Friday, December 30, 2011

A Bildungsroman, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver


The bildungsroman, a novel about the moral and psychological growth of the main character, is a first-cousin to coming-of-age novels, and Barbara Kingsolver’s rich, epic novel, The Poisonwood Bible, exemplifies the kinship very well. Orleanna Price is a main character and an adult when the novel opens; thus, her story is not technically a coming-of-age story, but more accurately, a bildungsroman. Her daughters’ stories, however, are certainly coming-of-age stories, and they will be reviewed in subsequent posts.

In Poisonwood, earthy, vibrant Orleanna marries Nathan Price, a man who discovers his own desperate desire to survive at all costs just prior to the Bataan Death March. Because he hides instead of surrendering to the Japanese and preserves his own life, Nathan becomes something intolerable in his own eyes: a coward, ashamed, guilt-ridden. He resolves to redeem himself in the eyes of God by serving Him as a missionary in Africa regardless of the price that the Price family must pay. Nathan plunders his family’s joy and security in his personal quest to find forgiveness.

Nathan’s wife, Orleanna, is a co-conspirator. Disappointed in the cold, insecure man who returns to her from World War II, she nevertheless remains devoted as a good Christian wife should. She overrules her own doubts and follows her husband to Africa, four daughters, the youngest five years old, following her like ducklings in a row. Each female wears as many items of clothing as possible--so many that each feels the oppressive heat of Africa more keenly, but putting her girls in layered outfits allows Orleanna to pack supplies that she deems essential. She packs unwisely in her complete naïveté about Africa. For example, she wastes limited luggage space with boxed cake mixes that she hoards in order to bake birthday cakes for her girls, but the ingredients quickly become unusable hard, dry blocks in the African damp. Even if Orleanna could have mixed the batter with clean water, eggs, and oil, each of which is not readily available in Africa, she would most likely have been unsuccessful in baking it. She only has a wood-burning stove to use. She must cut the wood and build a fire of the perfect temperature after walking to the river for a bucket of water to boil. She must raise chickens to harvest eggs or barter with her neighbors. The sheer labor of preparing a meal is exponentially greater than anything she has experienced, anything for which she has prepared.

Domestic chores are not the only obstacle to Orleanna's happiness. Tiny, malaria-carrying mosquitoes threaten her children. Venomous snakes slither along the ground and hang in the trees. Army ants lay waste to the village and drive the people into the treacherous waters where crocodiles dwell. Gardens must be cultivated, but the rains in Africa defy all Western gardening methods. Men must hunt, but Nathan hunts only for his own cleansing by demanding that the villagers purge their souls. The ordeal of feeding her family and protecting them from the menace that is Africa exhausts Orleanna. She succumbs to helplessness and depression, especially after her youngest, Ruth May, falls sick.

Orleanna leaves the care and feeding of her family to her older daughters who are no better prepared than their mother except that they persevere. Rachel takes over the domestic chores while Leah learns the ways of Africa and African men in particular. In spite of opposition, she joins the hunt in order to bring meat to her family’s table. She becomes her father’s surrogate, performing the duties that he eschews, especially the duty to understand the community that he wishes to save. Leah plays with Nelson, an African boy who works with her family and teaches Leah about African beliefs. She also learns from Anatole, a village teacher and an advocate for her as a huntress.

Only when Orleanna loses her youngest child, Ruth May, does she rise from her bed to walk away from Nathan, from Africa, from her own cowardice, guilt, and shame, compounded by her utter poverty. She has no resources with which to purchase safe passage for her daughters. Ruth May remains behind, buried in the African heat. Rachel flies away from harm with Eben Axelroot, a corrupt, crude mercenary. Leah is delirious, lost in malaria-induced fevers and chills. She cannot travel and stays with Anatole who promises to care for her. Only Adah departs with her mother.

Thus, Orleanna loses her family to Africa. She deserts her demented husband, buries her youngest, surrenders her oldest into the arms of an opportunist, and walks away from another daughter’s sick bed. Orleanna takes up the care of afflicted Adah more earnestly than ever before, almost like a burden deserved. Even when Adah becomes more whole, separate from her mother, Orleanna still kneels in the dirt, working a garden to atone for her failure to protect her children. She seeks forgiveness without hope of attaining it.

