5 hours ago
Monday, August 30, 2010
Behind the Mountains
One of the things I lost in the earthquake chaos was my signed copy of Behind the Mountains, by Edwidge Danticat. It could have been among my books that were flung out of the way to make room for soldiers. (I explained that a little bit here.) But I think that this particular book was lost because I had loaned it to someone right before the quake, and in all the comings and goings, I don't know who it was and the person hasn't come forward, in spite of a little whining I posted on Facebook.
I ordered a new copy right before school started, since it took me that long to admit I wasn't going to find it. Amazingly, the book came in time for the second week of school. This is the read-aloud with which I always start the seventh grade year. It is a great one to talk about so many things: the variety of ways people live in Haiti, elections (we've got those coming up soon again), going back and forth from one culture to another, the way writers use their childhoods to make their art. I didn't foresee it making all of us sad this time, though. As we read about Léogâne, where Celiane's mother goes to sell the tablette she makes, we thought about how over 90% of the buildings there were destroyed in the earthquake. When there was a reference to the Palais National, we thought about the crushed version of this presidential residence that is left.
I highly recommend this book for late elementary school and early teens; it's a very good way to learn about Haiti, and when Celiane's family moves to New York (sorry, spoiler), it's wonderful on what it is like to be an immigrant in a huge, scary place.