Other Sellers on Amazon
Reading with Patrick: A Teacher, a Student, and a Life-Changing Friendship Paperback – April 3, 2018
Enhance your purchase
The Amazon Book Review
Book recommendations, author interviews, editors' picks, and more. Read it now.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
"Anyone interested in questions of pedagogy, racism, and incarceration in America, not to mention literary criticism, will be enthralled by this book ... It is hard to read this challenging book ... and not think, You must change your life."--James Wood, The New Yorker
"Readers witness the transformative power of their moving lessons in both literature and life, lessons that endure and deepen in jail."--Nicole Lamy, The New York Times
"Reading with Patrick is the most affecting book you'll read all year."--The Christian Science Monitor
"Michelle Kuo's rich memoir of her literary friendship with a student in a small town in the Mississippi Delta suggests that it is perhaps more than anything a book's ability to make its reader feel valuable that keeps us reading ... The act of reading gave her students the chance to think of themselves as able; it gave space, attention and value to their interior lives ... Instead of the tidy moral, Kuo offers a much more complex and more troubling story."--Times Literary Supplement
From the Back Cover
- Publisher : Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (April 3, 2018)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0812987144
- ISBN-13 : 978-0812987140
- Lexile measure : HL730L
- Item Weight : 8.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.2 x 0.7 x 7.98 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #121,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
In this book though, there's so much honesty. Michelle is really specific about the effects of reading. It's not full of platitudes about how reading makes you engaged or about how reading "teaches you how to think." It's about what, at a basic level, it means to read and write and express ourselves. It's about the connection between reading and being able to write. It's so startling how as Patrick reads, he's able to express himself more clearly. And the portrait of the loneliness and isolation of the jail cell, and the way it combines with ignorance of the outside world, and how reading is a way to pierce through that apathy and get in touch with other minds.
But at the same time, it's not triumphal. I mean, it's true for everybody, except a rare few, that a life of the mind is something that we only experience for brief periods. I mean if you look at your college classmates today, most of them, except the academics, probably read very few books. In college, they majored in philosophy, but that's over. They're done with learning for its own sake. Life crowds that out. You can't find the quietness anymore for reading. You can't find the quietness for writing. And in the end there's a fundamental ambiguity: what happened here? did it matter? did it make a difference in Patrick's life? I mean, it did. Obviously it did. His experience of being incarcerated was so different from many people's. Because he could read, he was less alone. And that makes a difference. But beyond that, what happened?
There's no easy answer there, and that's why this book stands out.
Kuo made me think deeply about our greatest educational injustices. It reminded me a little of Ernest Gaines' *A Lesson Before Dying*, with the notable exception that the teacher role here is played by a willing, eager and optimistic Teach for America educator and you can't help but root for her. I nodded my head at her descriptions of the workings of a poorly run, broken alternative school. I could see so much of my early teaching experiences in the detailing of this one Arkansas school system and her sixty students. I understood completely the love and care that seemed to burn from her, and I appreciated her generous insights into sociology, history and law. The complicated emotions around wanting to stay in the system, however damaging, for the sake her students, though, were easy for me to understand without any further explanation.
I took many things away from this book—and it is one I will definitely keep near me to remind me of those lessons—but the most impactful hit me near the very end after reading this lovely passage:
"I have to believe that two people can make a powerful impression on one another, especially in a certain kind of place, where so many have left, and in a certain time, when we are coming of age, not worn down or hardened. In these times and places we are fragile and ready."
I began the summer reading a novel about a high school teacher (*The Most Dangerous Place on Earth* and it left me thinking of all the missed opportunities we run into—all the students we aren't able to get through to or build a relationship with). It feels fitting that I would end the summer with a book about a high school teacher who made one special connection and fought vigilantly to keep that connection—a reminder that our presence and efforts as teachers DO make a difference.
Kuo made me think that my softness, vulnerability and bleeding heart are not weaknesses, and that so long as I can still see myself, just months away from turning 40, as still coming of age, then I am still poised to build relationships with students that are meaningful and authentic and transformative. Kuo may not have taught as many years as I have, but she understands the magic (as well as the struggle) of the role better than most of us. This is a particularly beautiful and illuminating passage:
"To know a person as a student is to know him always as a student: to sense deeply his striving and in his striving to sense your own. It is to watch, and then have difficulty forgetting, a student wrench himself into shape, like a character from Ovid, his body twisting and contorting, from one creature to another, submitting, finally, to the task of a full transformation. Why? Because he trusts you; because he prefers the feel of this newer self; because he hopes you will help make this change last."
I can't imagine a better validation for the work I strive to honor with every day of teaching I commit myself to; I heartily recommend this book to all my teaching friends, and anyone who believes in the importance of education, literacy, and justice.
ONE FINAL NOTE: Kuo includes a generous Author's Note to explain the texts she used to understand the complexity of her and Patrick's situation. It's an excellent reading list for those who are wanting to continue learning about the topics covered in the book.