ningerbil (ningerbil) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books 60 and 61

60. Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. I've already ordered Stones to Schools, if that is any indication on how much I enjoyed this true story of one man's getting lost in the mountains of Pakistan -- but finding an incredible need, purpose and friendships. Mortenson was on an expedition to scale K2, but the trek had to be halted. On his way back down, Mortenson accidentally found himself in Korphe. The villagers there, despite their grinding poverty, nursed him back to health. When he discovered there were no schools, he made a vow to return and build a school for them -- a promise he kept. This was by turns a very inspirational and disheartening book. Inspirational because it showed what one person, with enough determination and compassion, could do. Disheartening because why does it seem that so many of those placed in positions of power have tunnel-vision at best and are complete idiots at worst? The book is honest -- Mortenson makes several mistakes along the way, but learns and succeeds. There were times I laughed out loud (such as the village elder or Korphe telling Mortenson at one point to stop hurrying so much because he was driving everyone nuts), and times I wanted to cry, particularly with the post September 11 sections. There also is a version of this book written for grade-school age.

61. Bucking the Sarge, by Christopher Paul Curtis. I listened to this one on CD while my best friend and I were working on various projects. This was one of those "saw it on the shelf, and it looked promising" choices. I had read "Bud, Not Buddy," and "Elijah of Buxton," and had enjoyed those. This, too, was entertaining, although it should be noted that while the previous two books are more for older grade school, this one is more of a Young Adult book. Issues of sex and sexuality are discussed, and the protagonist's mother and her stooges are pieces of work. Luther T. Farrell is an ambitious, good-hearted 15-year-old who works for his mother, whom he calls The Sarge, who runs several shady schemes, including slumhouses and so-so care facilities. Luther has dreams of winning the school's next science fair so he can get a scholarship and leave Flint, Mich. His best friend Sparky is always concocting get-rich quick plans, and usually roping Luther to help him. The story has serious undertones -- Sarge is certainly no Mother of the Year, and thoroughly detestable -- but the overall tone is pretty light-hearted. Luther has a knack for seeing the humor in things, and Curtis' way with words is just wonderful. Also enjoyable are Luther's interactions with the older men in his care. The men are funny at times, but Luther treats them with respect.
Tags: non-fiction, young adult

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