7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Never Fade Away: (Paperback)"Never Fade Away", is William Hart's first novel. Dr. Hart has been a teacher of basic writing and (ESL) English As A Second Language at Los Angeles Universities, so how close this novel is to his experiences makes the moniker of novel less than absolute. His own experience clearly adds a great deal of credibility to the work, and this makes a strong message even more disturbing. The message that he shares is one that has gained in importance as events last fall have brought this country's immigration policies in to question. There are fine lines between prudent immigration law, xenophobia, and racism. As congress is getting itself prepared to crucify various governmental agencies hoping to score points for this November's elections the theme of this book only increases in relevance.
There have been disturbing books recently, and one specifically that spent a good deal of time on the bestseller list. They are opportunistic cheap self-promotion screeds that play on fear and ignorance and offer nothing of value. The people who read these books and those that write them are hardly Native Americans. Unless one is a full-blooded Native American, all of us have immigrated here or are the descendents of immigrants. For those who thought the Witch Hunts of McCarthy were a thing of the past, wait for these hearings. They have already been carefully scheduled so that the initial hearings are closed to the public, congress will adjourn to craft their campaign speeches laced with accusations that are indefensible, and then return for public hearings in September, and we all will be the worse for it.
The book takes the form of journal entries of a teacher and one of his students. This student and all others like her must pass a certain proficiency level in written English to stay in school regardless of their performance overall. It is reasonable to expect people that wish to make their home in The United States to have the abilities to write and speak competently. It is not appropriate to use these educational hurdles as institutional racism. And this is the environment that the book's teacher and his students struggle against. If the tests in reality are as described in the book a substantial number of us who have been hear for generations would fail.
Many may ridicule that last sentence, but I offer this. Recently national testing for history was done in our schools and when given the list of the primary combatants in WWII less than half of High School students provided the correct multiple-choice answer. The winner and third place occupant of the recent National Geographic Geography competition were both home-schooled.
"Never Fade Away", has other elements that were hard for me to justify. I don't know if I am being fair, or if the primary issue is just so volatile. For me some of the flashbacks and personal history seemed a bit awkward, but others may find these facets appropriate.
I enjoy the work of new authors, as there are so many names that seem to have a production line for their work. Small publishers have brought to readers new writers that may not be as polished as familiar names, and for that I thank them. Too much of contemporary fiction is occupied by different takes on tired themes, so make the leap occasionally to writers you know nothing of, and you will often be rewarded.