Book Review: Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk Review

Humans are always touted as civilized creatures who transcend the social and ethical limitations of other animals. Quintessentially, we view ourselves as the epitome of current evolution. David Sedaris in Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk begs to differ. In a heartfelt comical way, Sedaris skillfully illustrates the shortcomings of human interaction and often makes, we, the reader think wistfully to ourselves “Did that really just happen?” Sedaris’ writing, which was seemingly intended to degrade and downplay human success and triumph, causes the reader to feel laughter, joy and a sense of precognition which will hopefully save them from the situations chronicled in his masterful piece of art.

The animals depicted in Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk aren’t really animals. The reader is keen to see this very early on in the book. Each animal represents a paradigm of everyday social life in America. We have the gullible sheep, the two-faced trash talking monkey and the self-absorbed condescending warbler. These stereotypes can easily make the reader laugh and look down upon these characters. However they also allow the reader to understand these characters. The questions we, as the reader, may come to ask are “Why is the sheep gullible? “Why does the monkey gossip about other animals?” “What makes the warblers such douchebags?”

The stories force the reader to have either positive or negative thoughts about the animals in the story. Each character is chiseled out with a unique mold that makes them stick out. Each animal has personal ambitions, wants and fears giving the character analysts in the audience plenty of material to tear into millions of little synthetic pieces.

In real life, most people never take the extra steps to understand fictitious characters. Because the characters in the short stories are animals, subconsciously, we are dotting the lines and making the connections which we wouldn’t normally make. The warbler for example didn’t one day just become condescending and arrogant. It was born into a world which nurtured it with that mentality. Experiences and influences in its life caused it to become what it is. In the end, we can come to the conclusion that we really can’t judge a person for something that was out of their control.

Expanding upon the idea that we can understand and sympathize with the animals in Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, the collection of short stories also makes the reader wonder what animal they are mostly closely related to. When we find the animal we can relate most to we become attached, hoping that everything works out for the animal. However, Sedaris simply won’t allow us this luxury and sometimes gives our characters grimm endings, which not everyone wants to see.

At the same time, we still want to see how everything turns out for the animals because we don’t know which roller coaster ending Sedaris will give us. Though most of the time we can expect the characters flaws to bite them in them in the hiney making them suffer immensely, there are happy endings which puts a smile on the readers face.

To this effect, the entire book is sculpted to have you wonder about how each animals story will end. The reader will want to see some animals succeed in triumph while wanting others to fail miserably. I know that while reading the story of the lazy and selfish bear I wanted him to meet a grimm ending. But the ending I received was a little too sadistic for me bringing to a sympathetic mindset. Sedaris masterfully strums the strings of the human mind making you want to see his characters reach certain resolutions. However, he also makes you question whether or not it was right to wish such harsh fates upon animals when they eventually meet their maker. Characters we may want to die horrible painful deaths because of their flaws, may also be the ones we may eventually come to sympathize with.  

I recommend this book to readers who are infatuated with deep complex characters. Readers who aren’t afraid to have metaphorical jabs taken at their species, should definitely pick up this book. Also, readers who are willing to look in between the lines and uncover hidden meanings. This book’s greatest asset which draws in its readers may also be its biggest flaw. For the reader to absorb as much as they can from each short story in Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, they must be the analytical satirical thinker. Its a double edged sword in that respect.

In spite of this, the several different dynamics rolled into each individual short story that allows the overall product to accumulate into greatness. Each story is chiseled out to incur different emotions and responses from the reader. Its almost as if sedaris expects to receive such a wide variety of responses ranging from fanfare to disdain. Quite simply put, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk is the kind of book that everyone should pick up at one point in their lives because it does what most books today fail to do. It makes us think critically about who we are and what we do in relation to the stories we read about. This book is a must read.

Published by Little, Brown and Company

September 8th 2010

176 pages

Humorous Fiction

Creative Piece Link

Book Review: Paper Towns

Book Title: Paper Towns

Author: John Green

John Green is an American author who specializes in books for young adults. He has become very successful in the past few years and has the awards and titles to prove it. Two of his most popular books include his debut novel, Looking for Alaska and his most recent book, The Fault in Our Stars. Looking for Alaska won the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature in 2006. When The Fault in Our Stars was released in early 2012 it was at number 1 on The New York Times Bestseller List and was recently turned into a movie which became number 1 in the box office. To top it all off, in 2014 he made it on Time’s 100 Most Influential People List. Aside from all of his literary achievements, he has invented a charity called “Project for Awesome,” launched an event known as “Vidcon” and he and his brother, Hank Green, run a popular Youtube channel.

John’s third book is called Paper Towns and follows around a teenager named Quentin Jacobsen who has always been in love with his neighbor, the mysterious Margo Roth Spiegelman. Quentin, otherwise known as “Q,” has been infatuated with Margo since they were friends as children. But after they found the body of a man who committed suicide in a park they lost touch. Years later when Margo climbs through Q’s window and recruits him as an accomplice in her carefully laid out plan for revenge on her cheating boyfriend, he is shocked but agrees to help.

After a whole night of shenanigans, Quentin is excited to talk to his new friend Margo, but she is no where to be found. Q doubts that she left without an agenda and figures she had to have left some kind of clue. So once he breaks into Margo’s room, clues are exactly what he finds. Clues that give Quentin hope that he might be the one to solve the mystery of Margo Roth Spiegelman.

Something that Quentin finds himself struggling with throughout the whole book is trying to understand Margo and how she works. When Margo initially approaches him at his bedroom window in the middle of the night he is mesmerized. Over the next couple days following Q and Margo’s nighttime adventure and Margo’s disappearance, Q realizes that he knows absolutely nothing about the girl he'd fantasized about since his childhood. He’s only known Margo Roth Spieglman, the most popular, pretty, mysterious girl in school but that’s all anyone knows. Margo herself is an unsolved puzzle. But once Q starts finding all the secret clues she leaves behind he learns more about her which leads him to questioning himself.

Paper Towns has it all, humour, mystery, romance and concepts that many young adults will surely relate to. John Green is known for writing books that showcase a teenage boy who fantasizes over an unattainable, mysterious girl who somehow ends up changing their life. But he creates such interesting, outgoing characters and his writing style is so well thought out, clever, and sometimes even poetic that it doesn’t seem like a corny love story. Something that John Green does really well with is his use of language, he knows exactly how to word things to make everything as believable as possible. The conversations had in the book and the thoughts his characters express make complete sense with the mind of teeangers and that’s why his books are so popular. Teenagers and young adults understand and enjoy it. But don’t let that fool you, I’m sure almost any adult would really enjoy any book written by John Green. I would recommend Paper Towns in particular to anyone who is 13 or older, since it is a book written about a bunch of high school seniors there isn’t much of a filter and some of the things the characters say and/or think might not be what all parents want their kids to be reading about.

I have read two of John Green’s other books aswell, Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars. I finished each of the three books within a very short time period because I couldn’t put them down. I was never bored while reading them and was sucked into the character’s world quickly because John Green’s writing grabs your attention and doesn’t let go. I don’t really have anything bad to say about any of his books except for the fact that I was a little let down by the ending of Paper Towns, not that it was bad I was just left wanting more.

All in all, John Green is a very talented author and the popularity surrounding his books is for good reason. You should definitely give at least one of them a read because you won’t be disappointed.

Title: Paper Towns

Author: John Green

Publisher: Dutton Penguin

Date of publication: October 16, 2008

Number of pages: 305

Genres: Young adult fiction, Mystery

For my creative portion of the project, I drew the route the characters took to New York from Florida to find their friend Margo. A lot of interesting things happen to them on the way so I drew pictures to represent them along their route and visualized their whole journey. I thought that this part of the book, part 3, was very important along with it being my favorite part and I wanted to incorporate it into my creative response.

A Book In Review: The Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons

Hyperion Book Review

by Miles Cruice-Barnett

The TechnoCore is a group of AIs (artificial intelligences) that seceded from their human creators. They still choose to work closely with the humans, though they could wipe out the entire race with a snap of their metaphorical fingers. The TechnoCore is even powerful enough to create an ‘Ultimate Intelligence’ that could predict the future. That means predicting every possible outcome in the entire universe with 100% accuracy. At least, it would be 100% accurate if it were not for Hyperion. Hyperion is a planet on the outskirts of a galactic government called the Hegemony. It is a mysterious planet that has many strange things that even the technologically advanced human race and the power TechnoCore cannot understand. The biggest mystery on the planet is the Shrike. The Shrike is a menacing thing that seems to be somehow connected to time. It is known by many names including most notably ‘The Lord of Pain,’ and has been reported to be the cause of much death and destruction on Hyperion. The Shrike is a god to some; others think it is simply a story; yet others believe that it is a monster from the future, but no one really knows the truth about the Shrike, or if it even exists. The book is about 7 people that are hand picked by the Hegemony to go on a pilgrimage to confront the Shrike. However, the majority of the book is comprised of each person’s individual story of why they are on the journey and their personal experiences with the planet Hyperion and the infamous Shrike.

The book is unapologetic about throwing the reader into the strange futuristic system of the Hegemony. There are many terms that are not explained, many places that are not described, and it makes the book hard to follow at times. However, it also makes for a more realistic atmosphere. If someone were to write a narrative of their day, they would not bother to explain what a cell phone is because they would not expect anyone from a distant past to be reading the narrative. Hyperion allows the reader to use context clues and their imagination to fill the gaps of careful description. This is great for people who like to dissect a plot or read between the lines. Because it is written from so many different perspectives, each story has its own writing style unique to the character. Dan Simmons does a great job of capturing the essence of each of the pilgrims with the way he shapes their story telling. Every time you pick up Hyperion it is like there is a new book waiting for you inside, yet each story connected somehow with the same sub-plot of the planet Hyperion and the Shrike. This aids to keep the book interesting, though coherent, for those who might get bored of a book easily.

Time is a strange concept in the book. The development of the Hawking Drive allows travel faster than light speed, but this results in a ‘time debt.’ While you may experience 2 weeks on the ship in a cryogenic sleep, hundreds of years could pass in the outside world. Because of this, time and age are relative things and it makes for an interesting understanding of some of the characters. The Time Tombs are another example of how time is used to craft this book. The Time Tombs are moving backwards in time from an indefinite future. Many of the concepts in Hyperion are hard to comprehend, but those who like a challenge will enjoy it.

The second book in the series is ‘The Fall of Hyperion.’ It is a continuation of the story, but has a completely different point of view that gives some insight to what has been happening in the government and the war for control of Hyperion. It is a great way to create extra mystery and excitement after the stories of the 7 pilgrims are over. The transition of the books is confusing at first, but ultimately they work really well together.

Over all, Hyperion is a challenge worth accepting. The challenge in and of itself is part of what makes the book so enjoyable. It can be confusing and hard to wrap your head around at times, but it creates a world like no other. The writing styles and mysteries of the book will keep you interested the entire time, and the end of each chapter will leave you wanting more. Hyperion is a great book for anyone who loves science fiction, or even someone just looking to get lost in another world.

