*I recently posted (this past Thursday) a retro book review on the Nerdy Book Club site.
*The book was Larger Than Life Lara by Dandi Daley MacKall.
*It got me to thinking of the first time I had the opportunity to post a retro book review.
*This is the review that was posted on the Nerdy Book Club this past May.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could go through life without any
fears? This premise isn’t realistic, but sure is “liberating” to think
about. The idea that I’m writing this blog post for the Nerdy Book Club
is completely liberating to this forty-five year old fourth grade
Before I share an all-time favorite book with the illustrious members
of this book club, I feel the need to open up and share a bit of my
story. I must confess that this kind of sharing would be high on my
list of fears similar to the lists Gabriel and Frita created in the book
The Liberation of Gabriel King by K.L. Going.
As I child and young adult I lived with many fears of my own; the
fear of not being great at sports, the fear of standing out, the fear of
not fitting in, the fear of the neighborhood kid down the street, the
fear of heights, and on and on. It took me a long time becoming
comfortable in my own skin and to accept myself for who I was and who I
was becoming. It isn’t an easy thing to admit, but if we are going to
face our fears, we need to take a risk, be honest, and share our story.
After graduating from college and becoming an elementary school
teacher I began to fall in love with books, the stories with amazing
characters, and all they had to offer. The list of my favorite books is
endless but one favorite touched me in a way that I will never forget.
The Liberation of Gabriel King
is one book that I hold close to my heart. Gabe is living life in 1976
while his fourth grade year is coming to an end. He is worried (and
fearful) about starting fifth grade with the two biggest bullies in
school. These would be the top three on his list of fears. When I was
starting fifth grade, these same three fears would have also been on my
list had I created one at the time. Isn’t it amazing how stories can
Gabe’s best friend, Frita, is a black girl with a spit-fire
personality and doesn’t back down to anyone; including the two bullies
Frankie and Duke. I wish I would have had a friend like this back in
1978 when I was starting fifth grade. She decides it is time to put
these fears of Gabriel’s behind him so he can start a liberating life.
During the summer of 1976 while the country is celebrating the
bicentennial, Frita helps Gabe tackle the lists of fears one by one.
Gabe isn’t sure how this will help him start fifth grade, but he goes
along for the ride. Once Frita sets her mind to something, there is no
They start small with his fear of spiders and before he knows it,
Gabe has a pet spider that he even is required to name. During the
journey of facing his fears, Gabriel learns that Frita also has a list
of fears that she is working on liberating. These two amazing young
people have an incredible summer full of experiences; some positive and
some not so much. The biggest surprise comes when Gabriel learns
Frita’s number one fear and realizes he needs to help her face it in the
same way she helped him.
The first time I read this book, it took me to places I hadn’t
thought about in years. Sometimes this was painful, but more often it
was liberating to me to know that I wasn’t the only young boy that had a
long list of fears. There are times when characters come alive, leave
the page, and sit beside you while you take in the story. This happened
to me as I came to know Gabe and Frita.
We all find ways to face our fears in life, take risks, and liberate
ourselves to live a more enriched and authentic life. One of the
biggest influences for me in my own life has been books; both children’s
and adult. As I look back at all the stories I’ve encountered in my
lifetime, it is truly mind boggling at how each and every character and
their story has helped me to liberate and free myself of fears that I
have likely been holding onto since my own childhood.
Give yourself the gift of The Liberation of Gabriel King
by K.L. Going. This novel is truly a gift and one that I know you will
keep close on your reading shelf and more importantly your heart.