Lord of the Flies by William Golding

I recently read Lord of the Flies by William Golding for my English class. When my teacher first introduced my class to this book, I thought it’d be like the other books we’ve read in school last year, and I was not particularly thrilled to read it. However, the story Lord of the Flies tells is extremely chaotic and I found myself liking the book more and more.

The novel is about a group of extremely young British school boys who are stranded on an island and who thought it would be heaven on Earth since there are no adults around and no rules to obey. However, the boys soon realize that they need to establish ground rules and the makeshift democracy seemed to work for a while. To be honest, I didn’t think boys 10 years and younger paid much attention to politics. However, as the book progresses, the reader could tell that the boys are actually shredding their civilized self and becoming more and more animal like and savage. Jack, the main antagonist, even manages to first handedly murder 3 boys who were on the island. I know. I’m shocked too.

The novel opens with its protagonist, Ralph, and I found myself disliking the immature, “fair” boy who the others choose as leader of their “society”. However, I felt pity towards the social outcast, Piggy. Piggy is ostracized because he is overweight, has asthma, and he has glasses. I could relate more to Piggy because I’m more or less a nerd myself, and I felt angry at how today’s society isolates the nerdy kids, as well. As the book progresses, the shockingly brutal actions that the young boys perform caused me to think about the savagery that exists in our own society and how Golding is right to stress that everyone has innate evil in them and how it cannot be killed. I like this book for this sole reason: this book is not merely about a group of immature school boys, it is about chaos, fear, danger, savagery, and above all, the degeneration of human nature. Golding cleverly intervenes references, plot, and personalities into his masterpiece and I never thought I’d learn so much about human nature through a book that we’ve read in English. Lord of the Flies has taught me a valuable lesson and I would definitely recommend it for a light read outside of school.

-Angela L.

William Golding’s Lord of the Flies is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

“thank u, next” Review

Pop singer, Ariana Grande, released a new song called “thank u, next” on November 3. Though I’m not a huge fan of Grande, I love how her song is not only catchy but empowering and eyeopening.

Ariana became engaged to Pete Davidson not long after breaking up with singer, Mac Miller, in early 2018. Miller died in early September from drug overdose and though Ariana was engaged, she still felt the heavy pain from losing someone she once loved. Davidson and Grande broke off their engagement in October but, Ariana embraced the single life, singing about it in “thank u, next.”

In a society that encourages “clapping back” and stirring up drama, Grande’s song is refreshing and genuine. Rather than wanting to throw shade at her exes, Ariana wants to thank them for making her a stronger individual. They all hold an important and special place in her heart because “one taught [her] love / one taught [her] patience / and one taught [her] pain” and now, “[she’s] so amazing.” Without these past relationships, Ariana wouldn’t be the person she is today.

In my opinion, another important aspect of the song is Ariana’s focus on self-love and self-betterment. While her exes taught her love, patience and pain, she also taught herself love, patience and how to deal with pain, which ultimately made her a better person. Grande explains that she found someone else to love, referring to herself as that “someone else.” Grande promises that the self-love she holds for herself is “gon’ last” and she “ain’t worried bout nothing.'”

Self-love and appreciation is a noticeable trend among today’s youth. Feminists advocate strength and success without the aid of men. Mental health victims strive to put their health and progress first. Social media posts remind individuals (whether they are fresh out of a relationship or have been single for awhile) of their self worth and hype them up. Grande’s song advocates this confident self-love and explains that no one should feel ashamed for putting themselves first.

Grande reveals herself as a self-aware, vulnerable and mature artist through this song, which are rare qualities to find in modern day artists. She teaches listeners that not all relationships are meant to last but they all can teach important lessons. Heartbreak can be a negative or a beautiful part of life and Ariana believes that it’s up to the individual to make it positive.

-Jessica T.

Looking for music by Ariana Grande? Visit Hoopla for an extensive catalog of her music free to download with a Mission Viejo Library card. 

The King’s Fifth by Scott O’Dell

Image result for the king's fifthWhat would you do if you heard of a golden city? Attempt to find it? Destroy it? Ransack it? This is the question posed by Scott O’Dell in his book The King’s Fifth. In the book, we follow the adventures of Esteban de Sandoval, a young mapmaker who is part of an expedition to the new world.

While the party explores the new world, they encounter Indians, who are usually welcoming, but sometimes hostile. However, in almost every case, the party tricks or fights the Native Americans. They do this because they have heard of vast supplies of gold. The Indians think little of the gold, taking what they need but not much more, and wonder why the Spaniards are so devoted to the material. Later, they acquire a huge amount of gold, only to have most of the members of the expedition perish or depart. Sandoval, after commandeering the remainder of the group, ends up in prison for failing to give the King his share of the treasure.

Even though the adventures of the explorers are fictional, many of the themes are all too real. Spanish expeditions did, quite often, swindle and cheat Indians out of valuables, even resorting to violence if trickery was unsuccessful. They also traveled with no respect to the land, destroying forests and slaughtering wildlife. Another aspect that truly happened was the Spanish gold rush. Many crews and expeditions deviated from their purposes to search for cities of gold. Wild tales were told of people who ate from golden platters and wore gold clothing. In the end, Scott O’Dell’s book wonderfully gives a look into the exploration of early North America.

-Joshua M.

The King’s Fifth by Scott O’Dell is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

So B. It by Sarah Weeks

I was looking through my bookshelf, pondering which book I could write a review for next and my eye wandered over this lovely novel I read as a fifth-grader. Six (seemingly long) years ago, I read this book and was touched. My reaction remains the same even as I read this book again in 2018. Wikipedia labels So B. It as a children’s novel and yes, based on its reading comprehension levels, the label makes sense. But on a deeper, emotional level, the book holds a number of truths.