Hyperion, Dan Simmons. Bantam Spectra. December 1995. 482 pages. Science Fiction.

Book Review: Every Day

Every Day by David Levithan is a literary work that should not be underestimated. Levithan does an excellent job of opening the eyes of teens to a world unbeknownst to them. He is not afraid to step out of the social norms, thus creating a unique concept of equality, humanity, and love. He steps into the realm of LBGTQ through his book Boy Meets Boy which is about a gay-friendly town and a boy who is trying to win the love of another boy. He received the Best Fiction Award for Teens(Top 10) from the YALSA in 2013, Abraham Lincoln Award nominee(2014), as well as being a Lambda Award nominee (2013). He is also the publisher/director of Scholastic.

David Levithan was born in 1972 in Short Hills, New Jersey. His first book Boy Meets Boy was published in September 2003. On his website in the “about me” section, Levithan feels that he could talk more about himself through his books and that’s exactly what he does. He has written a total of 18 books so far and showing no signs of stopping. He has collaborated with many well known authors, one of them is John Green for their book Will Grayson, Will Grayson. He is currently writing a book called Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story which is set for release in March 2015.

A, the main character of the book, is 16 years old. A wakes up every day as someone different, not being limited by gender, race, or even language though the area geographically and age are pretty close. Never knowing the warmth and comfort of a family, A has been alone this whole time. A used to be afraid to go to sleep as a child knowing that nobody from that day would be there the next. No matter how much A wanted to stay, it wasn’t possible. One day, A wakes up as a teenage boy named Justin. Not wanting to interfere in Justin’s daily life, A chooses to go through it like a normal day for Justin, but when “he” encounters Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon, things begin to change. By digging through Justin’s memories, he sees that Justin isn’t the best boyfriend out there, but Rhiannon is just absolutely perfect. Rhiannon is pushing A’s limits. Love at first sight you could call it, but how is love possible for someone who is a different person each day?

Readers will get the most from this book if they are open minded and can adjust well to varying situations. This book shares so many different perspectives of women and men. With that being said, you must pay attention or else you will get lost from the very beginning. The general audience for this book is supposed to be adults, but this book has been proved to sway more towards teens. Some schools have even made this a summer reading assignment. Barnes & Nobles list the age range is 14-17 years for this book while others say it can go to even as young as 12. Every Day is perfectly executed that David Levithan is able to gain such a wide range for his audience. He is really active in the LGBTQ community with his books.

This book will have its readers thrown into another perspective of life. The need to read what happens the next day has readers gripping their seats. While reading, you are immersed in lives of many people. What is it like to be a woman? What is it like to be a man? What about a drug addict or maybe a twin? These questions are addressed throughout the book and that’s only a few of them. Levithan shows a new side of love and how it can play out. It does not always have to be how it is in the movies, it’s not always as cliché, it can be something completely different, but the feelings are the same.

“The moment you fall in love feels like it has centuries behind it, generations-all of them rearranging themselves so that this precise, remarkable intersection could happen. In your heart, in your bones, no matter how silly you know it is, you feel that everything has been leading to this, all the secret arrows were pointing here, the universe and time itself crafted this long ago, and you are just now realizing it, you are just now arriving at the place you were always meant to be,”(Levithan, Pg 23).

Though the quote is lengthy, it describes the book and the concept of love better than I could ever. It feels like the missing puzzle piece has been fitted. I would most definitely recommend this book to my friends. It was the first great book I’ve read in a while.

Title: Every Day
Author: David Levithan
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publishing date: August 28, 2012
Pages: 336
Genre: Literary fiction

Creative Piece:
This is a movie trailer for Every Day. Special thanks to Eamon Kelly for the filming and others for participating!

Book Review - I am the Messenger (Markus Zusak)


I am the Messenger — Markus Zusak

Review by Andrew Roberts

“The gunman is useless.” are the first words of this novel by Markus Zusak.  Ed Kennedy is an insignificant, boring person who drives taxis for a living and plays cards with his friends, Marv, Ritchie, and Audrey, every single night.  His siblings have all gone away to college, but Ed does not think about his life goals, but just lets it pass by like a breeze.  That is, until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery.  To be fair, he does not stop it in spectacular fashion: he starts arguing with Marv about Marv’s car (an old relic that is not worth anything) on the floor of the bank.  The burglar hears them and threatens to shoot, but Ed and Marv just do not care.  They infuriate the burglar to the point where he demands Marv’s car keys and runs out the door to make his getaway, leaving the gun on the floor of the bank.  He tries to make his getaway, but there is one issue: the car will not start.  Ed, Marv, Ritchie, and Audrey stand inside the bank, laughing, until (for some reason) Ed walks confidently out, picks up the gun, and shoots out the window of the car (with Marv wailing in the background) presumably injuring the burglar. Soon he is on the front page of every newspaper, but Ed does not enjoy it.  His fame slowly passes, and he goes on with his monotonous, everyday life.  One day, an envelope arrives on his doorstep, empty but for a lone Ace of Diamonds, listing three addresses and three times.  When Ed realizes that these addresses are his mission, the messages he has to send, his life is never the same.  

The book is divided into five sections: one for each ace (diamonds, clubs, spades, and hearts, respectively) and one joker.  Each ace has three messages, though these messages are written in different ways.  One ace has them carved in stone, while another makes Ed search for addresses in books.  The last card is the most important: the joker is the message when all is revealed and (thought I will not spoil it for you) it is very shocking.  With each message, Zusak sharpens the reader’s perspective of his main point: even the most insignificant person can make the world a better place.  The tasks Ed must do are not overly difficult or complicated, things that require nerves and things one would not do without being told,and things that change lives drastically.  As Ed sends these messages, he becomes more and more confident in himself, increasing his self-worth and making his life more purposed, which is evident in the writing.  The messages become much more personal in nature near the end, as Ed changes not only the lives of the strangers, but changes his life for the better.  He performs miracles, making lives that much better that much more purposeful. The story encourages the reader as the book goes on, with Zusak portraying Ed’s insignificance (at first) and later on his importance, showing the reader that anyone can do anything; even though someone may be the most dull soul one will ever meet, that person is still capable of miracles.  

This one by far one of the best books I have ever read.  I tend to like fictional stories that deal with important life questions, books that tend to be philosophical in nature.  This book definitely fits that category, as Ed goes on a journey of discovering meaning in his monotonous life.  Zusak does an amazing job of making the reader feel with Ed as he continues on his journey.  I have but one complaint: the ending is not explained well at all and is underwhelming.  When I came to the end, expecting a big reveal, I was disappointed, and left the book feeling so.  I could not put this book down, and I loved it.  I would recommend it to almost anyone.  People that are not into stories that make you think (I like to call them philosophical tales) might not like this as much as I did, but will enjoy it nevertheless.  You will not regret reading this book.

I am the Messenger is Zusak’s fifth book; his most famous work being the book The Book Thief which won several awards and is a motion picture of the same title.  He primarily writes books for young adults and resides in Australia.  

I am the Messenger - Markus Zusak

Knopf - 2002


357 Pages

For the creative portion of this project, I chose to do an alternate book cover for this book.  It is shown below.  In the cover, I show all of the messages Ed must send: the four aces and joker.

Book Cover

Book Review

The book I read was called The Stars, Like Dust by Isaac Asimov. It’s about a man named Biron Farrill who is the son of the Rancher of Widemos. When his father is killed the ones who killed him come after Biron who is attending a University on Earth. After escaping near death he travels to find out why his father was killed and what does it have to do with him.

The author Isaac Asimov was born in the Soviet Union. When his parents were immigrating to the U.S he was stowed away in their baggage at the age of 3 and became an American citizen at 8. When he was 9 he discovered his first science fiction magazine and started to write stories at 11 then submitted one at the age of 18. Although the book was rejected four months later he sold his first story. When he was 21 he wrote a short story called Nightfall and then started to write others shortly after. He now has published over 260 books doesn’t seem to be slowing up.

The book is structured in chronological order except maybe on a few occassions. At many parts of the book they use a lot of scientific terms to explain how things work and what is going on. However this can cause the book to be confusing to people at first but it eventually explains enough for them to understand. I think a major Idea in the book is that deep space travel is possible and there might be other habitable planets but that it is very complicated to do.

The book exceeded my expectations with the explanation of their technology. I was expecting it to describe how they are able to travel throughout space but I wasn’t expecting them to explain at all how it works or how they are able to find habitable planets. What fell short was that fact that I was expecting more action in the book. Instead most of the book was on a spaceship either going from place to place or it just staying still in the middle of space. And when the characters were on a planet they were there for like at most fifty pages and then back to the ship.

I would recommend this book to people are interested in science fiction and are interested in books that take place in space. This book is also kind of like a mystery because you don’t exactly know what is going to happen next and there is a real plot twist near the end of the book. However if you are interested in books that are science fiction and have a lot of action in them you might not like this book since it is lacking action, but has a lot of suspense. I thought the book was okay but that’s just me.

Title: The Stars, Like Dust

Author: Isaac Asimov

Publisher: Doubleday

Published: 1951

Pages: 231

Genre: Science Fiction, Whodunit

Book Review: Fangirl

Twin sisters Cath and Wren both loved Simon Snow. Like, they were obsessed. They related to Simon Snow, and this fan fiction got them through some major moments in their life including one with their mom. They weren’t  like any other old fan. When they were kids, their life was Simon Snow. But that was soon to change….

Cath is an obsessed Simon Smith fan. It’s still her life. Cath doesn’t want to let it go. Wren, not so much. Both sisters are going to the same college now and Wren believes that the whole Simon Snow thing was just a phase. Wren is over it. She is now in college, over the whole Simon Snow thing, and she thinks her sister should be too. Wren wants to be independent and in this well written story, she distances herself from her sister (Cath). She doesn't want to dorm with Cath, she wants to do things on her own and be independent.

When Cath and Wren don’t share a room, Cath is completely lost and isn’t in her own comfort zone. She doesn’t like it. Her new roommate isn’t what she is used to. She was pretty, had a hot boyfriend, and so many other things Cath didn’t have. Her new professor was different too. She didn’t really reside with him well because he HATED fan fiction, which is what she loved (Simon Snow). Then she met one of her peers in class. He was gorgeous to Cath. A God. This was hard. Meeting all these new people, who did things way differently than she had. She didn’t party, drink, or do well with boys.  It was all different for her, especially because she wasn’t experiencing any of it with her sister.

There were new people, new environments, new opportunities, and Cath didn’t care for any of it. She missed her life back at home where she did everything with her sister. Where she was with her loving father. Where it was okay to love Simon Snow. Where she didn’t have to be alone.

