If you haven't had the pleasurable opportunity to read Maniac Magee by Jerry Spenelli grab a copy from you local library as soon as possible. Allow me to introduce a style of writing that engages you into a story of a young boy trying to figure out where he belongs in this world of “equality” and understanding the community we live in. Jerry Spenelli is a fantastic storyteller, and write for his audience of adolescents. He has won over eight awards for his amazing books and creative way of telling realistic stories covering taboo topics of society, for example racism, sexism, and homelessness. In his writing he also includes humorous content to keep his audience excited to read on.
Hola, me llamo Hayley Williams.Tengo veinticinco años. Mi cumpleaños es el veintisiete diciembre. Me encanta cantar y bailar. Estoy en una banda, Paramore. Me gusta viajar y ir de compras. Me gusta comer helado.
¿Qué te gusta?
- 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...?).
- 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...?).
Reviewer: Nicholas LePera
“From his bedroom window Mikhail Zinoviev could see that the barn door was open. It was swaying backwards and forwards into the wind and snow was swirling into the barn”, the vivid description and imagery of Child 44. The novel was written by Tom Rob Smith, and the book is outstanding, considering it is his first. The mere thought of future books written by such a talented person is intriguing. Child 44 is followed by two others, The Secret Speech, and Agent 6. His first book, Child 44, was so well received that it is expected to receive a film adaptation. Get ready to see it hit the big screen! This book is not for the faint-of-heart. The harsh Russian winter is as unforgiving as its people. Murder, rape, and alcoholism has its members and you may not take kindly to sexual themes.
The thriller Child 44 takes place in the midst of post World War II in Soviet Russia. From reading history books, I went into this book knowing Stalin was a mad-man responsible for the deaths of millions of his own people. He was responsible for the harsh and villainous tactics used by the secret police. Extortion, murder, torture, and more. This knowledge gave me a fear when reading that something unexpected could happen to my favourite characters due to the type of world they live in. During such an eventful point in time is why this story flourishes. The time and place of all events created by Tom Rob Smith accurately correlate with the methods of the secret police and the propaganda used by the State to coerce people to following a maniac’s goal. Agents huddled around the radiator of their GAZ automobile struggling to stay warm as they progress towards a farm they plan to raid has a militaristic feel to it that made me feel the brotherly feel among the crowd but also the connection to the dark deeds these men have done. From Moscow, to Rostov, circumstances change, not all fear is the same and characters fit the living environment they are in through their dialogue to their actions.
In the boots of lead character, Leo Demidov is an MGB agent, also known as the secret police, which is responsible for carrying out Stalin’s orders. As the reader is introduced to Leo, they will find out his past is not exactly as obvious as one might hope. His job was to blame crimes upon people who had done nothing. Falsely placing claims and torturing confessions are the specialty of men such as Leo. The victims, taken from their rooms in the night, all traces of them gone. Nobody bats an eyelash, for if they do, they may be next. These are historical events that tie in with Tom Rob Smith’s main character, Leo who has put all of his faith in the state and lives to serve loyally. His loyalty stretches back as far to the time of being a soldier in the Red Army, it would only make sense for Leo to join the Ministry of State Security One day events begin to take place which make their way to Leo’s attention causing him to challenge his belief in the state. He is married to a teacher named Raisa, though the marriage isn’t exactly working out. Though he cannot realize why, state deception has cast his mind away from his eyes so he cannot realize what he is doing. Smith ties in the feeling of the harsh Russian environment through immersing the reader in its weather, but also in its appearance as a Communist nation ruled by fear. You will breathe and feel every city block, every farm, and path traveled by Leo. From the streets of the Lubyanka to the slums of Rostov-on-don, Smith provides the reader a complete Russian geographic. As more and more events spawn onto the drawing table, Leo becomes baffled. Everything he has been taught and has believed is being disproved in a matter of days. I felt attached, as if I had been in his shoes and I was there for the battle to make a decision on what to do next. Struggling to figure out the truth, he begins to investigate these mysterious murders. We as readers are brought along in the journey, ever present yet ever distant to the story we are enveloped by.
