Outsiders and Mockingbirds

The OutsidersTo Kill a Mockingbird

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton will always be my favorite book ever written because to this day my heart breaks for all those boys — fictional characters that brought me to tears when I was twelve and read it for the first time (I STILL cry even now in my 30’s) — simple, poignant characters fighting to belong in a world where things are so unfairly divided.

In that vein, I think there shall never be a BETTER book than To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The Outsiders is my favorite of all time but in my (humble) opinion, the best book ever written is To Kill a Mockingbird.

There are no two books I hold in higher regard — books that have changed the way children and perhaps some adults think about the world they live in and the people that inhabit it. These books are not perfect, they’re not politically correct, and they have angered plenty of people over the decades, but the one thing these two books have done to thousands, perhaps even millions of readers is to make them think about the world in which they live — to think about the people on the fringes of society (in one case it is an economic/social divide, in the other it is a racial one) and the courage it takes to live there.

I read a LOT of crap over the course of a year, but when I need to reset, I read these two works and remember why I love words and the people who weave them together.

People die every day, but some words, some works, live forever.

“They grew up on the outside of society. They weren’t looking for a fight. They were looking to belong.”
―     S.E. HintonThe Outsiders    

“Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win.”
―     Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird    

Categories: books, Classics, Fiction, Memories, Teen Fiction, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Through a Brooklyn Fence

Through a fence in Brooklyn, NY.

Through a fence in Brooklyn, NY.

My sister took this photo in Brooklyn, New York and sent it to me last week since it made her think of me. Her capture fills me with inspiration, awe and just a touch of sadness. Though I am far away from some of the most important people in my life, it’s these moments that make me feel like I am right there with them, or wish that I was.

Growing up in Brooklyn in the late 80’s and early 90’s was quite the experience. Thankfully I had a twin sister to help share in the craziness of a childhood surrounded by brownstones, Mets baseball, and a burgeoning Hip Hop scene. We moved to the borough when we were eight from the Lower East Side (Delancey Street) and it was like a whole other world. It seemed like every kid on our block already knew each other and it was difficult learning the ropes of life in a borough of the city. We’d only ever known Manhattan but at least we were in it together.

Now I have a twelve year old son who loves to watch repeats of Everybody Hates Chris on TeenNick. Bedstuy (Chris Rock’s old neighborhood) was similar to Bushwick (my old neighborhood) in a lot of ways — many of the jokes and running gags about the people Chris Rock grew up around makes me smile because I can totally relate. My son asks me if my childhood was anything like Chris Rock’s and I have to laugh at that. My mother was old country – super Spanish as they come. I tell my son what my mother used to always say: “America stopped at the front door.” Once you crossed over into my mom’s house, you were officially in her country. I guess in some ways it was a lot like Chris Rock’s childhood (anyone who’s seen Rochelle on the show knows what I mean!).

Rochelle (Chris' mother) on Everybody Hates Chris

Rochelle (Chris’ mother) on Everybody Hates Chris

Either way, this picture reminds me of a childhood spent reading on the stoop, playing in fire hydrants, eating icies, and going to watch movies in a theater that no longer exists today (though I have never had a better hot dog since). I miss my sister but these memories we share still inspire. I may be far from my hometown but Brooklyn (like sisters) stays in your heart forever.

Categories: Brooklyn, Childhood, Everybody Hates Chris, inspiration, Memories, New York City, Sisters | 3 Comments

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