The main person/thing Cath thought about while she was miserable at her college in Nebraska was her father, and his well being. Her father hated to be alone, and he felt lonely because both of his daughters had to leave him for college. Though he was distraught, he didn’t want his kids to worry about him, so he tried to cover up his feelings, but Cath sensed them. No matter how many times her dad told her he was okay, Cath insisted that she would go back home and take care of him, leave her college and find somewhere else to go that was closer to him. Despite all the setbacks and emotions, she got into a groove. College got easier for Cath. She had a very loyal “friend”, got used to the environment, and learned a lot about herself as Cath, not as the twin or as Wren’s sister.

Rainbow Rowell, the amazing and talented author of Fangirl is a Nebraska girl herself, and chose to set this story in Nebraska as well. She lives in Omaha with her husband and two sons. Rainbow Rowell is a New York Times: Bestselling author, and this is only her second book! Her  first novel was Eleanor & Park and Attachments. Rowell writes this story beautifully, despite the swears and curses she wrote with! It is romantic and a bit sexual, full of adventure, and filled with life lessons throughout the whole novel.

I related to this book a lot. Though i’m not in college, I still went through and I am still going through many of the problems Cath (and Wren) encountered in this novel. Especially with the whole “fangirl” thing, because I myself am a fangirl. I was told a lot of the same things Cath was told about growing out of her fangirling and that she needed to get out of that “phase”. I understood Cath’s opinion on it, and also agreed. If you like something, you don’t just have to give it up. Yes, put your priorities first, but you don’t just have to give up on something you enjoy because others look down on it.

People who would enjoy this novel would be mature young adults, definitely above the age 14. People who love fiction, especially fiction set in the modern day. Fangirl is a fun, and  sexy (but not too sexy) relatable book for people who are “fangirls” and “fanboys” themselves. Even if you aren’t a “fangirl/boy”, you’ll still pick up this book and love it! It took me a little while to finish this novel because I am a slower reader, but it definitely isn’t a very easy/light read.


Rainbow Rowell

433 pages

September 10th, 2013

Contemporary Fiction

Creative Piece:

The creative piece tells a little about what goes on with Cath in the novel. The last part of the creative piece is from Cath’s point of view/her voice.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

Sherman Alexie’s “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven” is a collection of short stories or vignettes about life on an Indian reservation. He uses his own experiences on the reservation and changes the names of the people or sometimes exaggerates the story. This book is a must read that I would highly recommend to anyone who likes realistic, satirical writing.

Sherman Alexie was born Wellpinit Washington on an Indian reservation. He was born with a condition called Hydrocephalus and was not expected to survive, he has several stories that mention this. Sherman Alexie was a good student and in eighth grade transferred to the local farm high school, Reardan High School, where the only other Indian was the schools mascot. He did very well in high school and graduated top of his class. He went to Gonzaga University in 1985, a Jesuit college in Spokane Washington. Sherman later transferred to Washington University where he started writing poetry and short stories.

All of the stories in The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven are loosely based on Sherman or people in his life. The book touches upon racism, poverty, and alcoholism that plague the Indian community. In the passage A Drug Called Tradition two Indian teens go and try a new drug. In this passage Sherman Alexie describes what it is like to be an Indian adolescent with conflicting aspects of your life. The old traditions of their ancestors conflicting with modern aspects of life. For example one of the boys is a storyteller who the other two ask to tell them stories, then after he tells a couple of stories that don’t make sense, about the past and how they are warriors on horses. They tell him to shut up and they go back to talking. This is describing how they want to know about the past and at the same time are scared about what it might be.

In the passages of, “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven” Sherman Alexie’s use of satirical humor makes the various stories palatable. Without any the humor the stories would be sad without the humor. Sherman Alexie’s dry witted comedy goes a long way in making the book good. It is hard to put a label on the kind of book that, “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven” is. It is some parts autobiography some parts fiction and some parts non-fiction. If it was written about events further in the past I think it might even be correct to call it historical fiction.

The book has many different characters that all help tell in the overarching story of the book. The different character almost meld together throughout the book so it’s hard to tell that there are different narrators in different stories. The different narrators all have the same feel to them and they have the same personality. But they give the book a lot more depth by creating different perspectives to look back on some of the other narrators, this style of writing lets you see a lot more of the story than just having one narrator would.

This is a very good book that I would recommend to anyone who is looking for a good slow-paced novel that is on the heavier side. It is not a light read but one that I would highly recommend reading, especially if you have previously read and enjoyed any other pieces of Sherman Alexie’s work and you want to read more. This book is a collection of fictional vignettes loosely based on the authors experiences. I would say that you should not read this book if you are under the age of sixteen, due to some of the graphic content. All in all this is an exceptional book that I would highly recommend to anyone to pick up.

Title: The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

Author: Sherman Alexie

Number Of Pages: 242

Publisher: Grove Press

Published: January 1st 1993

“Comic Art Propaganda” by Fredrik Strömberg

Comic by definition is “of or relating to comedy” or “causing laughter or amusement,” ( of course these definitions pertain to the comedic comics as well but it does apply to the comic strips we know and love as well. If this is the concrete definition of comics then why do we create such complexities with the artwork that is produced in the comic strip form? Due to the concrete definition many think comics are for kids, but the complexities have changed that generalization. 

Reading the first paragraph of “Comic Art Propaganda” by Fredrik Strömberg challenges that definition and influences the idea that it needs to be elongated or changed completely. The first paragraph of the book isn’t even written by Strömberg, it is by Peter Kuper. Kuper wrote the foreword  for this book, foreword is defined as “a short introductory statement in a published work, as a book, especially when written by someone other than the author,” ( Kuper explains the whole book with the interpretation that you, a reader would have, creating a closer relationship between you the book, and the writer, Strömberg. Kuper’s interpretation of the book becomes more and more relevant as you read through the book. Kuper does a great job of getting the main ideas of the book into one foreword. Going back and reading the foreword after the book creates a sensation similar to reading your thoughts. It becomes apparent as the book continues what Strömberg’s idea was, using Kuper to write this foreword for him. 

Kuper opens his foreword giving a base ground for the readers “Propaganda as we know, is from the Latin- pro, meaning for, and paganda meaning indoctrination of young minds. (if you don’t believe me look it up.*)” (pg. 6). This definition connects back to that definition of comics though the young minds part of the definition. Comics are for kids and so is propaganda right? Strömberg addresses many propaganda filled comics and states “I have delved deep into my own comics library, which s extensive and contains examples from all over the world.” The thing is, he goes on to state that he did not use all of that knowledge in this book because of the accessibility which brings up the issue that the comics from other countries aren’t readily accessible to the general public. Strömberg made do with what he had very well though and gives this disclaimer on the second page. You get to know all the artists that changed the game of comics while learning the influence of the comics whether they knew it or not. You start to understand the different art-forms of the comics and how different comics portray different things. 

One style was Bilderbogen vom Kriege (Picture Stories from the War) directed towards young german boys to persuade them to joining the war. This comic is the exact representation of both the definition of propaganda and comic. The comic used a mixture of the old and new style for the artwork. The artist used “pictures in boxes with rhyming text below” to make it feel like it was from the last century. Also “No speech balloons, onomatopoetic words or any other modern comics inventions were used,” Creating more of a picture book stylized comic rather than the traditional one we all know and love. One thing the artist did keep were the images “were in full color, painted, and very much in the style of the times,”(pg. 48).

Comics are for anyone and everyone, they aren’t just superheroes and over-sexualized women (though that is what they are still mostly made of). There are examples of females taking over and making a name for themselves in the Comic book world. Asia, America, and Europe are the three places where comic books are sold most. Like the manga art that is controlled by more women than in any other major hub for Comic Art. Europe and America are mostly controlled by men while Asia took a different route with Manga art. There is a high percentage of females in the asian world that make for interesting views revealed in the comics. Which gives hope for that definition of comic to change.

This book took me by surprise because the writing was amazing and unexpected in every way. It’s as if you are having a conversation with Strömberg, and you can tell that there was an enormous amount of work put into the book. From the parings of the artwork and Strömberg’s writing, to the flow of the book and relating back to the main idea and purpose of the writing. The book doesn’t have to be read sequentially giving you the freedom to jump from subject to subject in whichever way you please. The book covers so many subjects and ideas and concepts creating a bit of an overload of information so that freedom of choice aforementioned comes in handy. This gives you the feeling of a history textbook but one that you want to read. Giving you the same information from a different point of view and history is all about the point of view.

“Comic Art Propaganda” by Fredrik Strömberg makes you question your idea of comics, propaganda, history, and portrayal giving you brain a great workout. If you like anything involved with art, history, or political influence this book should be in your hands and devoured by your eyes.

Bibliography, n.d. Web. 02 Nov. 2014.

Title Comic Art Propaganda

Author Fredrik Strömberg

Foreword Peter Kuper

Publisher Alistair Campbell

Date of publication July 20, 2010

Number of pages 175

Genre Sequencial Art, Comics, History

​Creative Portion 
"In An Opposite World" this is what it would look like and it was inspired by the comics in the book but in a sketchy style I like to call my own


John Carlin, a journalist, who specializes in politics and sports, co-authored Rafa with tennis great Rafael Nadal. Previous books that he has written include “Knowing Mandela” and “White Angles”. He is from London, England and graduated from Oxford University. Rafael Nadal is one of the greatest men’s tennis player’s in history but his journey to where he is today, was not an easy one.

Nadal’s journey begins in Mallorca, Spain, where his family still lives today. Mallorca is an island, located in the Mediterranean sea. Nadal was born and raised in Mallorca. Nadal still visits the island, to see friends and family, who still live there. He enjoys visiting Mallorca, because he can be himself and the grand scenery that is there.

This book has chapters but within those chapters they’re sub-chapters. The beginning of this book starts off with Nadal describing the feeling of being on Centre Court at Wimbledon. Throughout this book, Nadal speaks in first-person but as it goes on, he speaks in third person. Also, this book refers to Nadal’s biggest critic, who is also his biggest motivator. Their relationship and how it came to be, is displayed all through this book.

Many believe that Rafa’s biggest obstacle, in the game of tennis is his opponents. That would make sense, playing against tennis greats such as Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic but that is not the case. Not the heckling fans or the fans that do not say please when they ask for his signature. Rafa’s obstacle has been right beside him the entire time and has even helped him along the way.   

The critic, Rafa’s Uncle Toni, has been by Nadal’s side since he was a boy and has never stopped coaching him. Nadal attributes most of his mental toughness, on the tennis court, to his Uncle’s coaching. Their relationship is peculiar, because he is his Uncle, but they have a player/coach relationship as well. Toni treats Rafa just like any other coach would treat their player, with respect but with determination.       

Rafa gives the reader, an abundance of information about Nadal and his personal life, but one thing that is not done well in this book is, the consistency of one voice. The dialogue in this book is mostly done by Nadal, but the co-author’s voice is often heard through the dialogue within this book. Furthermore, the chapters in this book seem to be out of order and are not in chronological order. The beginning of the book starts abruptly and it takes the reader a while to understand the significance of the first chapter.   

