Batty About Books
continue to work our way through
by Rachel Hartman
This weeks sees us covering the middle third of the book and, like a trilogy, it’s more about building than moving the story. Though, don’t get me wrong, the story does move. We learn more about the Goredd world and get to meet the Ardmagar - the co-founder of the Dragon-Human peace treaty.
Check out Part 1 where I discuss the characters. As always, my thoughts are in blue and Maria's are in purple!
Part 2 - The Quotable Section
“Everyone gawps at you for something you can’t help and did nothing to deserve. Your very presence makes other people feel awkward. You stand out when, in fact, you’d rather not.” (174)
So many students can understand this statement. Sometime based on skin-tone, sometimes on being smart, etc. It would be an interesting statement to post for students to comment. This is one of the quotes I marked in my text too! I can absolutely see using this as the basis for discussion and commentary. I think so many students would find this a connection with the characters. Maybe if they could see that so many OTHERS felt this way, it would open many doors to understanding one another.
“Music is only work if someone else makes you do it.” (181) What a text-to-self connection! I feel this way about reading sometimes. As a person whose job it is to read and find materials for teacher and/or student use, there are times I just don’t want to do it. At least not for that. But, it’s very hard to turn that critical eye off too! This is true of so many things! I like to write when it’s my choice, but when I “have to” I often resent it. I have a feeling it’s true of many kids experiences with sports as well. Too often adults push kids. It’s a fine line between helping them reach their personal best and pushing... I can also see this with books being assigned in school. It could be a book they want to read, but if it's assigned, for some reason it takes the pleasure away.
Quighole “the treaty’s mad dream come to life”. (191) I love how many people hate and despise the quigs but they’re the ones who created a place that humans and dragons can come together and neither feel ostracized nor threatened by the other. This is the kind of place I strive to create in the library. What a great image! I thought of Mos Eisley when I read this part. Yes, it’s a wretched hive, but it is also a place for people with diverse backgrounds to meet one another on equal ground.
“Dragons are slow to change. We each want to fly in our own direction.” (199) How like humans. We resist the different, even if we see the good it can do. I wonder why that is? Do we feel threatened because it wasn’t our idea? As if some part of us is being rejected? Again, I feel a longing to have these kinds of discussions with a book group. Perhaps that is part of why I feel eager to share this story with my oldest group. Maybe I can hijack a middle school classroom? I think part of the answer lies in western culture - and our idealization of individuality. I wonder if this would ring as true in a less western based world.
“Love is not a disease.” (202) Text-to-text connection - This whole memory reminds me so much of the book Delirium by Lauren Oliver. The idea that we can cut out that part of ourselves, that it’s what makes us “weak”, that, without it, we are stronger. Fascinating. This reminds me of the quote from Linn’s memory about how she dreads “they will cut the unquantifiable right out of me”. (201) What a great way to discuss the differences between logic and emotion - and the value of each in human experience. As another text-to-text connection - this reminds me of how Meg in Wrinkle in Time learns that it is her perceived “weaknesses” that are her own hidden strengths.
“One cannot fly in two directions at once...” (202) “I could not live, hating myself this hard.’ (277) Is this foreshadowing? Which do you think she will choose? She loves Kiggs. She loves Orma. I almost hate to make a prediction here. I love Glisselda, so it’s hard to hope that she’ll end up with Kiggs. Yet a first love is often the love we need to help us grow into maturity - but not the love we need IN our maturity. Does that make sense? Perhaps her love for Kiggs is an impetus for her growth, but doesn’t need to be “the one”. Ah, but she has had so little love in her life, I wish for someone of her own. It would be impossible to live in the castle though. It would always be between them. Maybe Lars?
“I could not hoard these words” (298) Sometimes, after I finish an incredible book, I don’t want to write or talk about it. I’m afraid that others won’t see it’s brilliance. But, like Seraphina above, I also want to tell everyone. It almost seems as if it’s not real unless I share it and others read it. I know that’s not what Hartman is saying, but it’s what came to mind.
The ending of Part 2 was very adventurous and emotional. Towards the end, Hartman revealed so much about Seraphina and her past that it was hard to stop at that point. I don’t want to give anything away but that meeting with the Ardmagar did not end well! Oh, I forgot to talk about Seraphina in the outhouse - the physical pain vs mental anguish reminded me of the book Cut and how some students choose to inflict pain on themselves in order not to feel unneeded or unwanted. See - this scene is one that gave me pause about putting it on my shelf. So far, I think the romance is innocent enough that it doesn’t bother me (and my students have already started to read some book that have this level of romance), but that scene definitely was disturbing.
I look forward to getting to the last part and seeing how Hartman pulls it all together. What is she saying about us humans? What will we take from Seraphina?
Join us next week as we wrap up our discussion of Seraphina. Head over to Maria's Melange to get the other side of the story!