Saturday, January 24, 2015

Grasshopper Jungle

If you want to discover stacks and stacks of good books at your local library you need my friend Tina to go with you.  Any time I meet her there she loads me up as we walk down the shelves. On our last trip she handed me Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith and said "here read this, because I can't, and let me know how it is."  She's not a fan of dystopia but she was interested in the Iowa setting.

So I read it and for the first 40 pages I kept thinking I should quit.  And then I'd read a little more and a little more and then it started to grow on me.  At about the half way point I couldn't stop reading which made me laugh because that's just what I tell my students-keep going~the really good stuff doesn't always happen in the beginning.  I didn't almost give up on it though because stuff wasn't happening-it was the main character, Austin, that drove me nuts.  He's telling us the story as a sort of historical document and we really get to know Austin-it's his coming-of-age tale after all-right in the middle of the end of the world.

My thoughts were poor Austin all he can think about is being horny and every single page is about his desire to have sex, shit, masturbate, sex, shit, masturbate, with a lot of smoking mixed in.  And then just when I thought I couldn't take his relentless need to talk about it all so much I let it slide~after all he's 15~and began to appreciate what Austin had to say about his relationship with Robby, his best friend.  I loved that he was so confused about his relationship with both Robby and his girlfriend, Shann because it's tough to be in love with two people at the same time.  His friendship with Robby was a breath of fresh air because he cared so deeply.  I grew to like him.

I also thought it was a realistic look at small town Iowa with it's boarded up shops, crazy family drama, and lots of corn. And the book definetely makes a case for not messing with genetics. Say no to GMOs of any kind.  And Austin does a great job of reminding us that everything is connected and life is a massive game of 6 degrees of seperation.

Now the huge  6-foot-grasshopper creepy things I can't even talk about them...

Someone on goodreads mentioned that you either get Andrew Smith or you don't~and I completely agree.  This book is not for everyone but it is good.

Now you don't have to read it Tina. I thank you for handing it to me though even if my hand now feels a little grubby.

A sample:

It took me a very long time to work up the nerve to kiss Shann Collins, who was the first and only girl I had ever kissed.  
     There was a possibility that I'd never have kissed her, too, because she was the one who actually initiated the kiss.
     It happened nearly one full year after the Curtis Crane Lutheran Academy End-of-the-year Mixed-Gender Mixer.
     Like Robby explained to her: I was shy.
     I was on the conveyor belt toward the paper shredder of history with countless scores of other sexually confused boys.  
     After the Curtis Crane Lutheran Academy End-of-the-year Mixed-Gender Mixer, I tried to get Shann to pay more serious attention to me.
     I tried any reasonable method I could think of. I joined the archery club when I found out she was a member, and I offered multiple times to do homework with her. Sadly, nothing seemed to result in serious progress.

She finally comes around when he gets in trouble at school for reading The Chocolate Wars by Robert Cormier.   If you can handle it you should read it. Welcome to Eden if you do.

1 comment:

Tina's Blog said...

Thanks. I don't need to read it now at all! Glad you found something redeeming about it.