The book takes you in the mind of Nadal, his emotions on and off the court are revealed. It takes you onto Centre Court at Wimbledon, and explains what it’s like to play on that court and in front of the large crowd. Nadal’s match against Roger Federer, which was one of the biggest matches of his career, is highlighted in great detail, from before the match even starts to when he is celebrating his Wimbledon grand slam victory on Centre Court.          

Readers, who like sports and close family relationships, would enjoy reading this book. The background of this book is family, the importance of family is key in this story because it made a kid with a dream into a global tennis icon, who has had a tremendous amount of success. This book is not only about the game of tennis, but, what every athlete deal with on a daily basis. 

The physical and mental side of being an athlete is talked about in this book and it shows how one athlete in particular deals with it all. From the massage table to getting his foot taped before every practice and tennis match, Rafa shows the reader what happens before and after the lights and cameras are on and everyone is watching around the world.    

This book will push your thinking about what an athlete really is and what sacrifices they must make to get to their end goal. Losing is not the worst thing for an athlete, because it humbles you and makes you come back even stronger the next time. It’s going to happen but the thing that everyone will remember is how you respond to failure. Rafa leaves the reader wanting more, when the book has concluded. This is a motivational story, so, people who would like to read a book, that shows a person having to persevere through tough times, would enjoy reading this book.                  


RAFA, Rafael Nadal and John Carlin, Hyperion, August 23rd, 2011, 272 pages, Auto-biography

The slips of paper that are attached to the tennis racket are quotes from RAFA. The quotes are on a tennis racket because Rafael Nadal is a tennis champion and player. Each slip of paper on the racket represents a quote from every chapter of the book.  

The Kite Runner

 The Kite Runner

by Khaled Hosseini

“I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded; not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.” A gripping and enthralling book about betrayal and self-redemption, The Kite Runner had me hooked from the first page. Khaled Hosseini, the author, was born in 1965 in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Kite Runner is the first book this author wrote, it was published in 2003. It also received many awards, one of them being the “Literature to Life Award.” In respect to the authors homeland, this is a novel about Afghanistan and the trials and tribulations a nation, and its people go through. The Kite Runner takes on a broad theme of life, love, humanity, courage, and brotherhood. It begins in early Afghanistan, around the 1970’s, before the Russian military invaded and the formation of the monarchy. The political development of Afghanistan is the backdrop of the story, however, culture and pre-war Afghanistan are one of the main focal points in the story. Against a long trail of national despair, Hosseini is able to compose a universal story of redemption and betrayal that far exceeds its setting.

As the novel begins, protagonist, Amir, the son of a wealthy merchant, is approaching manhood. His friend and servant, Hassan, is from the socially inferior group the Hazara tribe and Shi’a sect of Islam. This foreshadows the tension that will remain the center of the story. Amir and his father, are apart of the Pashtun tribe and Sunni branch of Islam. Amir, Hassan and both their fathers live together in the wealthy section of Kabul. The Hazaras act as servants to the Pashtuns, however, are treated like family which clashes with what’s socially accepted.

While Amir and Hassan played together and were friends, the difference in social ranking between them gave their relationship a wary tension. Amir’s father, also called “Baba”, treats Hassan like a second son. This causes awe and hate to spring up within Amir for his father. Similarly, Amir is secretly jealous  of Hassan’s courage and ability to hold Baba’s love. The author is able to capture this complicated family dynamic very vividly. On numerous occasions, Hassan defends Amir against bullies. One winter day in the mid 1970’s, Amir’s neighborhood had their annual kite tournament. Amir’s spinelessness reaches its highest point when he sees a group of bullies overwhelm Hassan and threaten to rape him. Instead of helping his friend in need, Amir runs away.

There are very few characters in fiction that are as revolting as Amir. Khaled Hosseini is able to take on hatred, envy, and rivalry so much that the reader will feel a lack of empathy towards Amir and his situation. As the Russian invasion begins, Amir and his father leave Afghanistan and settle in the United States. In their stay in the U.S. the roles become reversed. The once independent and prosperous Baba, can only find a measly job at a gas station while Amir easily blends in and becomes an English Major, which later turns to a successful writer. Although life seems to be going great for Amir, the betrayal still weighs heavily on him for the next 20 or so years.

Throughout the novel, there have been many moments when things went dark. When a call from an old friend is presented before us, the theme of redemption is revealed. Rahim Khan, an old family friend, called him from Pakistan telling him that “There is a way to be good again.” Amir takes this chance to go to back and make right all the wrongs he committed. During his return,  Amir is confronted with doing the honorable thing and saving Hassan’s orphaned child or returning home empty handed. After his decision to save Sohrab, the orphaned child, Amir encounters a former nemesis, who is now apart of the Taliban. The story takes on a dark path as Hosseini describes how Sohrab was being sexually harassed by a large group of men that belonged to the Taliban, among them is Amir’s nemesis. After a long and painful confrontation, Amir succeeds in liberating Sohrab and bringing him to America to live with him. While this may seem like a good thing, Sohrab yearns for his old life, which Amir is unable to provide.

As the book comes to an end, the reader will have a change of heart towards Amir. The cowardly and spineless demeanor he had changes to one of courage. Khaled Hosseini achieved a goal that many authors are unable to do, rehumanize the Middle East in a way that contradicts the Western view. Hosseini does an incredible job of describing Afghanistan in a warm and beautiful light, which is often ignored by people in the West. This novel is not written so the style of writing is to be the main focus, it’s the plot and character development that should draw the reader in. The simple language balances out the complex characters and settings, in The Kite Runner.

Title: The Kite Runner

Author: Khaled Hosseini

Publisher: Riverhead Books 2003

Number of Pages: 400 pages

Genre: Fiction/Historical fiction

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian


The Story of a Nomad…

The Absolutely True Dairy of a Part Time Indian is a story of a young “nomad” in a quest to find truth, strength, and to gain what he deserves. Written by Sherman Alexie , he has explored the tense struggle between the white and Indian worlds for 15 years. A New York Ties Best Seller, The Absolutely True Dairy of a Part Time Indian, is one of Sherman Alexie best books yet. This book puts readers in the shoes of the Native Americans, you get to know their struggles and how it has affected every aspect of their lives. 

Arnold Spirit (a.k.a Junior)  is a young Native American boy growing up on the Spokane Reservation. Junior was born with many medical problems and everyone picks on him for that. It seems that a person like him would be an outcast and no one would like him, but he has one best friend who will always be there for him, Rowdy. The only way Arnold can have a perfect life is through the cartoons he draws. However, life on the reservation is very difficult. Everyone single person is living in poverty, there’s so much death, hunger, addictions, and a great lack of education. 

One day in school, Junior beams his geometry book at the teacher and gets suspended from school. “My school and my tribe are so poor and sad that we have to study from the same dang books our parents studied from,” Arnold says. “That is absolutely the saddest thing in the world.” When the teacher (Mr. P) who was hit with the book, appears at Arnold's home, Arnold was absolutely afraid that his teacher would beat him up like other kids did. However, Mr. P came to give Arnold a piece of advice. He tells Arnold to leave the reservations because he has seen to many promising students - such as Arnold’s sister, Mary Runs Away - fade year by year, beaten down by poverty and hopelessness. “The only thing you kids are being taught is how to give up,” Mr. P. says. The is the beginning of Arnold’s journey to seek truth and strength. 

“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” follows Arnold on his journey from leaving the reservation. He transfer to from Wellpit to Rearden High school, 22 miles away where a bunch of wealthy white kids attend.  He is the only Native American there and he fears that he will become a victim of the big bulky jocks. His “rez toughness” gained him some respect to even land him a spot on the varsity basketball team. 

But back at home, he can’t win back the loves of his neighbors. He is considered a traitor. Everyone believes that Arnold feels superior to the rest of the Indians now that he goes to a “white” school filled with computers and new text books. Arnold’s best friend even turns his back on him. When Reardan plays Wellpinit High in basketball, the Indians boo him the whole game, a race riot nearly breaks out. Triumph and grief come in equal measure. Arnold concludes that he’s smarter than most of the white kids, and wins the heart of a white girl named Penelope. Arnold also becomes friends with a kid named Gordy who is the school genius. Meanwhile on the reservation, his father’s best friend is shot and killed, and his sister dies in a trailer fire. Shuttling between Wellpinit and Reardan, Arnold begins feeling like a part-time Indian. He is Junior on the rez, where he is an outcast, and at school in Reardan he is Arnold.

The way the story is narrated, it feels as if the writer is engaging in a conversation with you. It’s genius because not only does the reading flows, but the narrative itself is apart of a story. Arnold narrating the story delivers one clear message that has brought him, his family, and his ancestors down. That Indians are good for nothing and they deserve what they have. Time and time again, Arnold will say something that shows how ingrained self-hatred is. This, as much as facing racial problems, poverty is perhaps Junior’s most important challenge. I get a sense of purpose in the storytelling.

You know you are reading an amazing book when it breaks you heart into a tiny million pieces. This book doesn’t really sugar code anything. You’re punched in the face with hard reality all throughout the book. It’s starts from the moment the father had to shoot their dog, Oscar, because they didn’t have the money to take him to the hospital, then to when the father would be gone all Christmas because he didn’t have money to buy the family presents. And finally how everyone kept dying of the same thing. Alcohol. But to lighten the mood a little, there are Arnold’s drawings inserted in the book that bring much needed humor. 

The most impressive thing about this book, is that all the horrible, tragic things that happens to Arnold, it doesn’t really shock him. The worst thing is that he accepts it as if it’s apart of his daily life. It’s just completely normal to him. 

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to know about how racial issues can affect self identity. Also to anyone who just wants to know more about Native Americans on a personal level.  “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” is a truly amazing book about overcoming boundaries which leads to finding a greater strength within. 

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, Sherman Alexei, Little, Brown And Company, 2007, 230 pages, Race Relations Fiction, Diaries Fiction. 

My Creative Piece is a representation of how I intercepted the over all message of the book. I still felt like Arnold's dreams weren't fully fulfilled. So using the laser cutter at my job, I rastered an image of a dream catcher that with a phase "Dreams Almost Captured". 

Carrie- Stephen King

This book made the great horror writer Stephen King what he is today. The book Carrie written by Stephen King tells the tortured tale of a social outcast named Carrie White who has the ability of telekinesis. Throughout the story she is pestered by schoolmates while being abused by her unstable Christian mother. You can see throughout this try that all of the characters have realistic motives for example a character disliking the the concept of sex because she was raped. In fact one of my favorite characters in the story was Carrie’s Mother, she has the most backstory and does the most provoking in the plot, as shown through her increasing violence towards Carrie.  As you go through the story you find the different troubling backstories, they turn characters who appears purely evil to people who are suffering themselves. The build up is also amazing, as you move through the story you may hear about a character trait that may not seem important, but they lead to extremely plot centered.

