Thursday, April 5, 2012

Batty About Books- Graceling by Cashore Part Two

Batty About Graceling.egg by mselke on Aviary
Graceling – by Kristin Cashore
Part Two (of Four).

SPOILER ALERT (Just in case you are reading this blog and aren’t aware – there will be significant spoiling as part of this post! Don’t read on if you haven’t read the book or don’t want any plot points revealed)

   
My friend Kathy (a.k.a. @thebrainlair) and I are reading and discussing this book. Join in! My thoughts with her responses are here on my blog, and her thoughts with my responses are on hers




Maria: Wow! There were some serious developments in this section. I think the biggest take-away for me in this section of the book was the struggle Katsa had over her own power and sense of control. She feels completely powerless with Randa. She knows that she isn’t really a person to him – just a tool – a possession like his dogs or his horses. Katsa’s struggle in this section is a great one for young women to read. It’s perfect, because she refuses to let this rule her. She moves on, defies him, and looks for ways to help others defy their powerlessness as well. This is what I need to read, and what I think girls need to read. Of course, it’s also important for boys to read as well. Watching Katsa decide if she can take control of her own life, and still have a relationship is intriguing.

Her other big struggle? Managing her anger. This also resonates with my own experiences as a woman, and is another thing girls need to hear. She is afraid… not so much of what others will do to her, but of what she will do when she is angry. We don’t teach girls how to handle their anger. We teach them it’s inappropriate to even feel anger. So they don’t know what to do with this completely valid emotion. I hope to see Katsa continue to grow in her ability to manage and USE her anger.

Kathy: As a mom of a daughter, I hope I’ve done right by my child!! I hadn’t really thought about it but I too often try to hide my own anger.  Sure, there are moments you need to walk away and calm down, but you need to acknowledge the feelings and understand that it’s “normal” to feel anger.  And it can even be useful.

Maria: I’m getting better at picking up on clues, or at least on trusting myself. I had made a note of the strange behavior of Po’s aunt back in the first section, but didn’t bring it up in the discussion. Po’s reaction to Katsa when she mentions it validated my earlier feeling. As of the end of this section, I’m still not entirely sure what it means – but at least I feel like I caught the indicators early on. I also noticed the eye patch clue really quickly. I think this means that I’m fully absorbed in the unique rules of this world. Love that feeling!  

Kathy: Ah yes, what a great idea to have only one visible eye in a world that despises eyes of two colors! That Leck sounds smart.  Part 2 of the book is called The Twisted King - that has to be Leck she’s talking about. What are the particulars of his Grace - if he is so - I wonder?? To make people believe a lie and the truth at the same time and not KNOW they can’t both be right?? SCARY!  This section has me paying more attention to Cashore’s writing because she has give us clues to many things along the way - even about Po.  I feel she is revealing things about Katsa as we go and I want to catch them before the picture is complete!

Maria: One of my hopes: I hope they don’t have Katsa completely give up on her unwillingness to marry and have children. Yes, as a mother myself I see the value of motherhood. Honestly, though, there are so many books where a young woman makes that choice. I’d like to see Katsa be an example of the other side of the coin – an example of a woman who makes an honest choice NOT to have children and have that choice be accepted.
Kathy: Yes, to the part about her not completely changing her mind on having children but a part of me wants to see her get married!! I strongly believe in love and marriage and want my daughter to have a husband to love and cherish her.  I know it’s old fashioned but it’s what I want.  I want her to be strong and hold on to who she is too. I don’t want her to get married for “protection” but as an outwardly display of the love her and her husband share. I hope she knows her mind before she gets married - whether she wants children or not or whatever else her goals are - and her husband’s mind too. Too often people get married hoping they can change the other person - like Giddon felt about Katsa. I hope she believes in herself enough to hang onto her identity, come what may.

Maria: The appropriate age group for this book: Okay, so I’m not longer wondering whether I could recommend this book to my stronger, more mature fifth grade students. The answer to that is definitely no. I have a feeling this will be a reflection post of its own. I don’t mind having students read things that have some violence in them earlier, but when the characters become sexually active that’s where I draw the line for my students. That bumps it up, in my mind, to late middle school at the earliest.
Kathy: I still had some hesitations about giving this book to 7th graders as we know emotional development doesn’t always follow chronological age so closely.  I remember some girls wanting to discuss the use of seabane and me balking at that time!! I feel comfortable talking to my own child about these things but I don’t want to knowingly impose my values on other people’s children! The boys, on the other hand, really didn’t seem to notice or care, it’s as if that part of the book didn’t happen or maybe we’ve raised them to not have opinions on those things? Because I felt Cashore’s message was very STRONG, I decided not to use it for book club anymore.  It’s still available in our library though as I think the book has merit.  Back to Graceling sort of, I still have controversial books in our book club.  I just didn’t feel like there was as much room for discussion in Cashore’s writing. I do know that some students will shy away from the parts they aren’t ready for in any book.  Also, in the beginning of the school year, I discuss “young adult” books and what that could mean.  I also talk about discussing books with parents or guardians and stopping books you don’t care for - whether that means mature situations, language, violence, or even just because you don’t like it! I try to also get them to understand that they may like different books than their friends or even me.


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So – that’s it for section two! I’m really enjoying this tale on a lot of levels. Are you reading along? Chime in with your thoughts, too!

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