I suppose that it is not summer yet. Not technically anyway. Of course, those of you who are currently experiencing 100 plus degree days and wicked humidity would probably disagree.
When I was still teaching, the arrival of summer meant one very important thing. It was time to read. That first week of break I would head on down to the library and check out a stack of books. Then, I would readreadread my way through the searing Arizona summer. I wasn’t picky. I would read the classics, chick lit, murder mysteries, and Pulitzer Prize winners. There were days that I would just read the whole day away. Many of my teacher friends do the same thing.
At the end of last summer, I was definitely reading, but I was into a whole new genre. Specifically, parenting and birthing books. Olivia was due in late August, so fiction was off the table for a while. Then, along she came, pink and perfect. Along with her came a potential job for Tim…in Colorado. So, when O was 3 weeks old, we packed up the car and drove up to Denver where Tim had his final interview. (Yes, we took a 3 week old on a 5 day road trip. We might have been crazy. That’s a whole other blog post.) After he wrapped that up, we took the long way home and drove to Steamboat Springs to see our friends, Dave, Jenn, and Bennett.
By the time we got to Steamboat, I was fried. My body wasn’t healed, my hormones were raging, and I was staring down an interstate move with a newborn to a place where we had no family. I needed a mental escape in a bad way. While in Steamboat, Jenn asked me if I had read The Hunger Games. Nope, hadn’t ever heard of it. Later, when Dave came in the room, she brought it up again. I think he said something along the lines of, “If you liked Harry Potter, you’ll like this.”
Even though I love Harry Potter, I was wary. First, there is only one boy wizard for me, thanks. Harry, Ron, and Hermione cannot be replaced or duplicated. Second, someone said the same thing to me about the Twilight books, which I thought sucked. Hard. So, when Jenn took me up to the smallest WalMart ever to pick up some new mama supplies, I sort of felt bad when she offered to buy me the book. What if I hated it and it was a waste of her money? But then my sincere love of books overrode everything else and I said, “Yes, please!”
When we got back to the house, I dove in. I was hooked almost immediately. The story of Katniss, the heroine, was riveting. She lives in District 12 of Panem, a post-apocalyptic North America. It is a dystopian society made of 12 districts. Yeah, I didn’t know what dystopian meant either. Basically, it is a society which only really benefits one segment of society but is held up as one that benefits all. An anti-utopia. Think Brave New World or 1984.
Ever year, in Panem, the hunger games are held. Two children are chosen from each district to enter an arena and fight to the death in a televised survival of the fittest competition. It’s part reality television, part Roman gladiator games. Katniss becomes a contestant and the book tells the story of her competition. Katniss is a kick-ass heroine. Although there are romantic entanglements, she is not obsessing over boys. She is self-sufficient, courageous, smart, and wily. Her characterization is one of my favorite things about the book and the whole series. Katniss is a great female character for young readers to be exposed to.
When I wasn’t caring for Olivia over the next couple days, I was glued to The Hunger Games. Dave was right. Not because The Hunger Games is just like Harry Potter, because it is decidedly not. Instead, Suzanne Collins has done what JK Rowling also did. She created a fictional world that was unique and interesting and believable. This is also a series. After finishing The Hunger Games, I devoured Catching Fire and Mockingjay.
Lately, maybe because of the Hunger Games movie news, it seems like a lot of my friends are talking about these books. This makes me happy. I love when people love the books I do. If you are looking for a great series of books to dive into, I would highly suggest The Hunger Games. The whole series is a great summer read.
Pour yourself a glass of lemonade, sit in the shade of a tree, and get your read on.
Oh, and Jenn? Thanks for the book!