A twelve year old girl, Heidi, lives with her mentally disabled mother, whose name is practically unknown, and Bernadette, an  agoraphobic neighbor, Bernadette. Their lives are built around these obstacles and uncertainties for as long as Heidi can remember but as she starts to grow up, she becomes aware of the gaping holes in her history. Wondering more about her and her mother’s past lives before meeting Bernadette, she embarks on a cross country journey to answer her questions: Who is her father? How did she and her mother end up at Bernadette’s door step all those years ago? What does the mysterious word “soof” mean? Her search for the truth begins with her mother’s list of 23 word vocabulary and an old disposable camera, starts in Reno, Nevada and ends in Liberty, New York.

Along the way, Heidi meets various strangers from different paths of life and she learns important lessons that ultimately make her wonder if it’s always worthwhile to uncover the truth and realize how uncomfortable or undiscoverable the truth is. Heidi balances tragedy and luck, love and loss, hope and defeat on this coming-of-age journey.

Week’s novel may be a children’s novel at surface level but I definitely believe that the audience gains perspective after reading this book. The characters in this book are easy to love and the plot is simple to follow, making for a quick read. There ought to be no excuse for you not to check this one out!

-Jessica

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if your family left behind everything you knew and moved to a remote African village? Probably not, but that is the scenario that the Price family faces as they embark on their missionary trip to the Congo in Barbara Kingsolver’s novel, The Poisonwood Bible. There are five members of the price family. Nathan Price is a firm willed Baptist pastor, determined to right the “evils” of Africa. Orleanna is Nathan’s wife, and is lost in the identity of her husband. Their daughters, Rachel, Leah, Adah, and Ruth May each react to their new home in different ways- and to the tragedy which soon befalls them. The family gets more than they bargained for when their Baptist evangelist mission is swept up in the Congolese revolution, and the government- and their world- falls apart around them.

The Poisonwood Bible deals with a topic that is all too often glanced over in modern society: the effect of European colonialism. The Congo that the Price family visits is broken politically and economically. Additionally, it explores the idea of gender through Orleanna, who has lost her own identity and lives for her husband instead. The idea of voice is also thoroughly explored by Kingsolver, who rotates the book’s narration chapter by chapter. Sometimes the story is narrated by materialistic Rachel, other times by dedicated Leah, sometimes by five year-old Ruth May. The only member of the Price family who does not narrate is the father, Nathan Price, whose character can be vividly constructed through the insight of all of the Price women. Because such a diverse cast is narrating the story, not only is the book engaging, the reader is able to see every facet of the trials of the Prices in Africa- and see how each character reacts to a tragedy which befalls them, whether that be through denial or guilt.

This book is so valuable, and reading it is an experience in itself. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a good read that is steeped in nuance and artfully written, in which political and religious references abound.

-Mirabella S.

The Posionwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

A Bike Ride

I finally felt stable in my life; the first time in years, there weren’t different screams from different feelings yelling at each other and fighting over who would win, it was as the screams settled down, but now there was nothing, nothing shouting, nothing screaming, no fights from the different Inside Out characters, it was as a giant black hole pulled them inside its body. The black hole seemed to get bigger and bigger by the second absorbing all the thoughts I cherished and sucking them up until I couldn’t go back to them and all that remained was emptiness in my dull mind. The only thought remaining in my poisoned mind was: “Would I rather have different feelings fight over, causing me to feel too strong, or have no war and only have emptiness float through my mind?”. It’s like riding a bike through a flower field, until it begins to rain and the tires get caught in the mud and so then you fall, while your bike breaks.

When it would stop pouring, I would pick up my bike and try again, with a broken leg and a flat tire, but as soon I would do this, the clouds would flush down its water, as it were laughing at my failure. I would keep trying and trying, until everything in my body was snapped in half, and all that remaining was the bell on my bike. On the other fields, I would see kids riding the same bike, except none of them had rain being poured down and they kept peddling, until their bellies ached from laughing too hard, when would I have that? My belly would only ache from falling on it too much.

I soon realized that I couldn’t go further and would die from the aches and pain. At least my skull would be buried with the sunflowers I never had.

-Kimi M.

Money Run by Jack Heath

Money Run by Jack Heath is a suspenseful thriller about two teenager thieves: Ashley and Benjamin. Ashley’s criminal life started when her house was robbed, so she tracked down the thief and was able to steal back her belongings. Since that day, she keeps up with her life of crime to support her and her Father. Benjamin is her partner in crime but holds down the court by supporting her in their heists virtually.

One day, Ashley gets wind that there is 200 million dollars hidden in one of the biggest companies in the country. Their headquarters happened to be located in the same town where Ashley and Benjamin live. After deciding to steal the money, they hatch an elaborate scheme over the course of several months. They expect the job to be seamless without any hindrances, but once the day comes, stealing the money is a lot harder than it seems. Taking over the course of one day with a shocking ending, this book is for anyone looking for an exciting thriller.

I have always loved action adventure books, and this was no exception. With unexpected twists and turns, this book did not let me put it down until I got to the end. Even though it takes place in only one day, the reader gets to enjoy multiple points of view. These helped to explain the various events taking place, and also allowed the reader to understand each of the characters better. By being aware of their backgrounds, I was able to be more sympathetic and understanding, even for the ones engaged in thievery. This book is for the type of person who loves adventure movies, and a thriller, roller coaster ride.

-Anmol K.

Money Run by Jack Heath is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library