Thursday, June 27, 2013

REVIEW: Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick

Never Fall Down
by Patricia McCormick

"I see all this, smell the blood, like raw meat. And my eyes see it. But I don't feel anything. If you feel, you go crazy."

Eleven-year-old Arn lives in his village in Cambodia, selling ice cream and listening to Elvis. There is a war going on, but it is distant. That is, until the Khmer Rouge, the communist enemy, come to his village claiming the Americans were coming to bomb it, and they "evacuate" the people to farming camps. The children are separated from the adults, and any intellectual or rich citizens are killed. The population becomes smaller and smaller as the Khmer Rouge find increasingly specific reasons to kill people. Arn does what he can to survive as his friends and family die around him in the Killing Fields. He volunteers to participate in a band that tours other camps, singing of the glory of the communist party and the paradise they have brought. He is soon able to protect a small group of kids because he has become "a little bit famous." But with so much death facing him every day, he must become like the Khmer Rouge to survive. Will he be able to ever find himself again?

This book was absolutely brutal. It was the most gory and graphic thing I have ever read, or seen, including Game of Thrones or Joe Abercrombie or Battle Royale. I do love me some dark and gory stuff from time to time, but it was too much for even me. I couldn’t go a page without someone drowning in shit, or having a person explode and parts of their body are hanging from the trees, or a kid shoots himself in the face. I felt like I was being sandblasted with violence, and the nonchalance with which it is treated in the narrative made it so much worse. It certainly put you in the mind of the character, where you had to at some point turn off your emotions or your attachment to anyone because they were going to step on a land mine sooner or later. Often, the writer would tease you with hope, only to have that hope snatched away offhandedly a page or so later.

The worst thing is, this happened. To a real person. I did not realize this until about ¾ of the way through the book. I thought the author was taking all the worst parts of what happened in Cambodia and giving it to one boy, but no, this is almost verbatim what happened to Arn Chorn-Pond, the real man.

That is the difficulty of this book. On the one hand, it is really brutal and gory and extremely difficult to get through, but on the other hand this happened to someone. The world needs to know that this level of evil happens in the world. We need to honor the dead by reading their stories and try to find ways to prevent this from happening again. I feel like people will have different reactions to this book: some will rise and fight against the evil, and some will feel overwhelmed and hide.

The most intriguing part of the book for me is the way Arn’s brain handles the situation he is in. In order to survive and protect the people he cares about, he plays along with what the Khmer Rouge want. However, after being given some small perks and power, he slowly begins to turn into them. He becomes what he hates most in order maintain his sanity and stay alive. Once he is safe, he struggles with who he is and what he has done. How do you have a normal life when you have seen what he has seen, and killed people?

It also makes me wary of believing what I hear or read. The Khmer Rouge used heavy manipulations, lies and propaganda to get people to do what they wanted, and there were deep consequences for those who believed them.

Hope only comes in the very end of the book, almost in the post script, where you find out how Arn decided to channel his anger and pain and use his experience for good. 

Here is an interview with Arn Chorn-Pond and Patricia McCormick:

I believe that this book is important for everyone to read, but you must be prepared for its contents. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

REVIEW: American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

American Born Chinese
by Gene Luen Yang

“It's easy to become anything you wish . . . so long as you're willing to forfeit your soul.” 

I decided that I needed a break from the heavy emotional lifting of the last few books, so I chose to read American Born Chinese before Never Fall Down. Now that I am reading Never Fall Down, I know that it was a wise decision.

I loved American Born Chinese. It is the first of the books in this class that changes format, not only by being a graphic novel, but by telling three stories that inform each other, and in the end mix together. It also uses mythology to comment on modern situations, which, if you will pardon the expression, is my jam.

The first story, the story of the Monkey King, echoes back to the Hate List. The Monkey King wishes to join the god's party in heaven. He is capable and qualified to enter, but he is laughed at and denied entrence because he is a monkey. He trains and trains to become the most baddass monkey ever and then takes his revenge with violence. He tries to change himself to be more like his oppressors (much like Never Fall Down), and turns into a monster himself. He is unkind, unmerciful, and stubborn to the point of inertia. Even when God himself comes and speaks to him with kindness and understanding, he tries to prove he is better than God. He clings white-knuckled to his new human-like persona that he refuses let the charade slip even to save himself. What he doesn’t realize is that being a monkey is his strongest asset.

