Monday, May 27, 2013

Because history happens to people

As far as I know, Laurie Halse Anderson has plenty of shoes. Boots, even. So what was she doing walking barefoot in the snow? Research, of course. She wanted to get the details of an American Revolution soldier's experience just right.

If you're looking for a Memorial Day read, this is a great one.

If you're learning any bit of history, one of the best ways to make it make sense, to make it meaningful, to make it matter is to read historical fiction. It's one thing to learn that Charles Darwin's theories were controversial. It's another to see Calpurnia Tate try to research these newfangled ideas while her parents think she should focus on learning to cook.

It's one thing to learn about genocide. It's another to catch your breath with Lina as her mother trades her brother's life for a watch.

It's one thing to learn that the 1960s were a time of significant cultural change. It's another to watch Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern make sense of their Black Panther mother's ideals when they're used to their more old-fashioned grandmother's way of thinking. It's yet another thing to watch them fangirl over the Jackson Five in the brand-new sequel.


It's one thing to learn about the Vietnam War. It's another to to sympathize with Hà, who emigrates from Vietnam to Alabama and is so unfamiliar with American customs that she wears a flannel nightgown to school.

It's one thing to be told something. It's another to feel like you've experienced it, or at least been told about it by a good (fictional) friend.

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