The people he originally arrested had no correlation to these events. Leo knows this for a fact, but is hesitant to disobey the all-knowing state. Each murdered child he has come across has had the same exact autopsy report on how they were killed, surely this was no coincidence. Amongst the chaos, the protagonist is tested by the state. His rivals have given him a test, denounce his wife as a spy. For days Leo debates on the possibilities. Is his lover a spy for the West? He finds himself on the streets with his wife, Raisa, banished from Moscow.
Having been demoted for failing to denounce his wife, the couple finds themselves on their own and Leo at a disadvantage in solving the mystery at large, the murderer. He must conduct his operations in secret and find a way to bring the madman responsible to justice. The reader may attempt to read this book and infer possible outcomes and scenarios by judging the book in comparison to other shows and books, but each one shall fail.
Within the pages of this book are vast amounts of mysteries and details making it impossible for you to draw conclusions but yet remain entertained. With countless history books, texts, and documentaries, Smith created the most historically accurate fiction of all time.
Searching for answers to his question, Leo will meet new people. What fate will he face in the harsh and barren cold of such an unforgiving land? Leo must redeem himself, for his wife, Raisa. Living a life of lies only makes it harder to search for the truth.
Book: Child 44 Author: Tom Rob Smith Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Date Published: 2008 Pages: 400 Genre: Thriller Language: English
To understand the book Little Brother, one must first understand Cory Doctorow. Doctorow is a member of a group of minds who are of the opinion that all digital media should be shareable. He is against copyrighting, and most of his works are viewable for free online under creative commons licensing. Doctorow believes the creators of the media should have the copyright, and that said media should be free to be used as the creator pleases. These ideas come out strongly in Little Brother.
Little Brother is the story of Marcus, a teenager/gamer/self-made genius. He and his group of friends start out innocent enough, skipping school to play a game. But when a bomb goes off in San Francisco, their homeland, they become captured by Homeland Security. From there, the story becomes a technology driven war of attrition between Marcus’s fellow teens and the government. It is a compelling and terrifying look at what could happen as the United States government goes to extremes to neutralize an internal threat.
This novel is thrilling, full of the choking thought of having your worst enemy be the group you are supposed to trust. There are many points in the early stages of the novel that make you feel the setting well. You are constantly put into situations where it feels like you, not the character, lose people or feel hopelessly lost yourself. The setting, when it isn’t on the internet or main characters’ houses, can give off a very real, close feeling. You also are given enough insight into the characters to start to feel for them, especially during the early parts of the narrative. The most realistic feeling in I felt during this narrative was a growing, infectious paranoia. I truly began to fear the walls themselves, wondering what kind of people my government’s employees really were. Which departments I could trust? Which would readily take me away to control the people around me? The story does a remarkable job turning those we have learned to trust so deeply into the bad guy.
The “trust nobody” feeling of Little Brother is what kept me into it. Cory Doctorow’s writing is at first appealing and witty, but falls short and becomes repetitive uncomfortably quickly. His style feels like an attempt at comedy, and his language is so lighthearted that I almost lose track of the serious tone that the characters situation calls for. The laughs fall too short to actually call this book a comedy. Some people refer to Doctorow’s writing as glorified blogging. The masses are correct. The novel’s focus is lacking. Doctorow fills space that could be used to write a compact, concise story with descriptions of concepts and terms that he uses in the book. This may be an attempt at pushing into the first person point of view as fully as possible, as Marcus is the kind of kid who loves to teach himself as much as he can get his hands on, but it comes off as a drag on the reader. The book is constantly sidetracked by descriptions of random things Marcus knows that range from a paragraph to, several occassions, a full page.
The language posed another issue to me. It felt like Doctorow was trying too hard to play the part of a hot headed young teen. The sound of the book felt unnatural. It felt like someone who was trying to play the character of a teenager, but a forced, stereotypical teenager. For most of the book, I wanted Marcus to stop talking, and for a third person narrator to take over. You could never get behind Marcus on an emotional level. He had four modes: Doctorow fueled blog-like rants on minor things; angry, brooding, authority hating; perverted, unrealistic teenager; and whiny, scared, forced into the spotlight mode. None of these felt like a real human. It is difficult to read a first person novel when you can’t support the protagonist.