Orleanna’s journey, a bildungsroman, requires that she confront her own moral failure to choose between a neglectful, abusive husband and her children in need of protection. She must navigate unknown psychological territory when she confronts her own inadequacies and loses all that she had once dreamed. Orleanna never escapes her own culpability, and she never forgives herself for how her daughters came of age.

Reading Challenge:

Read The Poisonwood Bible and Prodigal Summer, both by Barbara Kingsolver.  In each, you will find complex, sympathetic female protagonists in novels of the bildungsroman type.

Writing Challenge:

Write the story of your own moral and/or psychological crisis and of how it transformed you.

GUM (Grammar, Usage and Mechanics): Another Apostrophe Lesson for Holiday Greetings

Happy New Year’s Eve tomorrow! May you enjoy time with family and friends.

On New Year’s Day, enjoy the superstitions and traditions of your region. As for me, I will be cooking and serving greens of all sorts to insure economic well-being and black-eyed peas with ham-hock to facilitate progress or kick-start accomplishments. We also plan to enjoy sushi, thereby combining the good luck of circular foods with the gifts associated with fish.

Happy New Year! May 2012 bring you more joy than grief, challenges easily overcome, and triumphs untold.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Super 8, a Film by J. J. Abrams, and Christine, a Book by Stephen King


Sometimes the monsters in coming-of-age stories are not human. In Super 8, a film directed by J. J. Abrams, adolescents on the brink of first love fight for their lives against an inhuman military force.  In Christine, a 1983 novel by Stephen King, Dennis Guilder tells the story of first loves, his own and his best friend’s, Arnie Cunningham. Dennis falls for Leigh Cabot while Arnie falls under the spell of a haunted red Plymouth Fury.

In both Super 8 and Christine, the narrators are likeable. Readers quickly give their affections to each boy because he has a good heart. Joe Lamb, in Super 8, perseveres after his mother’s death and under the governance of a distracted, distant father. He is a loyal soldier for his friend with a dream of becoming a great movie-maker and falls for the daughter of a man indirectly responsible for his mother’s death. Dennis Guilder, the hero and story-teller of Christine, shows strength and courage from the first pages because he continues to befriend Arnie, his friend since grade school, even though Arnie has grown into a self-loathing, bitter outcast. In American high schools, befriending those who are different, on the fringes, may affect one’s social standing, but Dennis persists, even after Arnie grows handsome, arrogant, and dangerous. In fact, Dennis risks his life to rescue Arnie from the clutches of a demonic Plymouth Fury.

Joe Lamb also risks his security and life. First, he refuses to abandon Alice Dainard in spite of his father’s directive. Second, he dares a cruel, dictatorial military and a volatile alien to rescue Alice when she’s taken hostage. Third, he confronts the alien, ten times larger than young Joe, and proves his brave heart by not hating it anymore than he hates the man that his father blames for his mother’s death.

With our sympathies directed at these narrators, we care very much about their quest. We want them to succeed without being twisted and corrupted by the events they must face. We want them to be conquer their fears, to love and be loved in return, and grow wiser after their trials.

Joe achieves all of these. He remains hopeful and generous in spite of the many adult monsters he encounters. He overcomes fear to save his fair lady from the clutches of a tormented alien. He loves his best friends, and they befriend him in return. He loves Alice, and she reciprocates. At the end, he runs into the arms of his father who has learned not to shut off his emotions because of his great grief. Joe’s father accepts his son for who he is and recognizes an iron within his fair boy. Joe, we believe, will face what comes for the rest of his life with the confidence that he can fight and win for the good guys.

Dennis also succeeds in spite of many inner conflicts about falling for Arnie’s girl and uncovering the truth about Christine, Arnie’s Plymouth Fury. Dennis must believe that an old junk car can become a showpiece overnight and that no matter what its condition, it has a will to destroy all those who would come between it and its driver. After Dennis forgives himself for his role in a love triangle and believes in the evil power of the Fury, he finds the courage to free Arnie from the Fury’s spell, and at first, it appears that he succeeds. Dennis, with Leigh’s help, crushes the car while Arnie is away. Dennis believes, as readers do, that a mere mortal such as Beowulf, Joe Lamb, Sir Gawain, or Dennis can rid the world of evils. We learn with Dennis that the spirit of Christine, a dark-eyed, single-minded fury often called revenge, lives on. Dennis learns that somewhere in this universe is an unseen menace from which we can never escape for it thrives on bitterness and selfishness.

