LSUS Exhibit Art and Writing Collaboration

 

My flash fiction piece, One of the Team, was paired with art in a collaboration with The Shreveport Art Club for an exhibition. The display will be open to the public for viewing in the LSUS University Center Gallery in Shreveport until February 28th.

The painting is by Joan Cole.

 

One of the Team

by Donna Jo Stone

 

His sweaty hands grasp the bat. The band of his cap itches. He ignores it and concentrates on the ball.

He swings.

Whack.

It’s a hit!

His eyes widen as he tracks the ball’s arc. The bat slides from his grip, the gentle landing thump lost in the rush filling his ears with each beat of his red-blooded heart.

Run to first base.

He hears nothing, sees nothing but the white triangle. No one tags him. Should he stop? His feet keep running and the rest of him follows.

Pound, pound, pound.

A cloud of fine red dirt rises up to baptize his virgin white cross-trainers. Dust flies. So does he.

Safe!

At home plate he leans over, hands on knees, panting.

All at once, the volume comes back on. The yelling is not happy.

“Wrong way!” a boy shouts. “You went the wrong way!”

It’s hard to tell which teammate he is. They all wear red shirts. The boy’s mouth and eyebrows are mad.

Coach comes near, saying something.

“Look at me.”

He tries to make eye contact, but the angry face pushes him away. He looks hard at Coach’s middle.

“Look,” Coach says.

Look?

“First base is that way.” Coach points. “You should know that by now.”

The team clusters on the sideline, distancing themselves from the loser.

Game over.

In his room, he sits on the floor. There is a file box in his mind where he keeps all the facts. These are today’s facts.

Fact #1 He went the wrong way.

Fact #2 First base is to the right.

Fact #3 He should know this.

When the mother finds him, he is rhythmically banging his head against the wall, repeating a mantra.

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Beside him, on the floor, lays a dirty red baseball cap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

☕ Book Break ☕ | Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Caden Bosch is a high school student who loves art. He is also schizophrenic. 

Caden’s story alternates between his journey on a ship, and his time in the familiar world. He has to choose which to stay in and who to trust.

Wow. Just, wow.

In the beginning, the book starts out in a disjointed way, illustrating the narrator’s difficulty with reality as he begins to struggle with the symptoms of schizophrenia. I have a tendency to not read book descriptions or reviews before I crack open a new story, so  it left me off balanced, which I think was the point of the book being written this way. Even so, it didn’t take me long to catch on, although I didn’t know exactly what mental health issues he was dealing with.

This is a character driven book and very emotional. Heartbreaking, sensitive, and frightening, this is an enlightening novel. A must read.

It reminded me a little bit of I Am the Cheese, one of my favorite books when I was in junior high.

There is one statement about God that struck me wrong, yet fits in with the internal dialogue of the narrator. 

National Book Award and Golden Kite Winner

The author drew on his experience with his son to write this novel.

Recommended

All the stars.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

☕ Book Break ☕ | The Silence Between Us by Alison Gervais

The Silence Between Us

by Alison Gervais

This was a quick read for me. 

Be forewarned! This is a hard book to put down. 

Deaf teenager Maya is starting a new school. It’s the first time she’s gone to a hearing school. She must adjust to this new environment. 

I chose this one because I was looking for a clean, young adult romance. This novel has a romantic element, but it’s also a coming of age. Maya is challenged to consider her identity and her attitudes. 

I love this story. 

Go get it!

Good Storytelling 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Satisfying Ending

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Engaging 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Great Character

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

☕ Book Break ☕ |Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

Hattie Big Sky

Sixteen-year-old Hattie Brooks get the news her uncle, who she’s never met, has died and left her his claim. She must go to Montana or lose the land. Hattie has never known a great deal of stability. An orphan shuttled among distant relatives, she’s never really had a permanent home. The idea of a permanant home of her own tempts Hattie. She decides to travel to Montana and work the land on her own.

Hattie faces numerous challenges in her attempt to hang onto the homestead. She never met her uncle, and he is a mystery to her. Her German neighbors help her navigate this new environment and she comes to build a strong friendship. The German immigrants face the prejudices of the day. A young man, Traft, is interested in Hattie, but doesn’t think she is wise to keep company with her German neighbors. He heads up an organization that would like nothing better than to expel those he considers outsiders.

Newbery Honor Book

Pioneer Spirit

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Coming of Age

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Beautifully Drawn Characters

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Engaging Voice

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

For Ages 12 to 102! Or older. 😉

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

An all around great read.

☕ Book Break ☕ |The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

This book stuck with me long after I turned the last page. Henrietta didn’t know she was contributing to science, but her cells made it possible for researchers to progress in the fight against cancer. Her cells were unusual and the first “immortal” cells discovered. She died in 1951, but her cells are still being used today in cancer research. It was common practice at the time to take cells for study without telling the patient. For years, her family members were unaware that her cells were being reproduced and used in vital research.

