Redbird is commonly found on middle and high school English curricula.  I'm not sure how, but Creech's book never made its way onto any of my teachers' lesson plans; and as a result, I never got around to reading it.

It was only recently, when I was reading a friend of an acquaintance's blog, that the book was mentioned as a "life-long favorite" and "must-read."  In fact, this particular blogger said that she re-reads Chasing Redbird at least once a year!

"Heck," I thought, "if a book is good enough to read once a year, I must be missing out.
I have to read this book...NOW!"

So, what did I do?  

I immediately set down The Dovekeepers (besides, it would make it last longer if I took a little break from it), and drove off to the library.  Thankfully, Chasing Redbird was available.

Less than 24 hours later I had read Creech's 261-page book from cover to cover.

While I can't say that Chasing Redbird is a "life-long favorite" or a book that I will read "at least once a year," I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Although a quick read (honestly, what would you expect from a book geared towards 12-17 year olds?), it was definitely a fun and enjoyable read.  Moreover, I think that Chasing Redbird contains wonderful life-long lessons about grief, loss, and finding one's place in the world.



Zinny Taylor: Explorer

It started out as an ordinary summer.  But the minute thirteen year-old Zinny discovered the old, overgrown trail that ran through the woods behind her family's house, she realized that things were about to change.

Right from the start, Zinny knew that uncovering the trail would be more than just a summer project.  It was her chance to finally make people notice her, and to have a place she could call her very own.  But more than that, Zinny knew that the trail somehow held the key to all kinds of questions.  And that the only way to understand her family, her Aunt Jessie's death, and herself, was to find out where it went.

From Newberry Medal-winning author Sharon Creech comes an intricately woven tale of a young girl who sets out in search of her place in the world - and discovers i tin her own backyard.


While researching for this post, I ran across the author's website.  In it, Creech offers insight into her writing experience:
As I was writing [Chasing Redbird], I was vaguely aware that the trail was working on many levels.  Not only was it a real, literal train in the woods, but it also seemed to mirror the trails we all follow in our lives (Which way should we go?  What should we do?) and also to mirror the writing process (Which way will this story turn? Why can't I see where it's going?). (Source)


After reading Chasing Redbird I realized something...while there are some books that call out to be read, dissected, and then reviewed, there are others that are meant to simply be enjoyed.  Maybe that is why I am finding it a bit difficult to review Creech's book.

I just want to enjoy it.

In the end, I came to appreciate that although Creech took on the difficult topics of death, grief, identity seeking, and finding one's role in a large (and complicated) family, she did so in a way that was - ultimately - accessible to young readers.  Although I, myself, am not a young reader; I did gain something from its reading, and would certainly recommend this book to my own future children.  

Zinny teaches us that, sometimes, the best medicine is to explore the unknown.  

That "unknown" might materialize in the form of an undiscovered trail, like it did for Zinny; or it might take the form of unknown emotions, fears, and/or dreams.  Whatever the "unknown" is, Zinny empowers her readers to take a chance, take a leap, and explore it! 

Favorite Quotes:

"Life is a bowl of spaghetti...every now and then you get a meatball.  Sometimes it's a good meatball, and sometimes it's a bad meatball." (Source)

"Sometimes it seems too crowded on our side, and you don't know who you are.  You feel like everybody's spaghetti is all tangled in one pot...I discovered an old trial, overgrown with grass and weeds.  I knew instantly that it was mine and mine alone.  What I didn't know was how long or how hard it would be to uncover the whole thing, or that it would turn into such an obsession...the trail was just like the spaghetti of me and my family...it took a heap of doing to untangle it." (Source)

Question of the Day:

Was there ever a book that you feel like you totally forgot to read as a child, that you went back and read as an adult?  Did you like the book...or did you just think it was childish and overrated?

Whatever your story is, tell me all about your experience in the "Comment" section below.  

Ally and Bo

1 comment:

  1. I just read the Great Gatsby for the first time in a decade (what? I can't believe it's been a decade!) I got so much more out of it this time. Before, I was forced to read it and found it a bit boring. But, as an adult, I understood the historical context and even more importantly than that, I was able to pick up on the multiple slight clues Fitzgerald uses to drive the plot. Sometimes I wonder if I was "all there" as a kid.. and I guess no one really is. Now I am reading Lord of the Rings for the first time as an adult! I am already getting so much more out of it! I read Chasing Redbird in middle school -perhaps I should read it again. But I think I am more inclined to read The Dovekeepers, now!