Little Brother isn’t a bad book, it just fell short on the expectations that I went into it with. There are plenty of readers who will enjoy it. Anyone who is entertained by the popular young adult novels such as the Hunger Games series and Divergent will be able to find a familiar style of writing and plot structure. Little Brother is also a good entry point for the young to introduce themselves into the cyberpunk and dystopian genres. It is the inflatable kiddie pool of cyberpunk. Any young readers interested in some light, reality grounded science fiction should take some time to read Little Brother.
Self Published via Creative Commons
Young Adult Cyberpunk, Light Scifi, Thriller
Digital Fortress — Dan Brown
Review by Zack Hersh
Snowden on steroids — Digital Fortress is an exciting and wild ride through the NSA and the controversial issues of privacy, but past the plotline, the writing falls short
“Who will guard the guards?” The premise of this book is interesting enough: the National Security Agency’s top code breaking machine, the massive and multimillion dollar TRANSLTR, encounters a code it cannot break, called Digital Fortress. It turns out that Digital Fortress is actually unbreakable encryption software that, if released to the public, would be able to encode any digital message or data, effectively protecting it from any unwelcome “snooping” done by say the NSA. This software was created by a former NSA employee, Ensei Tankado, who was outraged by what he thought to be corruption, injustice and abuse of power in the NSA. More specifically, their everyday intrusion into people’s private lives. At the threat of releasing this software to the world, which would cripple NSA intelligence and power devastatingly, and the fact that the code is already inside TRANSLTR, preventing the mighty machine from doing anything else until the code is broken, Digital Fortress essentially holds the NSA hostage.
Only the secret passkey can abort the code, and that is where Susan Fletcher, the main character, and her fiance David Becker come in. Susan is the NSA’s head cryptographer, or code maker and breaker, and is brought in to try to uncover the passkey in a race against time, before Tankado auctions it off to the highest bidder worldwide. At the same time, Becker is sent to Spain, where Tankado had just died of what appeared to be a heart attack, to try to find Tankado’s personal copy of the passkey, all while being persecuted by a mysterious and relentless assassin. For the sake of national intelligence, the passkey must be uncovered before it is too late.
By this point, it should be quite clear how interesting the plotline of the book is. It is twisted and dynamic, with many layers, sides, and surprising or big reveals. But the complex and captivating plot was basically all the book had going for it, and was the only thing that would keep readers. Past the story, the writing fell short. It was mostly hollow and not very sharp, only really descriptive of actions, meaning along the lines of “Then he did this. Then this person did this. Then this person did that”. Of what would be expected of a professional author, especially one as accomplished as Dan Brown, who has found success with other bestsellers like Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code, his prose is of egregiously low level. Much of the story was written in a very disappointing way. Then again, this was his debut work. He has since had time to figure some of these issues out.
Each chapter, the story jumped around from different places and characters, which was not only somewhat distracting and introduced numerous additional, and sometimes unnecessary, characters and subplots, but also caused the book to read more like a screenplay than a novel. With the exception of the intricate and well developed plotline, the writing was not of the highest caliber. For example, at a highly climactic scene, when Becker is running from the assassin and encounters a dead end, Brown Writes, “And then it just stopped. [Paragraph] Like a freeway that ran out of funding, the path ended.” This poorly executed simile was just one example of many literary letdowns found within the book’s 500 pages, and took away so much from this moment in the story. Readers may find themselves thinking more about the writing they’re reading instead of becoming immersed in the story, which is a shame, because the plot itself is quite rich. As the plot thickened, the writing did become somewhat more readable and engrossing, however, this high point is the baseline of quality where most writers would be looking to as a starting point, not as a peak. Readers who can ignore and look past errors, questionable decisions, and little irritations may enjoy the book because of the captivating story it tells, but otherwise, Digital Fortress would mostly likely not be a worthwhile read. Readers could instead discover the plot through Sparknotes, or through a simple plot summary.
