Saturday, July 18, 2009

Zen and the Art of Faking It

Dear Reader,

I just finished reading Zen and the Art of Faking It by Jordan Sonnenblick. When San Lee moves to “Nowheresville” Pennsylvania, he has the opportunity to reinvent himself—again. Skater? Jock? Prep? As someone who has repeatedly moved from place to place, he’s played all of the roles.When he impresses his Social Studies class with his knowledge of Zen Buddhism that he learned at his last school, San Lee falls into his new identity—“Buddha Boy.” As San Lee pretends to be a Zen master, he ignores the very nature of Zen Buddhism—truth. After all, what kind of Zen master is adopted by American parents and has a dad in prison? Lyingto himself, his peers, and, Woody, the girl he loves, San’s efforts to fit in leave him an outcast until he realizes it is never too late to own up to the truth.Throughout the book, San quotes lines from Zen books he has found in the library. As he tries to enlighten others with his teachings, he ends up enlightening himself as well. The following line reflects a lesson San musthimself learn:
“The obstacle is the path” (173).
In this book, the truth is San’s obstacle, but the truth is also the path heneeds to take in order to make things right with his family, his friends, andhimself. Truth continues to be San’s obstacle because he is afraid to admitwho he really is. Only after he is honest with everyone in his life does hebegin to become the enlightened Zen master he was pretending to be.Few books make me laugh the way Zen and the Art of Faking It did.Perhaps this is because I share many of San’s characteristics: his worriesabout what people would think about him if they really knew who he was,his sarcasm, and without a doubt, his never-ending inner dialogue. Readingabout San’s quirks has made me laugh at some of my own.I rate this book a 10 out of 10. The author captures what it is really like toattend any middle school. He writes, “a school is a school is a school” andproves this as characters deal with bullies, mysterious teachers, jealousy,stereotypes, love, and pretend identities. Most importantly, through San’s“Zen guy” act, I started to change the way I view my world. San showedme that whether or not I understand what is happening in my life, it is stillhappening; I can’t avoid it: the present is what it is. By the last few pages ofthe book, I felt as though I, myself, was beginning to lead a Zen life.

1 comment:

  1. Ooh, I like this a book with a subtle message. Just what my students need. I have had several people recommend this book to me and it definately needs to be on my shelves.