Saturday, September 27, 2014

Awake and Dreaming (Kit Pearson)

I asked the folks at the place where I buy books for my Grade 3 book club books for recommendations the other day, and this book was one of their recommendations. I hadn't read it so decided to find it.

I'm not sure it is right for my Grade 3 book club, but what a fabulous book! The edition I read had an introduction by Kenneth Oppel that was amazing as well.

Here is the Goodreads Summary:

Theo and her young, irresponsible mother seem trapped in their miserable, poverty-stricken life. Theo dreams of belonging to a "real"family with two parents and brothers and sisters, and her dream seems to come true when she is mysteriously adopted by a large, warm family, the Kaldors. For the first time in her life, Theo has brand new clothes and things of her own, security and good friends. But as time passes, the magic of Theo's new life begins - literally - to fade, and soon she finds herself back with her mother. Were the Kaldors real, or just a dream? And who is the shadowy figure who haunts Theo's thoughts?

I love the magic in this book. A ghostly writer haunts the Kaldors house and comforts Theo. I love the hope. Theo rises survives her tough life and even finds ways to grow despite the challenges. I love the connection to reading. Theo loves reading and her ghost friend was also a writer. I'm generally not a fan of finding out a part of a story was just a dream - but in this book it seems to work. I wouldn't say it totally has a happy ending. It has a 'we'll do the best we can' ending. It certainly fits. I love that it is set in BC as well.

Favorite quotes:

P. 224 Cecily:  "I think an open book symbolizes imagination. Only imagination will save people from their narrow, cramped expectations of life-like those my parents had." She chuckled. "But enough of my philosophizing. When you've done nothing but think for forty years you get pretty pedantic. 

P. 244 "Oh, Theo, forgive me - I keep forgetting how young you are. Material is what a writer calls the - the stuff, the ingredients for a good story. Your life may have been awful and it may become awful again. But it makes for a much better story than the Kaldor's easy life. Do you understand?

Theo's head was spinning. "No I don't."

"You will one day. But for now just keep observing the richness you have - Vancouver and Victoria, your mother and your aunt, the Kaldors, ....Watch it, use it. The bad times and the good times, too. If you watch carefully, there are always what I call shining moments, even in hard times - moments of sheer joy, when you're just glad to be alive.

...."Here's what I think Theo. writers are both awake and dreaming. They have to pay attention - to be mindful of all the small things in life, the details, whether ordinary or wonderful or terrible. Then they dream of what they can turn those details into. And if your life gets really difficult, Theo, there are two things you can do. You can force yourself to see people at a distance, like someone in a story. Then they'll lose their power over you, or yiu can make up something better and escape to it."


Abuse - there isn't a lot of abuse in this story. Theo's mom, Rae does hit her though and Theo learns to stand up to her and lets her mom know it is not okay to hit kids.
Addictions - Theo's mom smokes
Canadian Authors - Kit Pearson is a Western Canadian
Chasing Dreams - Theo wants nothing more than to be in a real family
Children - There are many children in this story
Family - Rae separates herself from her family and tries unsuccessfully to be a family for Theo. Her sister helps out. The Kaldor family is a "real" family to Theo.
Friendship - Theo has difficulty making friends sometimes because of the transient life they've led
Ghosts - Cecily, a dead author, becomes a friend to Theo
Homelessness - Theo and her mom move a lot and have times where they're homeless
Imagination - Theo deals with her life by sometimes escaping it into her imagination
LGBQ - Theo has a friend who has two moms
Personal Growth - Theo does a lot of learning and growing as does her mother
Realistic Fiction - A lot of kids live lives like this!
School - Theo attends many different schools due to moving so much

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