The book is in the end, wasted potential. The plot is engaging and captivating despite the way it’s written, and tackles and explores the hot and controversial issues of privacy and NSA in a very neutral and unopinionated way, shining light and casting reason and sympathy on both sides of the issues through various characters and their respective views and experiences. There’s so much room for this book to be exceptional in many dimensions, but unfortunately it’s execution ends up being disappointing. It’s a job half done. The story, themes, and ideas are there. But the writing itself is not quite there yet. This stole so much from a book and story with so much potential and possibility. Unfortunately, despite all of the positive attributes Digital Fortress has, readers will more likely than not end up disappointed with it. Digital Fortress has a really neat premises and ideas, however, ended up being wasted potential and a disappointing read. More of a first draft than a final, published piece.
The most complicated people in the world are the most interesting. At least it’s that way for Balram Halwai. The reader gets sucked into a story filled with love, murder, grief, and the struggle for power.
Balram Halwai was a simple man from a simple village named Laxmangarh. However, his life took a turn when his father died of Tuberculosis. This then caused the division of a family. Balram is offered a job to be the driver of the wealthiest family in his village then greed starts taking advantage of his family. He is soon split between money and family. A few months into his career as a driver Balram is afraid of the competition brought a driver that stayed with the family for a longer period of time. Balram does whatever it takes to be the better driver. His actions take him to a road he can’t seem to get off of. By accepting the job, Balram was exposed to parts of India he never knew existed. From brothels to temples, Balram gets the full Indian experience behind the wheels of an expensive car.
On the road to a new life, Balram picks up a few friends who also happen to be taxi drivers. They expose him to the ups and downs of being a driver in the most corrupt city (also most “American”) in India, New Delhi. Balram watches his friends drown themselves in alcohol and women. This piques his interest, seeing has he never “dipped his beak” into anyone and begins to explore his sexuality. He even watches his employers perform sexual acts in the back seat of his car! Balram is then shown how politics is actually ran by watching his employers bribing foreign ministers for tax breaks and steal from the poor. He also sees how easily modern marriages can crumble and how easily people can rebound.
As Balram is further developed in the book, he gains more wisdom. He steps back and sees India for what it really is, which lets him find a way outside of the “Rooster Coop” he believes Indian servants are in. This revelation allows him to siphon gas, work with corrupt mechanics, and work on the black market. Balram believes that what he is doing is for the better good. Until he gets a surprise letter from his grandmother, which was attached with a special surprise. His nephew Dharam. This surprised Balram to the core, which is what sped up his decision to make his life better. Balram tried his best to remove himself from the “Rooster Coop” and move into the Light. He continued to speak of how he was better than the Darkness and that he deserved better because of all of the things the rich stole for him. Balram knew the consequences of his actions, yet he did continued to do it.
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, is an excellently written epistolary novel. The use of letters and flashbacks allows the reader into the mind of the main character, Balram. I feel that the language he used when writing this novel made it seem more realistic. It felt as if I was reading a personal journal of an Indian man living in India, rather than a book. Aravind Adiga exploited the political corruption in India through the eyes of a commoner, which was refreshing. Throughout the book, Adiga constantly spoke of the Darkness and the Light, which referred to the different types of India within India. There are many themes that are discussed in this novel, however, I believe that the main theme in this book is the struggle of power. We can see this theme everyday in our lives. In our families, our parents struggle with power, each of them wants their children to do something different and that creates conflict. At school, our teachers struggle with power in many different ways. Whether it be within family, work, or in society, Adiga also expresses this through the Caste System in India. In this novel, the author explores the idea of respect and loyalty. Balram’s struggle with being the perfect grandson and driver, serves to be a problem and it eventually blows up in his face. Balram lusted for power and success and he did whatever he needed to do to get it. The system is what divides the people of the country. There are still conflicts that affect the outcome of politics and success within the country. Balram, the main character, constantly divides the country in two, one being Darkness and the other being Light, this distinction between the two is brought up till the end of the novel. To Balram, Darkness is the part of India that is taken advantage of, he refers to this when he speaks of how the votes for politicians were rigged. Also, the style of which the taxi drivers spoke in the novel allowed the reader to feel as if he/she were there. Overall, I enjoyed reading this novel.
