Week 10, Taking Aim: Power and Pain, Teens and Guns edited by Michael Cart
Cart, M. (2015). Taking aim: Power and pain, teens and guns. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.
This book is a collection of stories that essentially explores the relationship and impact of teens and guns in American society. From a love story gone wrong to the tragedy of a school shooting, this book provides an enlightening look into the idea of guns in our society and their (sometimes) unintended consequences.
Keywords: guns; American society; tragedy; love; accidents
What I Think:
I enjoyed this collection of stories. I think it provides a variety of unique perspectives on such a controversial issue as gun control. Because this book has so many different stories with multiple themes flowing throughout, it is a great way for teens to connect and witness many different people who have different perspectives. Giving teens this opportunity allows them to discover their own beliefs and thoughts about the topic.
I specifically liked this book because it often provides a challenge to those with specific ideas. It is almost as if the book is challenging the audience to rethink what they know and believe about gun violence and positions on guns. For example, “there’s some kind of unwritten rule that, if you love the environment, you have to hate guns” (Cart, 2015, p. 103). This is a bold statement that is supported by the context of one of the short stories. However, the story challenges the reader to deeply think about whether he or she aligns with these beliefs. This challenge could be good for a young developing teen as they are just beginning to create opinions and beliefs of their own.
What the Experts Think:
This short story collection explores one of our America’s most hot-button issues: guns. A brief introduction by the editor and a prologue by Marc Aronson, Will Weaver, and Chris Crutcher prime readers for the stories to come, which span the numerous ways that guns affect teen lives across the country, in both urban and rural settings. Gregory Galloway writes of teens on a backwoods hunting trip contemplating shooting each other for the stories it’ll allow them to tell. Alex Flinn follows a girl embarrassed by her dad’s gunnut friend, until the zombie apocalypse makes her rethink things. Francesca Lia Block shows an elementary teacher faced with a reptile expert unexpectedly wielding a gun. In a wordless comic, Eric Shanower provides an interpretation of what goes wrong when Eros trades in his bow and arrow for more powerful, modern weaponry. As a collection, this anthology functions less as an evaluation of whether guns are good or bad but, rather, as an incisive glimpse at how guns function, both symbolically and literally, in contemporary society. Sobering and thought-provoking. -Jennifer Barnes
Although this book could be used in its entirety in the classroom, I would probably pull specific stories with plots and themes related to discussion. I would want to incorporate this book within a larger study of gun violence in American culture. Instead, I would use more of a narrative chapter book that fully develops its characters to truly relate and connect with the students. Then, in class, I would bring in excerpts from Taking Aim that related to what we were reading in the narrative and discussing in class. These pulled excerpts would either support opinions in the group or provide a different perspective in order to add variety and depth to the discussion. I think this process would provide for a rich discussion and development of opinions on such a controversial yet important topic.