The First Sentence

PJ Book2

My ninth grade English teacher challenged me. She forced me to think outside of the box — outside of my very small-minded comfort zone — and open my mind. She forced to me answer  questions in which the response I gave was neither satisfying or, at times, tolerant of others’ opinions. Her assignments taught me there was more to the world than the two mile trek from my home to school. There were assignments I didn’t fully understand until I became an adult. There were assignments I still don’t understand — even as an adult. There were assignments to this day I am still proud to read.  This is profound — to me — because there are photography gigs from last month I can’t remember, but I can recall a handful of assignments from nearly 20 years ago! Needless to say, her teaching methods had a lasting impact.

One of the more confusing tasks was what I’ve grown to call the first sentence assignment. We were to choose 10 books and list the first sentence of the book and explain why we chose that book. In theory, I believe the task was associated with dramatic writing and first impressions. I think she was teaching us how a well written single sentence can captivate a reader well enough to continue reading although the subject may not be all that captivating. Personally, it forced me to think. Why was this important to me? What about this moved me?

As I was reading through the many blogs I follow, one post jogged my memory of this assignment. A blogger, Andrea Badgley, posted quotes from a book (one of many it seems) she reads. For some reason, that post spoke to me and reminded me of that long ago assignment.

There’s no way I could remember all 10 of those books on the decades-old list, but I wanted to share the ones I knew were listed. If you had to do this assignment which books would you list and why? It’s a lot harder to list than you may first think.

From 1994’s List:

Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry” by Mildred D. Taylor: “Little Man, would you come on? You keep it up and you’re gonna make us late.”

The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton: “When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.”

The Giver” by Lois Lowry: “It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened.”

The Bible: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 (New International Version)

Sati” by Christopher Pike: “I once knew this girl who thought she was God.”

(The photos on this post are of a notebook created and shared by a group of Pearl Jam fans who have, over time, bonded through through this book, their love of the band, and the friendships forged from both. I was able to see this book and have it explained to me in detail last year. I took a few shots of thinking I would write a blog post about it. I didn’t get around to writing the post, but I thought the photos fit here. These are dedicated, long-term Pearl Jam fans who are moved by the members’ music, writing, and causes. Just as the first sentence of a book can speak to us.)

PJ Book

4 thoughts on “The First Sentence

  1. Melissa Waldron

    I have this Pearl Jam scrapbook with me now! It’s been in circulation for over 3 years. It’s the one of the most meaningful connections to other human beings I’ve ever experienced. Thank you for seeing something special in our “journey”.
    Melissa Waldron.

    Reply
  2. Melissa Waldron

    If you ever want to write a blog post about our book .. I and a few others would love to help out. We would really love for others to learn from this and start one of their own!

    Reply

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