One coming-of-age tale, Super 8, closes with the best of human nature in evidence. The other, Christine, demonstrates the sins of man, both venal and mortal. The film and the book feature antagonists different from the ones faced by Scout and Jem in To Kill a Mockingbird, but all three demonstrates the terrible ends to which we come when power is our aim.

Reading Challenge:

“Read” Super 8, director J. J. Abrams’ tribute to the work of Steven Spielberg. And if you have not yet read Christine, I think you’ll like it very much.

Writing Challenge:

My father told me once about the time he was in naval training in San Diego. One night, while playing poker in the barracks, two big guys admired his watch. He told them, “Thanks, but it’s lost the hour hand. I haven’t had a chance to get it repaired.” Those guys offered to take Dad’s watch, package it, and send it home for repair. Dad thought he’d just met the nicest guys in the world--until he figured out later that those guys had just stolen his watch. Dad learned a coming-of-age lesson that day: sometimes friendly gestures hide the true, larcenous intentions of others.

Recall a coming-of-age lesson of your own. Write it.

GUM (Grammar, Usage and Mechanics):

Should greetings of the season become Season’s Greetings with an apostrophe to show possession, Seasons’ Greetings with the apostrophe behind the final “s” to indicate more than one season, or just Seasons Greetings without an apostrophe?

Most manuals and experts agree that an apostrophe to show possession is correct so avoid holiday cards that read Seasons Greetings. On the other hand, many consumers prefer Seasons Greetings with or without the apostrophe because they wish to send best wishes to those who celebrate Hanukkah and Kwanzaa in addition to or in lieu of Christmas. Some people, including me, like to think I’m sending good will not only for the December holiday but for the new year as well. For me, then Seasons’ Greetings would be the best choice because I have more than one holiday in mind as I write notes and address envelopes.

I fear, however, that the apostrophe will become an insignificant piece on holiday cards for many card-makers ignore it, and the marketplace often sways public opinion. Until then, keep an eye out for that apostrophe if you wish to be correct.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Is Every Story a Quest? Yes! Especially Coming-of-Age Stories


Like Noah Zarc, the adolescents in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Jem and Scout Finch, set out to right wrongs and uncover the truth. Noah acts in behalf of his mother and father. Jem and Scout try to learn the truth about their monstrous neighbor, Mr. Arthur Boo Radley. For several summers, lost little Dill, hungry for family and love, joins them. Dill's imagination, full of the books he’s read, enriches the fancies of the Finch children, and the trio tell each other stories about the mysterious, reclusive neighbor, rumored to have stabbed his own father.

Almost tangentially, at least for the children, is Tom Robinson’s story. He’s been unjustly and falsely accused of raping a white woman in the Jim Crow South. The children do not yet know what all the adults know: Tom Robinson’s life is in jeopardy. He could become the victim of a lynch mob before the trial begins, and if he comes to trial, he will most certainly be convicted by a white jury. The judge in Maycomb County asks Atticus Finch, the loving father every child deserves and brilliant lawyer every defendant needs, to defend Tom, and Atticus agrees because it is his duty to stand for truth and justice. Atticus believes Tom is innocent and presents a vigorous defense, one that rips away his own children’s innocence, exposing them to the true monsters in their community.

Children at school repeat what they have heard at home, calling Scout names and inciting her to fight back for her father’s honor. Mrs. Dubose, a neighbor down the street, insults both children until finally the older, more reserved Jem chops down her beloved camellias, an iconic Alabama flower grown in a state of racial divide and oppression. In striking down those camellias, Jem assaults his own heritage as a Southerner. He cuts down the monster to which his journey brought him. He knows at last that racism is hatred, and racism thrives in the heart of his community.

