Teen Book Club: The Princess Bride
Well, the October meeting for the teen book club was a very interesting meeting. About half of the students had read 100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson, and the other half had read The Princess Bride by Goldman.
Now, if you've ever seen the movie of The Princess Bride, you know that the story has a good deal of off-beat humor and pretty hysterical characters. The book is no different. In fact, the movie follows the book very closely, but only the story of Buttercup and Wesley. In the book, there is a whole other story that makes a superficial appearance in the movie. It is the story within a story.
This is where it got interesting in book club. Because the book seems to walk a line between fiction and non, the students debated how one should read the book. Obviously the story about Buttercup and Wesley is fiction. There just aren't any ROUSs around. But the story built around Buttercup's story is partially true. Goldman includes himself in the book, along with his son, wife, grandson, publisher, contacts in Florin and Stephen King. Some of his included life seems to be true - Goldman really did work on the screen play for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and we all know that Stephen King is alive and well. But what about his son? What about the wife he writes about who isn't terribly affectionate and overanalyzes his every move? Are they real? And if not, how do we know what's real in the book and what's not?
Here's what the students decided: Believe what you will.
We debated for a good twenty minutes on the differences between reading fiction and non. When these particular teens read fiction, they don't care about honesty, research or truthful telling. They just want a good story. But when these teens read nonfiction, they want the truth. They want it well documented, they want to be able to look up the information and confirm authenticity, and they want honesty. Somehow, this book walks the line between fiction and non. And you know what? The teens in my book club did not care. They LOVE this book. They love the story in a story; they love the reference to Stephen King; they love the background story of Fezzig. When I informed the students that Goldman doesn't actually have a son, but has two daughters, one of the girls screamed in frustration and told me I'd ruined the book for her. She decided that she would believe what she wanted and if she wants Goldman to have a son, then that's what she's going to believe.
And I decided that I wouldn't tell her that Stephen King does not actually have any relatives in Florin.
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I have had a few jobs in my life that I didn't enjoy: detassling corn, working in a small motor parts factory, framing pictures, serving food, and rejecting bad eggs in an egg factory. Today, I take part in a book club for teens and I love every minute of it.