Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Deja Vu?: The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha

The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha
I'm fairly sure that I've read Lloyd Alexander's The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha before, possibly even when I was the right age. It was published in 1978, and I think I was reading Alexander by then. But I like to read all the physical books in my house, even when I'm rereading the text. After all, you never know when authors will change things up or publishers have a glitch and miss crucial pages.

Reading it in the bifocal way, where I'm reading the words that I don't really remember but also reading the memories that the scenes seem to stir up, reminds me why I accumulate Alexander's books but rarely remember to list him among my favorite authors. He seems to write a bit too much from the mind even when telling stories from the heart, so that there is always a gap between the reader and the story. This is true in this book, where the emphasis on showing rather than telling keeps me aware that I'm reading a story.
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But it's still a wonderful story, with Lukas moving from a boy who revels in idleness to someone who has recognized responsibility and loyalty and knows that life without it is thin and unrewarding. I love how Alexander never explains the fantasy, but leaves the characters and the readers with the events but no explanation. Was it real? Does it matter?

I think I'll hand this book to my sixth grader to read this summer; he'll like the ambiguity and should also appreciate Lukas's pacifism.

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