My students rarely read literature that reflects their landscape, their experience, or their accent. Amy Greene's work does all three. Twelve lucky students got to attend a writing workshop with Greene and loved her presence and authenticity; I want to give all our 9th graders that chance.
My students live in the poorest county in a poor southeastern state, roughly categorized as Appalachia.
The whole student body receives free breakfast and lunch because the percentage of need is so high. Unemployment is high; drug abuse is correspondingly high. Education is seen as helpful on one hand but dangerous on the other because it tends to lead children away from their families toward larger opportunities 'off the mountain.' Some of my students enjoy reading; most only read when forced to in school.
The whole freshman class will read this novel, providing a common experience and topic of conversation for all. If each student has a copy, class time can be devoted to discussion and analysis instead of just reading time. The novel is told in 6 different voices, changing by chapter, providing rich opportunities for discussing point of view, voice, and character development. We will talk about plot, suspense, flashback, foreshadowing, destiny, free will, and many different kinds of love. We will write A LOT.
I believe that students will be more invested in a novel with characters they can recognize and believe in than in the past freshman standard, Animal Farm.
I believe some of my students will be inspired to write from their own observations and inspirations after seeing another Appalachian writer's success.
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