In England, you don't always get much of an option over which school you attend. You can name some preferences, which will usually include the school in your 'catchment' area, but you are not really guaranteed a place anywhere.
I have no idea how my parents chose my school. In all fairness it was within walking distance of our house, had fairly good results and all my friends were going there. I went to a comprehensive secondary school in what might be 'politely' termed a 'rough' area of the town. (Now this area is veritably 'posh' in comparison to other locations). When we moved into the neighbourhood (from a sheltered village style life on an RAF base), I was shocked to hear my fellow kids swearing, fighting and generally being a bit disgusting in general.
It took me a while to find kids in the area that my mum would let in the house. When I started at the comprehensive, I found myself in the top set at school, with lots of other kids from nearby villages. There were a few of us from the estate, but the social lines were basically drawn at this point.
I was pretty happy at school. I was a total orchestra/drama club/school magazine/librarian nerd. I had statutory braces to help me fulfill this position even better. Generally, I avoided the 'cool' smoking, drinking, kids as I had no desire to be anything like them. However, our paths 'crossed' it would be fair to say.
Am I being a bit harsh to say that my school was almost a reform school? Maybe? What about if I told you about the time a gang of girls threatened to wait for me outside of the gate to stab me? Or about the time when a child had his pelvic muscles ripped in half by two boys yanking purposefully on his legs?
Isolated incidents they might have been, but I would probably not associate this behaviour with a 'normal' school today.
So what does this have to do with the book 'Fallen' by Lauren Kate? Well, lots!
This week's questions are:
How well do you think LK captured the experience of starting a new school?
What are your first impressions of Luce?
Despite the fact Luce is heading straight for reform school (and ignoring the fact this is because no believed her when she said her boyfriend had spontaneously combusted), LK does capture the madness that is going to a new school. That feeling of being lost on a campus, having to work out many other children and sussing out the teachers is extremely nerve-wracking. I can slightly identify with her nervousness about the 'types' of people she would be spending her time with too. Her feelings about being amongst dangerous or even insane children are well portrayed. Her own insecurity over whether or not she could be mentally ill is sensitively portrayed.
My first impressions of Luce are pretty good. Apart from having a definite penchant for hot boys which causes her to continually lose focus, she is a well-rounded and likeable character. I think the fact that she is 'ordinary' is a big bonus in the teen market. It allows girls (I guess) to identify more with her. I laughed a bit when Daniel (one of said hot boys) flipped her the bird across the courtyard.
(Random quote about spontaneous combustion? Oh go on then...)
Winding back to the part where I mentioned spontaneous combustion - you wouldn't think it makes a great premise for a novel. But you have to hand it to LK, it is fairly underrepresented in the literature market! If you read last week's update, you'll know I am just VERY relieved we're definitely not reading another rehash of Twilight.
And for that reason, if you haven't already, you should grab a copy of this book and join in the book club we've got going on here at Craftbotic. We're not so far into it yet that you can't catch up. In fact, I think we've only just about skirted the first few chapters.
Have you read 'Fallen'? What did you think of Luce at the start? Did you have a theory as to why her boyfriend burst into flames? Is this actually the first novel in the world to make spontaneous combustion a central topic?
I'd love to hear from you!