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The Hunger Games: a family experience

Image courtesy of Nomadic Lass on Flickr
Image courtesy of Nomadic Lass on Flickr

Meet Teresa–she works at an ISP, plays roller derby, and throws birthday parties of which Effie Trinket would approve–and her daughter Emma, who just turned 13 and enjoys crafting, cooking and reading. I recently sat down with the two of them to discuss their love of The Hunger Games (a 2009 Best Fiction for Young Adults, Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers, and Teens’ Top Tenselection), the book and movie, and what it is like to read it as mother and daughter.

Teresa and Emma read The Hunger Games after a recommendation from yours truly in the summer of 2010. Teresa was looking for a recommendation for her daughter and not finding a book club that fit her needs, something they could read together. Emma read it first, and at her daughter’s urging, Teresa read it right after. One taste, and they were hooked.

Although Emma loved everything about the book, she admitted she loved Katniss’s sassy attitude and Peeta’s casual humor in particular. For Teresa it was more about Katniss’s internal monologue, always second guessing everyone’s intentions, that drew her to the book. They both agreed that the dire and very serious situation the tributes find themselves in makes it even more suspenseful.

As March 23rd approached, Emma was excited to see her favorite book adapted to the big screen. She expected something amazing, and was worried that it wouldn’t live up to the book. Thursday evening we prepared with a good old fashioned Hunger Games Trivia Throwdown, and then lights dimmed to mark the beginning of the most highly anticipated movie of the year.

Emma’s favorite parts of the movie were Peeta’s interview and the scenes of Katniss and Peeta in the cave (seeing a theme here?). She was not disappointed at all, seeing the movie twice opening weekend.

Teresa, on the other hand, was disappointed–unsurprising considering her favorite part of the book is Katniss’s internal monologue, which is tough to translate to the big screen without a cheesy voice-over. But she agrees that she needs to see it again before passing judgment, maybe at a time other than midnight on a Thursday. She did appreciate Jennifer Lawrence’s skillful acting and the way she was able to convey an emotion or thought with just the tilt of her head or a look in her eyes.

This was the first book that Teresa and Emma read together, but not the last. When asked what it was like to read a book with her mom, Emma quickly answered, “Even amazinger than reading it by myself! I like talking about books with my mom, because sometimes we interpret things in different ways.” They have read several books together now and are always anxiously waiting for the other to finish so they can discuss the ending. So far they have managed not to leak any spoilers. Many of their books still have dystopian romance flavor, picking up Matched by Ally Condie (a a 2011 Teens’ Top Ten, Best Fiction for Young Adults, and Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers selection, as well as a 2012 Popular Paperback for Young Adults and a Reader’s Choice selection) and Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (a 2006 Best Fiction for Young Adults choices and a Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults selection), and Emma is currently reading The Maze Runner by James Dashner (a 2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults, Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers and Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults selection).

Teresa admits that the movie really brought it home. “I didn’t really think about Emma being the same age as the characters when I was reading the book. But when they showed the reaping in the movie, it really made me think.”  Emma says she could handle it if her name was pulled out of the reaping ball. “If I could go in there and have someone like Peeta, I would be OK with that.”

— Kate McNair is currently reading All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab (recommended by Emma)

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Kate McNair

Kate is the Young Adult Librarian for the Johnson County Library in the Kansas City metro area. She loves, playing roller derby, crafting and being surprised!

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