Though Stephen King is known by many to be an amazing writer this book had almost not happened. King originally wrote for Men’s Magazines and barely got by with his earnings, for his family and eventually he thought of making an actual novel. He took inspiration from people from his high school and began writing about a shy girl with telekinetic powers. After many rewrite he threw this story away convince that he could not write from the female perspective while being a man. Only through the persuasion of his wife did he actually attempt to finish it. He then attempted to publish his book about a girl with telekinetic powers and was rejected 30 times, until finally he was published by Doubleday. King from then would publish about 200 books of varying genres including contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy.

The story itself is great, it tells a timeless tale that can still apply to things happening today. The story takes place in 1979, which is approximately five years after the date it was written. The story is told through notes, documents and even through the third person from the view of Carrie, which in King’s later books do not use with the exception of the third person view. The books varies in how scary yet intriguing it can be; you fear the character, but you want to know what happened to them to make them that way. The book’s main focus is on building character and not on gore not scare you. It does not make the horror monster into a villain, it more like a normal person is being pushed to do evil things. King also breaks the norm by keeping the book focused on what is happening and not what it looks like, but instead King kept it tame and clean and until the extreme ending. What is amazing though is that unlike many of King’s Novels Carrie got not just a theatrical release, but has had two remakes, a tv series, and even Broadway musical adaption.

Overall, this book is probably one of the most important in Stephen King’s Career, it has come so far and done so much. Carrie is a good book to introduce someone to horror and also a good start to the horror franchise. This book does not make the mistake of scaring you with surprising visual, but instead leading you in and making you feel uncomfortable as you move along. King’s works have helped him contribute to what horror is today, changing what the villain of the story can be. He has kept fans of his stories very happy, and even to this day he is still producing his books and changing genres.

Title: Carrie

Author: Stephen King

Published: April 5, 1957

Pages: 199 pages

Genre: Horror, Epistolary, and Tragedy

Carrie is cool
(Click On the Image and scroll down to see the comic) (13 pages)


Books about teen angst and paranormal situations never fail to be interesting and heart wrenching to the readers that endure their words. The reason for this? The characters, the set up, the unimaginable twists that the author puts into every situation to make the reader never want to even have the thought of parting with their book. The authors that express all the elements of a story that are needed to make the reader feel emotion towards the characters, to be connected to them in unthinkable ways, are astounding. Nancy Werlin is one of those authors. Werlin expresses all of those remarkable talents in Impossible, a book about a teenage girl named Lucy Scarborough, cursed to repeat the same fate as her mother and ancestors were faced with unless she breaks the curse by completing 3 impossible tasks before she gives birth to her child and loses her mind.

This book takes place in the modern day life of teenager Lucinda Scarborough, or Lucy for short. She struggles with everyday issues that can help relate to a lot teenagers giving it a automatic connection to the audience. She grows up well, but only because of the people who took her in as her mother sub came to the age old curse of the Scarborough girls. Lucy’s normal life is interrupted when tragedy strikes during her junior prom that causes her to become pregnant and the father of the child to die. This leaves Lucy distraught until she finds out about the curse put on her family then decides that she will be the one to break it and defeat the Elfin Knight. Lucy, is a very strong character and that is established within the first couple of chapters. She shows determination and stays true to her beliefs through the entire book and is a very likable character. She along with other main characters all have their sections but Nancy Werlin does this in way that the book is not chopped up. Since this book is written in third person there can be a focus on more of the emotions of the other characters in a certain instead of being just one giving the audience a different viewpoint to the situation at hand.

Starting off this book gets right to the point in dropping hints on what the main plot is, but does not thrust you into someones life and the climax. There is a steady build up that gives the reader a good sense of the characters. Every character is thought out to the full extent giving the idea that the reader knows them, giving them a connection to everyone in the book no matter how small their part may be in the very end. The character development is a key part of this book because without such well done characters this book would not have the pull that it does. Also the story is well executed without having parts seemingly forced on the reader.

Werlin did very well on this book considering it is a young adult novel. Most young adult novels have a pull but this one has a net that anchors you in until you can’t get away. Impossible is also a paranormal story that also seems like it could happen to anyone. There is nothing over the top about the paranormal aspects leaving it very subtle and pleasing. In most books, in this genre the center of the story is the love story of the main character. This book although does have a love interest, it does not center itself just around that. It centers around the problem at hand and all the people involved in it which is an unusual yet can be enjoyable to the reader.

Werlin uses all types of language and writing styles in this book, from basing the story on the ballad “Scarborough Fair” to using diary entries to help explain another character's point of view in the story. She uses these to help explain the story a lot more and it works. The ballad is a recurring theme in this book and is done so very well. The author of the book use the song as a guideline, making sure to pay attention to it. It does not pop up where it is not needed and when it does come up it is to give some insight into the next section on the book. In the beginning the song is placed before the prologue. There is a choice being give on whether or not the reader wants to read it or ignore it. The best option is to read it and keep going back to it as the story progresses. Werlin also uses diary entries in this book, to give the point of view of someone who otherwise would be no help at all in their current state. They help the story move along very well paced and there is even a chapter devoted to these pages which Werlin did a good job of executing.

Overall this book is amazingly written. It keeps the theme going and never strays from it’s main purpose and main storyline. Nancy Werlin out did herself and after reading this book it is advised to check out the prequel called Unthinkable, telling the story behind the curse. It is an unimaginable to think that this book ended so quickly but the ending was well justified and not unpleasing. It is recommend to young adults or anyone with a sense of adventure, love, humor, and is not afraid to fall in love with its characters.

“I’ve been trying and trying to tell you. Pay attention to the song. Now it’s your turn. You’ve been warned. I’m supposed to warn you. You’re allowed to try to escape. You have to try, in fact. None of us have ever managed it, though. Will you be any different?” - Miranda Scarborough

Impossible, Nancy Werlin, Dial Books, 2008, 376 p



This depicts the main character Lucy, pregnant and holding a sword in determination to win against the Elfin Knight and to save her mother and set free all the women of her family that once were trapped by the curse. The boy is Zach Greenfield, the love interest who is shielding Lucy with his love for her and the is shown because he is looking down at her instead of at the evil being in front of him. At the very bottom you see that Lucy is standing on a book, her biological mother’s diary, which is being held up by two figures that represent her loving foster parents that will love and support her no matter what decision she makes. Her foster dad has the lyrics of of the Scarborough fair and he is singing the curse. This is because he is the one who first introduced the song to Lucy as a way to have a connection to her birth mother.

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

“Dangerous, sexy, romantic, and intense. I dare you to stop reading.” Tahereh Mafi, composes her ideas into words that brings out emotions of different kinds. A power to shake up the world, a touch that freezes the body, a feel that conquers the heart, the sentences on each page has quality, depth, and interest, your fingers will flip those pages without a rest. The precise amount of details and Mafi’s use of figurative language truly captivates the reader’s attention. Her writing embodies the definition of creative writing.

Unravel Me is a book filled with amusing plots that explores different ideas of reality in a fictional story. It narrates a story of a girl with a romance tale, a girl who faces conflicts, and a girl with a very special gift. Her name is Juliette. She possess a power like no other at the tip of her fingers. In a split second, her clenched fist can create an abyss and send the world trembling. But all that is just another reason why she is closed up from everyone else. It is in her least interest to hurt anyone. It seems to her that this power just hunts her and that it’s just another mishap in her life. The only good it has done is Adam, the one that sends her heart beating a skip too fast. This lethal power brought the two together but coincidentally it has created a trap there too.

The mood of the book is moderately dark and dejected, and dystopia may not be the most favored genre for certain people but the experience of reading this book is everything except that. Mafi makes the readers wonder how she has the power to develop such passionate feelings for this fictional story. She leaves the readers in wonderment and one of the main ways that she does that is through her descriptive words. Mafi’s descriptions are not just describing, they are another way to engross the readers and illustrate the perfect picture. She uses metaphors, personifications, the five senses and more when she is describing.  

Throughout the book, Mafi presents unpredictable new situations but the storyline is solid and the composition is very unique. One of those unique qualities being striking through words in the book. Unravel Me is sort of like Juliette's diary, everything is stated but certain words or sentences are crossed out with a thin line. These strikes serve a purpose in showing the readers how Juliette feels but doesn’t want to mention or admit those crossed out words to herself. Mafi also separates the book into many small chapters to keep the readers going. She writes in first person point of view to share the thoughts going on in Juliette, the main character’s mind. She utilizes vivid sensory language to send chills down your spine and make you feel. The structure of this book is an integration of all these techniques.  

A major principle of this book lies in learning how to cope with obstacles. All throughout the book Juliette is facing some type of problem, either its the feeling of loneliness, the fear of hurting someone or loving someone. Each of these internal and external conflicts help her progress and learn about herself. She transforms from a shy, antisocial teenager to a brave, confident young lady. These points in transformation are points where she decides to try out something different. As the reader, these points are very clear because of the contrast between her action and her personality. Mafi does a great job emphasizing these parts as well.    

Shatter Me and Unravel Me are the first two novels in a trilogy about Juliette. This series by Tahereh Mafi is a New York Times and a USA Today bestselling series. Mafi wrote in the back of her book, “when unable to find a book, she can be found reading candy wrappers, coupons, and old receipts.” That maybe a source or inspiration to her creative writing.    

Overall, the book is amazing. There are so many things that happened in the book you just have to read it and experience it. Discover love, hate, and power all in one and see Juliette’s journey throughout the book. Unravel Me is made up of seventy three chapters and each of those seventy three chapters serve a purpose in enhancing the storyline by giving the readers a better understanding of what’s going on. Anyone would enjoy it. But specifically people who enjoy romance stories and supernatural characters, so if you’re one of those people, go check it out!  

Title: Unravel Me

Author: Tahereh Mafi

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Date of publication: 2/5/13

Number of pages: 461

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance

Creative Part:

  • The found poem, Juliette, touches the different points the author and the narrator presents in the book in a few simple phrases extracted from the book. Juliette outlines the book, it mentions the main character/ the narrator, Juliette’s supernatural power, her feelings throughout the book and her love story.   

Found Poem:


My blood, a million degrees below zero

The earth fissures under my fingers

I have the power … to destroy everything.  

So, says society, I am a monster

I’m buried 50 feet underground

Everyday, I stare at these 4 walls

I'm never quite certain whether or not I'm actually alive.

My skin and bones craving warm affection.

“Juliette,” he says

he mouths the name,

barely speaking

he’s pouring molten lava into my limbs

Never knew I could melt straight to death.



6 seconds

The air is still.

My skin is scared.

“It’s never been a secret. I want you,” he whispers and letter by letter he presses the words into my skin.


