Book 1 of YA for Adults Book Challenge

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Title: The Fault In Our Stars

Author: John Green

I’d like to start off by admitting something…I have already read a few of the books on this list. However, some I have read more recently than others. In order to better review these books, I will be re-reading books I haven’t read in a while…it’s only fair to both the books and myself.

I’m sure countless thousands of reviews have been written and shared over the Internet about this book in hundreds of different languages. It’s a phenomenon that has swept world-wide and has only grown with its upcoming film premiere this upcoming weekend (the U.S. release anyway). I read this book a few years ago as part of a YA book club that my friends had asked me to join. When I had read the synopsis, I muttered to myself “Ugh…a cancer book”. As soon as I met Hazel and read her thoughts on the subject matter – “Cancer books suck” – I knew I had found a kindred spirit. No I do not have cancer. I have had family members who have had cancer, one in remission and one passed. Yet, both family members were older when they learned of their illness. I don’t think I need to state the obvious in comparing a devastating illness in the elderly compared to someone barely out of their teens.

For this review I’d like to comment on where John Green got his inspiration for the title of this book – only because I have yet to read a commentary dedicated solely to the title. I’m sure you can read thousands of reviews about the countless “feels” you get from reading the story. Besides, I think we all agree this is a good book and deserves a chance to be read by all at least one time….Anyway, Green has been quoted in deriving his book’s title from a famous line in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.” (I,ii,139-140)

[To me] In Shakespeare’s work, it is being said that fate is not to blame for what happens in our life – contrary to popular belief brought about by Shakespeare’s OWN work. No, we – humans – are to blame for our own faults and mistakes. It may seem that we are merciless against what the Fates have planned for us but that isn’t true…”we are underlings”. The Fates are busy worrying about more important things than us mere mortals. We must take care of our own problems. Let’s be honest, Caesar was sort of an ass. I’m not condoning murder, but you could see his “fate” coming a mile away.

Green, in an interesting twist, changes the famous words to read that “the fault is in our stars”. Living with illness, whether it’s cancer or otherwise, is not a fate I would wish upon anyone. Whether you are the patient or family member watching it happen…it just sucks all around. I feel that Green is making that point with is title. No one would consciously make the decision to become grievously ill or would actually want someone else to suffer through it. Hazel and Augustus have not even reached the “prime” of their lives. They’re children when they’re first diagnosed. Was it their fault? A mistake from a past life? Some consequence from the misbegotten youths of their parents? No. No. Definitely not. It was fate, it was written in their stars. They were doomed from the start. The title is just take on the age old saying, “Life isn’t fair”. We can’t control what families we’re born into or what obstacles we come into contact with, but we can control how we meet those challenges and we will be remembered (by those that know us) by how we dealt with those same obstacles. Here are some of my favorite quotes…I stress some because rewriting the book in its entirety would break copyright laws…

“You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are.”

“I fell in love [with]the way you fall asleep; slowly, and then all at once.”

“It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.”

“Sometimes it seems the universe wants to be noticed.”

“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.”

“How are the eyes? Oh excellent. I mean they’re not in my head is the only problem.”

“You gave me forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”

“You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers. I do.”

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Here’s to hoping that the theatrical version won’t crush us with feels! On to the next book in my challenge 🙂

Futures Past

“As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? How close or far are you from that vision?”

As a kid, like everyone else, I changed my mind on a regular basis. For a time I wanted to be a marine biologist. I thought I’d spend my day playing with dolphins and swimming in schools of fish. My father, as a loving concerned parent, quickly explained to me that I spend long lonely years in a submarine at the bottom of the sea researching plankton. Of course to a 6 year old, that didn’t sound like a good idea. Then at 10 years old I wanted to be a sniper. I can’t remember where I got the idea, but I figured it would be similar to a spy. Jet setting and taking out the bad guys. My father then informed me I’d need perfect vision to achieve that goal. FYI, by this time I had had glasses since the third grade and my eyesight was steadily getting worse. So that was out, too. In middle school, I thought I was going to be a psychiatrist. More schooling that a psychologist and they prescribed meds, which meant more money. My parents approved, which meant I changed my mind. Then in high school I realized I wanted to work in television. My passion and obsession. I then got my bachelors in Telecommunications and Spanish, for fun. Now, when I got out of college my former contacts in the industry had either moved or couldn’t help me find a position. My mother suggested I try teaching in the meantime, so I wouldn’t be out of work for too long. You have to understand. My family is filled with teachers. I had grown up watching how much work it takes to actually teach. I did NOT want to be a teacher. But once I started, I realized how much I like it. So how close am I to my original vision, you ask? Not even in the ball park! Well….sort of…I do teach TV Production, so I guess I’m in the minor leagues. But it’s not really what I had originally envisioned for myself. But here’s the real question…Am I happy? Yes. Yes I am.

