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LANGUAGE ARTS: A Novel ~Stephanie Kallos

LANGUAGE ARTS was what English and Spelling and Writing was called when I was in elementary school.   It involved The Palmer Method of learning to write cursive and when I was in 4th grade I won a prize for my beautiful penmanship.  It was one of the only prizes I won during my school years, and I have always been proud of my lovely lettering ability until now when my hand shakes so dramatically and it is hard to hold a pen or pencil; typing is easier and dictating even better.   This is a story about the Palmer Method and a teacher who teaches LANGUAGE ARTS in Seattle, Washington.  The author captures a great deal of what it was like in my elementary school and how it has changed currently.

This is not Kallos’ latest book, but I have had it on my Kindle for a while, well, until my book group decided to read it this autumn and I delightedly opened it up.  This book touched me in so many ways, I am sure and certain that I will read it several more times and I am delighted to refer you to this read.

One of the members of my book group described the book at weird; maybe I would use that word also in the beginning of the read.  The writing just drew me in and the compelling nature of the story and the similarity to my own experience just wrapped the story into me and I was part of the tale and part of the life of Charles, the boy doing the Palmer Method and winning the prize and the man teaching students now and doing the best that he is able to do.  Did I tell you how much I appreciated the writing and the play full words and sentences in this story?

Yes, the story is a bit confusing but isn’t that how love is when it is real?  Are we not all searching for love, acceptance and appreciation?  How did you recognize love when it came your way?  Was it obvious and over the moon?  Did you need to contemplate and have a glass of wine?  Were you just born into the feeling?

This is the story of the disintegration of a family when they are caring for a special needs child.  I know the exhaustion in my very bones and the constant search for feelings of appreciation and affirmation.  I know how and why it destroys families and pits one against another.   I liked that the story was in Seattle, Washington and that the rain was real and the schools were like/are like that, and that family dynamics are what they are.  The disintegration process has a chaos stage that is well articulated in this finely written story.  LANGUAGE ARTS really is a love story.

And as the confusion flattens out into the linear events of the current ebb and flow of the present tense, I cried and was touched very deeply.  The story distilled into its own truth; the loneliness of my own story made loops around me and I wondered what I would do next as the words amazed me and filled me up.  I was content with my own story and my own love.

“Stephanie Kallos is the author of the national bestseller BROKEN FOR YOU, which was selected by Sue Monk Kidd for the TODAY book club, and SING THEM HOME one of Entertainment Weekly’s ten best novels of the year.  She lives in Seattle with her family.”  (from the book)

Related:
When Women Were Birds
The Signature of All Things
Animal Dreams

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4 Responses to “LANGUAGE ARTS: A Novel ~Stephanie Kallos”

  1. Hilary Says:

    Hi Patricia – I can hear how it resonates with you – and I’m sure if it was British in origin it would with me too. How interesting that the book club decided to read it – and how excellent that you already had it ready to read.

    Also highlighting the special needs child and the effect it has on families – will help people realise how much a similar situation can affect others in the family. I know I mentioned this to someone who may have serious sight problems, but for now was having a radical readjustment .. and she commented – that yes of course she’d forgotten the effect it would have on family members.

    Cheers Hilary
    Hilary recently posted..Clarence Birdseye and that ubiquitous fish finger …My Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Hilary,
    After spending a good deal of time with a special needs child of my own, I can testify to the exhaustion and courage that it takes. This book was weirdly wonderful and very confirming of my efforts along with seeing how amazing my child has turned out and she figured out how to work with her weakness and turned it into a strength and wisdom.

    I think a number of people will benefit and enjoy this read. That it takes place in Seattle is just an added bonus for me :)
    Patricia recently posted..LANGUAGE ARTS: A Novel ~Stephanie KallosMy Profile

  2. Sam Juliano Says:

    This sounds like an absolutely compelling book, and one my wife and I both would greatly appreciate. She taught special education for years before becoming a principal. I can see this would also have some geographical appeal for you. Sorry your penmanship isn’t now as easy to come by as it once was, but great to hear of those awards back in the day. I can see there is sadness in this book too. Terrific review!!!

    Patricia Reply:

    Sam
    Thank you for your kind words. I just enjoyed this story from head to toes and have read it again. Then I moved on to her story SING THEM HOME, which is about a family in Nebraska coming home and a community which celebrates it’s Welsh roots. I enjoyed it so much too. Wow! what a writer.