Chast, R. (n.d.). Can’t we talk about something more pleasant?
Graphic Novel for Young Adult Readers. Grades 9-12.
Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast is a great graphic novel. It is a memoir based off Roz Chast’s final years with her parents. She discusses the ups and downs of taking care of sick, elderly parents. Before reading the book, I thought it was going to be about the parents not understanding why the media discusses all the horrible actions happening in the world. Actually, I was wrong. It was about how the older we become the closer we are to death. While everyone knows this to be true, we don’t really want to think about it. Roz Chast discusses this difficult topic in a humorous way while still bringing the seriousness of it. Chast goes into depth on her parents last years on Earth. Her parents were in there late 90s when they passed. George, her father, was 95 and her mother, Elizabeth, was 97. The book displays Chast’s heart through this difficult times and how she overcame them. This is a good book for high school students because they may have experienced the loss of a loved one or have seen someone lose someone they love. Not only does it discuss death, but it discusses how sometimes life doesn’t go your way. It goes into her parents life which was filled with grief and tragedy. Before Roz was born, her parents lost a child. They experienced heartache after heartache. Since they did experience so much, they took out a lot of rage and anger on Roz. She discusses this in the book and how it affected her. Everyone can relate to this book at some point in their life.
I thought this book was done well. She didn’t bash her parents for the way she was treated. However, she proves that you can move on from a difficult childhood. This book allows students and adults to realize they will control their adulthood. I feel this is crucial for students in high school or early college. Since they are searching for themselves, they will be able to see through Roz Chast that they control their destiny.
I really connected to this book because I didn’t have the best childhood. When I had my first child, I vowed I would give my children the best life possible. I don’t ever want my children to feel the way I did when I was younger or feel that hurt. I feel this way for all children. Just because they had a hardship or a rough childhood doesn’t mean that is there fate. Just because someone told them they are not smart doesn’t mean its true.
This issues raised in the book are really important for young adults. These issues are dealing with uncomfortable physical intimacies, adult children accepting parental roles, aging and unstable parents leaving a family home for institution, managing logistics, and hiring strangers to provide the most personal care. Almost all young adults can relate to one of these themes either through themselves, a family member, or friend. Even if they can’t, it is important for them to become familiar with them because they might come across these situations in the future.
The issues in this book can be very sensitive for some students. I would approach them with ease. I would ask students some questions, but have them write the answers down in a private journal. I would ask them how they can relate to the book, if they have gone through a situation like this, I would ask them to find the positive in the situations that they wrote down.
The setting, plot, theme, style, and point of view all go along with the story line perfectly. There is no particular setting in the memoir since it discusses how entire life. However, mainly it takes place in her parent’s New York apartment. The plot of the book is how to deal with the curveballs of life. The style of the book is very light compared to the topic. She lightens it up with a cartoon look. The point of view of the book is from Roz Chast.
Students will identify two traits in themselves and write a five paragraph essay on how they are going to create a vision for their lives despite their circumstances.
Students will learn about themselves through this book. They will identify two traits they love about them and two traits they need to work on. Once they do that, they will look at why they don’t like the two traits about themselves.
For example: If they say they love their personality and that they are outgoing. Then, the two traits they don’t care for are they lack confidence and determination. Then, they will evaluate these traits. They will come up three solutions to change how they feel about themselves to a more positive light.
Three solution ideas: They will walk with confidence, they will believe in themselves everyday, and then they will reach out to others who feel the same way.They could go out into the community and help others who feel this way too. They will try out their solution ideas for a week. Then, they will write a reflection on the experience.
Then, they will write a five paragraph essay about their experience. The essay must have correct grammar usage, spelling, punctuation, etc.
- Why do you think Roz Chast felt this way?
- How did she change her fate?
- How can you change your fate?
- How can you learn from your past or mistakes?