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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
  1. $18.19 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    Juliet's Nurse

    Lois Leveen 9781476757445

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Customer Comments

Jodeana has commented on (4) products.

Blue Plate Special by Michelle D. Kwasney
Blue Plate Special

Jodeana, February 13, 2010

It’s a simple question: How does your mother influence your behavior? In fact, it’s such a common cultural happening for us to blame our lives on our parents that I am surprised no one has explored this theme in this way before. In a no holds barred method of storytelling, Ms. Kwasney follows the lives of three teenaged girls as they become mothers and the subsequent lives of their daughters. It starts in the 60s with Madeline whose mother is a drunk. Madeline’s mother drowns her sorrows in beer they can’t afford. Madeline drowns her own sorrows in food, until at over 200 lbs. she finally meets Tad who sees her for the beauty she is. Replacing her need for food with her need for Tad, Madeline finally finds love and attention. . .and a baby. Enter the early 80s and Desiree. Desiree’s story is told in free verse with and all in lower case which is, perhaps, a nod to Sylvia Plath. After the death of her father, her mother, Madeline, has finally replaced Desiree’s father with Larry—a man who “only wants them to be a family.” Ever suspicious of Desiree’s motives and behavior, Madeline accuses her daughter of being a slut and regularly rampages though Desiree’s room looking for evidence. Unfortunately, she is only too willing to ignore the evidence that Larry has raped her daughter. The ensuing pregnancy is blamed on Desiree’s boyfriend, Jeremy, and is the beginning of the end of Desiree and Madeline’s relationship. That pregnancy is the beginning of Ariel, named not for the mermaid, Sylvia Plath’s work, Ariel. Desiree has longed to do everything differently with Ariel. Her approach is different from that of her mother’s and this is the foundation of Desiree’s relationship with Ariel. Meanwhile, Shane, Ariel’s boyfriend, has managed to infiltrate that cocoon of mother-daughter safety, and in a series of increasingly erratic and abusive behaviors is pressuring Ariel into a relationship that exclusively revolves around him with no room for friends or family. Soon she begins to recognizes that Shane is leaving her not even enough room for herself. The stories are told simultaneously, alternating between episodes in the lives of these connected women. Adults reading the book are going to shudder as all of the red flags of abusive behavior rear their ugly heads and at the helplessness of a young woman trapped by an older man willing to exploit her mother’s weaknesses. Sexuality is not described in graphic detail, but there is enough to clearly demonstrate the dichotomy between a loving relationship and a relationship built on selfish needs. It’s a book with a lot of potential as a read-aloud, and is one that I would whole-heartedly recommend to young ladies who may find themselves in similar situations. Perhaps this theme has been explored before and the books have been so nondescript that it was just waiting for an author like Ms. Kwasney to do it justice.
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War Games by Audrey Couloumbis
War Games

Jodeana, February 13, 2010

It seems that there are a number of Holocaust books, but this one deals with World War II from a completely different vantage. No one fully expected the Germans to be all that interested in Greece. When the Suez Canal became a strategically valuable location, the Germans began their inexorable march towards it via Greece. Petros (aged 12) and Zola (his older brother) have heard the Germans are coming, and, in fact, their father has them keeping a lookout. The family immigrated from the United States to Greece, and, as the conflict heated up, found themselves stranded in Greece rather than risking the U-Boat infested waters to get back. It is widely known that the Germans shoot Americans, so with the impending invasion, all trinkets from America and all English language is abandoned in an effort to stay alive. Their cousin, Lambros, is embroiled in the tale when he escapes the Gestapo and hides in their well under the nose of a German colonel who moves into their home. The story moves somewhat slowly at times, but the interactions between pre-teen boys, their friends, and their older siblings rings true. The author’s note at the end describing the connection between the authors and the story is particularly fascinating. This is definitely a book that is worth including and would make a good read-aloud from upper elementary to high school.
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Lockdown: Escape from Furnace (Escape from Furnace) by Alexander Gordon Smith
Lockdown: Escape from Furnace (Escape from Furnace)

Jodeana, February 13, 2010

This is not a story you read before you turn out the lights to go to sleep. It’s not because the story is scary. Instead, it’s an adrenaline rush that I devoured in two days (when I should have been getting my beauty sleep). Alex Sawyer, fourteen-year-old petty criminal in the UK has been framed for murdering his best friend—another petty criminal. For this crime, he is sent to Furnace, the new penitentiary that has been created for the most hardened juvenile delinquents. In fact, as the gang violence became more bloody, the prison became more populated. Now, however, teens are being framed by odd men in black suits with silver eyes and are being sent to Furnace in an alarming number. Unfortunately, if a person is sent to Furnace, it’s for life, so if a person dies in the first couple of days, it’s just not that big a deal. The rules are carefully policed by inhuman jailers, and there is some speculation that the warden is Satan. It’s a survival of the fittest mentality, and into this, Alex is dumped. The vestiges of Alex’s humanity, however, cause him no small amount of attention and potential grief. The book is gory, violent, and action packed. There is little profanity. It just isn’t necessary. Readers become so quickly engaged that the story relentlessly propels them along, and ends abruptly. But wait. . .there’s a sequel that is already being advertised (and which my reading-phobic students have already informed me MUST be purchased, and they have only started on the first couple of chapters). While it may be an interesting springboard for individual discussions about humanity, hope, and the purpose of the penal system, it’s not a book that is suitable for reading aloud. It’s Gaiman-esque style gore will limit its audience a little, but those who do start it won’t be able to put it down.
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(3 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)



Muchacho by Louanne Johnson
Muchacho

Jodeana, February 13, 2010

Eduardo Corazon s a bit of a bad boy, and he’s not too troubled by that reputation. This book is by the same author who inspired the movie Dangerous Minds, and this time she turns her attention to a young man in New Mexico who can tell you what it’s like to live in the wrong part of town. He can also tell you why the United States’ land grab (which included Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California) has created such difficulties for policing the borders even today. There are few books that should be read by teachers as well as students, and this, in my opinion, is one of them. Ms. Beecher inspires Eddie to look at school in a different way and is followed by Mr. McElroy who finally figures out how to be cool. The most graphic conversation about sexuality occurs in chapter two, though it is discussing Ms. Beecher’s candid conversation about masturbation and the comment that if you can’t refer to the genitalia’s parts in clinical terms without giggling, you probably aren’t old enough to be having sex. There are some other references to hookers and some Spanish profanity, but, given the voice of the character speaking, it is a relatively tame story. The transformation of Eddie to Eduardo with the incumbent change in attitude that takes a student from being an at-risk student to a good student happens with a rapidity that might not be replicated in reality, but makes for a good story without crossing the line into “preachy” behavior.
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