The first day of eighth grade I took the bus to school, walked through the door, turned around, and went home.
From that great beginning line to the kiss at the end, Lucy Frank’s “tribute to the range of learning possibilities available to kids today” is a delight and a keeper. It’s not pro- nor anti-homeschool or public school. It’s not predictable. The main character, Katya, wants to be liberated from the mind-numbing frustration that is Martin Van Buren Middle School. However, later on in the book, Katya’s new homeschooled boyfriend, Milo, is just as desperate to be liberated from the clutches of his controlling, career-conscious dad. And some of Katya’s public school friends can’t understand why she would want to leave school to stay home all day. Others can understand, but don’t want any such education for themselves. Another of Katya’s homeschooled friends enrolls in a private school that’s just right for her.
It’s not about one-size-fits-all. Which is exactly my educational philosophy, I think. This year I have one child enrolled in a special public high school that meets at the local junior college where the students take traditional high school classes along with dual credit college classes. Another child, Betsy Bee, begged me to enroll in her in a public school virtual academy that uses the K12 curriculum, so she’s learning at home, but enrolled in public school. My senior in high school is taking dual credit classes at the junior college and working and preparing to go away to college in the fall of 2010. Then, I have two children, Karate Kid and Z-Baby, who are at home, doing traditional homeschool, whatever that is.
It’s all about choices and trying to fit the educational opportunities to the student. And that’s what I like about Ms. Frank’s little book. She does manage to work some homeschool philosophy into the story (Milo’s dad is particularly articulate on the subject of listening to your children and finding your own educational style although he can’t seem to make that work with Milo), but it’s not preachy or one-sided. The Homeschool Liberation League also takes a few jabs at the problems and idiocies associated with institutional learning, but it’s just as quick to poke fun at pretentious homeschoolers and their “free school” private school counterparts.
And Ms. Frank tells a good story, one that kept me guessing as to what would happen to Katya and to Milo and to their crazy but lovable families. I recommend this one for ages 12 and up; there’s some tame romance stuff, but most of the story is about Katya and her educational adventures. I really enjoyed it.
Lazy Gal: “I’m usually not one to be pro-constructivist education (I’m firmly in the ‘you need a good solid background before you Follow Your Bliss’ camp) but this book captures what’s right about homeschooling.”
Jean Little Library: “Finally. Finally!! A story involving homeschoolers who are not members of a cult. Ex-members of a cult. Raised by ex-hippies. Raised by nouveau hippies. Complete social outcasts with no social skills whatsoever. And….it’s a GOOD story on top of that!”
I couldn’t find any other blog reviews. If you’ve read and reviewed this book, please leave me a note, and I’ll link.