I forgot how sad this is-spoiler alert
This is a classic story that most parents have read ... I whipped through it again because my 14 year old freshman son is reading it so I thought we could have some interesting discussions. I recalled some great themes about loneliness and how poverty during the depression and the struggle to survive caused people to treat each other with suspicion and meanness. But good lord, how sad and frustrating this must be for kids his age to understand and absorb!! I had completely forgotten the details. In fact I think I blocked the plot out of my head because it’s just so miserable to dwell upon. My son is sensitive, so just the accidental killing of the of the puppy is going to be tough to reconcile in the context of disability. And the same is true for the death of the woman. The ending of having to shoot your own friend to spare him the terror and suffering that were imanant- yikes! That’s just really difficult for today’s kid to wrap their head around. With so many social services available now- it’s probably a good discussion and exercise to try to imagine the level of poverty and the general lack of civilzation that was America during the depression..... but this is just a really gritty, downer story for kids who are only beginning to read classical adult literature. I read Les Meserable as a freshman, and though the ending is sad, it’s a LOT less despairing and hopeless. In fact the beautiful ending is filled with hope which is something I think teenagers appreciate. Les Mes is probably too long for today’s reluctant readers, but wow, Mice and Men would not leave me feeling like I wanted to go back for more at this age. It’s like forcing kids to eat boiled brussels sprouts and then wonder why they decide they don’t like vegetables. Not to say they should be fed brain candy either, but right out of the gate something a little more palatable would be better. I would say this is a better book for an older student- Absolutely a five star classic book with many important themes for adults and older students with more life experience, but a little too painful for many young adolescents. There are other better choices for early teenagers in my opinion.