Boo Radley, as the children learn, is not a monster at all. He is a victim of righteous convictions and intolerance, the persecutor his own father. Boo is also the children’s savior. He risks his life to defend Jem and Scout against racist Bob Ewell’s cowardly assault upon them. Bob knows that Atticus proved the truth about Tom Robinson to the entire town; Atticus unraveled the lie that Bob and his daughter, Mayella, stitched together, and Bob hates Atticus for upholding the truth instead of lies. Ewell stalks Jem and Scout instead of his real target, Atticus, and he damages them. Jem’s arm never hangs straight and true again while Scout grows older instantly, her innocence about the safety of her hometown ripped from her that autumn night.

Three children, thinking their worst enemy to be an odd recluse who lives next door, lose their innocence after they bear witness to the loss of one good, decent African-American falsely accused. The children see that below the kindly faces of their Maycomb neighbors lies hatred, cruelty, and the will to kill in order to preserve their own false sense of superiority.

Jem and Scout come of age in Harper Lee’s Pulitzer-prize winning novel. Their quest to unmask the monster in Boo Radley is not their true destination after all. Instead Jem and Scout traverse terrain that exposes the true monster in Maycomb: racism. More important, they learn to emulate their father, a man who began the fight for right and good even though he knew he would most likely lose. Atticus pursued justice in spite of the odds against his convictions and personal feelings. He persevered nobly by empathizing with both the accusers and the accused, and he taught his children to strive for the same nobility.

Reading Challenge:

If you have never read To Kill a Mockingbird, do not pass Go and collect your $200. Take the Reading Railroad directly to your nearest bookstore, online or on concrete. Buy a copy and read it. You will want to read it again and again.

Writing Challenge:

Visit http://livinglikeatticus.blogspot.com. Read about the characters who demonstrate courage and/or compassion, then tell the story of someone you know who is both courageous and compassionate.

GUM (Grammar, Usage and Mechanics):

Recently I asked an online group with a passion for grammar about the phrases all of a sudden and all of the sudden. I believe that using “the” instead of “a” is silly, awkward and inappropriate. The group members who replied agree with me. But please understand, both phrases have a nice one-word substitute: suddenly. It’s a good thing!

Friday, December 9, 2011

More about Noah Zarc and D. Robert Pease


 
Last week, I shared with you how much I enjoyed reading Noah Zarc by D. Robert Pease. The story is hopeful in spite of the fact that it takes place after the Cataclysm, an event that forces humans to live on hot, dry Mars or indoors on uninhabitable Venus. Set in the future after an environmental apocalypse, author Pease could have written a story of despair. Instead he chose to de-emphasize dystopian features in favor of optimism. I asked Mr. Pease why, and he offers the answer below:

At its core, Noah Zarc is about family and the lengths people will go to protect the ones they love. Also, I really wanted a story that was just plain fun to read. The thing I absolutely love about writing is the act of discovery. Sure I go into a story with a plan of some kind. Where to start, and where I want to end up, but the things I learn along the way are what excite me. I always like to think I'm not really the writer of the book, I'm just its first reader. There are literally dozens of times I had no idea the story was going to go in the direction it does. The dystopian elements came to light after I started exploring Noah's universe, and started asking questions about how mankind ended up where they were (on Mars and Venus) and what exactly happened to the animals. Ultimately I had to learn why humans were not allowed to settle on Earth anymore.

My plan is to write three Noah Zarc stories. Book two, called Noah Zarc: Cataclysm focuses more on what happened to cause the events that wiped out life on Earth. Then book three (un-named) will focus more on the dystopian aspect of the solar system.

As to the environmental side of things, in the end I hope Noah Zarc will get kids to think a little about balance. There can be extreme points of view, even today, about how to care for the environment, but I think we need to be able to meet in the middle for the good of animal-kind and mankind both
.

I echo Mr. Pease with regard to discovery. This blog began by making that very point. The act of writing allows us to uncover, explore, and discover. Whether you write novels, diary entries, a gratitude journal, or a things-to-do list, the principle remains the same. Writing helps you access knowledge and see anew. So join Mr. Pease, please, and write.

I would also like to draw a lesson from Mr. Pease’s reply. Noah Zarc has some elements of a polemic in that controversial topics such as caring for the environment and animal welfare are threads of the narrative, but what redeems the novel and saves it from a dull lesson is balance. The villain of the tale, Haon, presents an argument for the sovereignty of humans to live in the most habitable place, Earth, even if animals must be eliminated, and his argument, once heard in its entirety, has some logic. On the other hand, the Zarc family dedicates itself to preserving animal species and returning them to Earth in the belief that all species have worth. By presenting two sides of the argument, Mr. Pease allows readers to draw their own truths rather than receive Mr. Pease’s delivered Truth.

