The Assignment by Liza M. Wiemer

What would you do if you were asked to do an assignment in class or at work that you believed was discriminatory? Liza M. Wiemer explores this topic in her latest young adult novel, The Assignment.

The Assignment  is inspired by a real-life incident that was splashed all over the news. This book talks about the impact of discrimination and antisemitism in schools, surrounding communities, and the world.

It’s their senior year of high school and Cade Crawford and Logan March are ready to graduate. Taking a class from Logan’s favorite teacher, the two are excited to be together until a certain assignment is given. He has given an assignment to the students that they must argue for the Final Solution, the Nazi plan for the genocide of the Jewish people. Horrified and disgusted, Logan and Cade want nothing to do with that assignment. They can’t believe that more of their fellow students aren’t willing to stand up. This teacher can’t really expect them to argue for discrimination, intolerance, and antisemitism.

Not getting the response that they want from the teacher, Logan and Cade work together to put together an alternate assignment to present to the teacher and school administration. When they still are not satisfied with the school administration’s response, Logan and Cade decide that they have to take a stand and do more. The more they explore their options, the wider and more known this assignment becomes. The student body, their families, and the community become divided over the assignment. The turmoil gets worse and worse, leading to an explosive situation full of anger and resentment on both sides. Striving for justice and tolerance, Logan and Cade aren’t sure where this situation will lead, but they know they want love and peace to succeed.

This book is also available in the following format:

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson

three cups of teaNo, Three Cups of Tea is not a new book — it was published in 2006 – but I just got around to reading it.  Many of you may already be familiar with this book by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin — it’s subtitle is “One Man’s Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations. ”

Mortenson, barely alive after failing to summit K-2 in 1993, wanders lost and alone  into a remote area of Pakistan, and is cared by the villagers there for seven weeks.  In gratitude, he promises to return to build a school for the children who’ve been learning their lessons by scratching in the dirt.   Raising the funds proves challenging, but after many setbacks, he not only keeps his promise — he eventually builds more than 50 schools throughout rural Pakistan and Afghanistan.

As his mission continues after 9/11, he is met with death threats, a kidnapping, and many cultural challenges in dangerous Taliban territory.  Still, the overall lesson one takes away from this book is that one person really can change the world.

What about the title?  Well, it’s from an old Baltistan proverb.  “The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger.  The second time, you are an honored guest.  The third time, you become family.”  I can’t help but wonder how much better our world would be if we all could share just three cups of tea.