Unravel Me, Tahereh Mafi
Background music for creative piece from Lana Del Rey

Girl In Translation

Being foreign in a new big city, has its perks and challenges. In the book, Girl In Translation a novel written by Jean Kwok, shows how a girl named Kimberly Chang along with her mother emigrate to the Chinatown area of Brooklyn, New York. The main character Kimberly is stuck between a double life, by day she is a preppy school girl and at night she works illegally at a sweatshop, along with her mother. This book will thrive and inspire the reader. Kimberly Chang wants to grow up and live the American dream.

Kimberly is only eleven years old when she and her mother, Ma, arrive from Hong Kong in search of a better life. Since moving to Brooklyn, New York from Hong Kong, Kimberly ends up in a world where she doesn’t understand anything at all. Her mother and herself struggle to survive as they are starting a new life. Ma, works at a local sweatshop owned by her sister. Living a double life Kimberly attends a preppy school. At this preppy school she meets white rich kids, who she develops really close relationships with. Although she is careful that she keeps the boundary of their friendship at school. “Going to the factory after school would become something so automatic that sometimes, even when I needed to go someplace else years later, I would find myself on the trains to the factory by accident, as if that were the place to which all roads led.” Kimberly feels embarrassed that she has to work in a sweatshop after school, she doesn’t want her friends at her preppy school to know that she is in poverty. However, at the sweatshop she does meet a boy named Matt, who is around the same age as Kimberly. Throughout the story they develop an interesting relationship with its ups and downs.

Jean Kwok the author of this book, Girl In Translation is an amazing author. She writes books that have to do with her real life past experiences, but she incorporates them into fiction. The use of words and descriptive language, allows the reader to go into depth with what they are reading. It allows them to imagine certain scenes and chapters of the book as if you were watching a movie or there experiencing it. I feel like the language that she uses makes the book feel so much more realistic. Sometimes I forget that this book is a novel and that it is fiction, even though some things are aspired from Jean Kwok’s life, there are times when I feel like I am reading her diary. I really appreciate Jean Kwok as an author because she loves writing about her experience and culture. In a way I feel like I can relate to her and her experiences. I feel like anyone can read her books and take along the message that she is trying to bring through when she write these books. Jean Kwok’s writing leaves me to inhale a lot about what happened in the last chapter. There are times when you say to yourself  “I want to watch this as a movie.” Also, there aren’t many novels or cultural inspired books out there, so it would be good for more people to find and read books similar to “Girl In Translation.”

Jean Kwok has recently written a second book, similar to Girl In Transition, called “Mambo In Chinatown”. I haven’t read the book myself, but I have read excerpts from the book. This book is very similar to the “Girl In Translation” because the setting of both books take place in Chinatown of New York. Both books share stories about Chinese Americans and the themes behind both books is love. Jean Kwok wants her readers to really know about the Chinese American culture. She wants the readers to know how it’s not always easy being at the bottom, but slowly you will find your way up. Through these two books she shows how love outshines all hardships.

There are many themes that are discussed in this novel, however, I believe that the main theme is the struggle of surviving and love. We can see this theme everyday in our daily lives. You can see how Kimberly struggles with survival. She doesn’t live or work at the best conditions. But at the time and situation that she is in, all she can do is try to make the most of it. At school, she disguises who she is at her home situation because she is ashamed and embarrassed by the staggering truth of how impoverished she is, compared to the other kids at school. Love is the main struggle for Kimberly and throughout this book. She has many different relationships with different people in her life. Some are harder than others and some work out and others don’t. Kimberly has to deal with what she can have or can not have. She finds the true meaning of love with her mother and Matt. Jean Kwok doesn’t leave the ending without one of the biggest plot twist. You’ll just have to read to find out!

Title: Girl In Translation

Author: Jean Kwok

Publisher: Riverhead Trade (May 3, 2011)

Number of Pages: 320 pages

Genre: Fiction

Creative piece: For my creative piece I decided to draw different images and pictures that are important, and very concentrated in the book. I also wrote some important quotes that connected with the main themes in the book.  


"The Sweet Dead Life" by Joy Prebel

When you hear don’t judge a book by it’s cover, sometimes you can sometimes you can’t. The title it can tell you what you’re going to read about, other times it’s an important hint that will help you solve the puzzle in the book, in this case this book doesn’t do neither. The Sweet Dead Life by Joy Prebel will have you questioning if you can trust anyone, even the people who sell you shoes. You read the journal entries of 14 year old Jenna Samuels whose life isn’t the best. Her mom spends all day in bed, her father is missing and her her older brother tries to keep the family together but he is too high to focus on anything. To add to all of Jenna’s stress she becomes sick, to a point where she collapses and her brother tries to rush her to the hospital but instead ends up crashing the car. Jenna wakes up to her brother who doesn’t have any scars and he’s glowing, almost a heavenly glow. Jenna comes to realize that her brother did not survive the accident and that she’s not sick but poised. The sent her brother back to help Jenna find the person who has it out for her.

The Sweet Dead Life is Prebel’s 4th book out of 6, the first three were part of the 3 book Anastasia series, and her newest one coming in 2015 Finding Paris. Prebel’s preference for writing is fantasy and mistery following stories of strong female characters. Mystery is her favorite genre because it’s fun to write but it brought life to her simple Texas life. Many of her favorite authors were mystery writters which encourage her to write her own stories. Her writing like most authors isn’t the ordinary stuff that talks about girl meets boy and falls in love or vampires, fairies and monsters, she tells stories using myths and legends that go back to the 1900’s. In this book Prebel talks about angles and normally angles are more a religious belief that when you die and you were forgiven for your sins you got to heaven. Some people believe in this others don’t and instead of Prebel trying to push that angels are real and we should believe in them she puts a fun twist on them that has you saying, “I would have never thought of that”

The first time I read this book the second one was not out yet, but it now out and I am looking forward to reading the second book. Like many mystery series if the writer doesn’t catch your attention you get bored and you want to skip to the end of the book. This book has it’s moments where you want to skip ahead but I advice not to do this beascue you will miss important parts that if you don’t know it you will be confused, and the ending will confuse you more, it’s one of those endings if you don’t know what happened you won’t understand it. Not like many books I have read in the past the ending of this book actually does the book justice. It answers all the questions brought up in the book about Jenna’s dad and where he has disappeared to, Jenna’s poising and why it happened to her and the truth behind the car accident. It’s like watching a crime show, the writer gives you clues to solve the crime you get to know the bad guys of the show and you guess who the killer was, but with this book there’s more than one culprit and you won’t know until you keep reading. The Book keeps you engaged and gets you thinking if the crime is a lot more complicated than your simple poisoning.

The Sweet Dead Life is a great book for people who aren’t afraid of trying something new. It talks about topics some people might not believe in and it does have few sexual references, and the plot line could be boring to people who aren’t willing to wait for the best parts.  so I recommend it for people 15 and older and maybe mature 14 year olds who will take this book seriously and who will take their time to read and take in the books details. The book cost me about $18 because it was the hardcover but it was worth it. And when you get to those parts it will leave you speechless, it was worth the wait. I wish they would make a movie about it because I would love to see the way they portray each character. The Sweet Dead Life will have you thinking maybe it wouldn’t be so bad becoming an A-Word.

The Sweet Dead Life

Author: Joy Prebel

Pages: 244

Published: May 14th 2013 by Soho Teen

Original Cover by: Joy Prebel


For my creative I re-did the cover of the book. I felt like the original cover was a little dull for such a good book, and it just left the book looking like another boring book about death ans coming to life. Let's face it people do judge books by it's cover and if it doesn't grab the readers eye one way or another they'll look straight past it on the shelf. So with a little bit of help from photoshop, google images and the details from the book I’ve created a different cover that suits the book.

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Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 10.45.47 PM

Soy Mark Sanchez

Write an autobiographical post. You can write about yourself or assume the role of a famous person.

You must include:
  • a photo
  • an intro paragraph including name, age and origin
  • a paragraph about their physical characteristics and personality
  • a paragraph about their likes and dislikes
  • words from the "Más Palabras para Ti" page of your unit packet. BOLD THEM.
  • Close with a question. Your choice! You can ask the reader about their personality, about their likes/dislikes. You can ask if they like specific things (¿Te gusta...?). 
Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 11.17.18 PM
Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 11.17.18 PM
Hola, me llamo Mark Sanchez. Tengo 27 años. Soy de California pero vivo en Filadelfia.

Soy alto, deportista y bastante famoso. Las chicas dicen que (say that) soy muy guapo. Es cierto.

Me gusta jugar fútbol americano. Soy muy talentoso. No me gusta nada ver la tele porque es aburrido. Prefiero correr y pasar tiempo con mi familia. Me encanta escuchar música. Me fascina Aldrey y Pit Bull sin embargo (however) no me gusta nada la música de Shakira.

¿Te gusta practicar deportes?


Have you ever felt trapped in a certain place that you can go in but never escape? Were you ever in love with a specific thing? For example, someone special, or maybe the inside of a shed. “Room” is a very interesting book because as a reader, you will be able to witness eclectic thoughts of what a mother and a son thinks about their world. “Room” comes from the point of view of a five-year-old child explaining about his world with bits and pieces of his mother’s as well. The mother and son are trapped in room, but what exactly is it? Room is just an 11-by-11 foot shed fabricated with wood and the insides filled with a tv, bed, fridge, table, etc. It’s basically a living room, bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom overflowing in a single room.

This is a non placid story. You don’t ever feel calm reading “room”. To me, I feel I’m reading the book in the actual room, and seeing the characters do their sudden movements. This is a unique book to read because it helps me and you as the reader, visualize living in that single space. Basically having that feeling reading or actually living inside a jail cell by yourself, or at least with one person. As a reader you definitely will have a chilly feeling go through your body giving you goosebumps. The book also helps give a first person point of view of the main character walking, running, or doing nothing around room. For example the character is sleeping, what does he feel? Is he sleeping on a bed, on the floor, or maybe on the wall? From the first person point view you might read inadequate grammar, but you can picture the character’s action, and maybe his emotions. If you can not pull out key words, then you will not be able to figure out the action or emotion. While I was reading “room” I was able to know, see, feel what the characters are doing. It will not be hard for you to figure it out as well.

This story was written by none other than Emma Donoghue. Emma is an irish-writer that actually lives in Canada.  She has published six books of fiction, two works of literary history, two anthologies, and two plays. I recently emailed Emma to get her thoughts about the book she wrote. I asked her “what inspired you to write in the point of view of a five year old child, and to write a bone chilling experience about two people living in the conditions of just one single room?” Unfortunately, Emma didn’t send a response back to me. In my opinion, I think what made Emma Donoghue write this, was to show us another way of a lifestyle, in a certain living condition. What I mean is that what does this person actually have to do with their life, and how will they live? Room is a great example because the mother and the son in the book have to deal with one single room every day.

