This sounds more like a teacher, doesn't it. I read my favorite book of all time in 8th grade. I had a teacher at the time who introduced us to really exciting books. The one that has become my favorite is The Hobbit. The story was exciting, it was suspenseful, it was totally believable. I suppose most boys love stories that involve wizards, goblins, wharves, elves, magic, swords, and the battle between good and evil.
I particularly liked the character of Bilbo Baggins. He made me believe that even though I was a very average boy of 14 that I could do much more that I thought. Bilbo is forced into an adventure that makes him complete many challenges which he though he was incapable of completing. Mr. Baggins learns that, though he thinks he is feeble, that he can become stronger, that his hobbit skills can be sharpened though they have become almost unrecognizable through years of easy country living.
Bilbo learns to fight with his hands, he learns to fools dragons and he learns that the power of the ring is desired by everything that is evil. Bilbo learns that if you stand for what is good or have what represents it, the forces will come looking for you. Evil will not rest. Edmund Burke said, ""All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Bilbo discovers that he cannot avoid the evil that is coming and must fight it.
Ethan Frome is a book I really did not like. What bothered me the most about this book is that Ethan Frome, the main character seems to wimpy. The technical term for this is emasculated...in other words, made to be not masculine! While reading the story I was constantly finding myself annoyed and frustrated by Ethan's lack of personal dignity, lack of initiative, his fear of his wife, and his apparent inability to make a decision. I suppose it is possible that this is a credit to the author, Edith Wharton, but since she was a woman who grew up in this kind of atmosphere I tend to think that it is a reflection of her opinion of men.
I had the feeling the whole way through the story that the author had a general disdain for men, a desire to make men, as a group, seem to be powerless and weak. Each chapter she wrote seemed to add fuel to the fire of my opinion and provided, what I thought to be, more and more evidence of her opinion.
Being a man, I felt insulted by the tone of the book. I realize that there are sad, self-conscious, people who waver in their mind much of the time and seem incapable of making even the most simple decision. I realize that many people grow up in difficult situation and may have learned to act this way in order to survive a difficult childhood. I also realize that an ending where Ethan would learn to stand up for himself, make a decision, or at least make a choice, might be difficult to believe given his personality flaws. When I read I want to learn, I don't want to be depressed and irritated. I want to grow, I want to grow up, I want to learn from other people's examples and gain courage to become a better, stronger person. Reading Ethan Frome did not do that for me.