Looking for Alaska and The Book Thief

So after many days of intermittent reading and napping (napping because the New York weather is killing us all slowly one snow flake at a time, reading because there is really only so much bad television I can let infiltrate my brain) I want to talk about a book most adults probably haven't made time to read. Why? It's a kid's book, or to be more specific, it is teen romance. Ewwww! I know, I'm almost 25 and these things still find their way on my bookshelves. Although, to be honest, I never read teen romance as a teen, I detest romance in the typical capacity.

However, John Green's Looking for Alaska, winner of the highly coveted 2006 Michael L. Printz Award (among multiple other accolades) is absolutely amazing and far from typical. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. On one of life's unexpected tangents--going to boarding school of his own volition--Miles Halter discovers what happens when you start living life, meet the first girl who haunts you, become part of a real group of friends for the first time, and have your life dramatically altered by your first tragedy. I'm horrible at encapsulating a plot in a few lines but just know, though the plot almost seems like it should be a cliche, instead it is full of wit, raw emotion, and quite frankly, some very fine writing from a talented young author. Also, if you have a particular interest in u-tube, I must say, John and his brother Hank have this fabulous video blog conversation going on and in one, the ultra-talented John Green does a song (and a bit of a dance) explicating on the virtues of a game called--Nerd Fighters. (http://www.brotherhood2.com)

As I know have you hopefully, hopelessly intrigued by the world of children's literature, I must tell you, you must, I mean, must, read Mark Zuzak's The Book Thief. Just know, death narrates, and he has a wicked sense of humor. But more than that, you meet this little girl who steals books that in some sense represent pivotal moments in our lives. I stole a book once from my high school, The Great Gatsby. Ratty library binding. Musty smell. I still have it. It still means something to me. And no! I'm never giving it back! And no! I don't feel guilty! I would love to have a first edition of it actually. I would love to have a first edition of any classic actually...but enough waxing poetic on that.

Anyway, The Book Thief, is absolutely wonderful and it's actually a shame if it is pigeon-holed as a young adult read because the subject matter, the writing, heck even the length, there is nothing YA about it. It is just a tremendous read for anyone, no matter what their age is.

-Vicki Lame

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