Similarly, opposing points of view about hunting feature in the novel. Bloodletting and taking life for sheer sport are set against hunting for nourishment and warmth. What redeems this controversy is the humility with which the hunters take life while the sportsman seems calloused.

Indeed, Mr. Pease makes great use of juxtaposition (first explained in a March 18, 2011 post). Not only does he set two points of view side by side for the reader’s consideration, he sets the familiar against the unfamiliar in surprising and delightful ways. For example, Noah Zarc lives in the future when machines provide food; yet Noah’s favorite food, eaten three times daily, is PB & J. Yes, peanut butter and jelly. Such juxtaposition makes Noah seem to be one of us, not a guy in a space suit.

Noah is also physically challenged. His legs don’t work. He moves about in a very advanced wheel chair, the magchair, just one of many neat technologies that make life and time travel possible. Noah’s father invents the Triple B’s, a device that lets people understand and use languages other than their own. Space ships, large and small, allow the Zarcs to move about the universe and even travel back and forth in time. Still, Noah lives with a disability, reminding us that the past is not that different from the present. As Noah says, “Everyone enters this world with some kind of handicap . . . . Whether it’s the place they live, the family they’re born into, or the weakness of their legs. No one has a perfect life.” Again, Mr. Pease juxtaposes the future we don’t know against the present we know, making the unfamiliar future very familiar to us while offering a positive way to think about physical challenges and differences.

I also asked Mr. Pease if he had any advice or could offer guidelines to writers. I think you’ll like his answer:

First of all, I shudder at the word "guidelines". Not that there aren't rules of good grammar, and certain accepted tools for interesting story telling, I just mean first we need to have fun just trying things out. That said, I think with science fiction, or any other genre for that matter, the most important thing I've learned is the concept of tension. Giving every chapter, every page, every scene all the way down to every sentence as much tension as possible. You want your reader to not be able to put the book down. If you read your writing and have no problem setting it aside, then you still have work to do. I can't tell you how many books I've read where it just doesn't seem like anything happens. If your characters are just sitting around talking then maybe it's time to blow something up (hey I'm a guy, that's what I like). But seriously, you don't have to blow things up all the time, but you have to always move the story forward. If a scene isn't moving forward, then cut it.

One piece of advice I would give for writing young adult fiction, is to make sure your point of view is authentic. If the POV is from a kid, it has to sound like a kid. My first draft of Noah Zarc sounded like an adult was narrating it. Sure when Noah spoke he sounded like a kid, but that's only part of it. Especially since Noah Zarc is written in first person, every aspect of the story except dialogue spoken by adults, should sound like a kid would say it.

Finally, my biggest piece of advice is seek outside help. Get readers, people you know will be honest and have some experience writing, to critique your stories. And if you are considering self-publishing, and can at all afford it, hire an editor. No matter how good you are, an editor can and will help you make your book better. I'm not talking someone to catch your typos and grammar mistakes, although that's important. I mean someone who can help you with overall story questions. Does the overall arc work? Are the characters well developed. Does the end satisfy? All the big-picture questions. I went through three rounds of this with an editor, before I got down to proof editing for typos. I can't recommend this more strongly.

Sound, solid, useful advice! I would underscore one point: Mr. Pease never allows his story to bog down in scientific inventions and new technologies. The future world in which Noah’s story is possible is never more important than the characters and the action. Adventure and excitement dominate, and as I’ve said before about this book, those make for a good read.

Reading Challenge:

If you haven’t already read Noah Zarc, what are you waiting for? You’ll enjoy D. Robert Pease’s book.

Writing Challenge:

“. . . I think with science fiction, or any other genre for that matter, the most important thing I've learned is the concept of tension. Giving every chapter, every page, every scene all the way down to every sentence as much tension as possible” (D. Robert Pease).

Find the tension (conflict, juxtaposition, antonyms, contramyms) in one of your sentences. Rewrite, if necessary, to add tension.

