Thursday, November 28, 2013

Movember: It's all about the moustache (and mental health)

As we near the end of Movember (Moustache and November slid neatly together), I thought I might highlight a book I've read recently that this strange month of growing moustaches is about--men's mental health.  I can quickly come up with 15+ books about teenage girls and suicide, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or anxiety but I pretty much came up with zilch for teenage guys.  Which is weird considering that for many years in the U.S., the suicide rate has been about 4 times higher among men than among women.  Movember is all about men and their health--cancer, mental illness and healthy lifestyle are the main focuses but the general idea is to build awareness of mental health, to motivate guys to take care of themselves, and to destigmatize seeking medical help of any kind!  It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini is just that--kind of a funny story about a teenage guy who is suffering from depression and fighting suicide.

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Magical Mystery Circus

When I think of circuses, what comes to mind are clowns in mini cars and small dogs and elephants performing tricks.  But lurking along with this image, I think of a different kind of circus and carnival, one that exists in the tradition of  mysterious and sometimes dangerously eerie carnivals and circuses, much like the classic Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. If you are drawn to the dark and possibly dangerous variety of entertainments in a tent, you'll want to pick up the shimmering story of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.   The Circus of Dreams known as  " Les Cirque des Reves"  in the story appears mysteriously overnight in select cities.  The color scheme is always black and white with an occasional splash of red and the entertainment is always breathtaking and masterful . The story is a bit like a chess game, with the characters making strategic moves that will establish their dominance in a game not of chess, but of magic.  The magicians are rivals from many years back and it is their gifted magician apprentices who play out the moves in this circus that surpasses any yet in its entertainment and design.  Celia and Marco create amazing wonders such as a blooming garden made all of ice and acrobats soaring without a net in their quest to outdo each other in a competition neither of them understands.  What they don't expect is the attraction between them. Set in the late 19th and early 20th century, the story evokes a Paris and London of an imaginary time when magic is truly magical.  The author Erin Morgenstern is an artist and the pictures she paints of the settings in this story are rich and fantastical.  Read this story to imagine a circus you would want to visit in your dreams.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Declaration

Born as a "Surplus" Anna finds herself in the dreaded Grange Hall where all "Surplus" must  go to learn how to be useful.   Here children realize they are nothing and have no right to be alive, and must pay penance for the sins of their reckless parents.  If you are useless and difficult there is another place to go.....but not Anna, she is a model resident.  She has learned her place and endured fear, regulations, and punishment, soon to be a valuable asset. 

The Declaration by Gemma Malley takes place in the year 2140.  Longevity drugs have made it possible for people to live very long lives.  Children born without permission are a burden on society therefore they must work to make themselves beneficial and useful or else....... risk a worse fate.