A brilliant and moving coming-of-age story in the tradition of Wonder by R. J. Palacio and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon - this debut novel is written with tremendous humor and charm.
This is Alex's story. But he doesn't know exactly what it's about yet, so you probably shouldn't either.
Instead, here are some things that it's sort of about (but not really):
It's sort of (but not really) about brain surgery.
It's sort of (but not really) about a hamster named Jaws 2 (after the original Jaws (who died), not the movie Jaws 2).
It's sort of (but actually quite a lot) about Alex's parents.
It's sort of (but not really) about feeling ostrichized (which is a better word for excluded (because ostriches can't fly so they often feel left out)).
It's sort of (but not really (but actually, the more you think about it, kind of a lot)) about empathy (which is like sympathy only better), and also love and trust and fate and time and quantum mechanics and friendship and exams and growing up.
And it's also sort of about courage. Because sometimes it actually takes quite a lot of it to bury your head in the sand.
In Assembly last year we learned about Rosa Parks, who was the black woman who sparked the Civil Rights Movement in America because she refused to move to the back of a bus. I think it's great that black people are equal now and we don't have racism anymore, but I honestly don't get why she was complaining in the first place. On our bus, sitting at the back is a privilege that is afforded to only the most senior pupils. It has taken me nearly four years to earn this position (during which time I have matured from the bright- eyed nine- year- old who arrived at Grove End with a song in his heart and raisins in his lunchbox to the worldly and cynical almost-thirteenyear-old I am today). Middle school was meant to be only a stopgap. The bus thing is pretty much the only advantage of still being here after all this time. So when I see a Year 5 stumbling hesitantly down the aisle toward me, I know exactly what's going on. A mix of Fear and Excitement ...
I didn't always want to know. Matt Greene is a smart writer, and Alex is drawn with deft, clever strokes, but I didn't always care to follow their meandering thoughts. They weren't always all that interesting.
Then again Alex has these seizures and he has just had brain surgery for goodness sake. So maybe his mind can't help but wander. And that is extremely interesting to me – the way the structure of the story parallels the protagonist's personality. Ultimately it sustained me as I watched Alex try to both move through typical pre-adolescent experiences and solve the mystery of his parents' – and hamster's – odd new behavior.
(Reviewed by Tamara Smith).
Full Review (1274 words).
In Matt Greene's Ostrich, protagonist Alex Graham is obsessed with mnemonic devices. How did mnemonics get their start?
Simonides of Ceos was a Greek poet in the sixth century B.C. As the story goes, he was asked to recite an ode at a nobleman's banquet. Simonides began his speech, as was customary, by thanking the gods – in this case Pollux and Castor, twins who were later transformed into the constellation Gemini. But the nobleman did not appreciate sharing the limelight with the gods. Simonides would get half of his fee, the nobleman said, and if he wanted the rest he could ask the gods themselves to pay him. Shortly afterwards, Simonides was called out of the room. Two men were supposedly at the door to see him. He went to the ...
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