Want to read some other exciting posts for this daily prompt? Click here!

Can’t believe I almost missed…Mutants & Hybrids

“If you were one part human, two parts something else – another animal, a plant, an inanimate object – what would the other two parts be?”

I can’t believe I almost missed this one! Better late than never. If I could be a hybrid of three things, I’d pick: human, tigress (any of the big cats, really), and a mirror. As a hybrid I would be a humanoid looking creature with physical features and traits of the others two objects. My senses would be heightened like a tigress/big cat and I would be able to move effortlessly with minimal sound. Also, of all animals I really like the big wild cats. Then I’d choose a mirror to help with camoflauge. I imagine my skin would have reflective properties that would just “mirror” back the image of what’s in front of me, allowing me to hide in plain sight. I could go about my business relatively unseen or at least less noticeable, as most people do not seem to notice what’s right in front of them.

Find the original post and other great responses here.

It’s coming…

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As another academic year draws to a close, I cannot believe summer is only 5 work days away (6 if you count our last teacher planning day)!!! I’ve been teaching for 5 years now and I feel (and hope) that each year I grow a little bit more knowledgable and savvy about my craft. I know popular opinion out there is that “Oh teaching is such a sweet gig. I wish I had summers off too!”. While that may be true for a few weeks, after about a month there are serious things that need to be done in order to prepare for the next upcoming school year. I know that this summer, in particular, I have changed my vacation plans at least 3 different times. So I thought I’d turn to the trusty interwebs for help in solidifying my summer plans using some questions from About.com.

  1. Get away from it all…Summer is probably the only time when a teacher gets to escape from his or her role as an educator. Multiple times this year I’ve been out with my friends at a restaurant or having a casual drink with friends and have bumped into students with their families. Therefore in order to truly escape I’ve already starting planning trips to visit one of my besties in Ohio (where she got a new job working for Ford, this past year) and to the Alabama countryside to visit family friends.
  2. Try something new…Like I mentioned in a previous post, I wanted to try out yoga. I took a class once in college and felt like such a dork I couldn’t keep from laughing and smirking the entire class. Hopefully, I won’t do the same this time around – but I feel like it would help me recharge and find my center as I prepare to tackle new challenges next year.
  3. Do something just for yourself…I recently got out of a long term relationship, therefore I plan on spending as much time as I can surrounded by my friends and family. I’ve been widening my network of colleagues and friends, going out, and getting recommendations on new restaurants and local haunts I’d love to try out. I also went to a great spa earlier this year, I’m planning on taking my besties and cousins for a “girls day out” for pampering and lounging 😉
  4. Reflect on last year’s teaching experiences…As with most educators, it’s sometimes difficult to remember the successes rather than the failures. It’s human nature. However, this past year I feel that I have really perfected my curriculum for my introductory/elective Broadcasting course. The transition time between topics went really well. So well, I was able to let them participate in our program’s short film festival. Some of their work was actually more creative than the level two students. Challenges for next year will probably focus on creating a magnet level curriculum for both the middle & high school students (which I’ve already started working on) and creating a conducive working environment for both middle and high school students to work in. Squabbles between the two groups (my 7th & 8th graders) often occur this year. I’m hoping they’ll mature more over the summer.
  5. Be informed about your profession…I’m not one to get involved in politics. Sure I’ve signed petitions, but I’ve never participated in a protest. They’re actually against our contract.
  6. Maintain your expertise…However, I do plan on furthering my education with either a doctorate or specialist degree. I recently earned a masters degree this past December in secondary social studies curriculum. Since, I entered the education field without any formal education background I feel that these degrees and summer professional development opportunities keep me in the proverbial education “loop”.
  7. Choose a few lessons to improve…I’m actually working on rewriting and finding new Civics lessons for next year. However, I won’t know if I really teach that next year until the week before school. I know, the perilous world of teaching. It’s a tough world. But for sure I know I have to write new lessons for next year’s Broadcasting classes for my 8th/9th grade combination course. One class with two lesson plans…teaching is fun! I hope you caught the sarcasm there 😉
  8. Assess your classroom procedures…Next year, as our school is expanding to a 6-12 grade model, I have been looking for different ways to “upgrade” my classroom. I want to create a space that would work for both the middle and high school students, without pandering to one group over the other. I’ve created a board on Pinterest with a collection of classroom ideas, board samples, and other classroom procedures that would work best with high school students.
  9. Inspire yourself…A couple years summers ago, I read “The End of Molasses Classes” by Ron Clark. I felt so energized and ready to tackle the new school year I started planning for the upcoming school year a full two weeks earlier than I usually did. I’m hoping through my book challenges, writing this blog, and following educational blogs I’ll find the inspiration I need to gear up for next year. If you know of any great inspirational teaching books or films, please let me know in the comments!
  10. Take a colleague to lunch…Every summer, my colleagues and I try to get together for a happy hour or lunch. My favorite person to get together with is my mentor teacher, from my first year of teaching. Oddly enough, she wasn’t supposed to me my mentor. My mentor worked in the reading department, while I was part of social studies. So this older, spunky teacher – Jo Ann – took me under her wing. Her sarcasm and quick wit helped me a lot during my first year of teaching. She always knew what to say and if she didn’t know something would always guide me to someone who did.

