Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Because of A Book with Ashley Benson

This week I am pleased to have this feature back up and going again.  It has been awhile since the last Because of A Book, so I'm thrilled to revive it.  As always, if you would like to be featured here on a Tuesday, just email me and let me know; all are welcome.  I am joined today by a fellow blogger, so I'll just let her introduce herself to you.

PhotobucketHi everyone! I'm Ashley from Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing. I've been blogging about a month and a half and I love it. I grew up in a series of small towns in varying degrees of rurality. I come from a large family, both immediate and extended, so my life has never been boring. Most of my family members are big readers, so I've been surrounded by books and encouraged to read them my whole life. Books are my preferred entertainment. Most days, I prefer the company of books to people. My sister is working to change that but I'm resilient.

Review: Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

In fourth grade, right before I outgrew the ability to enjoy listening to a book rather than reading it myself, my teacher read Where the Red Fern Grows to our class. I was enthralled from the beginning, and I never lost interest. I remember sitting in class, trying desperately not to cry throughout the last section so that I could stay with the story to the end, and then promptly getting up to go to the bathroom because my 'allergies were acting up'.

This was my first exposure to a "reading experience". I had read many books before this and had many more read to me. But, it took this book to teach me that there is more to a book than simply reading the words on the page. The characters come alive in a truly well written story. The author is able to draw you into the lives of their characters. Books like this allow you to share the experiences and emotions and they are able to shape a part of your life. A book that transcends mere reading to become an experience creates characters so real you mourn their loss, share their joy and are genuinley confused when you don't meet up with them in the grocery store.

I have read this book so many times I stopped counting around 40. In elementary school I read this book back to back for over a month. I remember my parents talking to me about it. I have always been a fast reader, and they were confused that it had taken me so long to read this one book. I explained to them I had already finished it twice, and just felt that I needed to read it again. It has been my default book for years. If I am trying to find a book to read and nothing immediately comes to mind, out come Billy and his dogs. We were inseperable in childhood and it's always nice to revisit old friends.

I don't really know what it is about this one book that resonates so strongly with me, but I know it's there. I'm not often a very visual reader but this book is so vivid in my mind. I watch as Billy staggers through the brambles collecting berries to sell so he can buy his dogs. I see him walking 'as the crow flies' across the Ozarks because he is so anxious to get them. I can taste the strawberry soda pop as it fizzles down his throat as if it's my first taste as well. I share his anxiety as he desperately tries to pull Little Ann from the icy waters of the partially frozen river. I experience his anguished suffering as he carries Old Dan's failing body home from the Cyclone Timber. I sob with him as he burries Little Ann's body next to Old Dan. And, of course, I rejoice with Billy as he realizes the red fern has grown up between the tiny graves of his beloved dogs. I have read this book numerous times at every stage of my life thus far, and it has never failed to make me cry and touch my heart. It is a beautiful book everytime I read it, and that is what makes this, Basically Amazing.

About Where the Red Fern Grows - Billy, Old Dan and Little Ann -- a Boy and His Two Dogs...

A loving threesome, they ranged the dark hills and river bottoms of Cherokee country. Old Dan had the brawn, Little Ann had the brains -- and Billy had the will to train them to be the finest hunting team in the valley. Glory and victory were coming to them, but sadness waited too. And close by was the strange and wonderful power that's only found...

Where the Red Fern Grows

Clicking on the book jacket will take you to Indiebound, where you can purchase the book through an independent bookstore near you.  I am an Indiebound affiliate, so clicking through my link will generate a little bit of credit for me, which helps to pay for shipping of books to contest winners.  Thanks for your help and support of Indie bookstores!


Melissa Sarno said...

I remember enjoying this book when I was a child but I don't recall what it is about! You're making me want to run out and re-read it right away :-)

Jan Marie said...

I too enjoyed this book when I was younger. Now I work in an elementary school and this book is read by students in about the 5th grade. It is always fun to hear their comments and get their reactions to the story - it is timeless.

Also, by the same author, is yet another wonderful book that is not quite as widely read or even heard about - Summer of the Monkeys. It too was made into a movie and I enjoyed it almost as much as Where the Red Fern Grows.

Kari Wolfe said...

I loved "Where the Red Fern Grows." And I was going to mention "Summer of the Monkeys" as well. Nice to see that someone beat me to it :)

I think my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Tomkies, read these books to us if we finished all our work and there was extra time. This was LONG past the time I would have been happy to read them to myself, but there was something special about having these books read to me. Yep--before Mrs. Tomkies finished, I had already bought both books and read them both :)

LOVED them. And yeah, both of them made me cry. Great review! :)

Ashley said...

Thanks guys!

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