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Month in review

Reviews
Amulet 8: Supernova by Kazu Kibuishi
Baddawi by Leila Abdelrazaq
The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden
Bluecrowne by Kate Milford
Bluff and Bran and the Snowdrift by Meg Rutherford
Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld
The Doughnut Fix by Jessie Janowitz
Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
Echo's Sister by Paul Mosier
Elementary, She Read by Vicki Delany
Foe by Iain Reid
Hold The Cream Cheese, Kill The Lox by Sharon Kahn
Holiday Grind by Cleo Coyle
How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
Lavender Lies by Susan Wittig Albert
The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars Part Two by Michael Dante DiMartino and Irene Koh
Louisiana's Way Home by Kate DiCamillo
Lowriders Blast from the Past by Cathy Camper and Raul III
The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty
No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen
Once Upon a Spine by Kate Carlisle
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
Personal Demons by Nimue Brown
The Reader by Traci Chee
Secret Coders 4: Robots & Repeats by Gene Luen Yang
Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Sodom Road Exit by Amber Dawn
The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby
24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling

Miscellaneous
Cybils Update (November 06)
Cybils Update (November 13)
Cybils Update (November 20)
Cybils Update (November 27)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (November 05)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (November 12)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (November 19)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (November 26)
October 2018 Sources
October 2018 Summary

Road Essays
FFCC99: FF99CC and FF9999: orphans in the wildlands by maze and labyrinth
FF9933: orphan wildlands blue highway
From 00CC33 to 33CCCC: a road narrative analysis of Haunting of Hill House, book and Netflix television series
A Map to the Road Narrative Spectrum
Road Narrative Update for October 2018
The three faces of Eleanor

Previous month


Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish



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The Benefits of Being an Octopus: 11/19/18

The Benefits of Being an Octopus

The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden is one of many recent middle grade novels that fall into the marginalized, home, blue highway category (666633) of the road narrative spectrum. It's also one of many from this year that features middle schoolers being the adults in the family when their fathers are absent and their mothers are either injured, physically ill, or mentally ill.

Zoey is a seventh grader living in the trailer of her mother's boyfriend. He also happens to be the father of her youngest sibling. Also living in the trailer is the father's TV loving, otherwise useless father. Both men do nothing but gaslight Zoey's mom and it looks like physical abuse might be next on their playlist.

Meanwhile at school Zoey is struggling. She has a debate assignment and she wants to do it on the octopus. She would love to have the extra arms of the cephalopod, or its ability of camouflage. But she has none of that. She barely has a safe place to do homework or light to do it by.

Thankfully for Zoey, there is a teacher at school who recognizes all the signs of a student in a bad situation and decides to use the debate club as a way into Zoey's life. It's through quiet perseverance that she's able help Zoey and her family. (It doesn't hurt any either that Zoey hears about all the terrible abusive things Lenny and his friends have to say about her, to realize she's a trustworthy friend in the form of a teacher).

For the road narrative project, Zoey is marginalized for a variety of reasons: her age, her living situation, and the way her mother is being emotionally abused at home. While Zoey and her mother and siblings technically have a home, it's not one that they have any control over, nor is it a safe space. It's not even a particularly home like environment. One of the goals of the book becomes finding a new home away from Lenny and his father, thus home is the key feature of the destination piece of the equation. Finally there is the two lane highway that Zoey and her family either walk along to do their errands, bum rides from others, or finally, escape along by taking Lenny's car. The highway is both a means of their entrapment and their means of escape.

Four stars

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