Hope you all are able to enjoy your summer! Maybe this helped inspire you to do something you haven’t done before this summer, whether you’re a teacher or not. Even if you don’t get actual summers off from work, take a week or even a weekend to escape your normal day-to-day routine and do something fun for yourself 🙂

Trick Questions

“A Pulitzer-winning reporter is writing an in-depth piece – about you. What are the three questions you really hope she doesn’t ask you?”

I’m an open book. I don’t mind answering personal questions about myself. I’m that person that during “Truth or Dare” in middle and high school always picked “truth” and was never embarrassed. I stand by my decisions, past and present, and am happy to say I have few regrets. If I were to be asked, “What are your regrets,” I’m afraid my answer would prove to be a disappoinment. I regret the fact that I haven’t traveled more. I have been to many places around the world, but I have yet to visit any place in Asia. I would LOVE to visit Australia and New Zealand…I’m convinced that there’s something in the water that makes those people so damn attractive (Yes! I’m stereotyping an entire continent based on their actors…who wouldn’t?!).

Read more posts on this topic here.

Nerdfighters Unite!

I haven’t been part of the community for long, but I watch the vlogbrothers and crash course videos has now become part of my daily routine as I get ready for work in the morning. John and Hank Green have asked all Nerdfighters out there to fill out their second census to get a better idea of what our community is like. If you haven’t done so already, fill out the census here. I just did. It took about 15 minutes. I really liked how they allotted spaces for us to not only give more suggestions but write how we felt. Take the time to give your thanks 🙂

Mine or Yours

“While walking on the beach you stumble on a valuable object buried in the sand – say, a piece of jewelry or an envelope full of cash. What do you do with it? Under what circumstances would you keep it?”

I’d like to believe I’m the type of person that would say – “Oh yes, I would immediately take the found item to the nearest local authority and turn it in”. But I’m honest enough to say that it depends on what I find. If I did find a piece of jewelry, an exorbitant amount of money in an envelope, or a phone I would try to find the owner or turn it in. But if I found a dollar or something small and there was no one around, I’d probably keep it or give it to someone as a “gift from the universe”.

Doesn’t that sound like a wonderful idea? You’re walking along the beach. Lost in thought, when you come across something. You pick it up, look around to see if someone in sight may have dropped it. When you don’t see anyone, take a closer look at the object. Inspecting the surface and contents of the object. It’s a sign or gift from the universe. It has given you the exact thing that you didn’t know you wanted but once you find it, it’s the exact thing you needed.

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*Notes: This is in response to today’s prompt from The Daily Post.