The second story is of Jin Wang and his struggle to fit in to American High School. Even though he has grown up in the United States, he is treated as an alien, even by the teachers. They hope for his presence to be a learning experience for the class, but they only intensify their xenophobia by their own ignorance of Jin Wang’s life and his culture. He ruins the one friendship he has because he is so concerned with how he is perceived. Like the Monkey King, he denies who he is to fit in.

Which leads to the third story: Danny, a white American boy, is visited by his hooooorribly racist stereotype Chinese cousin, Chin-kee. Chin-kee consistently embarrasses him and ruins his reputation wherever he goes. The story is told with a laugh track, like a sitcom, but in the end, there is a twist that brings all three tales together to a surprising and satisfying conclusion. 

This was an incredible story, very simple and very clear. The illustrations are beautiful and streamlined. It moved along at a nice clip, and it went by so fast I devoured it on one metro ride. The message is never told to you flat out as a moral, but it fairly shouts to you from the rooftops through the intertwining tales: Do not deny who you are. It is your strength.

REVIEW: The Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Hate List
by Jennifer Brown

“I sat back and looked at it. It was ugly, dark, uncontrolled. Like a monster's face. Or maybe what I saw there was my own face. I couldn't quite tell. Was the face the image of something evil or the image of myself?

"Both," Bea muttered, as if I'd spoken my question out loud. "Of course, it's both. But it shouldn't be. Goodness, no.” 

Valerie and her boyfriend Nick are bullied in school so they create a "hate list" a list of all the people who make their lives miserable. Nick is funny and sweet and loves Shakespeare....and then on the morning of May 2nd he opens fire in the school cafeteria, killing the students who are on that list. When Val realizes what is happening, she tries to stop Nick and gets shot in the leg before he turns the gun on himself. In Hate List we jump back and forth between the morning of the shooting, Val's memories of Nick and the horrible consequences of the event. Val is seen sometimes as a hero, but more often then not as an accomplice. The book chronicles the healing process (or not) of Val, of the school, of the town. Emotions are so tangled up for the kids, the parents, the school officials that Val becomes a walking symbol of what happened that day. In the face of so much pain and hate, how can Val face another year at school?

Wow. This book was gripping, beautiful and moving. So very sad and hard and hopeful.  I loved how it was not just a story about a school shooting. It could turn into a voyeuristic slasher blood fest quickly. And it is not a sappy love fest where easy answers are found in platitudes.  It is about how you deal with something like that, not just the victims or the victims’ families, but the “culprits” and their families and survivors in all senses of the word. How the media spins it to make the country believe everyone has healed and accepted the loss when that is not the case, and probably will not be the case for a very long time. It does not make things simple either. Nick was a nice kid, a good boyfriend, intellectual and passionate. There is no cut and dried explanation as to why he did what he did. He was teased and he got angry and he took drugs, but plenty of people do that without shooting up a school. We never uncover the mystery. We never receive a satisfactory diagnosis of a disease that we can cure in our school system or society.

I very much appreciated how Brown wrote adults. I have noticed a trend in many YA books where the authors feel they have to remove parents from the equation in order for kids to strike out on their own. The parents and authority figures either are horrible people, ignore the kids, have died, or are unable to relate to the kids. This is why I really admire John Green when he has his characters sit down and watch TV with his loving parents and actually enjoy hanging out and talking with them. While I understand the trope, I also feel like it isolates kids from adults, making them feel like adults will not be there for them, or understand their problems. In Hate List, the adults were simply people. Flawed, yes, but well-rounded people. The teachers are not just authority figures. They are struggling through their grief and loss as well, and not in a generic way, but in very specific ways. Dr. Heiler, while idealized, is a SUPPORTIVE ADULT FIGURE that she can tell things too! Incredible! He has a mysterious family that Val wonders about, a life outside of his office. Val’s mother is both frustrating and heart breaking as she wrestles with the fact that her child inadvertently caused people to die. She blames her and protects her and protects other people from her and trusts her and doesn’t trust her. I appreciated the chaos of their relationship and how it developed, moving forward and then snapping backward throughout the book. Her relationship with her dad, though, was rather sickening and destructive and difficult to read.

