Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Homeschool Liberation League

Milton Gaither ponders the lack of "religious dimension", by which he appears to mean Christianity, in a review of the new book by Lucy Frank called "The Homeschool LIberation League" in his blog, Homeschooling Research Notes.

Gaither gives the book a favorable review, noting, "Of all the recent children’s books I’ve read involving homeschooled characters, Frank’s goes furthest in making homeschooling itself central to the plot.," and adding, "This is not, in the end, a book about homeschooling. It’s a book about a 13-year-old girl trying to overcome the faux identity foisted on her by the school context, searching out a self and a voice she can believe in. Homeschooling is just the tool she uses to get there."

He notes the inclusion of realistic characters like one girl's "lesbian professional parents", a "stage father" and "independent-minded but reluctant working class parents, and observes that it's "not "implausible (they) wouldn’t have much contact with religious conservatives."

Lucy Frank actually addresses Gaither's questions on his site, "I want to make clear that I wasn’t under any pressure to stay away from the “religious dimension” in homeschooling. Nor was I motivated by worry about alienating readers (except possibly school principals, with my extremely unflattering portrayal of Katya’s dreaded Mr. Westenburg). Rather ... it’s too big a topic just to mention in passing. At one point early on I tried bringing in characters representing different sides of the homeschooling world, but the book started to feel like “a book about homeschooling,” instead of the story of one girl’s determination not to let school squash her enthusiasm for learning and mold her into someone she doesn’t want to be, and the effect that has on everyone in her life."

On the basis of that description alone, it sounds like a young adult novel well worth looking into, and one that UU homeschoolers and their public school friends might be able to enjoy together. It's a nice opportunity to celebrate and support a rational incorporation of homeschooling in mainstream young adult literature.

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