Thursday, December 30, 2010

Neil Armstrong in the Nick of Time

Well, there is nothing like waiting until the last minute to finish a challenge. Since I did not succeed at reading all the books I wanted to for the Read From Your Shelves Challenge, the least I could do is finish up the War Through the Generations challenge. This year's focus is the Vietnam War, and while I had different books in mind, actually reading them is another story.
Neil Armstrong is my Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me by Nan Marino is set in 1969, just before Neil Armstrong is set to walk on the moon. Tamara is upset by losing her best friend, Kebsie, who has moved away to live with her mother after spending time in a foster home in Tamara's neighborhood. Muscle Man McGinty, Tamara's nickname for the foster boy who has replaced Kebsie, is almost more than Tamara can stand. He exaggerates everything - even claiming his uncle is Neil Armstrong! Tamara can't understand how the other neighborhood kids can stand him.

While Tamara's life seems to be mostly centered on her own struggles - a mother who watches too many soap operas, the annoying Muscle Man McGinty, and losing her best friend, world events soon make a big impact on Tamara. Her brother's best friend is killed in Vietnam. Everyone is affected by this loss in their neighborhood and suddenly hating Muscle Man McGinty doesn't seem so important anymore.

This is a good read. I enjoyed the humor in this book - all of the exaggerations that Muscle Man McGinty tells people were fun to read. And while Tamara wanted people to like her so desperately, it was easy to see why she had a hard time making friends. Neil Armstrong's walk on the moon, the events of Vietnam all help shape this book into a look at what it felt like to be a part of this time period. While I will be book talking this to kids at my school, I also think this is one that teachers would enjoy reading aloud, too.


Anna & Serena said...

We've added your book review to the reviews page and the home page. Thanks for participating.

Neil Armstrong said...

I found this review through, sadly, my name (much as the person who gave me the book found it to give to me as a present).
It's perfect multiple-audience material. Not too heavy, despite the potential from the summary.
Nice review.