I think I might have read this when I was a kid, but I get confused.  Was it this book or To Kill A Mockingbird that I actually read.  I know I was supposed to read both of these books, but I was not a reader when I was a kid and Cliff’s notes are the only way I made it through English!  I will admit to not reading very many of “the classics” and I have always wanted to read many of them (not all..but many).  This was the perfect opportunity.

This book was originally published in 1930 and in the 90’s was the 2nd most frequently banned book!   I am always shocked when I hear a book has been banned, and in the 1990’s.  Really?  I am constantly reminded of just how Right Wing our country can be, and I shake my head.  This piece of literature that was written back in the 1930’s shows a very real picture of what our society was like back then.  Our country needs to remember this!  It needs a good dose of reality, especially in these times when kids are killing themselves because they are being bullied for being Gay…when same sex marriages are being banned…when the homeless rates are so high.  We need a very good reminder of where we have come from……and take a good look at where we are now!  Sometimes, it’s not so very different.  Yet, people want to ban books like this.  For what?  Because it uses the “N” word?  Now I have never used the “N” word, and I won’t (even for the sake of this blog), but it is a very real part of our history (and in some places still very much a part of our present!)  We can’t hide from hit, nor should we!  The “N” word is just as bad as the “F” word (Fag), yet people don’t see it as such.  Same sex rights are just as important NOW as the civil rights for African Americans was back then…and still is today!   And yes there are other “bad” words in this book, like the word “bastard”.  And it talks about a man with intellectual challenges in a not so politically correct way, but back then, that is the way they talked about them (especially in the poorer/lower-income classes).  This is a vital part of our history!   Seriously, folks, we need to step back and remember and then take a very good look at where we are today!  What people want to ban in this book is still happening today.  Are we banning the books to hopefully forget?  Then what?  Are we going to turn our heads to the injustices of today?

Wow.  Okay, I am supposed to be writing about the book, not its banning!  *laugh*  Let’s stay focused here!

This was a very quick read.   A little over 100 pages.  I read it on a road trip.  It’s the perfect size book for that. It fits easily into a back pack and keeps you occupied for a while and it’s completed before you get home!  It is also one I am recommending to my teenage son who is not a reader.  As a matter of fact, he just completely read a book for the first time in years!!!!  Finding books to capture his attention and make him feel like its worth while is very difficult.  I believe this book is perfect for the teenager who doesn’t like to read.  It’s short enough to read quickly and feel accomplished, and the story line is interesting enough to keep their attention.  Perfect!  Besides, it’s a classic!!!!!

I love Steinbeck’s use of words and his talent for creating just the right picture in the reader’s mind!  He is very detailed in his descriptions and I loved it!  Because the book was written in the 1930’s the language is quite different from the way authors write today, which makes this even more fun to read!  (Though it might be a bit difficult for teenagers to get the grasp of at first.)

The story itself really made me do some thinking.  Like I said before, there are some definite race/social issues in this book and it will make you think deeply about what you believe from right or wrong.  What do you believe in?  How should people be treated?  Does the punishment fit the crime?  Could things have been handled differently?  I don’t know.  Living in 2010, I think things would be handed quite differently, but back then….I don’t know.  It makes me a bit sad.  But then there are other parts of this story where I see things haven’t changed much in the last 80 years, and it’s a bit frustrating.

There is also a “dream” built into this storyline… a dream of a better place.  Better social standing.  Better living quarters/space.  Better way of living period.  How many of us have those dreams?  How many of us JUST dream and don’t follow through it with?  And how could our lives be different if we actually made the steps to make our life better?  What will happen in our future if we DON’T work to make things better?  These are things we should seriously consider.  What mark are we making on the future, on the lives of our children?

This is a great thought provoking book.  If you haven’t read it yet, check it out!  You won’t be disappointed.