Que serai-je sans toi by Guillaume Musso
I really liked this book! Probably my favorite of the eight I’ve read so far this summer. This one lends itself well to free reading, especially for my AP students. The plot is interesting and the characters, while sometimes a bit ridiculous, are engaging and I really couldn’t wait to find out what happened next! I’ve finally read three Musso books and I just don’t know if I always appreciate the fantastical plot twists and developments. As someone who typically reads American authors, this is something that can throw me off when reading Musso or Levy recreationally. My plan for next year (starting in just two weeks!) is still to read Et si c’était vrai… first semester with AP and take the QCM quizzes I wrote last year every Monday. I really liked the The Language Gym blog about rethinking the way we teach reading (https://gianfrancoconti.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/why-mfl-teachers-may-have-to-rethink-their-approach-to-foreign-language-reading-instruction/) by Gianfranco Conti. He advises to steer away from comprehension checks, because that’s not a natural or best practice way to encourage free reading. While that certainly makes sense, the AP exam is very much comprehension driven, so I can make allowances to foster independent readers, but the QCM are still a good tool for practicing reading for comprehension. As I strive to become a better teacher, I might model second semester after a free reading program: providing students with a choice of texts, mainly novels and short stories, and modeling good reading behavior both in and out of class. I can understand that students will read more when given a choice and what I want most for my AP and French 5 students is to enjoy learning more about the target language outside of the class. And for those students who chose a different book, I still found plenty to share with the whole class in Que serais-je sans toi? Thankfully 🙂
Page 19: rite de passage! Our 21-year old protagonist reflects on the changes he has undergone in the past two months spent in California, an ocean away from the Parisian suburbs. Because so many of my students have already spent time abroad, this would be an excellent way to start a story telling session: departures, arrivals, what wonderful people are now a part of their lives. This could go well with a grammar review of past tenses and maybe students could write a short narrative about their favorite memory or most difficult task.
Pages 47 and 48: esthétique! The author follows a famous art thief through his latest conquest. The descriptions of the museum, the paintings, and how the thief feels about the works of art he has seen tie in well to the theme of esthetics and we could talk about what makes a great work of art and which art appeals most to each student. This would be an excellent presentation topic (my students present two to three times a week!) and the visuals would be quite educational.
Pages 51 and 52: esthétique encore! This time the thief contemplates a specific painting, Vincent Van Gogh’s self-portrait on display in the Musée d’Orsay. I would like to use this passage to help students see other ways to describe art and how history can play an important role in esthetics. The thief reveres the artists and their paintings and I would like my students to consider why certain works of art are more valuable than others and if they agree with the value our community places on some more than others. I would also use page 106 for this discussion in order to put a monetary value on cultural artifacts.
There’s a small paragraph on page 143 that mentions the protagonist’s belief in power of art to heal and that culture can help you restore your image of yourself. I would like to know what students think about this idea and what other things, in their experience, can help someone to heal.
Page 195: la quête de soi – The protagonist’s love interest (perhaps the true protagonist?) has few momentos of her mother, so what she does have is very important to her. What are some of my own most important possessions? What do my students have that means the most to them? This is a great time to review possessive adjectives and pronouns too!
Page 280: la quête de soi – two of the main characters believe that they will die in four seconds. We will read about what they’re thinking in those last four seconds and reflect on what we would think about if we knew just how little time we had left.
I hope you have a chance to read this book and enjoy it as much as I do!