Val herself is massively wounded and confused. I don’t know how she got through every day, but humans are built to be resilient. She is another badass heroine, not because she fought bad guys, but simply because she faced every day. She survived through time and sheer stubbornness and forcing herself to be vulnerable  when the survivalist in me would armor up. While I was not satisfied with the ending, which made me worry about Val more than feel confidant she was on the road to recovery, her journey of healing was inspiring.

One small note: this book makes me painfully aware of how casually we use language. Have a frustrating day, say “I’m going to kill someone!” Or miming putting a gun in our mouths and pulling the trigger. Some day someone might mean it, and we will not know. Or someone might have lived through a tragedy like this, and the reality of the phrase will slice their wounds open again.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

REVIEW: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

File:Speak 1st Edition Cover.jpg

by Laurie Halse Anderson

"'Art without emotion is like chocolate cake without sugar. It makes you gag.' He sticks his finger down his throat. 'The next time you work on your trees, don't think about trees. Think about love, or hate, or joy, or pain- whatever makes you feel something, makes your palms sweat, or your toes curl. Focus on that feeling. 
When people don't express themselves, they die on piece at a time. You'd be shocked at how many adults are really dead inside- walking through their days with no idea who they are, just waiting for a heart attack or cancer or a mack truck to come along and finish the job. It's the saddest thing I know.” 

After calling the police at a party, Melinda enters her first year of high school ostracized. She has never told anyone what happened that night. She retreats into herself, silent on the outside, while inside she struggles with the event, with her feelings, with her parents, with school, with her ex-friends. She must gradually discover who she is again and how to turn her pain into strength, her depression into hope, her silence into words. 

Please note that this review has spoilers in it, but the main spoiler was something I knew before reading the book, and it did not effect my enjoyment. 

I only read this book because my first choice wasn’t available. I had heard how popular the book was, and for some reason, that turned me off. I also thought of it as “The Rape Book.” Oh, it’s that story of the girl who got raped and how horrible she feels and how damaged she has become. I tend not to read books that I think will put be through an emotional cheese grater. When staring down the barrel of these books, I can’t imagine any hope in them.

I am so very glad that I did not listen to me.

I would like to echo Laurie Halse Anderson’s realization that it is not a book about rape. Yes, rape happened. It was awful. Melinda had to go through a lot to be able to heal. The book is more about depression. About living with the after effects of trauma. It’s also about high school, politics, not fitting in, finding your true friends, and in the end speaking the truth about who you are.

Melinda’s voice was so distinct and yet so familiar. I was with her every step of the way. I too have created a little closet for myself at work where I can be alone and no one can find me. I too have felt mute because I was too afraid to speak up about how I felt, or what happened, or against or for something. I too have felt like everyone thinks I am awful, or that I had no one to talk to. This book is for everyone, boys and girls. 

Ultimately, the book is about healing. About slowly rediscovering who you are. About having the courage to peak out of the ground and feel the sunshine. Anderson is marvelously sublte. She gradually builds a beautiful metaphor of thawing and growing and seeds and clearing away weeds to convey Melinda’s journey. She also does not make anything easy or fast for Melinda. She takes her time, and as she lets glimmers of herself out into the world, she is rewarded with an answer.

She is able to turn pain into strength, and, unlike Desert Angel, her final confrontation is as cathartic as it gets. 

This book is so important right now, especially with the discussion of rape culture raging in both main stream and social media. I was greeted today with this article about how Patton Oswalt has changed his mind about rape jokes, and how other comedians are following suit. And this blog post of a former Disney employee telling her story about how she was raped, and reported it, and how the company reacted. 

I was shocked to find out that Anderson was asked by boy readers why Melinda was so upset about being raped. They don't understand. This is why we need to talk about it, rather than remain silent.

Monday, June 17, 2013

REVIEW: Desert Angel by Charlie Price

Desert Angel
by Charlie Price

Angel wakes up one morning to discover that her mother has been murdered by the mother's horrible boyfriend Scotty. He has buried her in the desert. Angel's only focus is survival as Scotty hunts her down as the only witness. She must face desert, betrayal, and the constant fear of a wily predator. But when she finds help in a small town, what might ultimately destroy her is the her inability to trust.

