Attention all school districts who think you are sooo contemporary assigning The Lovely Bones as summer reading for your high school students. I know it seems like it must be a good book, because it has been on the bestseller list and everyone is talking about it. And besides it is so shocking, so that must be good, right? And it’s sad, very very sad, and sad is always good as far as literature goes. And then there is the message of Lovely Bones, which I suppose is that rape and dismemberment of a teenager is horrifying and leaves reprecussions on everyone for a long time. I’m sure no one would have figured THAT out without reading the book.
Anyway, if you want a sad book, but with a point, maybe you can put Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You, by Hanna Jansen, on your list. This book is based on a true story about a girl, Jeanne, and her family in Rwanda in 1994. She sees her family wiped out by the militia, and then watches as the tides turn with the Rebels striking back. It’s an extraordinary story of how a child can survive with determination and luck.
The first third of the book sets the scene of Jeanne’s life with her family, so by the time they are chased out of their home and then attacked, we have grown attached to all of them. It’s a brutal book, even in the face of all the horrors that have occured in our own lifetime. But there is a point to this book. The world ignored a Holocaust in modern times. We should know about it, and we shouldn’t be allowed to forget. Unlike the awful things done to one fictional teen, that once one has read, one wants to forget.