GUM (Grammar, Usage and Mechanics):

Whereas Mr. Pease says experimentation and story-telling are extremely important, he acknowledges that grammar is also important. In his own words:

·       Not that there aren't rules of good grammar, and certain accepted tools for interesting story telling, I just mean first we need to have fun just trying things out.
·       No matter how good you are, an editor can and will help you make your book better. I'm not talking someone to catch your typos and grammar mistakes, although that's important.

So, dear reader, don’t skip the last portion of each post. Write, write, and write, but try to avoid grammar mistakes without a very, very, very, very good reason.

Blog Tour Notes

Noah Zarc:
Mammoth TroubleOVERVIEW
Noah lives for piloting spaceships through time, dodging killer robots and saving Earth's animals from extinction.
Life couldn't be better.
But the twelve-year-old time traveler learns it could be a whole lot worse. His mom is kidnapped and taken to Mars; his dad is stranded in the Ice Age; and Noah is attacked at every turn by a foe bent on destroying Earth... for the second time.
Get your copy today by visiting Amazon.com (available in paperback or as an eBook) or the online retailer of your choice (more links below).
CASH PRIZES
Guess what? You could win a $50 Amazon gift card as part of this special blog tour. That’s right! Just leave a comment below saying something about the post you just read, and you’ll be entered into the raffle. I could win $50 too by having the most comments. So tell your friends to stop by and comment on this post too!
GIVEAWAY
Win 1 of 5 copies of the paperback version of Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble by entering the giveaway on GoodReads.
D. Robert PeaseTHE AUTHOR
D. Robert Pease has been interested in creating worlds since childhood. From building in the sandbox behind his house, to drawing fantastical worlds with paper and pencil, there has hardly been a time he hasn't been off on some adventure in his mind, to the dismay of parents and teachers alike. Also, since the moment he could read, books have consumed vast swaths of his life. From The Mouse and the Motorcycle, to The Lord of the Rings, worlds just beyond reality have called to him like Homer's Sirens. It's not surprising then he chose to write stories of his own. Each filled with worlds just beyond reach, but close enough we can all catch a glimpse of ourselves in the characters.
Discover ways to connect with the author by visiting his site at www.drobertpease.com
BOOK TRAILER

THANK YOU! for visiting. And don't forget to comment below for that chance to win the $50 Amazon gift card. And of course head on over to your favorite online book store and buy a copy of Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble, for you or for the kids in your life.
Amazon Paperback | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble Nook | Apple iBookstore | Smashwords | Diesel eBook Store | CreateSpace Paperback | Amazon UK | Amazon France | Amazon Germany

Friday, December 2, 2011

Noah Zarc by D. Robert Pease, A Coming of Age Tale Tells Universal Truths




I received an invitation from D. Robert Pease to read his new novel and provide a review of it for others. I am happy that I accepted his invitation. Not only is Noah Zarc a good read, it also serves to illustrate another literary archetype: Coming of Age stories. I enjoy them as much as the Romance tale, featured for many posts in November, 2011. Coming of Age stories appeal to me because they are ageless, telling a story that all of us know. Here’s how.

Humans mature more slowly than other mammals; our brains continue to grow from womb through the first two decades of our lives. During those years, we bank knowledge and experience, especially emotional experience.

In the beginning, naïve and trusting, we believe the adults in our lives care for us, that they will nurture and love us, but tragedy and trauma strip away that innocent illusion, teaching us that some adults care nothing about our welfare, some mean us harm, some may even betray us. We develop our first callus, the first of many that adults cultivate in order to dull the pain that is one part of our lives. In other words, innocence begins to fall away, and we mature into the knowledge that life is not an easy ride.

Noah Zarc is such a story, and a good one. Read it. You won’t regret it. Here’s why.

When the novel opens, Noah, Jr. is twelve years old, the average age for Coming of Age protagonists. He is on the cusp of becoming a teenager, but he still shows many childlike qualities. For example, Noah has almost no experience with girls other than his older sister so when he meets a strong, smart, resourceful, brave, and pretty girl named Adina, he blushes often and doesn't know what to say. Still, he notices how brave she is as an orphan living in a cold world. She bears her misfortune without becoming bitter, and Noah likes those qualities in her character. Noah also notices how pretty she is, and he likes looking at her. He’s attracted to her mind, her character, and her appearance. Noah is growing up.

