Buddha Boy

Buddha Boy by Kathe Koja

What makes a freak a freak? Is it the clothes he wears? His shaved head? His beliefs? Or the way he smiles even when people make fun and harass him?

Justin isn’t a freak, but he isn’t popular either. You know, popular as in the gods and goddess who run the school. He’s floating somewhere in the middle with his two best friends Megan and Jakob until he meets Buddha Boy, a.k.a. Jinsen. Jinsen is different from anyone Justin has ever met. He begs for money during lunch period, he smiles when someone purposely pours soda on him, and he walks home without a coat even when the ground is slicked with ice.

Judging from appearances, that’s all Justin knows about his new classmate, well that and he doesn’t want to befriend him because of the stigma that is already attached to him. But when an Economics assignment brings reluctant Justin and Jinsen together, both boys learn  for the experience, and both gain a friend.

Justin learns Jinsen isn’t a freak but he’s an incredibly talented artist who has learned a lot from his Buddhist beliefs. From Justin, Jinsen learns what it’s like to have a friend, and to have that friend stand up for you at the toughest times. This unlikely duo of friends didn’t set out to change the school, or the thoughts of their fellow classmates, but in the end that’ exactly what they did!

Kathe Koja has written an exceptional story that promotes individualism and tolerance – two things that aren’t always present in the halls of high school. Well written and well realized, Koja’s characters embody the emotions of what it is like to accept a new person into your life, and what that acceptance feels like on the receiving end. She also captures the raw emotions of anger, despair, and rage.

A key component to Koja’s Buddha Boy is it intricately weaves Buddhist beliefs into the  text – like hungry ghosts, the ideas of discipline, the four truths, so on and so forth.  Not only will readers get a better understanding of who Jinsen was in the past and present, what led him to these beliefs and how those beliefs are inadvertently affecting new friend Justin. Because of this, readers get a taste of something they’ve yet to experience, and a chance to learn and grow along side Justin and Jinsen.

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Book of the Week: We’re Going on a Book Hunt by Pat Miller

We’re Going on a Book Hunt by Pat Miller

Published: Upstart Books 2008

The reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

I loved the fact that this book is all about selecting the “perfect” book.

I picked up this book because I know from personal experience that finding the perfect book is a challenge and a hunt.

It teaches children how to, not only find the book they want, but how to use the library.

 It makes library etiquette more understandable.

I liked how it played on the Goldilocks’ motif of ” too hard, too soft, just right”.

Since I’m a lover of (mostly) all animals, I liked how all the characters (librarians included) were all cute animals.

I liked  how the book shows children that the library is an important place, and that they can gain a lot from it.

Twisted

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson   

One decision can change your life. No one knows this better than Tyler. Because of one decision to vandalize his high school he’s been looked at in a whole new way. At home, to his father he’s still the screw up who needs a hair cut, but at school his peers no longer loot at him as the nerd they can either ignore or beat up. No now, they look as him as if he’s dangerous, in an “I’ve been arrested” sort of way. Attention like this isn’t always flattering or wanted, except when said attention is coming from the school’s hottest girl – Bethany Milbury.She’s not only beautiful and popular, but she’s also the sister of his biggest enemy Chip. Tyler has no chance with the girl of his dreams, the girl he fantasizes about all too often, but after a summer of hard labor he’s put on a few muscles and caught her eye.   

But Bethany and Tyler  are on opposite sides  of the social spectrum, and her brother Chip (Tyler’s biggest enemy) will do everything to stop what he sees happening. But Chip’s dislike for Tyler does not stop his sister with sitting at Tyler’s lunch table, touching him 2.4 times in one day, or flirting with her. So when she asks him to one of the school’s biggest sporting events on/around Halloween Tyler doesn’t hesitate to accept the invitation – even if it means showing up at a party where he isn’t wanted nor welcomed.   

Because Bethany’s Bethany, and Tyler’s Tyler he goes against his probation regulations and against his better judgement. Tyler shows up though and finds a very drunk Bethany, and he knows nothing good is going to come from this night – and his instincts were proven true when the following day pictures of a naked Bethany show up on the internet. What happened to Bethany? Was she raped? And more importantly, is Tyler going to be held responsible due to his new, dangerous reputation?   

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson is a gut-wrenching ride of emotions. Never knowing what is going to happen next, Anderson relies, not only on her novel, but the twisted ways in which people think, and believe so easily.  Seamlessly written, Anderson has not only written a great young adult novel, but an honest, believable one. 
 
Anderson has written a novel about the bleak reality that teens face during their four-year run in high school. Realities being cruel, unjust, and often time unbearable – realities that we adults forget the minute the graduation cap is tossed in the air.  This book provokes those old emotions out of their hiding places and sheds new light onto them.  But no matter how bleak or twisted the plot gets, there is a lightness surrounding it.
  
But what really makes this book great is the fact that Anderson has perfected the art of telling a story from the male perspective. Some may think that female author’s cannot capture the feelings of the male character, but in this case Anderson excels. The perspective is strong, honest, and one of a kind. Twisted is a relatable read to Anderson fans and avid readers alike.   

 

Scott Pilgrim

I have yet to read the graphic novels – however I do intend to before the movie hits theaters on August 13th.  While I’m excited to see the movie because I always enjoy seeing movies based upon books/graphic novels (and because of Michael Cera), I have yet to see the trailer advertised anywhere – the television, movie advertisements, etc.. I decided to check out the official site, and not only did I find (and watch) the trailer,  but I also found a link to create your own Scott Pilgrim avatar.  For the fun of it I decided to make my own and they are: Star Gazer, B. Rad, and Lola Moon:

Which one is your favorite?

If you want to make you’re own head over Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and get in on the fun!

Book of the Week: Mirror by Suzy Lee

Mirror by Suzy Lee

Published: Seven Footer Press in 2010

The reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

I picked up this book because, honestly, the cover intrigued me.

 I thought this book was simplistic without underestimating the imagination of a child.

Mirror is wordless, but the story translates well from the provided illustrations.

Because it’s wordless children’s have the freedom to make up their own plot, allowing them to be authors in their own, unique way.

The colors used in this book are minimal – black, white, grey, and yellow.

White space is used extremely well to better exemplify the main character looking at her reflection and only her reflection.

In a round about way, I liked how the central theme of the plot was emotions. I liked that because I feel that a book like Mirror is all about emotions, and the kinds of emotions it provokes.

The Fave Game

I’ll be honest my life (and this blog) revolve around books. I’ve read a lot, and have formed opinions about which books I absolutely love, and which ones I absolutely strongly disliked.  After thinking about this for a while, I decided that I wanted to start a weekly feature on The BookBandit. Once a week (Mondays) I will post either a children’s or young adult book that I liked. It will be the Book of the Week. This will NOT be a review, but simply a brief explanation of why I liked the book, why I chose to read it, etc..

So be sure to check back weekly to see what the book of the week is.