After two mosques had been brurned in the United States Ellen
Hopkins posted a message on Facebook. "'We all serve one Creator',
meaning Christians, Jews, Muslims and, in fact all human beings. I
was prepared for a negative backlash, but not for the comment that
came from a sixteen-year-old girl.
'It's awfully arrogant of you to think we have to believe in
anything,' she said. 'I happen to be an atheist.'"
This provided the inspiration for Rumble.
Matt, Hopkins' protagonist, sees life as "...a few years on this sad,
"...If you're really fortunate, the good
Outweighs the bad. In my eighteen years
all I've seen is shit tipping the scales."
Matt was the result of unprotected sex that resulted in his
father shot gun marrying. His dad has never really forgotten his one
true love. His parents' relationship has him wondering why marriage
makes people hate each other. And his father was cruelly judgemental
of his deceased younger brother.
Matt's girlfriend, Hayden, is changing a lot. Nothing he does
or says seems right in her presence. It could have something to do
with the fundamentalist Christian group that has become very important
in her life.
"There is no God, no benevolent ruler of the earth, no Grand
Poobah of countless universes. Because if there was, there would be
no warring or genocide in his name; those created 'in his image' would
be born enlightened, no genuflecting or tithing required; and my
little brother would still be fishing or playing volleyball instead of
fertilizing cemetary vegetation..."
Matt's atheism is not the only thing that stands in the way of
him accepting Hayden's new companions. Some of them were the ones who
tormented his gay younger brother to the point where Luke saw no
alternative to taking his own life.
This poignant coming of age story is difficult reading at times,
but really worthwhile. Put it on the summer reading list for parents,
teachers, guidance counselors and all others who work with young
people. Keep it on the library shelves to speak to kids who need to
know they're not alone.
On a personal note, Luke, the little brother, had taken his life
because of relentless bullying on the part of peers and father. An
event I went to recently and one I will be involved in Sunday are rays
of light in this regard. In Bangor there was a walk against all kinds
of violence including bullying. After stirring speeches and music we
walked around downtown. Most people carried signs. I blew bubbles.
This Sunday I will participate in Out Of Darkness, a suicide
prevention walk up to UMaine.
A great big shout out goes out to the fine folks who organize the
events and other similar ones. They take a lot of work.
Julia Emily Hathaway
Sent from my iPod