Most people at some point in their lives have read an autobiography whether it be on Malcolm X, Tony Blair, or Al Pacino. Based on the experience with that single autobiography, many readers either claim to love them, or hate them. It is not until you get past what you once thought of an autobiography before, can you finally immerse yourself into the thrilling and idiosyncratic ocean of autobiographies once again. Open by Andre Agassi is the autobiography that may just be the book you need to provide that final push back into the ocean of autobiographical novels.
Andre Agassi is most famously known for his talents and capabilities on the tennis court but whether he wants this to be his legacy is up in the air. Agassi has been playing tennis all his life-starting professionally at 16-up to the age of 36 where he was physically incapable of performing. Through those 20 years of professional tennis, he managed to pull out eight grand slam single wins and a Master Cup, which earned him the 7th spot in, “Greatest Tennis Player of All Time” list by Sports Illustrated Magazine. With the spare time before his retirement, he founded the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education which lead him to found the Andre Agassi Prepatory School, a charter school in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was roughly three years after his retirement when he wrote this book with the help of some of his best friends, the people who knew him best.
While he spent the greater portion of his life playing tennis, in the first chapter, the first page actully, he blatantly states, “I play tennis for a living, even though I hate tennis with a dark and secret passion, and always have.” For Andre though, quitting was never an option. As a child, his dad would not allow him to quit, as a teen he hated school so much but was given the opportunity to play tennis all day versus go to school and took it, and as an adult, he didn’t have enough of an education to know what or how to do anything else. Most people find this passionate hatred confusing because if you excel at something and pursue it, many assume that you love to do it. That is not the case that is expressed in this book.
Throughout this book, Agassi goes into great depth about the struggles he goes through in tennis and his self-discovery because he has never known exactly who he is. The only thing he has known, is that while he may only be one person, there are two different sides to him, the one that goes out on the court, and the one that exists off the court. In the process of trying to figure out who he is, he experiments with his appearance, usually as an act of rebellion. However, in the book, one of his closest friends helps him to analyse how other see him and in Agassi’s own words, “...people have been fooled by my changing looks, my clothes and hair, into thinking that I know who I am. People see my self-exploration as self-expression.” This really helps you to see through the eyes of the people that see him as both a player and a person and get an idea of the bulwark he puts up to outsiders.
Now that Andre is on stable ground in his life, with his wife Stefanie Graf and two children, Jaden and Jaz, he is content with his life. His wife Stefanie Graf is a retired professional women's tennis player who is considered one of the best female players of all time and to some, one the best tennis players ever. With his education foundation the fore-front of his professional life, he has no intent of going back onto the courts for anything more than the occasional bout with his wife.
One thing that I really appreciate is how in depth his writing is with his emotions and how he is able to recall all of these moments with such vivid description. It lets you get a better idea of who Andre Agassi is and helps you to get a better understanding behind Andre’s numerous decisions and his feelings toward certain things. However, he does sometimes dwell on things for a little bit too long which is irritating, but it helps the reader to realize what Andre truly values. Overall though, this book is a phenomenal read for anyone because of the many sensitive topics it touches on outside of his tennis life, which makes it relatable to so many different people. I am a 16 year-old girl who can still find connections between my life and his and the struggles and accomplishes he has had. While this book is for anyone who loves autobiographies it is also for those who are willing to try them or give them another chance. Not to mention anyone who is interested in self-discovery, romance, collaboration, working through struggles and going through the waves of life, no matter where the tide takes you.
by: Andre Agassi
AKA Publishing: 2009
Suzanne Collins produced a piece of pure fictional majesty in the thriller known as the Hunger Games. Also known for her two other books in the series, Catching Fire and The Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins created one of the most famous trilogies of our generation. She was born August 10th, 1962 and spent the majority of her childhood moving from city to city due to her father’s participation in the Vietnam War. She graduated from the Alabama School of Fine Arts in 1980 as a Theatre Arts major and got her Bachelor of Arts degree from Indiana University in 1985, thus kicking off her career. She helped produce several children’s shows such as Oswald and Little Bear, then she wrote her acclaimed trilogy known as the Hunger Games which really put an exclamation point on her career. Already with the Underland Chronicles under her belt, this trilogy only helped her fame increase in the most positive way. For not only is this trilogy a work of art, but a stern example of how freedom can be reached through constant perseverance. Along with the willingness of the heart to never quit, even during times of undoubtable trial and tribulation; Katniss Everdeen being the woman of example in this obsessive trilogy.
