Please don't shoot the moon…

Call me a nerd, but I’ve always been bothered by the saying “Shoot for the moon, and even if you miss you’ll land upon the stars”. It didn’t bother me too much until the other day when I was standing in line at Barnes and Noble bookstore and saw it on a bookmark. When I commented (rather loudly, I’m afraid) on the fact that the moon is actually closer than the stars, a girl (who seriously couldn’t have been any younger than 10 or 11, probably in middle school) in line in front of me turned around with wide, devastated eyes and looked at me like I had just shattered her whole outlook on life. “For real?” she asked.

Uh, yeah.

So when I got home I asked my brother (who is currently 10 years of age) if he knew which was closer, the moon or the stars. He looked at me like I was going insane, and then told me that, duh, the moon was closer.

Anybody else here smell an education fail?

ANYWAY, what that all was leading up to was the book I was purchasing at the time. It’s called Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult. I’ve read two of her other books and I think they’re amazing. They are on topics that are controversial, and actually make you *gasp* think.

Nineteen Minutes is about a high school shooting court case with a surprise ending. Each chapter is written by a different person affected by the shooting, including the girlfriend of a victim, the girlfriend’s mother (who is also the judge assigned to the case), the detective working on the case, the shooter, and the shooter’s mother. Groups of chapters are written from a different point in time: years before, minutes after, at court, after the trial, before any of the students were born. The shooter’s excuse is years upon years of constant, relentless bullying. We’re talking name calling, pantsing, shoving into lockers, embarrassing emails, actual physical violence…the works. EVERYONE has a secret to keep, and it’s not until the very end of the book that the biggest one is revealed.

Change of Heart is about a woman whose husband and daughter are killed. The man responsible is sentenced to death, and is held in jail for eleven years. The woman’s other daughter needs a heart transplant. The man in jail offers his heart to the woman’s daughter. This brings up a terribly difficult decision for the mother: does she let a murderer’s heart be placed inside her daughter, or does she run the risk of letting her daughter die? Because lethal injection stops the heart, the man’s attorney is trying to change his sentence to a hanging using his religion as an excuse. Though the man is not religious, the attorney is using the hundreds of people outside the prison who think the man is Jesus returning to earth to back her claim. The man has performed “miracles” such as bringing a bird back to life, making a piece of gum enough for seven greedy inmates (who all claim to have taken more than a fair share), and curing the man in his neighboring cell of AIDS. The man does not think himself Jesus though, and actually wants to die. He is thought to have undiagnosed bipolar disorder and problems with his speech that he’s had since his childhood as an orphan, and gets frustrated easily. This book is also written from different character’s point of view.

So I have a few questions for you guys.

Your thoughts on bullying and if it led someone to fear others (or want revenge) so much that they brought guns to school, should that person be found guilty or not guilty?

Save your child with a murderer’s heart (especially if that murderer killed your other daughter and spouse), or risk waiting for someone else’s? (Also, you can fit in cellular memory…)

Anybody else read Jodi Picoult or similar authors and like to recommend a book?

Which is closer: the moon or the stars?

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  1. shinrai
    January 9, 2009 at 8:13 pm —

    That saying would bother me, but then I’d have to take issue with the lyrics to ‘Fly Me To The Moon’, and I adore that song.

  2. January 10, 2009 at 12:50 am —

    My aunt gave me a copy of My Sister’s Keeper. Very slit-your-wrists tragic, and I could only stomach certain tips and pieces, so I ended up skimming.

    Secondly, I’m not a huge fan of Jodi Piccoult because she started writing story lines for the new run of Wonder Woman, and apparently bailed on DC halfway through a storyline. In the transitional period between writers, the plot line has Wonder Woman fighting with Villian A, and Superman literally swoops down, picks her up, and flies off with her saying “you’re needed elsewhere.” Weak. Luckly, Gail Simone took over writing duites and the issues rawk.

    And moon is definately closer to the stars.

  3. Ssteppe
    January 10, 2009 at 6:25 am —

    Well, you had me until “(Also, you can fit in cellular memory…)”

    There is no scientific evidence for “cellular memory” – anecdotal only (although it’s been used as a writing device many times in horror movies.)

  4. January 10, 2009 at 8:21 am —

    When I read this post title I was sure you were going to start talking about Hearts (the game) and take issue as trying to shoot the moon is immensely fun.
    Anyhoodle, it’s my understanding that cellular memory is basically bunk as ordinary body cells do not have the and mechanism for forming memories. Since you’re into mysteries and all I will have to recommend Friends, Lovers, and Chocolate by Alexander McCall Smith, which talks about and basically (gently) debunks cellular memory. Of course it should be noted that Smith is from a much less Hard-Edge school of Mystery writing than Jodi Picoult, so this is more of a curled up with a mug of tea on a snowy Sunday sort of read, but a very interesting and enjoyable one.

  5. January 10, 2009 at 11:13 am —

    Shoot for the moon, and even if you miss, you’ll end up in an elliptical orbit with the Earth as one focus of the ellipse, although perturbations from lunar gravity are sure to be an issue, so you might want to aim for Lagrange point L4 or L5 instead.

  6. January 10, 2009 at 8:33 pm —

    LoL ^_^

  7. January 11, 2009 at 9:00 am —


    I would pay an disturbingly large amount of money to see that on a bookmark.

  8. FFFearlesss
    January 11, 2009 at 9:32 am —

    Shooting your bullies just shows a lack of creativity. There are way cooler things you can do to people who have tormented you that will prolong their suffering, increase your own amusement and, done carefully, NOT get you arrested. And it takes almost no imagination. Really all it takes is one viewing of a potty humor movie to give you a couple ideas.

    I’d take the murderer’s heart in a second. Isn’t that the very definition of poetic justice and redemption?

    Another cool book is called “Church of the Dead Girls” by Stephen Dobyns. It’s about how the disappearance of several teenage girls tears a small town apart as they all start suspecting whoever is the “weirdest”. Unfortunately the big reveal at the end isn’t quite so mind blowing but everything leading up to that part is so vivid. Especially if you’ve ever grown up in a small town, you can totally see the people you knew going through these exact witch hunt mentalities.

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