Sunday, January 31, 2010

An Unspeakable Crime The Prosecution and Persecution of Leo Frank and Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America

I am not a huge non-fiction reader, but this year I have read two that I have really enjoyed. One is a grown-up book and the other is a young adult book.

A parent at our school recently published a book. Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America by Helen Thorpe. Many of us at school read the book and felt the same. We would come to school the next day annoyed and exhausted because we stayed up WAY TOO late reading the well written, thought provoking, and page turning book. The book follows the lives of four girls in Denver. All four attend college. Two have legal status so they are able to get grants, etcetera. Two do not and even though they have been in the USA for years, attended school, and graduated with honors they cannot apply for the same grants. The debate about immigration is bigger then this little blog, but it is one that impacts everyone. I could go on about his book, but for the sake of your sanity I won’t. I will say very simply this is a MUST READ!

The second non-fiction book, a young adult book, is An Unspeakable Crime The Prosecution and Persecution of Leo Frank by Elaine Marie Alphin. Ms. Alphin writes about a Jew accused of killing a young girl in Atlanta in the early part of the 20th century. It is a fascinating story. Anti-Semitism and, more importantly, hatred of northerners led to this awful persecution of an innocent man. I found it interesting that the Anti-Defamation League was founded because of this trial. The story is about Leo Frank, a northern Jew. He moves to Atlanta to work for his uncle’s pencil company. He falls in loves and marries and soon after he is accused of murdering a 13 year old girl that works at the factory. Most southerners still resented the North. They hated the fact that many families had to work in factories owned my northern companies. This led to the police and media wanting to blame the gruesome murder on a non-southerner.

The book is engaging. The use of photographs, newspaper articles and layout of the chapters makes it difficult to put down. I like how Ms. Alphin explained how the lack of technology played a part in this story. There was no CSI or Law and Order SVU of find the real killer.

Both non-fiction books I have read spotlight the conceptions or misconceptions our society has on people that are “different” from us. As a teacher it makes me think about how I interact with children that are different backgrounds from me. I hope that I am able to provide a learning environment where they will grow to be responsible adults and not judge someone based on the color of their skin, the language they speak at home, the church they attend or the person they love.

Just Like Us was a gift from a student. Leo Frank was provided by the publisher.


juli said...

I just added two more books to my "must read" list. Thanks for the suggestions.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting about these books. I would have never heard about them otherwise. Will check them out...

PS: that is a great school you mentioned. Quite proactive.