1. Book reports are a kid’s worst nightmare.

    Even for a bookish fourth grader, I hated writing book reports. Ironic that I should now desire to write reviews of books each week for no reason other than a love of literature. At that early age, I had developed a taste for Jules Verne, and Edgar Allen Poe, but I had learned that it wasn’t exactly something to be proud of. 

    Elementary school was brutal. 

    I remember a cloudy morning, when I slurped through a bowl of cereal, unusually early, and in no rush to walk to school. I glanced over my cereal at my unread copy of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. I had been so excited to start on it, but somehow three weeks had gotten away from me. Somehow, the fact that Mrs. Halsbrooks asked me to do it, had crippled my ability to pick up the book.

    It was 7:30 am and I had not read a book, much less written a report on it. 

    I left the bowl of cereal, spinning on the kitchen table with a flash. “Mom!” I cried, “I have a book report due today! What am I going to do?”

    My ever-clever Mother replied, “Read.”

    "But I didn’t read the book!"

    She laughed. My mom had grown up in Venezuela, was Valedictorian of her high school, and was the kind of person who handed out hand-typed communist manifestos to passers-by when she was in college. The idea that one of her children couldn’t do a simple book report was outrageous. Without skipping a beat, she replied, “Read the book of Jonah.” As a life-long catholic, my Mother had never read the bible. Why would you? The priest tells you everything you need to know. It wasn’t until arriving in the protestant South that she realized that religious literature was truly accessible to her.

    When I was punished, she made me copy Proverbs. When she was in a good mood, we read Psalms. When I had a book report, she had me read Jonah.

    And in desperation, I did. As Jonah, flung himself from the boat into the mouth of the fish, so I read quickly from the King James Bible, writing my one-page book report as I went along. I continued reading as I walked to school and then tucked the old worn bible into my backpack, walking into class.

    Mrs. Halsbrooks hated me. Even as an adult, I don’t know why. I sat in the front row, and geared up. Roll call. Homework was passed in, and I wrung my hands. She closed her binder and I knew it would happen. Despite the fact that my name was in the middle of the roster in both first and last name alphabetically, she had a way of trying to mess me up. “Ro-” She didn’t even finish before I stood up.

    "My book report is on the book of… Jonah"

    The awkward silence of kids listening filled the room, or more accurately, seemed to suck everything out. 

    "So, uh… this book is found in the Bible."

    Mrs. Halsbrooks had had enough. “You can’t do that. Fail.”

    "Why not?" I asked, partially sincerely, the other part just plain smartassy.

    "Because it’s…" She stopped herself. Expressing your personal religious beliefs in front of a room of fourth graders is never smart. "Because we shouldn’t do reports from religious texts…" She attempted.

    "But I read the book." I replied. "And I have this report." As was evidenced by the sheet of paper I waved in hand.

    "Principal’s office." She glared. "Now."

    As I marched down the hallway, away from the snickering classroom, I was forced to ask myself, “Is this religious persecution?” But only in the way that a fourth grader could, “Is my mom going to be really mad? Oh man… Yeah.”

    I arrived to the safe-haven of the principal’s office, where I sat with my backpack between my legs waiting on the principal to return from “something important”, and realized, I could finally start on the book I wanted to read. I pulled the copy of “20,000 Leagues” from my backpack, and made myself really comfortable, free of the pressures of the book report.

    1. ayeshamohammad2011 reblogged this from ramoorebooks and added:
      Love this. :D
    2. rainsurfer reblogged this from indiebookreview and added:
      Words cannot express how much I love this.
    3. insufficientdata00 reblogged this from ramoorebooks
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    5. ramoorebooks reblogged this from indiebookreview and added:
      This is a true story.
    6. indiebookreview posted this