Monthly Archives: September 2016

Animal Farm by George Orwell, Lena Wehn, 9/18/16 10.1/10

Animal Farm, by George Orwell is a classic, highly regarded among most. Luckily I made the choice to read it. Animal Farm is eye-opening and riveting. I began reading the book expecting certain things to happen, understanding the idea of the book, and feeling it was going to be on par with my expectations, that however was not the case. It was shocking, fascinating and written in such a way that draws the reader into the twisted minds of the animals. As the novel progressed, I felt certain bonds begin to form between myself some of the characters I liked best. They were strong and loyal, and kindly. I truly felt for the animals of the farm and their situation. Proof of their loyalty lied in the heart of Boxer, the strong willed, humongous horse. He would chant, “I will work harder” over and over again to please the Pigs. Tirelessly he would fight the hard land and struggle with stubborn, massive rocks, of little to no benefit benefit of his own, mainly, only the pigs were helped by all of the animal’s hard work. Overall I would solidly give this book a 10.1/10. It exceeded standards and opened me up to new points of view and ways to understand humanity and their blindness to situations. I recommend Animal Farm to everyone and anyone, preferably however, over the age of 10. Some of the deeper concepts are harder to understand for younger minds. At the heart of the novel was the idea that, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” That particular concept resonated with me above all the rest. It’s statements like those that made the book so profound. As a last comment I would like to say, that rarely do I love the way a book ends, but Animal farm was wrapped up so wonderfully it left me speechless.

 

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All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: 9/10

One of the books I read over the summer was “All The Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr. This novel is set in the 1940’s, in the midst of World War II, and tells the story of two teenagers by the names of Marie-Laure LeBlanc and Werner Pfennig. Marie-Laure has been blind since six, and is from France, where she lived with her father, the principal locksmith of the Museum of Natural History. Werner is an orphan who grows up in Germany with his younger sister. His uncanny aptitude for fixing radios gets him into a very prestigious academy for Hitler Youth. These two characters created by Doerr are on opposite sides of the raging war, and yet their paths would manage to cross.   

Although Marie-Laure was blind, she could get her way through the city. She could laugh with her father and feel the shells of snails and mollusks at the museum her dad worked at. Things were finally looking up for her. When Marie-Laure’s city was being attacked, she and her father fled to seek refuge with Marie-Laure’s great uncle in a city called Saint Malo. Here, she and her father try to rebuild everything that they had lost from evacuating their old home, but only so much can be recovered.

Werner is an orphan boy with a younger sister. He has a fascination in radios, which gets him into an academy for Hitler Youth where he is challenged physically and mentally. He makes friends and he finally feels as if he belongs, but one day he goes out to the field. His job is to locate enemy broadcasts by using radios and to eliminate them. His new job shows him new things, but also brings him to Marie-Laure.  

One aspect of this book that really drew me in was the use of dates and the switching of narrators. The book was divided into segments, where you could get a brief overview of what would happen in the future. With the switching of narrators, Doerr managed to keep me as a reader almost completely hooked. One of his well-placed cliffhangers could get me thinking about the book days after I had put it down and many hours in the night. The new way of writing that Doerr had brought to the table had amazed me and had me constantly imagining what I would do if I were in the situation that Marie-Laure and Werner were in. Some unique parts of this book include the history of the time period. After reading the book, not only did I connect to the characters, but I also felt as though I understood the time period better as well. The struggles that Marie-Laure faced running away from the Nazi’s, but also the terrors that Werner had to go through in training both painted me a very clear picture of the life they were living in. I would recommend this book to anyone because of just how fun of a book it was to read, but especially if you are a person who finds yourself drawn to the characters or find yourself identifying with them. Doerr did a fantastic job in the character development department, making the characters in “All The Light We Cannot See” one of my favorites that I had ever read about.

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Lord of the Flies by William Golding: 9/10

This book is the most unique novel I have ever read, with very good literature and an amazing story. The story takes place during a war, most likely World War I. When an airplane containing a bunch of British schoolboys is shot down, the survivors of the crash, all young boy, are stranded on an island. The children are first afraid for their lives, but then they discover that their island is full of fertile fruit trees, clean water lots of animals that they can hunt for food, and no adults to boss them around. It seems like a paradise, but then the smaller children start speak of a horrifying, mysterious beast, triggering fear throughout the kids and the tribe they have established. Suddenly, the kids begin to turn on each other, and their perfect society they have created begins to fall to pieces. This book is an interesting read because of when it was written, in 1954. Much of the language in this book is different that anything I have ever read before. It may be one of the reasons it has such compelling literary devices. William Golding includes a lot of imagery in the book, making you feel as if you were on the island with the kids. An example of this is when he writes, “The flames, as though they were a kind of wild life, crept as a jaguar creeps on its belly toward a line of birch-like saplings that fledged an outcrop of the pink rock” (pg. 44). Throughout the whole novel, you get a view of the setting through passages like this. There are also many unique metaphors and similes that I came across. In all, this book was unlike any other I have ever read, and would recommend it to people who appreciate a good story, with a not a lot of action and that has great literature.