The once great region of North America, which is now known as Panem, has been separated into twelve districts. This districts rely on each other for whatever resources they need to survive. Then of course, there are the richer districts as the lower number ones, and the higher one goes in numbers, the poorer the district. Thus the 12th district, the home of the brave Katniss Everdeen and her family, along with best friend Gale, and her soon to be partner Peeta, is the poorest and least regarded district in the nation. These lower districts being tormented by the Capitol, a tyrannical presence in district 1 of the nation that controls all the districts along with what happens in them. Years ago, this authority was threatened by a revolution by the then 13 districts. However, the Capitol prevailed, and as a result the 13th district was said to be destroyed and the Capitol decided to make a cruel, and unusual punishment as a result to this revolution. The Hunger Games.
Games are played but people of all ages, and are usually enjoyed. Enjoyment by participants of the Hunger Games is not only a showing of one’s attitude, but a showing of one’s loyalty to the Capitol and their regulations regarding the 12 districts. For this games are made to kill, murders of all participants, except one, who then becomes a name written in stone, as a survivor and champion of the Hunger Games. Katniss Everdeen and the volunteering Peeta Mellark are chosen from district 12 to participate, along with two other boys and girls from the rest of the districts to fight to the death. Only one will survive this heated, bloody battle. Everybody for themselves. Who will survive? Who will become the champion?
The Hunger Games book one is an adventure waiting to be adored and praised for its suspense along with the fighting spirit of those in the districts to overthrow the Capitol; a thrilling beginning to an unforgettable tale. Beyond that, the overall theme of never letting freedom flee one’s grasp is an imminent, throbbing reality as Katniss Everdeen refuses to let the Capitol control the games they created, through thoughtful revolution and rebellion. With the book starting out with the already seemingly rebellious Katniss Everdeen hunting outside the walls of district 12 regularly to find food for her family and the Black Market, a theme is already hinted at. Thus the appearance of Gale Hawthorne adds a romantic, caring side to this story, hooking the readers, making them ponder about what is to come next. As the book carries on, its gradual build up to these thrilling games is what the reader is yearning to analyze and devour. Even though in several parts this book fails to meet expectations, overlooking these minor distractions will make one love this book even more. Fortunately, if one is a lover of books regarding rebellion, action, and a fight for freedom, this book should hit the spot.
The overwhelming feeling of the need to rebel and start another, successful revolution pounds at Katniss’ heart throughout this thriller. Her desire to see her family again, to see her best friend Gale again, and her newly found desire to protect Peeta all play a role in her willingness to survive and participate in the Hunger Games. Throughout the entire book however, the hanging questions remains in one’s face like a group of flying gnats, will Katniss survive? Will all her efforts to rebel and free the districts from the Capitol’s strong grip come to no avail? Excitingly, the answer dwell in this exhilarating, compulsive book which is a must read, for Katniss Everdeen is a fighter.
“Author: Suzanne Collins; The Hunger Games; Publisher: Scholastics; Genre: Adventure/Science Fiction; Published September 14th, 2008; 374 pages long.”
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 how I interpreted the overall message of the book. I still felt like Arnold's dreams weren't full fulfilled. So using the laser cutter at my job, I rastered an image of a dream catcher with the phase "Dreams Almost Captured".
I learned a lot from my Spanish Benchmark. One of those things are communication. I learned how to properly talk to group members. I liked how we got to be creative, and talk about the fake experiences we had. I love how we had so much freedom, and how we got to learn from each other when we presented. It could be better by not making us answer the questions on canvas, but instead asking the class these questions. Then somebody can call out, or raise his/her hand, to say the answer. Besides that, this project was very good. And like it, and the grade I got for it.
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
Creative Piece Link