Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
Well, I tried it again. This week I read a graphic novel titled Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. As many of you know, I really have a hard time reading graphic novels; I’m not sure if I get too distracted by the pictures or if it’s just a mental block. But for the sake of “never giving up”, I again read one more, just to see how it would go. Unfortunately, once again, it was almost pure torture for me to get through.
Through the Woods is a collection of short stories that have dark fairy tale attributes set in the middle of the woods. There are five separate stories ranging from “Our Neighbor’s House” where a father is dead and a strange visitor prowls around at night, to “The Nesting Place” a story about a girl who takes over other’s bodies.
I will be perfectly honest here, the only one of the five short stories that I was able to really follow was “The Nesting Place”. I really struggled to figure out what the other story plots were even about. The illustrations were well done and definitely give the book the Gothic feel of horror stories.
Although I didn’t enjoy this book, I can see where it would be appealing to those readers that enjoy scary stories and graphic novels. Since it is also a short story collection, each story is an extremely quick read. I probably am not the best person to try to give this book a fair review, as I have now completely, after trying three graphic novels, come to the conclusion that graphic novels just are not for me.
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
Our second book that we have finished for our book club “Chimney Rock Readers” is the novel All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. This novel follows the lives of two teenage boys: Rashad and Quinn.
When Rashad (African American, a good student, part of the ROTC) goes to the corner bodega to get a bag of chips, his who life gets turned upside down. As he was bent down to retrieve something from his bag, a lady accidentally trips over him causing a chain of events. Paul Galluzzo, a cop mistakes Rashad for a shoplifter and drags Rashad outside, while Rashad tries to declare is innocence, Galluzzo mistakes (or ignores) Rashad’s pleas of innocence as resisting arrest. Therefore, Galluzzo proceeds to beat Rashad outside in a horrific manner.
Quinn, who is best friends with Paul Galluzzo’s brother, is outside the bodega and witnesses the brutal beating Galluzzo gives Rashad. Galluzzo has also been there for Quinn since Quinn’s dad died in Afghanistan. Quinn has to come to terms with himself as to which side he is going to stand with. On the one hand, he has Galluzzo who has been almost a father-figure to him and on the other, he witnessed an innocent boy (and school mate) get beaten for no apparent reason.
The book is full of current issues that are happening in America today. You get to see the side of the African American boys who are always looked upon with suspicion just by the way they look/dress. You see the side of Quinn, who has to decide if “family” or fairness is the most logical road to take. You are also shown in a small part, how police have to deal with the every day knowledge that something could happen to them. And finally, it shows the tension that happens between races on a daily basis.
I think that this book has many important issues that are worth visiting about. These are current issues that we and students struggle with, and because of this, I think it’s a book that would appeal to many different students. I can see this book maybe more appealing to boys than to girls, but the issues affect all equally. I found this book fine to read, but I will admit, this was not my favorite book, and it did take me a while to finish. It wasn’t a book that I found ‘compelling’ me to finish reading it. And once I did get to the end…..Ugh! Disappointed at the cliff-hanger ending!