This Cult of Pedagogy summer book club read was tons of fun. Well, except for the main character’s parents dying on the eighth page. Through the eyes of Willow Chance, I felt tragedy like no young adult protagonist ever before. She doesn’t just feel it with her heart, she’s so dang smart she feels it with her genius brain too. This ride hits both the feely feels and the episodic adventures.
I just finished the book today and already I miss being in a garden built on hope with Willow, Quang-Ha’s stained glass skylight, the poisonous-fume-ridden shop of dictator Pattie, the comfortable taxicab with Jairo. I miss Dell’s inability to adult but extraordinary ability to show up when he needs to. I miss Mai’s looks that communicate everything. I miss the capturing prose of Holly Goldberg Sloan who is killing it with memorable characters.
Thank you Holly for some of the best quotable quotes I’ve read in a long time. Here are my favorite that describe the indescribable Willow.
1. She’s hilarious
I went for the door, but at the last minute, I turned back.
It must have been obvious that I wanted to say something, because the room went quiet as I faced my classmates.
I found my voice and said:
‘The human corpse flower has blossomed.’
I’m almost certain no one got it. 35-36
“I will call Lenore and say that the cat is a therapy dog. Yours in friendship, Dell Duke”
He said that the cat was a therapy dog.
I appreciate his support, but I sincerely hope that he’s not running this show. 330
2. She’s wise
It said I was “highly gifted.”
Are people “lowly gifted”?
Or “medium gifted”?
Or just “gifted”? It’s possible that all labels are curses. Unless they are on cleaning products.
Because in my opinion it’s not really a great idea to see people as one thing. 18
3. She’s hopeless
What does the world do with a twelve-year-old girl without family and a network of close friend? What were the choices? 291
4. She’s loved
I spend most of my day with Pattie.
She’s there for me.
And just being there is ninety-nine percent of what matters when your world falls apart. 175
5. She’s numb
Dysphagia is the medical term for not being able to swallow, and I know that there are two kinds of dysphagia: oropharyngeal and esophageal.
But maybe there is also a third kind of dysphagia that comes when your heart breaks into pieces.
I can’t swallow because I have that kind. 125-126
And the rest of me is just so emotionally numb that I have no idea where the pain stops and starts 159
6. She’s healing
I’m lying in bed
Everyone is asleep.
It is late.
Night is always the hardest.
The shadows pull you under.
I hear a dog somewhere outside barking.
I shut my eyes, and instead of darkness, I see rooting hormones.
I have placed what Mai calls “my lucky acorn” on the box next to our bunk beds, which serves as a nightstand.
I open my eyes and stare at it.
The world of plants is a slippery slope.
It’s hard to care just a little. 227-228
I feel moved because they aren’t treating me like I’ll break into a million pieces.
Maybe that means I’m on my way back to some kind of new normal. 255
7. She’s whole
I have my own system of order.
I think that at every stage of living, there are 7 people who matter in your world.
They are people who are inside you.
They are people you rely on.
They are people who daily change your life.” 377