Friday, April 24, 2015

A to Z April: U Reviews - Uglies by Scott Westerfeld/Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman

My two book choices today couldn't be farther apart in what type of story they are. The first is a YA Science Fiction/Dystopian story, a series that I LOVE!  The second is a classic realistic fiction story about an inner city school and what a teacher who works there deals with while trying to do her best to educate according to her ideals.

First is Uglies by Scott Westerfeld.  I love, love, love this series.  The first book was what sounded like an idea world.  You go through your adolescence dealing with all the things everyone does now, awkwardness, acne, growing into your features, etc.  But then at a certain age everyone has surgery and becomes what is called a Pretty, which is the second book in the series.  It's kind of the way kids feel about when they finally become an adult, how all those problems are supposed to magically disappear, like having surgery.  Of course there is more to the story than just a surgery to fix your looks, as you'll find as you read it!  Here's the blurb from Goodreads:
Everybody gets to be supermodel gorgeous. What could be wrong with that?

Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. Not for her license - for turning pretty. In Tally's world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.

But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to be pretty. She'd rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all.

The choice Tally makes changes her world forever...

I also got to meet the author a year or so ago, here I am with him:

My second book is a classic called Up the Down Staircase.  I don't remember how I got ahold of this one, but it was an eye opener for me as someone who wanted to be a teacher.  I grew up going to a private school until 8th grade, then I went to a suburban school for high school.  So the way the students were in this book were not at all like I was used to as a student myself.  Here is the blurb from Goodreads:
Bel Kaufman's Up the Down Staircase is one of the best-loved novels of our time. It has been translated into sixteen languages, made into a prize-winning motion picture, and staged as a play at high schools all over the United States; its very title has become part of the American idiom.

Never before has a novel so compellingly laid bare the inner workings of a metropolitan high school. Up the Down Staircase is the funny and touching story of a committed, idealistic teacher whose dash with school bureaucracy is a timeless lesson for students, teachers, parents--anyone concerned about public education. Bel Kaufman lets her characters speak for themselves through memos, letters, directives from the principal, comments by students, notes between teachers, and papers from desk drawers and wastebaskets, evoking a vivid picture of teachers fighting the good fight against all that stands in the way of good teaching.

So, have you read either of these books?  If not, do you think you might want to now?   And while you're here, don't forget to enter my contest below!

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