This is quick and dirty because I am super busy, but here it goes!I couldn’t put Desert Angel down! It was a riveting story. Angel has such a unique voice. She is damaged, and always in survival mode, gathering information about her environment in case she has to run, playing an eternal chess game with her pursuer. I loved the moments when she would try and get into his head to predict his next move.

The sad thing is, she has never known anything other than survival mode. Her mother always chose the worst boyfriends, and she has learned how to cope and not to trust anyone. When she is confronted with love and help, she is not sure how to accept it, or if she should. Even if she does accept it, she will put those she cares about in danger as Scotty circles her hideout.

The pace slowed down a bit in the middle and I found myself missing the action and the emotional connection. The story began to drag when the author focused on Scotty almost doing something, but not doing it yet. I was hoping for a big pay off, as there is a large piece of information that the reader knows, but Angel does not know when she is extrapolating his next move. Alas, the ending was a little anticlimactic. You expect a large confrontation with those she has come to care about fighting for her against Scotty, or her confronting Scotty alone and avenging her mother. However, there is only so much a YA book can allow a 14 year old girl to do, I guess.

It is an exciting thriller, but it is ultimately about opening yourself up to trust.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

REVIEW: Shine by Lauren Myracle

“Even so, I was proud of myself for taking action at all. I didn't hide or run away or pretend the ugliness didn't happen. I stood up and said something that was true. I said it out loud, and by doing so, I was standing up for lots of people, not just me.” 

by Lauren Myracle

Due to a traumatic incident, Cat has cut herself off from her friends, including her best friend Patrick. When Patrick is found outside the gas station where he works, beaten and with a gas nozzle in his mouth and fastened with tape, with a sign on him that said "Suck this, faggot," Cat must throw off her protective shell and hunt down the culprit while Patrick struggles in a coma. In her rural conservative small town she is faced with judgmental gossips, uncommunicative neighbors, and her friends who are clearly hiding something. She must be braver than she ever thought possible to face her demons and bring her friend's assailant to justice.

I had a very difficult time immersing myself in Shine. The plot was compelling: a girl forced to break through her protective shell of indifference and find who hurt her friend. It felt like an episode of a cop show. She goes and interviews various people around town, and then it circles back to someone you met in the beginning, but did not initially suspect. They have a final confrontation and all is revealed.

I then realized I was reading Veronica Mars. A girl who is sexually assaulted by one of her former friends turns inward and rejects anyone associated with that group, until the friend in that group she cared the most about is killed/ almost killed and she must confront each of the group again to solve the mystery. Through this process, she discovers that those she thought were bad have complex issues they are trying to deal with, and those she thought were good are not. Once I realized that, it was difficult for me to see this as anything other than formulaic.

I am not sure why, but I had a very difficult time becoming invested in any character’s story. I felt like a distant observer. Perhaps because Cat does not trust anyone, so you learn not to get too attached to a character, or take any of their words or actions at face value. I didn’t even feel like I knew Cat, even though we were in her head. Perhaps it was because we never saw her change from timid to brave. We see the before and we see the after, but never the transformation.  I almost wish the story had begun with her hearing about Patrick. Though the timeline was confusing for me, it seemed she had some time to digest the information and make a decision before the story begins. Her struggle would have been a meaty part of the story to examine.

As for the friends, we meet Gwennie for a hot second, think she is nice, see her neurosis, learn she has an eating disorder, and then never see her again. While other characters come back, we learn that they each have a secret problem that they are struggling with. At times the book felt like a chronicle of the greatest hits of teenage problems: rape or drugs or homosexuality or eating disorders or risk taking or mental illness or all of the above. We learn that several of the characters are trying to change their lives around, but you never really learn why? What are the stakes for them?

The only character I felt was utterly compelling was Cat's Aunt Tilly. She reacts to difficult situations by cleaning, or hiding or pushing problems under the rug, or ignoring them completely, or pretending they are over and done with. I was clamoring to learn her back story. Why was she like this? Was there anything that could happen that would make her face the problem? Does she have some wisdom to impart to Cat, or will Cat help her face her fears? Unfortunately, nothing happened with her. She did not grow or change. She was yet another adult figure in the book who could not be relied upon to help.

