Love That Dog by Sharon Creech took me completely by surprise. I haven't read any of her other books, but if they are anything like this one, I will. Love That Dog is short, but oh, so powerful.
It's the story of Jack who is studying poetry, and has to write poems. The poems he writes actually tell the story. (You knew that if it was told in free verse I would love it, didn't you Sharon?) Unlike myself, Jack doesn't love poetry, at first. His teacher, Miss Stretchberry, sees real talent in Jack and frequently posts Jack's poems on the school bulletin board for all to see, with Jack's permission, of course, and only anonymously.
With poetry, Jack cautiously reveals his love for his dog and the tragic story of his dog's passing.
The best part of the book is when Jack's class is introduced to the poetry of Mr. Walter Dean Myers. I am only familiar with his novels, not his poems, an error I will soon correct. Jack is so moved by Mr. Walter Dean Myers' poetic work, that he writes a poem for him and sends it to Mr. Walter Dean Myer's publisher, asking Mr. Walter Dean Myers to visit the class. Mr. Walter Dean Myers is never referred to as Myers or Mr. Myers, so Mr. Walter Dean Myers he will forever be in my mind.
I would love to hear this beautiful and brief story, done really well in audio, perhaps narrated by Mr. Walter Dean Myers.
My sister, Mary, the one we're all praying for, recommended Uglies by Scott Westerfeld to me. She actually recommended it to me years ago, but something about the description on the back of the book frightened me. Well, I'd do anything for her now, so I read it.
It's much, much less frightening than Hunger Games or even Matched.
The setting is about 300 years in the future. Everything recycles instantly. Humans use no consumable energy sources, just solar power and magnets. They ride hoverboards, which I'm guessing are like Luke Skywalker's landspeeder but shrunk down to skateboard size. Buried metal throughout the cities, under hoverpaths, and in river beds provide the magnetic power for the hoverboards.
Everyone has an operation when they turn sixteen to make them pretty. Well, not just pretty, but biologically desirable. Big eyes to project neediness will cause feelings of protection. Fat removal, height adjustments, chin and cheek implants, fuller lips, longer necks, indestructible ceramic teeth, disease resistance, and more create desirability, confidence and more.
Children are known as "littlies," tweens from ages 12 to 16 are "uglies," and once the operation has been done, age 16 to maybe 30 are the "pretties." Pretties get to live in New Pretty Town and party all the time. There are even "Pleasure Parks" where the reader will pass a few tangles of arms and legs, but that's as graphic as it gets. After 30 or so, there is another operation for Middle Pretties, and a third one later in life for Late Pretties.
But what happens if an Ugly doesn't want the operation?
Tally Youngblood has waited her whole life for the operation, planning and re-planning her features. Tally loses her best friend to New Pretty Town a few months before her own birthday, and befriends another Ugly named Shay. To Tally's horror, she learns that some Uglies never get the operation. They have banded together outside city limits and created a settlement called the Smoke, where they eat animals, wear animal skins, and even cut down trees.
When Shay runs away to join the Smoke, Tally is taken into Special Circumstances. There, some surgically modified cop-like humans known as "Specials" give Tally an ultimatum. If she wants the Pretty operation, she will have to find Shay and betray the Smoke community.
The first book in this four-part series was a real nail-biter. Literally. I have no nails left. I read it in the car on the way home from St. Louis this weekend, even though reading in the car makes me nauseous and gives me a headache. It was too good to put down.
It's also a great commentary on the issue of physical beauty. Who determines what is beautiful and what is not? Can a person be so surgically altered that he ceases to be himself? Very intriguing stuff.
And...according to the interweb...it's being made into a movie. Dare I get excited?