Carolyn Wilhelm reviews Carnival Lights

Title: Carnival Lights
By: Chris Stark
Publisher: Modern History Press
Author Website: https://www.christinestark.com/
ISBN-10: 1615995781
ISBN-13: 978-1615995783
Price: Hardcover $37.95, Paperback $24.95, Kindle $6.95
Page Count: 268
Formats (HC, PB, Kindle)
 
With good reason, two teens run away from a reservation and get jobs at the Minnesota State Fair. Although the book has a linear story within the pages, it also has a spiraling story going back generations explaining how families pass down their problems. Society also hands down its ills, of course.

“The grief of her people lived within her and was a way of knowing, with or without her conscious understanding.”
Stark, Chris. Carnival Lights (p. 221). Modern History Press. Kindle Edition.

What a read! Oh, my. This book hit me especially hard being a resident of northern Minnesota as well as Minneapolis. I walked exactly where the girls walked, went to the fair, and understand 1969 – the setting of the book. I was about their age in 1969. Of course, I was aware of the poverty in the Native American reservations. However, we attended Pow Wows and visited some people, so that I was unaware of the danger to women and children. I have been to Duluth dozens of times and cannot again pass through there looking at the ships with ignorance. We lived in Grand Marais on Lake Superior and I knew there was trafficking, but thought it was all at the border for some reason. 

10 Discussion Questions for Carnival Lights

 
1. How does Stark set up the first chapters so we are convinced Sher and Kris had no choice but to run away? What are several of the convincing reasons provided? 
 
2. Did you expect the girls would get to the fair rather quickly and experience problems there? What surprised you about the book with generational stories interwoven with the experience of the girls’ bus trip and arrival in Minneapolis?
 
3. Why did the girls spend several days in downtown Minneapolis? Who did Sher call, thinking they might find help? How did they get food? The Vietnam war protest added drama as well as helped explain the times. How was Kris always going ahead and doing things while Sher wanted to hold back?
 
4. How do they meet Tricia? Why does she say the following:

“Get this,” the woman said, “a couple of farm girls showing me the city.”
Stark, Chris. Carnival Lights (p. 118). Modern History Press. Kindle Edition.

5. Why do they decide or were told to leave several of the places they briefly stayed? What was the one place they wanted to stay? Why?

6. When in Minneapolis, Stark again sets up the reasons why the girls do not try to find help. Why would they not reach out to a social worker? Why do you think the church where they sat on the steps asked them to leave, probably knowing they were in trouble? 

7. How does the author explain most of Sher’s family acceptance and knowledge of her as contrasted with what her mother thought:

“Sher’s mother had admonished Sher for her broad shoulders, her narrow hips, and wearing her brother’s hand-me-downs, as if these oddities sprang from Sher alone, and did not come from the loins of her parents, from her family, from the Creator.”
Stark, Chris. Carnival Lights (p. 195). Modern History Press. Kindle Edition.

8. Were you expecting Sher and Kris would meet different people and find different problems than they did? How were the things that happened to them in Minneapolis worse or better than what you thought? 

9. Why do you think they didn’t go home but remembered the good people and things that happened? Their memories helped them cope. Could they have gone home? 

10. The foreshadowing of the ending strongly suggested something terrible would happen. Did you expect what happened or not? How did close calls to people who seemed to think about helping them add to the plot’s tension? How was the ending both happy and sad? 

Why do you think Stark wrote this book? What was the overall message? 

Carolyn Wilhelm, Reviewer
BS Elementary Education, MS Gifted Education, MA K-12 Curriculum and Instruction
Wise Owl Factory LLC

Chlorophyll

SKU ‎ 978-1-61599-642-1
$15.95
Poems about Michigan's Upper Peninsula
In stock
1
Product Details
UPC: ‎ 978-1-61599-642-1
Brand: Modern History Press
Binding: Paperback
Audiobook: Audible, iTunes
Edition: 1st
Author: Raymond Luczak
Pages: 98
Publication Date: 09/01/2022
Join me on a journey to the unspoiled forests of Upper Michigan
A long time ago young men wishing to be tall
scaled the mast of my octopus arms
and scanned the horizon of Lake Superior
for a glimmer of Canada. Usually we were cut down ...
For many of those who've lived there, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan can seem like a magical place because nature there feels so potent and, at times, full of mystery. After having grown up there, Raymond Luczak can certainly attest to its mythical powers. In Chlorophyll, he reimagines Lake Superior and its environs as well as his houseplants as a variety of imaginary and historical characters.

Ghosts dress in only gray and white.
This is how they camouflage their volcanic selves.
Lake Superior is bottled with them.
You can't see them but they move like fish ...

"In Raymond Luczak's Chlorophyll, the devastating natural beauty of Michigan's Upper Peninsula is imbued with passions its reticent human inhabitants are loathe to express. Trees, lakes, and stones air their infatuations, their grudges, their mythologies and griefs. Through this forest of the otherwise unsaid, we catch glimpses of a speaker who knows there is no line to blur between 'person' and 'nature.'" --Emily Van Kley, author of Arrhythmia and The Rust and the Cold

Spring is a girl who's cried all night
only to find that morning easily forgives
the coldness of him having left her
stranded among the thicket of evergreens ...

"Giving voice to the natural world, Raymond Luczak allows the rocks, trees, lakes, insects, and flowers that are part of flora and fauna of the region to speak for themselves, and they remind us that we are human, living in a more than human world." --William Reichard, author of Our Delicate Barricades Downed and The Night Horse: New and Selected Poems

"Evocative yet personal communing with nature. One of my sons summed up poetry as saying a lot with a few words. This collection does that. There is a piece of prose smuggled in and the poems vary in length considerably. There are some poems with traditional rhyme (and assonance) and the main themes are nature, anthropomorphised and used as metaphor. Dependability of nature and changing seasons also feature. The author reveals much of his story and relationships as well as the geography he inhabits and appreciates. I would advise reading this in small sips, as I did. That way you'll be able to savor the poems and their messages. I have deducted a star as many have already been published previously - and for the inclusion of prose (albeit informative) amongst the poems." --Daryl P. Goodwin, M.D.

"Being born a Michigan girl and now living in Texas; I miss the seasons, the tall beautiful trees, the clear rushing water of the rivers, the many lakes, and of course the Great Lakes surrounding Michigan. This collection of poems paints the visuals into a picturesque moving picture of the landscape, Lake Superior, insects, trees, animals, flowers, grass, life and death, etc. You don't have to be a Michigander or an outdoorsman to appreciate nature's beauty coming to life in the spring, the lazy dog days of summer, the colorful and chillier days of autumn, and the frigid cold and stark white of winter. This collection provides escapism to ordinary day!" --Laura Spinnett

"Luczak has a fantastic command of language and human emotion. Get a box of Kleenex, a bottle of wine, and some uninterrupted reading time. I have already reread it, told people about the book, and am expecting this book will win many awards. Very impressive." --Carolyn Wilhelm, Midwest Book Review

Raymond Luczak grew up in the Upper Peninsula. He is the author and editor of numerous titles such as Compassion, Michigan: The Ironwood Stories. His book once upon a twin: poems was chosen as a U.P. Notable Book for 2021. He resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota
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