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So I've been spending a little time volunteering with some high school students who are doing intensive online learning to collect the credits they need to graduate. They do get some facetime with teachers, though, and I'm there to help with writing and reading. For the state proficiency exam, you need to be able to talk about something you've read (you know the sorts of questions).

For a serious read, we've started working on Peas and Carrots, a really excellent book by Tanita Davis about two high school girls: one is a foster kid (a girl) and the other is the same-age daughter in the family she's come to stay with. The characters are really likable and the situation is really real without being awesomely depressing. (Short review here.)

But for fun, they're reading the Spanish-language edition of Ann Aguirre's best-selling Enclave, the first novel in a dystopian YA trilogy, and I'm reading along in English. (Many big thanks to Ann Aguirre, who **sent me** multiple copies of all three novels, in Spanish. The kids in this program are almost entirely Puerto Rican, and so it's fun to have something to read that's not as much of a struggle as an English-langauge book can be.)

I haven't actually read much dystopian YA (I read Nicole Kornher-Stace's Archivist Wasp, which I loved, but I can't think of other titles), and I have to say, I'm really enjoying this. At the beginning, the main character, Deuce, has only just been given her name--and her role: huntress. There are three things you can be in her underground community: hunter, builder, or breeder.

Last time I was in, only one of the girls I've been working with was there, but we talked a little about the book. I asked her which of the three roles she'd like to have, and, unsurprisingly, she said huntress. I asked her why, and she said because you get to go places and see more things--a great reason, and actually one of the things Deuce likes about being a huntress. We talked a little about what qualities you'd need to be a good huntress, and then I asked her what she'd want to be if she couldn't be a hunter.

"Definitely not a breeder," she said, with feeling.

"Oh yeah? Why not?" I asked.

"Because you have to give birth!" she said.

"Which is bad because it's ... painful?" I asked. I know she has a two-year-old, so she knows what it's like to give birth, but I didn't want to assume that was what she was meaning.

She looked at me with mild astonishment.

"Miss, do you have kids?" she asked.

"Yes I do! Guess how many."

"Two," she said.







At which point I relented and told her it was four, and agreed that giving birth was painful.

"Do you think you'd ever like to have another kid?" I asked.

She most decidedly did not want to have another, not even when she was older, she said. That makes sense as a reaction, though it's definitely not the reaction that all the teen mothers have. But for sure it's easier to finish school, go on for more education, and/or get a job if you don't have a tiny baby to take care of.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 18th, 2017 05:43 pm (UTC)
I'm reading Momo because you brought it up.
Feb. 18th, 2017 05:44 pm (UTC)
Oh excellent! I thought it was a really unique story. Parts of it sometimes feel a little saccharine, but the overall message is profound.
Feb. 18th, 2017 06:25 pm (UTC)
I love to hear about your experiences with students and at the jail. The people are so real and so vibrant.
Feb. 19th, 2017 11:28 am (UTC)
I really love being with them. They brighten up my day.
Feb. 18th, 2017 07:12 pm (UTC)
She might not have wanted to be a teen mom. Kind of sad. Good for you for doing this work!
Feb. 19th, 2017 11:29 am (UTC)
That's true; she might not have. Her mom seems like she's really supporting her, though, so at least there's that.

If only I could magic myself fluent in Spanish--but I'm working at it.
Feb. 19th, 2017 11:39 am (UTC)
I'm so glad her mom is supporting her! (I'm just remembering my half sister, who abruptly landed on our already full house as a teen, after she was raped at a party, and then discovered she was not sick but pregnant a few months later. Her step dad kicked her out and said she was my dad's responsibility, though she'd never lived with us. So we ended up with a very, very full house for a couple years there, as a friend of my brother's was also living with us!)
Feb. 19th, 2017 11:43 am (UTC)
I feel like I've spent most of my life not understanding human complexity. I mean, academically I understood it (sort of), but not viscerally. But now I'm (maybe) beginning to get it. Your dad, man. He was so hard on you guys in so many ways, and (from what you say) had some really narrow ideas, but he did this, too--provided a place for your half sister and your brother's friend.

Feb. 19th, 2017 11:50 am (UTC)
People really are complex, aren't they? No question--took her in, paid for medical care for mom and kid, then paid for my half-sister to attend the trade school of her choice. We grew up very frugal, but there was never any question that you take people in who need, and double up in the rooms. That's just a natural state to me.
Feb. 19th, 2017 02:52 am (UTC)
That's doing it hard, a two-year-old and school at the same time - though it does sound as if it was the actual labour and birth that's the negative aspect, not the present-day side. I smiled at the way she jumped straight to "Five?", as being (unstatedly) a wow, that's a lot! number.

Edited at 2017-02-19 05:53 am (UTC)
Feb. 19th, 2017 11:31 am (UTC)
Yeah, it was funny that she skipped over four!
Feb. 19th, 2017 01:59 pm (UTC)
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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