Much to my teenager’s joy (who is not a fan of warm weather- which in his terms is anything above 16 C/61 F) it has been a chilly week in Wellington. It is a little nippy, snow is on the mountain ranges off in the distance and most of my interactions with patrons at the library at least partially mention the weather. Maybe New Zealanders are a lot like the stereotypes we hear about the English because we too are obsessed by weather. This is likely to be because we are a bunch of islands in the middle of the ocean easily impacted by whatever blows over and we have traditionally been an economy built on agriculture.
And before we know it (or in NZ parlance, nek minnit) this blog has become a weather based blog where I share with you minutiae of Wellington’s climate.
Right, back to the task at hand. This is clearly assignment writing. Not inf act blog writing. So it is perhaps a little unexpected to find me sitting in a cafe in the suburbs staring out the window, half listening to the bits of conversations that are drifting around the room, contemplating blog topics rather than censorship.
Some of this is because I am a bit tired. With a good excuse- I stayed up last night reading a book. A book that I could potentially use for my assignment… well… okay. You’ve caught me out. Yes, I am thinking of referring to it in my assignment (it helps that is the only recent major dust up we have had in NZ about a book for a while) but I could easily have discussed it without having read it in it’s entirety. After all that is what the internet is for right? So you can spoil any movie, television show and book without leaving your chair.
No, let’s be honest, I read it until midnight (and then stayed awake for a while afterwards thinking about it) because I enjoyed the excuse to read a book. Admittedly I have spent the last few weeks really focused on ‘controversial’ books so I am getting pretty desperate for something cheerful.
Last night’s book was Into the river by Ted Dawes. It is a prequel to a book that I have never read (Thunder road) and half of me was tempted to go off and reserve it (yay for the public library :-)) so that I can figure out where it ends up. Fear not intrepid supporters of getting productive work done, instead I went off and made use of Mr/Mrs/He/She/Them/It Google to read up on the basic plot summary.
Now, this book hit New Zealand and international headlines by getting banned and pulled from bookstore and library shelves for a wee while. And for the first time in 22 years everyone suddenly had an opinion about censorship, books and YA material (apart from my husband who is completely oblivious of the book or any of the drama around it). I can only imagine it was heady time to be a a librarian in public ans school libraries for a while.
The furore hit international markets and the author was blessed with more publicity than he could have hoped for and the book was picked up by an American publisher. It received a coveted perfect ten in the Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) magazine- the first NZ author to achieve this.
How did I find the book? Well, I read the whole thing into the wee small hours so that says something. It was an engaging story and a tough read because you kept hoping that somehow a positive outcome would be reached. I ended in the night with my heart unequivocally Broken.
The basic tale is an old one, a bright student from a poor rural family wins a scholarship to an elite city boarding school, struggles to fit in, has to face and overcome bullies, works hard to prove himself and learns that he needs to remember who he is and where he comes from. In between you have bullying from teachers, sex, drugs, fast cars, a bit of violence and strong language.
Personally, I didn’t think that any of the sexual content could be considered to be pornography. It was all pretty matter of fact. The racism was heart breaking but realistic. The language was appropriate to the characters. I felt that some of the events would fit better with slightly older characters (in my head the main protagonists were closer to 16 than 13) but then I am a 40-something year old woman so my insight it somewhat clouded.
In a fortnight’s time I really need to see if I can find some uplifting YA material. Surely it is not all this grim.
Anyways. I had better actually stop with the blog and get back to the
Today’s blog is brought to you by the letter D.
D is for the door that cafe patrons keep leaving half open despite the fact that it is clearly jolly cold today.