The main character of this story tells us the whole story from his point of view. His name is Jack. Jack just turned five years old when the book started and is five throughout the whole book. He is just a normal little kid with a big opened mind, because he is always watching tv, coloring, hanging with his mother, but there is just one problem. He doesn’t know he is trapped in room. To Jack, room is his best friend, because that's his actual world. He is in love with room, which makes him not want to leave it. Well basically he can’t leave room because there is a passcode lock on the door. Jack likes everything he does in room, especially when he sleeps in the wardrobe. Jack sleeps in there to stay away from Old Nick, even though he wants to see what he looks like. Jack is always curious but his mother wouldn’t let him see Old Nick.

Jack’s mother has been trapped in room since she was 19 years old. Old Nick was the one who trapped mom in there. You will find out more details in the book, when you the reader actually read it. Jack’s mother has actually seen the world, before she was put in there. Basically Jack’s mother had a nice life until this situation happened. No one knows what happen to her. So his mother has been dying to go back out there into the world, instead of seeing 11-by-11 foot walls everyday for the rest of her life. The big issue was that Old Nick only knows the passcode to the door. Mother has tried so many times to escape, but she never won. Throughout the story she tries her best to persuade Jack that room isn’t his world, since Jack only truly knows about room. There is actually a world out there filled with more living things and nonliving things instead of what is seen inside a 11-by-11 foot shed. For example Jack knows what a tree is, but he never saw it in real life. He only sees it in the little television monitor in the room.

In conclusion room is a very interesting book to read because you see eclectic thoughts from the point of view of a five year child explaining it. All the thoughts are explained in bits of pieces, but they are easy to understand. To any reader who is interested in reading a bone chilling story like “room”, I recommend you to read this book. This was probably one of my favorite books to read.  
Title: Room
Author: Emma Donoghue
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Published: September 13, 2010
Pages: 321
Genre: Novel
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Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 9.12.04 AM
Basically, my creative piece just gives you an ideas of what I think the cover of the book should look like, since most of the setting in that specific room.

The Kite Runner

The author of the Kite Runner is named Khaled Hosseini. Khaled Hosseini is an Afghan-born American novelist and physician. Khaled Hosseini wrote Kite Runner and had it published in 2003 . Some other books he has written are And the Mountains Echoed , and A Thousand Splendid Suns. Kite Runner was nominated for an Academy Award. Kite runner was made into a film , and put into theaters in 2007 . The film was also awarded the Satellite Award for Best Original Score. Along with the  award BFCA Critics' Choice Award for Best Young Actor.

Khaled Hosseini Worked as a doctor in California directly after college. Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. When Khaled was 11 his family and him moved to france. At age 15 Khaled moved to the United States with his family. Khaled Hosseini worked in medicine for ten years until the release of his novel Kite Runner. Khaled has been providing humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan through his foundation. He is living in California with his wife Roya and his two children, daughter Farah , and son Haris.

The Kite Runner is a novel about a young Afghani boy named Amir. Amir betrays his close friend named Hassan, when he is only twelve years old. Throughout the book Amir deals with weight of the guilt left behind from betraying his close friend Hassan. Amir was born into a wealthy family living with servants, and his father Kabul. Hassan , and his father live with Amir , and Kabul. Although the families are very close , their difference are not unknown. These differences create problems, and barriers for the friends. The book takes place during the rule of Zahir Shah. Zahir Shah ruled from 1933 till 1973 when he was ousted. Zahir Shah became king at age 19 after his father Mohammed Nadir Shah was assassinated. Zahir Shah was the last king of Afghanistan.

In the midst of this book Khaled Hosseini finds a way to make such an intense plot beautiful. Amir’s life is filled with pain, regret , guilt, and uncertainty. The plot is so believable, it is almost disturbing to read for recreation in a way. During the intense scenes of the book Amir recalls memories of his childhood flying kites with his best friend Hassan. Some of the richest parts of the novel are when Amir talks about flying kites. Although the memory of flying kites is happy , it is very extreme.  Khaled Hosseini describes what Amir feels when he flies these kites , along with what they look like. The kites shimmer with glass on the string, this is to cut other kites strings. Khaled Hosseini describes the glass cutting into Amir’s skin. Amir continues to fly his kite has the shards of glass slit his hands , he grasps tighter . The memories about kites are not only stories in one whole story , but they are written as a lesson, describing the intense alluring art of kite flying.

My personal favorite part of this book is the fact that Khaled Hosseini can create such an intimate relationship with Amir and the reader. Amir pours out his anger, sadness, guilt , and betrayal, exposing his entire being  to the reader. Khaled makes us become a part of Amir’s life. The novel forces the consumer to think numerous times during the story.

The quote that stuck with me the most was “ It's wrong what they say about the past, I've learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out .“ I cannot explain how powerful these two sentences are. I find the quote to be disturbingly true, and most real. Kite runner may have been an amazing book but I found it very hard for me to read. I found myself stopping to take time to really take in what I was reading . It is not a book for those who like to drift from reality when reading. For those reading this book I recommend reading it more than once to really understand every single detail of Khaled Hosseini’s words. I loved the Kite runner and intend to read it at least one more time. It is beautiful and thrilling story meant for engaged and thoughtful readers , not meant for faint hearted and carless.

Title: Kite Runner

Author: Khaled Hosseini

Publisher:  Riverhead Books

Date of publication: 2003

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Historical fiction

CharlieB. "The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini - Review." The Guardian. Children's Books, Wednesday July 2014. Web. <>.


Bossypants, written by Tina Fey, is a comical masterpiece. It is a well written story filled with charming anecdotes of Tina’s personal and professional life. Through her success she portrays what it is like to be a woman working in a male dominated environment. She reminds her female readers of how, in those situations, people often turn it into a girl on girl competion. In response Tina says, “You're not in competition with other women. You're in competition with everyone.” Little nuggets of advice, like this quote, are sprinkled throughout the book. Between moments of pure laughter there are moments of wisdom that make this book so unique and enjoyable to read. Regardless of your age, Tina has advice that is relevant to your life. Women, men, teens, parents, everyone can take something away from her book.

Bossypants is not all life advice from Tina, she also discusses her personal life, and her constant struggle to find the balance between work, her social life, and her home life. She shares anecdotes of her childhood and her “just badass” dad, Don Fey, through her teenage years growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, working for a Christian theatre company. The stories are put together to form a timeline of Tina’s life. To add to the moments of nostalgia there are photographs of Tina, her family and friends, throughout the years. It creates an image of her life before fame. She had a normal, awkward, anything but glamorous life. And the pictures she adds in makes you feel like you know her on a more personal level. With the pictures throughout the book you also get a physical image seeing her develop into the person she is today. Continuing into young adulthood Tina discusses her luck with guys. At a point while discussing college relationships she reminds her readers, “When choosing sexual partners, remember: Talent is not sexually transmittable.”

From talk of childhood, Tina makes the transition into her career. And of course, what would her book be without discussing her time on Saturday Night Live and working on the set of 30 Rock with Alec Baldwin. Starting with a Second City, a comedy improv company in Chicago, she learned some of her most valuable lessons about comedy. From there she became a writer for Saturday Night Live where she met and worked with Lorne Michaels and developed somewhat of a mentor and mentee relationship. He is mentioned frequently in chapters about writing for SNL and late nights in the office, Tina also notes Lorne’s influences on her writing and all the useful show business advice he gave her through the years. The advice she got from him at SNL carried over to how she ran things at 30 Rock. She talks about script writing, the editing process, late nights in the studio and how stressful all of it really was is. She shows the work that goes into the script writing and how hard it is writing for comedy. At this point of the book she probably shares her most profound words of wisdom, “The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11:30.”  

The writing style of the book is comical. Tina has a unique way of conveying humor through sarcasm and satire in writing. No matter the subject of the chapter she finds a way to make you laugh. One chapter in particular, “Young Men’s Christian Association”, described her time working at her local YMCA. The job was far from exciting, yet between writing about the people she encountered or the work that was required, her complaints and rants made the book worth reading. “The people who worked upstairs in the offices...had it made. A guy in boxer shorts never screamed at them, that the residence lounge TV was broken.” The main idea to take away from all of these anecdotes and reflections is that everything will eventually be okay. If you mess up it’s not the end of the world. Countless times throughout the book Tina stresses that you should try to do everything that you can, but there will be a point where you just need to let it go. Which was something I did not expect when reading Bossypants. When I picked up the book I expected Tina Fey to write about how extravagant her life is and how grateful she is for all the opportunities she had been given, like a prolonged Oscar speech. But I was pleasantly proven wrong.

Bossypants was written by Tina Fey, published by Little Brown and Company, on April 5, 2011, 277 pages, autobiography.

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Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 10.49.00 PM

Justice: What's the Right Thing to DO?

Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? is a philosophical book written by Harvard professor Michael J. Sandel. This analytical book challenges every person in terms of their personal ideals of morals, justice, and freedom. It goes into depth about justice theories like utilitarianism vs libertarianism vs kantian. It gives cases involving affirmative action, birth contracts, and the free market. Sandel deciphers theories about justice and morals, while also challenging the thinking behind them. The author, Michael J. Sandel, is a professor at Harvard who teaches the courses “Ethics, Biotechnology, and the Future of Human Nature,” “Ethics, Economics, and Law,” and “Globalization and Its Critics.” He has written many books that also delve into philosophy, morality, and politics. He was recognized as an excellent teacher by American Political Science Association. His most popular undergraduate class is Justice, which has enrolled over 15,000 students. He is known globally as an influential leader in morality and justice. The book Justice is partially based off his teachings, lectures, and students in his class.

The format of the book is quite unique. Sandel will explain a theory and mention the opposing theories. After explaining the theory and ideas behind it, he applies them to the real world using either hypothetical scenarios or past events. This novel does not have a concrete plot, however each theory builds upon previous theories and conceptions throughout the book. Sandel has a very formal style of writing. It’s not casual and the book demands your attention. This book is jam-packed with ideologies, and is very dense. Even though the book is dense, requires concentration, and an open mind, you can put down the book (although you won’t want to) and pick it up wherever you left off due to the excellence of Sandel’s explanations.

Sandel really shines when it comes to the relevance of this book. Throughout the book he constantly questions how every person acts with guidance from morality or lack of. This book is a great tool for creating quality citizens, who in turn, could create a quality society. The reappearing motif in this book is the question (as said in the title) “What is the right thing to do?” Sandel continuously clarifies, reviews, and applies many theories of what’s just and what’s morally right in his book. One of the reasons why this book is incredibly thought-provoking is that Sandel never tells you what the right thing is. He gives different sides of the stories and backs them up, with added input from philosophers, but never gives a definite answer. One example Sandel gives is of a “debate over surrogate motherhood.” This case involved a woman, in New Jersey, who was paid to carry a couple’s child. The baby’s father was the man in the couple. The surrogate mother agreed to give over the baby at birth without visitation rights. However, when the birth of the baby came, the surrogate mother could not part with the child and fled to Florida. She was later brought back to New Jersey. The couple took the surrogate mother to court, and the judge ruled that the baby was to be in full custody of the couple because of the surrogate mother’s consent and contract. However the course was then taken to the Supreme Court of New Jersey, and they again ruled that the baby belonged with the couple, but for different reasons. This court said that the reason custody belonged to the couple was because of what was best for the child. They also argued that the surrogate mother was not knowledgeable about how she would feel after the baby was born, therefore making the contract was not an “informed choice.” He then challenges the reader and asks who was right? This book really makes the reader question what they believe in and how they decide what is right.

