Reading With Patrick : A Teacher, A Student, and A Life-Changing Friendship

Reading With Patrick : A Teacher, A Student, and A Life-Changing Friendship

eBook - 2017
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Random House, Inc.
A memoir of race, inequality, and the power of literature told through the life-changing friendship between an idealistic young teacher and her gifted student, jailed for murder in the Mississippi Delta

Reading with Patrick could be the most affecting book you’ll read this year.”—The Christian Science Monitor

“Powerful.”—The Seattle Times

“Tender.”—O: The Oprah Magazine

Recently graduated from Harvard University, Michelle Kuo arrived in the rural town of Helena, Arkansas, as a Teach for America volunteer, bursting with optimism and drive. But she soon encountered the jarring realities of life in one of the poorest counties in America, still disabled by the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. In this stirring memoir, Kuo, the child of Taiwanese immigrants, shares the story of her complicated but rewarding mentorship of one student, Patrick Browning, and his remarkable literary and personal awakening.

Convinced she can make a difference in the lives of her teenaged students, Michelle Kuo puts her heart into her work, using quiet reading time and guided writing to foster a sense of self in students left behind by a broken school system. Though Michelle loses some students to truancy and even gun violence, she is inspired by some such as Patrick. Fifteen and in the eighth grade, Patrick begins to thrive under Michelle’s exacting attention. However, after two years of teaching, Michelle feels pressure from her parents and the draw of opportunities outside the Delta and leaves Arkansas to attend law school.

Then, on the eve of her law-school graduation, Michelle learns that Patrick has been jailed for murder. Feeling that she left the Delta prematurely and determined to fix her mistake, Michelle returns to Helena and resumes Patrick’s education—even as he sits in a jail cell awaiting trial. Every day for the next seven months they pore over classic novels, poems, and works of history. Little by little, Patrick grows into a confident, expressive writer and a dedicated reader galvanized by the works of Frederick Douglass, James Baldwin, Walt Whitman, W. S. Merwin, and others. In her time reading with Patrick, Michelle is herself transformed, contending with the legacy of racism and the questions of what constitutes a “good” life and what the privileged owe to those with bleaker prospects.

Publisher: Random House Digital,, 2017
ISBN: 9780812997323
0812997328
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: Baker & Taylor Axis 360
Alternative Title: Axis 360 eBooks

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vm510 Nov 30, 2017

Kuo's compassion is evident and inspirational, but she is also honest about her idealism and her romantic notions about teaching. Kuo knows education is important, but also realizes that historical disenfranchisement and institutional neglect are serious obstacles to education.
In this book, Kuo ponders the role of a teacher as well as how difficult it is for students to succeed when faced with poverty, systemic racism, and many emotional traumas.
This book made me happy because I think education is so important to children and young adults. This book made me sad because it showed me that I, as a single person, can't fix these problems.

b
becker
Sep 08, 2017

This book ticked a lot of the boxes that make an enjoyable book for me. It is about the combined power of human connection and education and the impact that can make on individuals and ultimately on society. I was inspired by Michelle Kuo's approach to teaching and loved to watch Patrick find meaning in some of the texts they studied. This a quick and easy read that leaves you feeling hopeful.

Manateestarz Aug 16, 2017

Every teacher would like to have an attentive, bright student like Patrick. But, his situation presents us with some moral questions.
These questions are touched upon too briefly by the author, but Teach for America alum , Michelle K. still writes about her relationship with former student Patrick and her experiences teaching kids at a school for at risk youth in the Mississippi Delta with humor, compassion, and a compelling sincerity.
She takes the reader into the world she encounters and makes us understand what about James Baldwin's work and the work of other African-American writers inspired her to make a difference by enrolling in Teach for America in Helena, Arkansas . She writes about the people she encounters in the Delta without condescension and great understanding.

Michelle Kuo also writes compellingly of her inner struggles, her differences with her parents and her search for meaning in her own career. She makes us care about her neighbors and friends in the Delta and about her own life.

This is a very good book.

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