Monday, July 16, 2007

Smiling for Strangers

This weekend, I chatted with my sister-in-law’s sister (could I get more complicated?) about the latest Harry Potter movie. Although I’ve read all the books (only once), I would not consider myself a Harry Potter fanatic. As such, I only have vague memories of Order of the Phoenix.

I do remember being rather put off by Harry’s bad attitude. He was grumpy, moody, and often just plain rude. And I did not like it at all.

Some would argue he was just acting like a typical teenager. And that may be so. I’m sure teenage boys can be moody and rude. And that’s exactly why I do not hang out with teenage boys (oh, and because it would be rather odd and disturbing behavior from a grown woman).

When I read for pleasure, I want the experience to be, well, pleasurable. I do not want to be annoyed by moody teenagers in my free time. I take no enjoyment from that.

I had a similar experience with Smiling for Strangers by Gaye Hiçyilmaz. Granted, I did not read this book for pleasure, but I found Nina’s bad attitude irritating.

Nina has a difficult life, and she has plenty of reasons to be moody. Her family is killed in the Bosnian conflict. She escapes into Italy and then to England. Finally, she finds refuge with an old friend of her mother’s, Paul Fellows.

Nina has seen death, suffered deprivations, and traveled a thousand of miles for safety. She has every reason to be angry and upset.

Yet, her bad behavior doesn’t start until after she finds refuge with Paul. He gives her food, clothing, and a home. And she responds to him with anger, rudeness, and ingratitude.

Logically, I know a teenage girl moving in with a complete stranger in a foreign country could not be a smooth transition. But would it be completely unbearable?

Perhaps Hiçyilmaz’s account is realistic and accurate—in fact, it probably is. If nothing else, the book serves as a good reminder of why I decided not to teach high school (or junior high for that matter). College students have enough attitude as it is.


Wanna-Be Lit said...

How many more novels do you need to read for your paper?

Blogger said...

I just need to read one more book--and I'm slogging through it.

Wanna-Be Lit said...

Which one is it? And is it long?

Blogger said...

I am reading Over a Thousand Hills I Walk With You--which I've started and stopped about a million times already. It is close to 400 pages, so I really need to get through it.