When I tell people what I do, they cringe. Seriously cringe—as though I’ve just pinched them or recounted a dramatic history of medieval bloodletting. I teach ninth-grade English. On cue, they are abuzz with stories of memorizing Shakespearean soliloquies and reciting conjugations of irregular verbs. I admit this is only a small part of what I do (the bloodletting, not the recitation of irregular verbs). Predictably, the conversation veers toward the demographic composition of my inner-city charter school and how it must be so difficult to teach English to those children. How it must be impossible to make those students read because their parents probably don’t know who Shakespeare is.
As published by Evie Nagy for Fast Company
In the new novel Aspen by Rebekah Crane, the teenage title character is an awkward, artsy kid who gets into a car accident that kills the most popular girl at school. The book traces the bizarre fallout in her Boulder, Colorado, community, as well as Aspen’s relationship with her stoner mom. But unlike the typical after school-special YA fare, the drug part of the tale isn’t entirely cautionary.
“The mom is a flawed character—she had Aspen under a tree at a Widespread Panic concert at 16,” says Carey Albertine, cofounder of the book’s Denver-based publisher In This Together Media. “There’s a parade of men through the house, and she smokes pot, which is not great—Aspen will mention that her mom hasn’t gotten off the couch for a while. But their relationship is also funny and warm, and for all her flaws you also see how loving and nurturing she is to Aspen.”