While this is not my favorite book, it does depict a teenager struggling to speak out against the violence in a community that resists the conversation, and might inspire high school students to follow her example.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

REVIEW: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

File:The Outsiders book.jpg

“I could picture hundreds and hundreds of boys living on the wrong sides of cities, boys with black eyes who jumped at their own shadows. Hundreds of boys who maybe watched sunsets and looked at stars and ached for something better. I could see boys going down under street lights because they were mean and tough and hated the world, and it was too late to tell them that there was still good in it, and they wouldn’t believe you if you did. It was too vast a problem to be just a personal thing. There should be some help, someone should tell them before it was too late. Someone should tell their side of the story, and maybe people would understand then and wouldn’t be so quick to judge a boy by the amount of hair oil he wore. It was important to me.”

Ponyboy lives with his two brothers, the strong and serious Darryl who had to grow up too fast to support his family, and Soda, the cheerful golden boy who dropped out of school to work at a gas station. Though their blood family is small, their chosen family is much bigger: quiet Johnny, funny Two-Bit, and hardened, sinister Dallas. They are greasers, boys from the wrong sides of the tracks, who are in a dangerous quiet war with the "Soc's," the middle class and rich kids in town. And its not just name calling; the greasers live in a state of constant fear that they will be jumped and pulverized, maybe even killed. One of these incidents turns into a nightmare for Ponyboy and Johnny, and they end up on the run. But soon they must stop and make a choice between what is right and what is easy (thank you, Dumbledore). 

 I must admit, I resisted this book. I knew it was about greasers and gangs, and my only point of reference was Grease or West Side Story. I figured it was a grittier, more realistic machofest, boys trying fighting over arbitrary turf borders and participating in pissing contests.  I expected to not relate to any of the characters, and I expected them to die violently.  While I was correct about the latter assumption, boy was I wrong about the other bits.

Within the first few pages, as Ponyboy described the other boys in the greasers, I felt like I knew them. I expected them to all be versions of Dally, but right off the bat, and in spite of myself, I liked them.The love the three brothers had for each other, Darry’s struggles, Soda’s hidden pain, Ponyboy’s grief, Dallas’ self-destructive love, Two-Bit’s humor, and Johnny’s perseverance and honor resonated with me. Ponyboy was just a regular kid. None of the boys had chosen that life. You could imagine how, if circumstances were different, each of these boys would thrive.

It made me think of the movie Dazed and Confused. I remember thinking “Why are the Socs just driving around?” Then it hit me that they really had nothing else to do. No internet, no movies at home, often no family but the one they chose. No wonder everyone got into so much trouble. They had to invent their   own culture to give their lives meaning.

Hinton wanted us to see both the “hoods” and the Socs as real people, rather than stereotypes. She wanted to show the life she and her friends and family lived.  Through the characters of Cheryl and Randy, we saw how the divide could be crossed. The plot seemed a little contrived at times, i.e. convenient church picnics, but it forced the characters to change and grow.

The ending touched me the most: as Ponyboy is stumbling through his fog of grief, he reads Johnny’s letter and takes on a mission (see quote above). That paragraph is enough to change the world. I could see it resonating with hundreds of students today, especially when they realize S.E. Hinton wrote this book when she was 16. The past speaks to the present about something they understand deeply, and calls on them to make a change.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

REVIEW: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Will Grayson, Will Grayson
by John Green and David Levithan

“You know what’s a great metaphor for love? Sleeping beauty. Because you have to plow through this incredible thicket of thorns in order to get to beauty, and even then, when you get there, you still have to wake her up."

There are two Will Graysons. I will call them Will Grayson 1 and Will Grayson 2. Will Grayson 1 (written by John Green) has two rules in life that help him cope: 1) Don't care too much. 2) Shut up. It has kept him protected so far, but that is very difficult to do when you are best friends with Tiny Cooper, the largest, gayest friend a person could have, who cares with every fiber of his being, and lets everyone know it. Will Grayson 2 (written by David Levithan) protects himself with a shield of bitterness and scorn. The one person he allows himself to be vulnerable with is a boy named Issac who he met on the internet. When he and Issac decide to meet, the worlds of both Will Graysons collide, and they both must decide whether it is better to protect yourself, or to risk it all and tell the truth.

