Friday, January 15, 2010

Flashback Friday: Eighties Haiti

I posted about this on my main blog, too, but since it's a book I must share it here on the Literary Supplement (although "literary" is not one word I have often used to describe the Jennifer Green books). I have totally been reminiscing about In Another Land, the book that totally educated me about Haiti and put it on my radar.

It's part of a series, the Jennifer books by Jane Sorenson, a fairly cheesy series of twelve books about an eighth grader that I for some reason adored and devoured and read over and over back in the day. The weirdest thing about my reading and loving them, I think, is that they are super-Christian. What can I say? I used to be a different person. The main character is "born again" or "becomes a Christian" or whatever, but she also narrates all sorts of other things about her life, like moving to a new city, school, horseback riding lessons, friends, boys, and such.

I remember far too much about the mundane, goofy, and ridiculously sappy details of the books -- and believe me, there are many -- but one of the books actually taught me something useful. In the eighth book, In Another Land, Jennifer Green accompanies her grandmother on a trip to visit Haiti and meet the Haitian child that Grandma sponsors. They travel all around and Jennifer has all sorts of epiphanies about how lucky and rich she really is in her life back home. The thing is - it was a really interesting book! The author, Jane Sorenson, had obviously been to Haiti and been affected by it, and it is kind of cool, I think, that she wrote a book that would educate and possibly inspire adolescents to learn a thing or two about the world.

I have always remembered those books. Even my mom remembers the books; I forced her to read them and she still jokes about how silly some of them were. But the Haiti book was somewhat significant, I suppose. In the two decades since, I sometimes forget that not everyone read this random, obscure series of young Christian fiction books, that not everyone has all these vivid associations with Haiti described in Jennifer Green's trip. Needless to say, In Another Land has been on my mind this week. It's apparently long since out of print - maybe because no one besides me ever bought them?! - but I saw a few listings online for ridiculously cheap. You'll read the book in like five minutes, seriously. I'm not sure if I can recommend the series in good conscience as they are SO incredibly cheesetacular. But hey - people read a lot of crap in this world, so why not read about Jennifer Green and her family and friends? I think I related to her way more than I ever wanted to admit to myself.

And I was always very jealous of her trip to Haiti!

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