Me, me, me, me, me…not a novel
In this memoir, Kerr recounts
various episodes from her high-school through early adult years. At the end of each chapter, she includes
a postscript in which she tells what aspects of the true story appeared later in her fiction. Kerr’s
story, which included helping her best friend elope, to her years in boarding school, to her years in a sorority in college,
this story is hilarious. The best chapter for use in school is the unfortunately names “There’s
not a Man in this Damn Nunnery!” because she seemed to draw on that book a lot to write Is that
You, Miss Blue? At the end, though, Kerr also tells on herself by explaining what she got wrong.
At this writing, both this book at Is that You? are out of print so it
doesn’t really matter.
Looking Back: a Book of Memories
This book reads more like a scrapbook/journal than a memoir. The
book is arranged in chapters. The first page of the chapter has a title and a quote from one of Lowry’s
books. The following pages consist of one or more pictures and one or more stories from Lowry’s life
identified by the year in which the story occurred. Most of the quotes that directly relate to the stories
are from the Anastasia books, All About Sam, Rabble Starkey, and Autumn Street. There
are quotes from other books, but the vignettes are less directly related to these quotes. If I were teaching
any of the above books, I would definitely use vignettes from this book as a lesson on how authors use their lives in their
fiction. Because I believe these books are primarily used with younger readers, I would recommend this
book to younger readers and serious Lowry fans.
Myers, Walter Dean
Bad Boy is an excellent example of the young-adult author memoir.
Unlike some other authors, such as M. E. Kerr, Myers does not provide connections between his life experiences and
his novels, but it really isn’t necessary. Although I have to admit I have read few, if any, of Myers’
novels, I am familiar with his titles, and it was easy for me to make connections. Myers’ book works
on a deeper level than simply showing his inspiration; however, his book also provides insights that I think will resonate
with teen readers. He describes his skirmishes with teachers juxtaposed with his love for reading and writing,
his search for identity as an African-American in the late forties and early fifties, the tension between what he wanted for
his life and what he believed it was possible to achieve, and, finally, the stretching of the ties between himself and his
parents as he began to meet some of his goals. At the end of the book, Myers’ describes a near miss
with what could have redirected his life when the police came to his door just days after he left home for the Army.
I am female, white, and
southern, yet I could identify with some of Myers’ struggles. Others are struggles I observed in
my students, which I have never seen so eloquently described in print.
“Mr. Irwin Lasher”
(the chapters are unnumbered) stands out as a particularly good excerpt. Describing the Myers’ 6th
grade years, this chapter both captures the spirit of the “bad boy,” and shows the kind of man Myers will become.
Warning: there is a paragraph or two that describes Myer’s belief, at the time, that one could get a girl pregnant
by touching her breast!
Recommendation: Middle school and up, but especially low-ability high school