• KD DuBois

Book of the Month: Whirligig by Paul Fleischman

I’m going to try something new which is writing about a book I’ve recently read. Granted, schoolwork makes me read four or five a month, and once I’ve got my diploma in hand in late summer, I won’t read as much. But I will try to get at least one book a month read and write my thoughts about it. They say a writer must read, and I reply, who has the time to write AND read? Yeah, that excuse never worked in school, either.

In November, I finished a class on writing for young adults. I picked a book off a list to read for my final paper by using the tried and true method of drawing names from a hat—I ended up with Whirligig by Paul Fleischman.

Without revealing the plot (because the Amazon and Goodreads reviews do enough of it), I want to focus on what I learned while reading it.

First, the category of “young adult” doesn’t mean only teenagers will be able to relate to the narrative in the book. Many of the thoughts and insecurities of the teen character still rang true to the mental discussions I have with myself each day as a middle-aged adult. In the end, I think we should almost get rid of the “young adult” moniker and merely reveal the ages of the characters on the back cover because many folks overlook good stories due to its categorization.

Second, a so-called “kid book” made me cry--no, bawl. The growth of the character meant so much to me that I got emotionally invested in his journey because in some ways, his journey was mine, too. No, not the subject matter in the plot, but the process of figuring out the world. We each have to go out there and try, and by doing so, we learn how to become ourselves.

Finally, I need to give credit to my parents for giving me a stable environment to grow. I didn’t have serious issues to deal with as a teen, just the normal insecurities about my growing body, learning how to maneuver in the ever-changing social scene of high school, and planning for my future. The whole time my parents let me make my own decisions, but they monitored everything to ensure I had a safe place in which to make mistakes. After reading this book and seeing in the reviews how much it helped kids through their own problems, I can’t comprehend how youngsters deal with some of the serious issues they face today.

Usually, I’m pretty picky when it comes to rating something. Whenever I get an end-of-course survey, a good professor is lucky to get a 4 out of 5 from me. So, when I say this book deserves 5-stars, that means something. Give it a shot—I know you’ll find something to relate to in one of the chapters.


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