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Taking the CLASS out of Classics: The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Kathleen, Teen Blogger

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In school, they often present us with so-called classics and say: “There’s meaning in these. Find it.” Except most of us can’t seem to find the meaning in them, or understand why they’re so much more meaningful than a copy of Harry Potter. Well, that’s okay, because sometimes you need to take the class out of classics and just have fun reading them. (Of course then you’re left with just “ics”, which is probably most people’s reaction to having to read these books.)

It would be unfair to classify The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, by Mordecai Richler, as one of those books though. The book has such a contemporary feel to it that it’s impossible not to identify with it, despite it being set in the 1950’s. The story tells the tale of Duddy Kravitz, a young boy who becomes obsessed with his grandfather’s words: “A man without land is nobody.” Thus Duddy embarks on a mission to secure land that will lead him into a life of hard work, betrayal, and ultimate reward.

 

Duddy is an entirely relatable character because so many people are that kid, desperately trying to make a name for themselves in spite of their upbringing. Duddy is determined to be more than what his father was, to make his name known to the world, and that’s something most teenagers can understand.

Duddy’s treatment of his friends is often disgraceful, to say the least, but there’s a certain thrill in knowing that the core of this character doesn’t change entirely throughout the book. His character develops, of course, but at the end of the day, he’s still an ambitious, self-centred kid. By the end, there’s a mixed feeling of happiness for what Duddy has achieved, and shame at what he’s done to get there. The novel certainly leaves you with questions, which, if done well, can be the best kind of ending there is.

I didn’t voluntarily pick up this book (it was on the reading list for a summer program I was in) and I didn’t have to read it, but I’m so glad I did. The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz is a well-paced, thought provoking, and truly unforgettable novel. If you ever decide to beg your English teacher to let your class read any particular book, I highly recommend it be this one. But you don’t have to wait for it to be on a class list. Check it out at your local library and get reading!

Kathleen, Teen Blogger

 

 

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