Book info

Whirligig (1999)

Whirligig (1999)
Rating
3.39 of 5 Votes: 3
ISBN
0440228352 (ISBN13: 9780440228356)
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English
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publisher
laurel leaf
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Whirligig (1999)
Whirligig (1999)

About book: Brent Bishop is a typical new kid. He is worried about his status in the school and wants desperately to have the popular Brianna on his arm and goes to great lengths to make that happen, including putting himself out there at a party. Brianna, however, has other ideas about her life and Brent suffers public humiliation after she rejects him in front of everyone at the party. Brent leaves the party after he has been drinking and decides that life isn’t worth it anymore and decides to end his life. His reckless driving causes the death of a stranger though instead of himself. Lea was a stranger to Brent but to those who knew her she was a highly driven, talented, and well liked senior in high school. Brent’s parents think they are helping by trying to minimize his sense of guilt, but Brent is continuously tormented by what he has done and wants to make amends and have some resolution to his mistake. Lea’s mother wants to meet with Brent and asks him to "make four whirligigs, of a girl that looks like Lea....Then set them up in Washington, California, Florida, and Maine the corners of the United States." She believes that this will be enough of a punishment for him and over the course of his journey Brent is able to find himself as well as so much more. This is one of those books that when my students ask me what they should read I automatically run to the shelf for. I love Fleischman’s novel because it has so many layers to it and it flows so well. We are able to watch Brent’s journey of forgiveness of himself as well as the impact the whirligig’s have on those he meets. We see the creation of each whirligig and the multiple layers and meanings behind it and the bystanders who are also impacted by the whirligig: a young violinist, a Holocaust survivor, a Puerto Rican street-sweeper. I love that this book is different from others because there is so much emotion in Brent and it comes through him in a very relatable way. Brent is a believable character because Fleischman writes him as such. Readers are able to see Brent grown and learn as he creates each whirligig and see his emotional response to his creations. This is a brief work but so much is packed in that you might miss out on something if you read too fast. I love that Fleischman has so much packed into this masterpiece and every time I point someone to it they always come away with a reaction of amazement for what they are walking away with.

Wow, I find all the mixed and/or negative reviews of this book shocking. I LOVED it. I thought it was beautifully written, poignant, and nearly impossible to put down.Seventeen (or maybe 16) year old Brent has moved around a lot. He never feels comfortable anywhere. He's constantly trying to figure out the lay of the land -- what clothes are cool, who the cool kids are, how to create the perfect image. Brent is just starting to figure it all out at his new school when he goes to a party he's not strictly invited to, drinks a bit too much, and gets publicly humiliated by the girl he's had a crush on since moving. Mortified, Brent storms off and decides to commit suicide by crashing his car. Brent escapes with just cuts and a minor concussion, but the crash kills a 19 year old woman named Lea. Lea's mother asks Brent, as restitution, to travel the country and place 4 whirligigs in Lea's image in the corners of the country -- to pass on the joy that Lea would have brought to the world. Brent's journey is emotional as well as physical as he, bit by bit, comes to terms with taking another person's life.This premise could easily come across as preachy or even silly, if not for Fleischman's beautiful writing. Details of Brent's journey are interspersed with four accounts of people encountering the whirligigs. The experience is moving for the reader without seeming intentionally tear-jerking or manipulative -- although I did cry for pretty much an entire chapter at one point."Brent observed travelers writing postcards, recalled that he'd brought some, and realized he had no one he wanted to send them to. He was a planet on which there was no other life yet.""I pledge allegiance to Sarah Chang and all other Asian-Americans that I will be quiet, hardworking, and polite, succeeding in all things through dedication." A Korean character reciting the Pledge of Allegiance that's "only for people of Asian background.""Somebody...I don't know who, said there shouldn't be laughing after Auschwitz. That nobody could ever want to laugh again after the things that happened there...But I was there, kindelah. Yes, very terrible. What I saw you should never dream. But I can also tell you that all those that died want that we should have a life with laughing. Not sad all the time, always reading books about Nazis and men who like killing. They want us to laugh all the laughs that were taken away from them."
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Reviews
Brandon Kong
Summary: Brent Bishop is 17 years old, lives in Chicago, and goes to Monfort High School. He sets his love to Brianna, a high school student that Brent works with. After failing to be loved, he then attempted to commit suicide by drinking bursting limits of alcohol and failed and accidentally murdered another high school student, Lea Zamora. After the Jury's continuous decision, he then accepted a request to go on a long journey to create several Whirligigs and to share with the whole world.Review:This book was very boring, but I think it was because it was short and I knew what was going to happen. A lot of the events were irrelevant to the main subject of the book itself. Another thing I didn't like about this book was one of the characters, Brianna, because she was part of the reason why Brent tried to commit suicide in the first place. The only thing I liked about this book was that it told me what a Whirligig was. Overall, I did not like this book and I don't recommend you read this book. I gave this a rating of 3 stars.
Isabella
This book was really good. I felt that BRent really did grow as a character. Because of the accident he took new interest in things which helped him grow. I also believe that all the people he met, however brief, helped his growth as a person. I especially liked the last page of the book. :) I hope that my friends will find this book good, and relize how much an event, place, or people can change someone. We are all connected. Even if we can't tell how, the way we act, talk, or behave in places can affect people. That is what I believe the lesson of this book is. That and forgiving yourself releaves yourself of pain and suffering.
Meghan
The first time I heard of this story was when my school performed the debut of the play Whirligig, based on this book. I hadn't read it or heard of it before. But it's a story that has had an effect on my life and on the life of those at my school. This book is wonderful, full of lessons and pages that make me want to cry. The main character in this book sets out to build whirligigs in the four corners of the US to find forgiveness for accidentally killing a young girl in a car accident. The story is complicated and very different from anything I've ever read, but a breath of fresh air. The lessons the boy learns throughout his journey imprinted on me, just as they were meant to. More importantly, I found understanding in this book, along with my classmates that fateful year we did that play. Only a month or so before opening night, one of our dear friends took his life. This play helped ease the ache of his passing and helped us find understanding and gave us a chance to shed tears for his lose as the main character deals with a similar situation. In the final scene of this play, the last chapter of this book, the truth reveals as Brent says, "I was actually trying to kill myself. I killed her instead, by accident." The tears we shed in this moment helped free the ache left behind by the death of my friend. I doubt the author knew the effect this book would have on our school when he gave permission for it to be our play. Just like Brent didn't know the effect his whirligigs would have on others lives. I'll never forget this book and the meaning that it had for me. And I'll never forget my friend who set many events into motion without realizing it. He left behind his own type of whirligig. And I miss you. Whoever is out there, thank you for this story.
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