“Traumatizing” reads

My library’s Facebook page posted a link to this blog entry and it has generated a LOT of comments, ranging from picture books to novels. Then Dunc went and posted about Flowers in the Attic this morning. So now I’m sitting here thinking of what books from my past have stuck with me, for better or for worse.

The first title that popped into my head was Where the Red Fern Grows. When I was in elementary school, our sixth grade teacher was the coolest person. Everyone hoped to have Mr. Gwynn as their teacher. And we all knew that his favorite book of all time was Where the Red Fern Grows and that it would be our assigned reading that year. In my 12-year old mind, I would read the book and love it and Mr. G would think I was so mature. Or something. Then the assignment happened…and I started the book…and the little suburban girl who had always owned a dog and a cat that she treated very sweetly was like WTF IS THIS SHIT?!?! (Only not because I didn’t really swear as much when I was 12). While I know this book probably represents how people trained their hunting dogs back in the day, to me it was like reading a chronicle of animal abuse. I don’t even think I made it to the end of the book. I went from admiring my teacher to being upset with him and not really respecting anything he said after that.

Of course, this was the start of being assigned traumatizing books. Bridge to Terabithia wasn’t far behind. I don’t think I finished that one either after someone spoiled me that it was a super depressing ending. Some people like those kinds of stories, I know, but it was not for me.

Soon, this was what reading became to me – books that were upsetting. I think for most of middle school, I pretty much stopped reading books. (Eventually, I stumbled upon Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but that will have to be another post.)

Suffice it to say, after these two titles, I stopped trusting my teachers’ recommendations and I honestly can’t remember how many assigned books I read cover to cover. Probably not until Senior year of high school…sad but true.

How about you? What is the first book the comes to mind when someone says “traumatizing childhood reading”?

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