Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Misfits

As I cracked open the first page of this novel, I was immediately welcomed by the strong sense of voice that Bobby had in his narration. It is this voice that helped me understand and process the events of the book. James Howe did a wonderful job of writing from Bobby’s perspective, for his voice was unmistakable, so realistic that I often felt as though I were listening to a middle school student talk. This strong sense of voice was one of my favorite literary elements that were combined to create The Misfits. Because the voice helped the reader gain a strong understanding  of Bobby as a character, I felt as though I was able to really understand him. At the conclusion of the book, I knew who Bobby was as a person, what made him tick, and what drove him crazy. His unique voice really brought the story to life, capturing and propelling me forward.
There was no shortage of strong and personable characters in this book. Aside from Bobby, Addie, Skeezy, Joe, and Mr. Kellerman (Killer Man) brought the story to life. It was easy to create images of them in my mind, further drawing me into the story. I felt just as thought I were a fly on the wall, able to physically observe and experience all that the characters were experiencing. This sense of complete immersion in the story made it an interesting and worthwhile read. The Misfits evoked feelings similar to those that I experienced when I, myself was in middle school, creating a strong bond between myself as a reader and the characters in the book.
I was surprised by the articulation skills of these characters, including their ability to communicate as effectively as they did. Part of this effective communication was important to my experience, as a reader, for it helped me to better relate to the characters and become a fly on the wall in the action. Not only were the characters able to articulate their feelings and beliefs in regard to the student council third party, but even more important, their feelings, aspirations, and understandings of the world. Overall, I felt very connected with the characters, as I was pulled along through the entirety of the plot.
This book has several important messages that readers can take way at the completion of the reading experience. First of all, that it is important to fight for what you believe in. Even if you don’t “win” or get “your way” or “change the world” (or in this case the school), there are important consequences of fighting for what you believe in. In the process, the ultimate goal should be to make people more aware of issues that you feel are important. It is okay to speak your mind and fight for what you think is right. Not everyone is going to agree with you, and there will always be struggles and obstacles, but there is something to be said for those who stand up for what they believe. If anything, The Misfits showed that even small changes in attitudes and behavior can result from our efforts. While the No-Name Party didn’t win the student council election, there were many positive outcomes that resulted from their fight for “justice for all.” Possibly most important, was the pride and self-cofidence that Bobby felt at the conclusion of the story.
Another important lesson to be gleaned from this story is that name calling can be very hurtful. Furthermore, when students observe behaviors that are detrimental to the morale of the student body, with hard work and determination, improvements can be made. Often, the most important step is to bring as issue to everyone’s attention, just as the No-Name Party did with the name-calling. This is a powerful message to provide for students. In the end, the principal of the Paintbrush Falls school was able to initiate positive changes in the school based upon the No-Name Party’s platform, that “sticks and stones may break our bones, but names will break our spirit.” Along with this message is that which Bobby learned from Mr. Kellerman: it is important not to judge a book by its cover. As human beings, we are all dynamic individuals who are so much more than what the world, in an instant, observes. There is a lot more to each of us than that which meets the eye, which makes it important to get to know one another on a deeper and more meaningful level. This idea was represented not only in the interaction between Bobby and Mr. Kellerman, but also between the Gang of Five and "outsiders" such as DuShawn.
All in all, I found this to be a very powerful book and an enjoyable read. The literary elements combined beautifully to create and powerful and very moving story that the reader was completely immersed within. The themes that continually arose were ones that provide an opportunity to discuss important life lessons and goals that we should all strive to achieve. The strong narration by Bobby would make this a wonderful read for any student of his age, for he really embodies and discusses some crucial issues that children of his age face.

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