Thursday, September 18, 2008

Miracle's Boys Reading Journal 3

This book was a very emotional one for me. There was a lot of loss and sadness for the characters and for the reader as you watch the brothers go through their grief and pain. However, I would recommend this book for adolescents for that very reason. Although loss is a very hard topic to talk about and deal with students need to be able to face it.
There were a few things that really caught my attention in Miracle’s Boys. From the beginning I noticed the character’s names and how they each had meaning. After robbing a store Charlie is sent to Rahway for two years and when he comes back he is a different person. For this reason Lafayette, his brother, begins calling him NewCharlie. If you notice it is spelled in the book as one name, because this is now what Lafayette calls him. Throughout the book he distinguishes between Charlie (pre-Rahway) and NewCharlie. When he is talking about the days before Charlie was sent away and before his mother died he still uses the name Charlie. I think he does this because he is still hoping his brother will come back. He never gives up hope. At the end there is a pivotal moment when Lafayette stops using NewCharlie and reverts back to Charlie. This moment happens when they are sitting on the stoop talking like they used to and Charlie says that he will not burn the pictures Lafayette has left of his mother. To Lafayette his brother is finally back.
Lafayette is named after his father who died before he was born after saving a woman and her dog from a frozen lake. Ty’ree (the older brother) was there when their father died and he feels responsible for their father’s death. When their mother died Ty’ree decided to stay home to care for his brothers and in a way I think he did this to make everything up to his father. I think this is the significance of Lafayette’s name in the story. By staying home from MIT and taking care of Lafayette he felt he could right what he thought he had done wrong when their father died.
Their mother’s name was Milagro, which translates to Miracle. In the end even though she died she was still the boy’s miracle. She is the reason Lafayette went back down to the stoop where Charlie was sitting, because he made her a promise not to fight with his brother anymore. She was one of the reasons the brothers became a family again.
Something else that caught my attention, but I did not fully realize it until the end of the book. I had feelings of anger toward Charlie nearly the entire book. Not because he robbed a store and went to Rahway, I had a feeling there was an underlying reason for him needing the money. I was angry because of how he treated Lafayette, like they were not even brothers.
Throughout the book Lafayette has flashbacks of Charlie, before he became NewCharlie in Lafayette’s eyes. Charlie had always had a soft spot for stray dogs. I always assumed this was because of how his father died, and partly I think it was. However, as the story goes on you realize that Charlie feels very alone. He was not there when his father died and he was in Rahway when his mother died. So, while Ty’ree feels responsible for his their father’s death and Lafayette feels responsible for their mother’s death, Charlie has nothing. While these are not good memories for anyone, he wasn’t there for any of it. He feels like he is nothing and he doesn’t matter. That was the significance, in my opinion, for his affection for stray dogs. He feels like he is nothing and had no one and they are kind of the same way, hence why he always wanted to help them. When he was younger he even tried to save a dog, but the dog ended up dying anyway and this made him feel even more useless. That is why at the end Lafayette keeps telling Charlie that it was not his fault the dog died. This was a parallel to their parent’s deaths. It was his way of letting Charlie know that none of this was his fault. That their parent’s deaths were not anyone’s fault.