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review 2018-01-22 00:15
Deep dive into cult life
The Boundless Sublime - Lili Wilkinson

 Disclaimer: reviewing a pre-publication digital proof via NetGalley.

 

Ruby's mother is no longer functioning. Her dad's in prison. For killing her baby brother in a drunk driving accident. She's holding it together on the outside, not so much on the inside. When she makes a connection with innocent, sheltered, cult-raised Fox, she gets drawn into the supportive, seemingly open-minded and health-conscious public branch of a local cult. When she follows Fox into the inner enclave, things take a turn for the weird.

 

Extremely well-written story by a new-to-me author. I wasn't sure what to expect going in, and mostly requested the galley based on that awesome cover (isn't it cool? so atmospheric!) But there's a lot to like in the storytelling as well. Ruby's in a bad place, and the way the author explores her thinking and how she moves step-by-step deeper into the land of crazy is really illuminating.

 

While I think most of us would agree on how insane the choices Ruby and others in the book make, the reality is that people around us are pulled into real-world versions of this, and get drawn into radical thinking and extremist behaviours every day. I have friends who've gotten really into things like Landmark (a leadership program with cult-like practices), CrossFit (an example of extreme fitness trends that can inspire cultlike devotion, also see: SoulCycle) and even things like detox cleanses or mindfulness programs that ride the line of eating disorders and abuse. The relatability and plausibility of the characters that Wilkinson draws out is impressive. Many people - maybe everyone - are looking for answers, for meaning, for a way to gain control over their lives. This story explores how someone could, out of a place of brokenness and searching, go down a route they never would have imagined for themselves.

 

I love how this story conveys a sense of empathy. You learn about others, and maybe yourself, in a way that's engaging, fast-paced (it's not a preachy dissertation on the evils of cults or anything), solidly in-character (Ruby's perspective feels natural, age-appropriate, and allows for some great reveals and twists at the end), and balanced. You come away with a clear understanding of why people behaved as they did, even if that behaviour was absolutely insane. Potential trigger warnings for various things like debilitating depression/suicidal thoughts, abuse and eating disorders. There is some sexuality and language that might make this better suited for older teens and adults - parental guidance recommended - but it's not pronounced or explicit (e.g. there is weird sex stuff in the cult, but it's not salacious or described in detail).

 

Highly recommended read that bridges entertainment and discussion-group-worthy literature.

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review 2016-11-12 03:17
Boundless Grace - Mary Hoffman

This is a sequel to Amazing Grace. In this story, Grace receives plane tickets to Africa where her is located. Grace realizes that although she loves the idea of having a family where her mother and father are in one place, she likes the way things are. This would be another great story to touch on family units and dynamics.

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review 2016-11-11 00:10
Boundless Grace
Boundless Grace - Mary Hoffman

This story continues the story of Grace, from Amazing Grace. This one tells the story of her and her journey to see her father. As well as, her coming to terms that she doesn't have the same type of family as everyone else. We used this in my CT's class to infer about how Grace was feeling throughout the book. I think we could also use this to explain to the children that not everyone has the "normal" family as Grace has put it. But that doesn't mean that their family is less than others. 

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review 2016-11-10 21:59
Boundless Grace
Boundless Grace - Mary Hoffman

My first day of placement this semester, my cooperating teacher used this book in her whole group lesson. The book is about a girl named Grace and Grace lives with her mom and grandmother. Once day, Grace sees a family that has a mom, child, and a father. Grace then begins to think that her family is incomplete. It Grace traveling to where her father lives and to see that there is a variety of different families and that who she lives with, s her complete family. She ends up to know that just because her father does not live with her and she does not live with him, its OK. I would use this book in two different ways. I would first teach the students how to inference. The other thing I would teach the students is just because you mom or dad does not live you, doesn't mean your family is incomplete. Your family is anyone you care about whether they do or do not live with you. I think this book would be good in grades 3 -4. The actual level of the book is  4.1.

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review 2016-11-10 14:14
Boundless Grace
Boundless Grace - Mary Hoffman

This book is just great!  I recently used it in a lesson.  We discussed inferences and used the beautiful illustrations to talk about how we can infer the characters' feelings based on facial expressions and such.  Also we discussed the truth that "families are what you make them," as this is frequently said in the story.  The grade level for this story is a 4.1, but we used it in my 3rd grade classroom and it worked very well.  The students learned a great lesson on not comparing your family to others'.

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