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The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck 8.5/10

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck is a novel about the Great Depression and the impact it had on a poor family moving out west called the Joads. They were forced off their land due to drought, economic hardships, and bank closures which forces the tenant farmers out of work. And if they decided not to leave their precious home they would have experienced a big tractor destroying their land and home anyway. This in of itself was unfair and even more grueling that after spending their whole lives at one place had to move to the unfamiliar territory of California which was over 1500 miles away. In California they and other migrators were promised high paying jobs, housing, and lots of food for everyone but that was simply not the case. After piling into one automobile and traveling that distance where they encountered many mishaps of car trouble and deaths the family got to California hoping for a better life but only finding what they had ended with in Oklahoma. No jobs and no where to live. They had been lied to and were forced to camp alongside the road with all the other migrants. Despite their situation no one was willing to help them. The police would burn their camps and arrest anyone for very small crimes and local citizens would either call them names or worse try to kill them. The Joads had to deal with this harsh reality and try to push through the struggles they were facing. Eventually they do find a job of picking peaches but it proves to be brutal where they get payed only a few cents for each basket they fill and they don’t get to eat any of the peaches they pick. So they decide to move on where they find a cotton farm to work at which is better but not sufficient. They are still met with the problem of a place to live. The novel eventually ends with a big flood which is the result of a lot of rain after many months of hot, dry weather. The family then takes refuge in a barn atop a hill where I believe it’s a symbol of a new beginning for them.

I thought this book was very enjoyable to read because of the way it told about the reality of the Great Depression and how it opened up my mind to the struggles people encountered along the way. But I thought it was also very sad and solemn to read. Furthermore I did not like the ending because of how it left you on a cliffhanger and of how sad it was that they were left with nothing but a barn to live under and nothing else. I guess it is historically true though. I would recommend this book to people who like learning about American history because in a way it was like a history book with many examples of the migrants troubles such as injustice by the Californeans. Though it was very depressing it opened up my mind to the harsh reality of the Great Depression. It also was very exciting too due to all of the great descriptions the author gave you and the adventures the Joads went through and perils they faced.

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Power Lines By Jason Carter 10/10

Black and white. That’s what life is like in post apartheid South Africa, and Jason, an American working in the Peace Corps, is determined to bring some color to the racially separated country. Going to South Africa is important to Jason and wants to make a difference on a global scale. He is first put through months of language training so he can communicate with the local South Africans. After, he is assigned a host family that he will be living with for the next few years. At first, he is intimidated by his host family’s way of life. But soon he begins to adapt to their native ways. Jason encounters numerous new faces and befriends many people living in community. He navigates and challenges social boundaries as well as immersing himself in the local culture. As Jason travels from Cape Town to Johannesburg and across South Africa, he begins to adapt to the local culture. He also begins to learn of the still racially charged environment South Africans face. While blacks struggle to provide for their families, whites live on top of the social pyramid in their own wealthy class. Jason works throughout the novel to help educate children in poverty and assist black communities. Through struggles and stereotypes, Jason perseveres to help a nation recover from years of racism. In this autobiography, Carter uses strong imagery and exceptional characterization, adding depth and style to a glorifying plot. Using beautiful sentence flow, strong character descriptions, and emotional personal stories, Power Lines is easily a top choice for any type of reader. Lovers of travel and history will especially enjoy this novel. With a combination of comedy and adventure, Power Lines will truly peak your interest.

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Nigh by Elie Wiesel 9/10

Night by Elie Wiesel is a terrific autobiography that recounts Wiesel horrific times inside concentration camps during World War II. This book is not like any other Holocaust autobiography written before, Wiesel provides more in depth looks at the mental toll the concentration had on the prisoners. He centers the book primarily on the death of his God and how the Nazi’s stripped away his ability to ever see good in the world. Wiesel is taken away with his father in the Spring of 1944. He spends part of the book in a train car being transported across the German countryside until he reaches Auschwitz. Wiesel quickly learns that life will change rapidly for himself and his father as they enter the gates of the concentration camp. He is then transferred to Buchenwald where he is ultimately liberated in the end of the novel. Throughout the book Wiesel continuously shows the deterioration of humanity in himself and others as he recounts his time at these concentration camps. Wiesel studies the dramatic changes that occur in the parent-child relationship inside of concentration camps. I recommend this book to anyone who wishes to see a new and scarier look at life inside of concentration camps. Wiesel’s novel will leave you pandering different life long questions for weeks to come. I suggest to anyone who reads this to read it twice, you will discover different connections in the book that will open new doors to different thoughts. With a combination of his amazing choice of words and the incredible metaphors, this book is one you will never forget.

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Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – 8/10

Ever felt unaccepted? Experienced conflict with friends? Felt broken beyond repair? While the turns of life cause unexpected predicaments, the narrator, Charlie, manages to encounter every one of these problems and more. This makes the book eventful, but it also means it is incredibly relatable to anyone who’s experienced struggle of adolescence.  I think that this book is relevant to so many audiences, that there is no need to specify one particular group it is suited for. Charlie’s narration accurately follows themes of jealousy, heartbreak, and social anxiety. These obstacles affect every person at some point in their life and are essentially requirements of the adolescent experience. Through the falling outs, heartbreak, and social adventures Charlie takes, each reader can think back to a time when their own life was as hectic as his.

To view the setting of Perks of Being a Wallflower imagine this: A highly capable boy with offbeat ideas and an alternative way of thinking heads for his first day of high school. Sounds like a recipe for disaster? Well, it is. The protagonist, Charlie, struggles to find belonging until befriending his classmates, Patrick and Sam. The two impart their knowledge to Charlie, introducing him to his first girlfriend, indie music, and even drug experimentation. The book, constructed by Charlie’s many letters, outlines the internal transformation he encounters. By reading Charlie’s own account, the audience is privy to Charlie’s exact experience. Additionally, Chbosky writes through Charlie’s perspective by first stating feelings in that entry and then describing why he feels so. In this way, his use of suspense ties the reader in the find out the the deeper meaning of Charlie’s emotions. While Charlie is becomes enlightened by his new surroundings, he struggles internally. Through their many adventures, Charlie’s new friends teach him about the hardest lesson above social belonging, self acceptance.

 

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