Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Misfits by James Howe

I must say that after having read this book, I have no idea where the controversy is exactly. Is it that it deals with death a couple of times? Is it the inter-racial dating? The gay characters? Or is it because it touches on the topic of bullying in schools? I'm going to go with all of the above. Funny thing is though that some of the topics have become less taboo and some of them have become more. Death is something that will always be hard, but by and large people are not stunned to read about it anymore. That does not mean that parents want their kids reading about it though. Especially when it is dealt with in such a reasonable way as it is in this book. The inter-racial couple, Addie and DuShawn? It would have been very looked down upon at one point, but now? Not so much. It really isn't so unusual to see a couple walking down the street, one Black one White. Bullying is something that parents may still frown upon their children reading about. Simply because it is one of the uglier sides of childhood that so many parents would rather not address, not unlike death. Probably the biggest stitch in people's sides about The Misfits is that there is not one, but two gay characters. To add to this, Joe's parents fully accept him, and so do his friends. The only people who do not understand and ridicule are the other students who do not know Joe, or Colin for that matter. This would be more of an issue now because of course with the issue of gay marriage coming to the forefront these days. It seems that the line between anti and pro has been clearly drawn. As such, it would follow that when it comes to literature that deals with homosexuality, the line would be equally as hard. It should not be this way though. Children need exposure to all people in all walks of life so that they can grow up to be well rounded adults. Further more, this is an important read because it shows homosexuals being accepted, not shunned. This would be an important thing for students to see, along with the eventual acceptance of those who were labeled as Addie and Bobby were. I for sure agree with everything that the book has to say, and the lessons that it has to teach. I did have some beef though with the ending.

I support that the No-Name Party lost, because I feel like it really wasn't about winning or losing in the end. It was more about getting the message out there, and clearly it was accepted. However, the fairy tale ending of everyone living happily ever after at the dance does not sit well. I will be the first to admit that I am a romantic, but this was just silly. Everyone ends up with who they want to be with? At 12? Eh, not so much. I would have rather had the No-Name Party win and have them not end up with anyone but each other, if James Howe was going for a balancing act. That aside though, I would for sure read this in my classroom, perhaps even have a unit on it. One thing that I would do to set it up though, would be to talk with the parents about it before we read it, not in a note but in person. This way we can more appropriately discuss our points of view.

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