While her cells were well known, the identity and story of the donor wasn’t. This book is the product of ten years researching the family and the science behind HeLa, the identifying label given to Henrietta’s cells. 

The question of medical ethics was often in my mind as I read. It’s a complicated story. I came away with profound gratitude for Henrietta’s contribution to science, and sorrow at the way her family was treated. A sad but important story.

A true story written in a style as compelling as any novel. 

2011 Winner of the National Academies Communication Award 

☕ Book Break ☕ | Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Keiko Furukura, a socially awkward 36 year old woman, has worked at her local convenience store for years. Keiko struggles with social interaction, but at the store, she thrives on the rules, procedures, and structure. She studies the interactions and becomes adept at being an exemplary employee. Here is a world she can understand and succeed in, but her family feels she is wasting her life and education. They pressure her to find a romantic partner and to do something better with her life. Keiko’s story is told with deadpan humor. Translated from Japanese. 

What a great read! It was weirdly engrossing and different in a good way.

Quirky and funny.

I LOVED the book, but was left slightly off balance by two instances of dark humor.

I didn’t see the end coming, but it makes perfect sense and is the perfect resolution for this story.

Easy to read. Recommended. 

 

 

Book Treasures, Classics Challenge, and What I’m Reading

I am super excited to have come across this book today.

Janet McNally’s style shows her past as a poet. Music seems to play a large part in her writing, and I suspect she enjoys the play of words as much as the unfolding of the story.

I can’t wait to dig into this one. Interestingly, it’s about a ballet dancer, as is one of my (still unpublished because I’m looking for an agent) young adult books.

I’m a few pages in and hope I like it as much as I enjoyed her previous book, Girls in the Moon.

I just finished reading My Antonia by Willa Cather as part of the #2020classics reading challenge. I found it completely engrossing. If you are hesitant to read classics because you think they are boring or hard to understand, give this one a try. It was easy to read and rich with history and emotion.

I’m also rereading The Screwtape Letters, trying to stick to a chapter a day and think about the topics.

What book treasures, old or new, have you discovered (or rediscovered) lately?

 

 

☕ Book Break ☕ | Backlash by Sarah Darer Littman

Backlash by Sarah Darer Littman

A must read for all teens and preteens. This one knocked my socks off. My emotions took ever, the strongest of which was anger. The story ends satisfactorily, although I wanted harsher revenge on one particular character. Rarely do I have a character I love to hate, but the mother of the bully is on my short list of fictional characters I despise. Told from multiple points of view, all aspects of the situations arising from an incident of cyberbullying are put under the microscope. My kindle did not read the headings, and yet I was easily able to tell which character’s POV the story was in. That’s good writing.

Relevant

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Must Read

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Complex

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Engrossing

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Year in Book Reviews 2019

I’m sharing a few of my favorite reads of 2019. I read up to four books a week sometimes and find it difficult to post about every single book. I selected these from the ones I managed to blog about. Click on the title to read more of what I think about them.

Have you read any of these?

Favorite MG

Mockingbird

A Monster Calls

Both of these left me in a puddle. Mockingbird had a few moments of humor and was realistic, while A Monster Calls was achingly beautiful and veered into fantasy.

Science Fiction

Kindred 

This one had me captured from the first page.

Contemporary with An Autistic Character

What to Say Next

An unusual serious contemporary with romantic elements. A great read.

The Girl He used to Know

A second chance romance with all the feels.

The State of Grace

Strong voice and likable character.

Notable Novels About Grief

I know grief seems to be a theme, but since that’s what I am writing, I ended up reading YA contemporary novels about it.

The Boy in the Black Suit

Loved this one. So touching.

A Monster Calls

Also listed above, because it is that good.

Contemporary YA About Social Issues

Moxie

Yes. Read this one.

I’m Not Dying With You Tonight

Dual voices. A great book. Two girls get caught in a riot. Deals with race issues.

The Impossible Knife of Memory

Heartbreaking and oh so relevant. How PTSD can wreak a family.

Historical YA

Beyond the Bright Sea

Beautifully written. Captivating.

Classic

Jane Eyre

If you haven’t read it, go get a copy!

RomCom

Blind Dates, Bridesmaids and Other Disasters

Funny and cute. A light, enjoyable read.

Fairy-tale Retelling

Cinder

Well done and interesting.

Detective/Mystery

The Child Finder

A little dark but grabbed me and didn’t let go.

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Loved the voice. Great characters. Cozy.

Shakespeare Retelling

Vinegar Girl

The Taming of the Shrew in a modern setting. Had me laughing.

What were some of your favorite reads of 2019?