I loved this book! Maybe not as much as Every Day, but more than Paper Towns, I think. Levithan's Will Grayson is harsher, more jagged than the protagonist in Everyday. He has closed himself off from everyone, and is only kind and vulnerable with Issac. That is what draws us to him; we glimpse the man he could be. John Green's Will Grayson doesn't seem like your typical John Green protagonist either. He is more repressed. He too has closed himself off, and limited his life by not risking, not speaking the truth. Yes, he falls in love with a girl (Jane), but she is not the usual manic pixie dream girl John Green writes. She is softer, a quieter support for him, and she compliments him nicely.

The real manic pixie dream girl is Tiny Cooper. He is fan-frikkin-tastic. He is huge and loving and wants to make the world a better place... and better than that, he actually tries to do it every day. He makes big bold moves, the latest of which is to write the gayest of musicals about himself to be performed at his school, and the school rallies around him. Though we soon discover that he has his dark points as well.

Tiny Cooper and the two Will Graysons (and Jane) wrestle with living truthfully versus protecting yourself from hurt. With need and vulnerability versus appearing weak. Feeling nothing versus feeling everything. Both writers bring the best of themselves to the table and create a compelling duet of pain and joy. Initially I liked John Green's half better until the heart of Levithan's half broke open beautifully.

I highly recommend if for John Green and David Levithan fans, as well as anyone struggling with opening yourself to the world.

Books Like This
Every Day by David Levithan
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Paper Towns by John Green
Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt
Ok For Now by Gary Schmidt

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Message from Me: John Green, Neil Gaiman and Myself on Empathy

As many of you know, I am a huge fan of John Green and Neil Gaiman, not just as authors, but as heroes and far away mentors. They are both passionate and articulate about the power of reading, especially when discussing how reading engenders empathy. Here are two speeches, one by John Green and one by Neil Gaiman, about empathy and reading (both, coincidentally given at the BookExpo a year apart).

I would add one thing to what these great men have said. In order to get the full effect of empathetic fiction reading, you need to read books about people who are not you. For the first 20 years of my life, I predominantly read fiction about a young (usually brunette) girl who was either bored, or timid, or forced by society into some specific role. She then has to break out of this role and rise above and be awesome. I have played out this scenario in my mind hundreds of times, though usually in some sort of fantasy land, often of a medieval and British persuasion. These were the stories I related to, that I understood, that I was comfortable with. 

Now, at the ripe age of 28, I am branching out. It started with The Wednesday Wars, a book about a boy who lives with an abusively perfectionist father and learns to become a man through Shakespeare. This was one foot in and one foot out of my comfort zone: Shakespeare, easy; boy in abusive family situation, new. Then I read similar book by Gary Schmidt, Ok for Now, about a boy with an abusive father, and brothers, all going through deep pain and frustration, and how he must choose who he will be, the bully everyone thinks he is, or the man certain people allow him to be. And he is saved through the Audubon Birds of America. Another tiny step outside of my comfort zone. Then, John Green happened through his Vlogbrothers, and I read loads of his books. No overt arts involved. Just people, mostly teenage boys, living in the real world and dealing with real things. 

Then I took the plunge with Personal Effects. Abusive conservative military family. No one is saved by literature, no one is sensitive or dreamy or artsy. It is not couched in beautifully structured style and tied together with an overt truth, like John Green's books. It is raw and painful and strange. A new mind, a mind that did not at all work like mine. And I understood him. I felt for him. His experiences were no where near my own, but I knew what it felt like to be him. I had put up so many walls against the words "conservative" and "military," and this book allowed me to see behind the stereotype and connect with them as human beings.

I am writing this post now because I am about to embark on a YA literature class whose focus is almost solely on realistic, urban, or historical fiction. The reading list is diverse, and often we can choose from a list  which book we want to read. I am going to challenge myself to seek out experiences and cultures that are unfamiliar. I can sit in my little white, middle class, dreamy artsy girl box all I want and say I have empathy because I read books, but I can never truly have it unless I reach out and try to see the world through the eyes of someone outside my experience and feel what they feel.

I am also letting you know that, because I have to read about 20 books for this class, Palimpsest will change slightly for this period of time. I may or may not review the books I am reading, but look to see many books on this blog tagged as "non-mission," outside the specs of the blog's literal mission statement. However, I do truly believe that everything is interconnected; the past, the present, the future, imagination, all cultures and times overlap. We tell the same stories over and over, influenced by things we can't even remember. These books are a part of the human experience, which is truly a mash-up of everything. 

I will leave you with an RSA Animate video on the empathy, and how it will change the world.