Another childlike trait in twelve-year-old Noah is his tendency to think about himself first. While his older brother Hamilton, older sister Sam, and his parents urge him to be patient, to think, and plan, Noah is often rash, jumping to his own conclusions, dashing off on some adventure, and causing troubles for everyone. But over the course of the novel, through impulsive acts and their consequences, Noah learns to take responsibility for his mistakes, to walk in the shoes of others, and to forgive. Adina helps him in this because he recognizes how lucky he is, in spite of his handicap, and how difficult Adina’s life is. In other words, Noah evolves away from his childlike traits in favor of adult insights.

What helps Noah become more responsible, compassionate, and forgiving is facing danger and overcoming misunderstanding. In other words, Noah’s experience has some tragic elements and certain traumas, but these are the exciting elements of Noah Zarc, a novel set in a distant future when Earth is not habitable and man has learned how to travel through space and time, jumping as far back as 8500 B. C. and as far forward as 3042 A. D.

Noah also enjoys the love of dedicated, wise parents who sacrifice for greater good in the world. They fight for animals, healthy environments, and justice. More important, they fight for each other, and they build a loyal, loving family. They and their children represent all that we hope for in this world: work that has purpose, work that makes a difference, and love. In the end, these are what makes Noah Zarc such an enjoyable book. Noah is learning to become the same kind of adult as his parents, a little bit calloused after losses and sorrows, but hopeful nevertheless.

Reading Challenge:

Read Noah Zarc, a young adult novel by D. Robert Pease.

Writing Challenge:

A little more than half way through the novel, Noah Zarc, Noah, Jr. realizes that he cannot go back; his “life . . . changed —forever” (187). Write about the event when your life changed forever.

GUM (Grammar, Usage and Mechanics): More Commonly Confused Words

A callus is that rough, hardened skin that folks try to soften with lotions and hand creams. Construction workers, for example, may have calluses on their knuckles and rock climbers on the pads of their fingers. Emotional bruises, on the other hand, cause us to become calloused.

In this post, I explained that tragedy and traumas leave calluses (noun) upon our psyches; the result is that we may become calloused (adjective) or insensitive, even indifferent to others who could hurt us again.

Next Week:  More about Noah Zarc by D. Robert Pease

Blog Tour Notes

Noah Zarc: Mammoth TroubleOVERVIEW
Noah lives for piloting spaceships through time, dodging killer robots and saving Earth's animals from extinction.
Life couldn't be better.
But the twelve-year-old time traveler learns it could be a whole lot worse. His mom is kidnapped and taken to Mars; his dad is stranded in the Ice Age; and Noah is attacked at every turn by a foe bent on destroying Earth... for the second time.
Get your copy today by visiting Amazon.com (available in paperback or as an eBook) or the online retailer of your choice (more links below).
CASH PRIZES
Guess what? You could win a $50 Amazon gift card as part of this special blog tour. That’s right! Just leave a comment below saying something about the post you just read, and you’ll be entered into the raffle. I could win $50 too by having the most comments. So tell your friends to stop by and comment on this post too!
GIVEAWAY
Win 1 of 5 copies of the paperback version of Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble by entering the giveaway on GoodReads.
D. Robert PeaseTHE AUTHOR
D. Robert Pease has been interested in creating worlds since childhood. From building in the sandbox behind his house, to drawing fantastical worlds with paper and pencil, there has hardly been a time he hasn't been off on some adventure in his mind, to the dismay of parents and teachers alike. Also, since the moment he could read, books have consumed vast swaths of his life. From The Mouse and the Motorcycle, to The Lord of the Rings, worlds just beyond reality have called to him like Homer's Sirens. It's not surprising then he chose to write stories of his own. Each filled with worlds just beyond reach, but close enough we can all catch a glimpse of ourselves in the characters.
Discover ways to connect with the author by visiting his site at www.drobertpease.com
BOOK TRAILER

THANK YOU! for visiting. And don't forget to comment below for that chance to win the $50 Amazon gift card. And of course head on over to your favorite online book store and buy a copy of Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble, for you or for the kids in your life.
Amazon Paperback | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble Nook | Apple iBookstore | Smashwords | Diesel eBook Store | CreateSpace Paperback | Amazon UK | Amazon France | Amazon Germany