How is your reading going so far?
I read them. Past tense. I read them. That is about all I can say about how actively I read. I'm never going to get used to writing in the book, but have been noticing certain elements more and more. I can easily read Cisneros and have all sorts of comments, highlights, quotes underlined in the book. The chapters are small, easy to read, good. My copy of House on Mango Street looks like a toddler got a hold of it. There are marks and comments everywhere.
A Long Way Gone is a different beast. There are barely any marks in it when there really should be. I am reading the story chapter to chapter wanting an end. As if the book knows I am forced to read it, the chapters are long. There is so much more to choose from in the book, yet I barely write anywhere in it. An occasional comment about scene transitions and new locations, but that is about it. I can only imagine it is because of the story matter combined with my own unwillingness of wanting to read it.
I like Cisneros a lot better. The story is happier, more alive. It is fiction, but could easily be seen as happening. Beah's tale is non-fiction and shouldn't happen, to anyone, or ever. Especially to a child. Every chapter pisses me off. It gives a false hope in the beginning of a chapter and destroys it near the end. No matter how many times this happens it catches me off guard. More latina girls being stupid, please.
How to Survive: A Guide
This poor kid. Beah somehow manages to get it all out in print. Now we are all infected with secondary PTSD just reading the thing! He discusses many physical survival traits throughout the book like medicines, preventing snake bites, keeping food safe from animals, hiding. These are all well and good, but none of these ensure his survival. Beah's best survival trait as a child is dissociation. The traumatic events he's experienced are enough to drive anyone insane. As a coping mechanism he begins to dissociate. He's psyche is very much shattered.
Flashbacks and migraines are a common symptom to dissociating. Basically, his brain is trying to remain in a better time. Like a computer backup. Eventually he'll push all his traumatic memories to a different partition of his brain, to make it seem like a totally different life. It is a natural strategy to deal with an unnatural life. I knew he was suffering from PTSD, but it didn't hit home until he talked about activities in the village. The villagers would play soccer, a game he liked, but he wouldn't join them. Beah states, "I distanced myself from games in the village and sat behind houses, staring into the open space until my migraines temporarily subsided" (Beah, 102). He is making sure nothing reminds him of the good past so he can focus on getting through this terrible present. The less thinking, the better. It seems harsh, but in this way Beah ensures he never becomes a complete monster like the rebels. He can do what he needs to do without destroying himself.