Another repeating theme is the ongoing battle of group vs. individual rights. One way Sandel demonstrates this debate is through utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is based on the belief that people seek pleasure, and aim to avoid pain. The main principle is utility. Therefore when practicing utility, one must focus on maximizing the pleasure of the majority. Sandel explains that this method is used often in politics. As in ‘What will help the most people?’ Sandel explains that the biggest weakness of utilitarianism is that “it fails to respect individual rights.” He offers an example of the weakness through “Throwing Christians to Lions.” Sandel says how “In ancient Rome, they threw Christians to the lions in the Coliseum for the amusement of the crowd.” He then goes on to explain the utilitarian rationale, “Yes, the Christian suffers excruciating pain as the lion mails and devours him. But think of the collective ecstasy of the cheering spectators packing the Coliseum. If enough Romans derive enough pleasure from the violent spectacle, are there any grounds on which a utilitarian can condemn it? (Sandel also justified the utilitarian belief later on)”

In Justice, Sandel encourages the reader to learn about all ideas of justice to form their own idea of the ‘ideal’ justice, and to then practice and apply to one’s daily life. As a reader you’re under the impression that Sandel has given you an encyclopedia on morality and justice, and it’s your job to envision your own theory. Once you’ve found the right blend of principles, practice using this combination in your daily life. Everyday people are faced with ethical obstacles, and as virtuous people, it is our duty to navigate them as best as we can. After reading Justice you will not only feel well versed in various theories, but you will be able to determine yourself what the right thing to do is.

Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?

Michael J. Sandel

Farrar, Straus, and Giroux


269 pages


Creative piece:

I based my creative piece off of John Rawls' theory of "The Veil of Ignorance." His theory is that people cannot choose just principles of society unless every person is equal. In order to make everyone equal people should imagine the hypothetical scenario of "The Veil of Ignorance." "The Veil of Ignorance" would be so that people would not know any information about their religion, health, social status, etc. Therefore no one would be picking principles of justice from a biased standpoint, in turn making society 'just.' This model demonstrates this idea by showing a person who is very biased and what they favor in society vs. a person behind "The Veil of Ignorance" and what they favor. In Rawls' theory, the people who 'look' from behind "The Veil of Ignorance" will pick the 'right' principles.


The Strain

A settling peace envelops you with a body cradling, feel of refuge. It’s sensual and leaves your now prickled skin energized but content. It’s resounding with a need for sleep, it’s unknotting movement in your muscles. Most of all, it’s silence; empty, free of stress, silence. It’s the kind that invades your mind in the pause after not yet realizing you’ve completed something challenging, much like writing a book or finishing a marathon. This peace is followed with your regarding of black walls. Black walls that move till the end of time in every direction to horizons unknown. Then there’s the smell; awakening and entrancing to your senses.

Only, the smell is not one that is delightful. It’s the feverish smell of rotting corpse and stagnant fluids. The black walls are those of a 777 Boeing aircraft; huge, but not nearly till the end of time, huge. The invading silence in your mind is not of accomplishment but of rape. The resounding need for sleep and unknotting of your muscles is death quickly creeping up on you. Finally, the settling peace is not body cradling and it certainly isn’t a feel of refuge. It’s something darker than a long night’s unrest. What is before you is the scene of hundreds of undead passengers staring at you with full of life, lifeless eyes. They stand steadily, come hither, and fear sets in.

Luckily, you aren’t really here. You are somewhere genuinely safe reading here. What is here? Here is the riveting and nerve twanging novel created by the combined minds of Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, The Strain. When an airport houses a flight of recently turned, contagious vampires and a zombie overlord with a mind to infect, the streets of Manhattan become a playground for chaos. A CDC agent, a computer hacker, an exterminator, and a Holocaust surviving, vampire slayer soon find themselves to be the last line of defense between the world and the end of the world. It is the only thing the reader can do but grip dearly to these characters’ lives as the pages go on to be evermore tumultuous to his or hers emotions. In short, it is absolutely terrifying and terrifyingly absolute with its purpose to make you turn the pages with eyes firmly shut.  

Don’t let this stop you though since The Strain holds more for the reader looking for thought stimulating ideals that will either shed light on or make you struggle with your own moral compass than those looking for a horror flick. Del Toro and Hogan create unmaneuverable circumstances where their characters and readers alike must share in hackneyed, but unspeakable, quarrels of euthanasia. The two authors make cliché the new black with themes incorporating wedges of intense darkness, tear jerking moments, and insomnious death.  You will question the dependability of your society, baffle with the idea of being dead, and learn more about the innards of yourself than imagined being one of a few novels that actually dig so deep into the sporadic and guarded human mind and heart.

What is truly fulfilling is a rare situation where the exterminator decides to spare those that are infected and search for a cure while the CDC agent loses hope on healing the human race and decides to rid the city of vampires. This change of identity becomes a rewarding read which has left me thinking about my own identity and how the world around me, when it changes, will affect myself. The novel continues to make the reader think this way where they will be forced to put down the book several times just to grapple with what their own interpretations and opinions are on the themes expressed.

Alternatively from writing, David Guillermo had conveyed his creativity in filmography before The Strain. Being the writer and director of several movies such as Pacific Rim, Hellboy, and Pan’s Labyrinth, Del Toro knew the risks and futility of converting what can easily be seen on screen in writing and projected into thousands of people’s minds. His style of writing successfully paints a vivid picture of his story in a way where a reader does not even notice they are reading. The second it takes for readers to switch written words into portraits is completely eliminated when words glide so easily into thoughts that reading a Guillermo Del Toro is like mindlessly watching television.

The Strain is the summoning of Stephen King, Michael Crichton, Richard Matheson, and Bram Stoker together for one purpose; to write a novelty epic in which you will revisit the days of under the bed monsters and moving shadows in the dark. There is no where to be protected other than being utterly lost in the pages of this book. Buy it at your local bookstore and begin to read for the experience is not only doubtlessly satisfying but surely worthwhile. The moral roads traveled within the pages are precisely ones you have not met before. After reading The Strain, if you were not before, you will find yourself thirsty for more in your own vampiric way.

The Strain

Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

William Morrow and Company

June 2, 2009

585 pages


To see my creative piece click here.

"A Stolen Life" - Jaycee Dugard

  “For eighteen years I was a prisoner.” Jaycee Dugard unravels her real experience on pages as she spills the words of her traumatizing kidnapping. Today, Jaycee, 34, has published a book, done many interviews, and reiterates her description from the 18 years she has spent in a backyard as a slave. Her book, “A Stolen Life,” written by herself has hit the No. 1 bestseller spot on Amazon and sold 175,000 copies on the release date. 

  On June 10th, 1991, the unthinkable happened to Jaycee Lee Dugard. The eleven year old was walking to school before coming to the realization that a car had stopped right along side her on the road. Soon before she knew it, Jaycee has been abducted. Convicted sex-offender Phillip Garrido and his wife Nancy snatched her on the side of the road and held her captive for 18 years of her life, stopping her from experiencing her preteens and adolescents years, stopping her from going to prom, and keeping her from her loved ones for years. 

Although this novel is graphic and detailed, it tells of a taboo incident that nobody would ever have dreamt of actually happening. In all honesty, it was hard for me to read at first because I was in shock that this event occurred. After a while, I chose to continue to read it because I was curious as to what happened and how she survived. Even though most of the book is repetitive, it was extremely well written. She was very straight forward with her points and feelings. She would not sugar coat anything. The sequence of the book was not in chronological order because she jumps from one part of the experience to another. In the beginning, she narrates about her first encounter with Phillip. Honestly, I wanted to stop and put down the book as fast as I read that a forty year old man kidnapped and sexually assaulted an eleven year old. It makes me feel violated, nervous, and cautious about my surroundings from now and so forth. Although this event wasn’t necessarily preventable, it made a huge impact on my life. I took away several different methods of life that I should always cherish and no longer take advantage of. While her basic human rights and freedom were striped right from under her, I am grateful for the life I have now. 

  The book is written and structured like a memoir. Jaycee is telling her story based on memories and old journals. At the end of each chapter, there’s always a reflection page summarizing and explaining her thoughts and feelings on what happened during an incident that she told in the previous chapter. I feel like the reflection page is really helpful because it helps me understand what she was trying to say, elaborate how she felt, her inner thoughts etcetera. 

  She decided to write the book because she didn’t want to “protect” her abuser anymore. She felt like she had preserved his identity enough throughout the years and writing the book publicizes the incidences that occurred while held captive. In her opinion, she felt like she could help others who are facing with difficult situations, showing them that it will be better. I also think that she wrote the book because throughout the 18 years she’s been imprisoned, she couldn’t really express her true feelings to anybody. Now, she finally has the chance to let thousands of people know what went on in the Garrido’s backyard. 

  I wouldn’t say there’s an obvious theme of the novel because it’s to every independent person’s opinion. But what I get from it, is that through any tragedy there will always be a brighter side. During her interview with Diane Sawyer, she mentions a lot about hope and how she nor her mother lost any hope during her disappearance. “There is life after something tragic” - Jaycee on Oprah. This is an amazing quote coming from someone who went through the toughest situation and still seems to put a smile on her face. Even though, her story’s immensely horrifying, Jaycee Lee Dugard is a survivor.

In my opinion, overall the book was interesting and eye catching. First page you read instantly grabs you in and makes you want to read more. But this was by far the hardest book I’ve ever had to read because of the subject of the matter.  I recommend this book to anybody who is interested in real life events. I wouldn’t highly recommend this book to a fellow high-school student because it’s such a mortifying and graphic story.  It just depends on the certain comfort level you have with sensitive topics. 

"a stolen life" by Jaycee Dugard 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
Published: 2011 
Pages: 273 
Genre: Memoir 

Creative Project: 
This collage of what seems to be random things, symbolizes some of the many things that occurred in the time she was kidnapped.
Pine cones: In the book, she says that it was the last thing she had grasped onto before getting taken by the Garridos.
The two hands represent her two daughters.
Why her name is in big fonts is because during the entire 18 years, she was not allowed to say her name. Once she broke free, I interpreted it on the canvas like she's the main subject. Her name just had to be known and visible. 
The tv represents the little small television that Phillip gave her in the beginning of her kidnap where she only watched infomercials.
During her kidnap, Phillip gave her 3 kittens the ball of yarn and the cat on the side represents that.
The wawa symbol represents the fast food he fed her every single day.
The little butterfly charm on the side was the only thing she had left from her childhood. Before she got abducted, she was wearing a butterfly ring.