Monday, April 15, 2013

Life Lessons

Today my reading class was well-entertained by reading Jack Gantos's short memoir "The Follower," (Click on the link and scroll down for the full text-- it's totally worth it.)

The writing in this tale of Gantos's youthful mishaps at the hands of the delinquent Pagoda brothers who lived next store is vivid- full of figurative language- and hilarious.

Maybe it's predictable that as I am a middle-aged lady his mom is my favorite character in the story. It's not for the reasons you might think, though.  I love her anti-nurturing. Here are her words as she warns her son away from the dangerous antics of the Pagodas:

"You are a follower, not a leader," she said bluntly. "You are putty in the wrong hands. Don't get me wrong. You're a nice kid, but you are most definitely a follower." 

That kind of sums up her character, but it's later, after Jack dislocates his shoulder and tries to hide it when she really wins my heart.

She grabbed my arm and pulled on it like it was the starter rope on a lawnmower engine. Something deep inside my shoulder went Pop!
"Arghhh," I sighed. The relief from the pain was heavenly.

"You are as dumb as a post," my mother said. "I'm warning you—don't play with that kid! He'll lead you to your death."

After reading today, my students debated the themes of the story and kicked around possible life lessons. "How about YOLO?" suggested one. "You only live once?"

"How about DODO?" answered one of her classmates. "Dummies only die once!"

That seems about right.

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