Monday, November 30, 2009

RD's life is Messed Up!

Oh The Joys of Middle School Times Three

RD is a Mexican 15 year old 8th grader, well 8th grader for the third time. He keeps getting retained because he refused to do any classwork or homework. He considers himself a big zero in life. But how else could he feel when he doesn't know anything about his father, his mother is locked up in jail, his grandmother just moved out and left him in a run down house with a seventy five year old step grandfather that has breathing problems due to exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. You'd be messed up too!

Then one day, RD comes home to find Grandpa Earl dead on the bathroom floor. Now he is completely alone, only has 18 dollars, no food in the house and even if he did have food, he doesn't know how to cook!

RD doesn't want to become a ward of the state and be sent to a group home so he keeps his home life a secret. Struggling with the downers in life, RD teaches himself to survive even though he bleaches his jeans, forgets to bathe for three days, thinks Earl's ghost is in the house and doesn't know how cook food (he yells at a frozen chicken - "You'd taste good if I knew how to cook you!").

RD has more problems than most teens, but many teens will relate to RD and his struggles for self sufficiency, deals with school, girls and everything else that come with living in a poor neighborhood. Although RD has a bad school past, this book shows a positive turnabout of a Hispanic teen. He chooses to make the right decisions to make himself a better life. This book could lead to discussions of gangbanging, drugs, consequences of your actions and decisions in a positive and negative directions that they take you in life.

Warning:Fairy tale/lame ending! The book is realistic and great until the final three chapters.Have your students write a new ending to keep it real.


Anne said...

You had me hooked on the story...til the end! Writing an alternate ending would be a great assignment. This book sounds like it is loaded with discussion topics.

Andra said...

This book sounds great! I think a lot of my students would be able to relate to RD. The majority of our student population is Hispanic and many of them struggle financially. A lot of our students are involved in gangs, which you mentioned might come up through discussions. Were gangs an issue in the book? For example, was RD pressured to join and he chose not to?

I also think rewriting the ending is a great creative assignment for students. I think they would enjoy doing that and take ownership of their work. Great idea!

VCaste said...

This book sounds great! Although RD's struggles are a little bit more excessive than most teens, I think reading a book such as this could show kids that it can always be worse. RD's strength to move on in his life would also be inspiring. Great post!

Hutting said...

Andra, the gangs aren't really that strong in the book. RD talks about his feelings towards gangs and people claiming "their color". One character is out of control, but RD is a positive twist on resisting gangs and being honest to oneself and the law.This book has many positive outcomes from great decisions of RD.This book does have many discussion topics to pull from - gangs, self image, living on a budget, becoming self-sufficient and overcomming obstacles in life to name a few.

Amy said...

From your review, I think this book might offer an important lesson for teachers to remember in that as a teacher, it's vital to know your students and find out WHY they are not meeting your expectations instead of immediately punishing them. RD seems like he's been forced to deal with so many upsetting situations. Like you mentioned, it's no wonder that he doesn't want to do any school work. I think it would be important for his teacher to go the extra mile and doing what she can to motivate him and simply be a good role model for him since he apparently doesn't have any himself.

Paige said...

This sounds like a very good book. I think that it would be good to teach because of the controversial lifestyle that RD is born into and has to deal with. The plot description reminds me of the lifetime movie, "America" starring Rosie O'Donald. In the movie the boy actually is a ward of the state and lives in a group home. I like how at the end you put the warning up. I think that it is a good idea to have students write alternate endings. It makes them think and apply their imaginations to what they are reading.

T. Arnold said...

This would be a great novel for CPS students. These students would be able to relate to RD because many of them are living his life! There are students who go to school, yet when they come home, they have to act like an adult. They are faced with adult situations way too early in life. I totally understand why RD would not want to be sent to a group home.

I loved your idea about having students write a new ending. Teachers can also ask their students to write about what they would do if they were in RD’s situation.