Archive for September 2nd, 2009

Catching Fire: Open Thread

September 2, 2009 @ 6:17 pm | Filed under:

catchingfire Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, the sequel to The Hunger Games.

I don’t care if this book got a zillion volts of buzz. I loved it anyway.


What I thought before reading  The Hunger Games, upon hearing the premise (dystopic society sends lottery-selected teenagers to horrific danger dome where they must battle to the death on compulsory national television): Really? Sounds sick, twisted, so grim, so brutal…and it’s YA? Really??

What I thought after reading The Hunger Games: BRILLIANT. Compelling, sensitive, deeply thought-provoking, not gratuitiously violent—necessarily violent, filled with believable, complex, imperfect characters, and totally, totally relevant.

What I thought after reading Catching Fire: this series is going to turn out to be one of the most important (and again, relevant) of the decade. And I don’t mean YA series: I mean one of the most important book series, period. Because on top of being incredibly gripping, chew-your-nails-off storytelling about characters you will never, ever forget (Haymitch!), these books explore the dangerous possibilities of a government that manipulates the media and erases civil liberties. And the power of reality television to alter people’s actions—and to influence public opinion. And the power of public opinion to alter people’s actions. And the compromises people will make in the name of security. And the paralytic effect of loss of privacy. Suzanne Collins has tackled (is tackling: the story is far from over) some of the thorniest issues we are facing here in the early days of the 21st century.

I’m not going to say anything about the plot of Catching Fire. Better to experience it as it unfolds, page by breath-stealing page.

Read it? Let’s talk in the comments.

Haven’t read it? Do! (Read Hunger Games first.) (And beware— spoilers are inevitable in any discussion of this book. I have been sitting on my fingers for months—thank goodness for Scott and Jane to talk it over with in person.)

Heads of the Class

September 2, 2009 @ 12:36 pm | Filed under: , ,

I shared this story in the comments on Sarah’s lovely blog…it’s so funny I can’t resist telling it here too. Several years ago, when we lived in Virginia and my oldest child was about 8 or 9, I took the kids to a living history museum (the ten-awesome Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton, VA, which you do NOT want to miss if you’re in the area). That was the first of many happy visits, and a glorious spring day it was: new lambs for the holding, amiable cottage cat jumping into our stroller, Jemima Puddleduck and friends pit-pat-paddle-patting their way along the dirt paths. My three oldest girls were in heaven. The costumed interpreters were extremely nice, allowing the girls to try a spinning wheel (I was writing Charlotte and Martha in those days, and all we had at home was a drop spindle, so the wheel was a grand treat for my little home-based critique group) and answering their zillions of questions.

As we left one of the houses—I think it was the Irish cottage, which thrilled us all with its thatched roof and smoky fire, just like the huts in the Martha books—the interpreter murmured an aside to me as the girls skipped down the path.

“Are they homeschooled?” she asked with a friendly smile.

“Yes!” I replied, delighted, basking in the thought that their eager, intelligent conversation had given them away.

“I thought so,” replied the interpreter. “I could tell from the bonnets.”


This was the year my girls wore their Little House bonnets everywhere—their own doing, I swear! By then I was so used to seeing them that I hardly even noticed them anymore.

Yeah, I guess that would be kind of a giveaway.