The 57 Bus

So I have not blogged in weeks. Honestly I’m exhausted. For a start, I came back from ALA this year and lost my reading momentum. It happens to the best of us. I read, and read, and read and then…….was done.

I lost the urge to read. I know, I know, it’s inconceivable, but I am a Librarian and even the best of us abandon all hope of getting through a chapter or two from time to time. Instead, I’ll confess to marathon watching oh…I don’t know… about 50 million episodes of Supernatural on Netflix.

All was going well, and I planned on picking up one of many of the ARCs (advanced copies) that I had picked up at ALA this year- I have a whole bookshelf of them right now. But alas….the hurricane came.

We did not flood….fortunately. It came close though, see:

me in flood

jeremy flood

It got about three feet from out front door and then dropped down, and then came back up and then dropped down again…and then it did that for about a week, while I slowly went insane from watching flood waters and planning what to pack for evac (not that we could actually get out of our neighborhood). My personal favorite was having no power for days. My daughter went insane and cut her own hair. Literally. When the flood waters receded, I had to try to find a hair dresser.

But…the flood waters did recede. And we have found ourselves incredibly blessed. In the meantime parts of Houston are devastated and there was much loss. And that doesn’t even account for the hurricanes that followed, especially for Puerto Rico. We are tired, but safe and couldn’t ask for more fortune.

In the meantime however, the county library system that I work for has sustained some losses. As Librarians and book-lovers the next part may hurt the feels, so prepare yourselves. Here’s Baldwin Boettcher Branch Library located in Humble:

BldB flood

(photo courtesy of the Baldwin Boettcher Branch Library)

Yes, the entire collection seems to have been lost.

And here is much of the very wet collection from the Barbara Bush Library located in Spring:

BB flood

(photo courtesy of the Barbara Bush Branch Library)

So, as you can imagine our library system (Harris County Public Library) has been very busy in recovery mode. But they do get a shout out for setting up a pop-up library at the NRG stadium down-town Houston as it was used as a shelter:

HCPL pop up

(photo courtesy of Harris County Public Library administration)

So long story short, it’s been a while between blogs.

But, I have been reading during times of much water falling and here is the latest review of an ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS book that is about to be released. It was a wonderful read as I sat by my window for light and dragged my eyes away from the flood waters, so thank you to the author Dashka Slater for that well-needed distraction.

The book is…..(drum roll please)……

57

So here is the premise. The story tells us of two young individuals who are working their way to finding themselves (aren’t all teenagers?). Sasha and Richard come from two completely separate backgrounds but their stories dramatically inter-merge as they take the same bus, and their stories collide in very dramatic and devastating ways.

Richard is from the flat-lands of Oakland California. His life is one of struggle to stay away from the crime filled influences of his teen life. He struggles with school, with his family and with his friends, who may or may not be the catalyst for his actions.

Sasha is a teen who is a-gender. Gender specific pronouns do not exist for Sasha instead Sasha prefers to be referred to ‘they.’ Which you’d think would be disconcerting as a reader, but is actually very easy to adapt to. Sasha is a teen who exists in a world where labels are so respected they seem to be disregarded. The general acceptance of Sasha’s friends for Sasha as a person, allow Sasha to operate in an accepting world where friends and family radiate to Sasha’s magnetic personality.

Richard and Sasha’s life connect for just a few minutes a day, but one one of those occasions, Richard commits an act of violence against Sasha that changes both of their lives forever. An act that throws them both into the controversy of hate-filled crimes and severity of punishment for perpetrators.

Beautifully constructed, this story brings readers to a compassionate understanding of both characters. There are very poignant questions asked with regard to the blurry lines of juvenile delinquency, tom-foolery and crime, particularly for the young and particularly for the young, black, male youth. The book also provides a beautifully constructed story about teens (and other non-teens) who are members of the LGBTQ community and the journey undertaken in ‘coming out’ and finding acceptance.

The book gives an overall statistical perspective with regard to social issues, which is good, because it adds something to the story of the characters and gives readers a breath to understand how these social influences would affect the actions of our young protagonists.

The book is devastating. But also in a good way. There is a great sadness to it but also a sense of hope. And the book’s delivery of the topic of justice, what it is and what we are trying to collectively achieve with it, is something that gives readers pause. This is a well-written, delightfully complex story with deep social topics and an unnerving twist on collective and individual morality. And it’s treatment of youth and the point at which child-hood blurs into adult-hood is a testament to the talent of the author and her understanding of the topics addressed.

Overall this is on my highly recommended list of reading material for YA readers and adult readers too. It will be published and available in October and is available HERE to pre-order. Please do. A moving and brilliant testimony of our society and the need for wide-spread empathy for each other.

Well, that’s it folks, my first blog after a break. Hopefully I’ll be writing more often with more fabulous texts to recommend. Oh what a fantastic time to be here and be a reader, when the authors and artists of the world have so much to say and so much material to work with.

Until next time, stay safe, especially in those flood waters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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