Book Review: Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston

Farewell to Manzanar is Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston’s personal, non-fiction account of life inside the Japanese internment camps that the US government put in place during World War ΙΙ. Although many Americans acknowledge the injustice that was done to Japanese Americans during the period that they were relocated to camps along the western interior of the US, less Americans understand the full truth of what life was like inside these war relocation camps. In Farewell to Manzanar, Wakatsuki tells the story of her family’s time in Manzanar, their assigned camp, as well as detailing the repercussions that this experience had on her family.

One of the most interesting parts about Wakatsuki’s story is that she puts a great deal of focus on her life pre and post war. She does not talk only about her family’s incarceration, but also of their home before the turmoil of the war. She laces the chapters with memories from before her time in Manzanar. Wakatsuki also taps into the memories of her family in chapters where she is not the narrator. This story is not simply one about war; it also talks about a young girl growing up and discovering her interests in a place far from her home.

-Mirabella S.

 

Farewell to Manzanar is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

 

Life and Society in The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald and published in 1925. I liked the fact that this novel accurately depicts what life was like in the 1920’s, and the types of people who lived it. The setting of this novel takes place in New York, and the area in which the main character, Nick, lives is set in West Egg and East Egg. Both of these cities are considered to be wealthy cities. West Egg, where Nick has a home, is considered to be “new money,” while East Egg, where his cousin, Daisy and her husband Tom Buchannan live, is thought to be “old money.”

West Egg is the type of city in which people have earned their money and East Egg is where people have inherited their money from older generations. However, Nick’s neighbor, Jay Gatsby, is known to be the wealthiest of them all. He lives in a humongous mansion and throws parties almost every weekend where anyone is free to attend.  An example of how this novel reflects the conventions of the time period, the 1920’s was known as the “Roaring Twenties,” and the types of parties held signified how careless people were about spending money and that they did not care about ruthless behaviors.

Another example would be that one of the important characters in this novel, George Wilson, lives in an area known as the “Valley of Ashes,” a place where the poor working class live. In the Valley of Ashes, the eyes on a billboard of one of the wealthiest citizens, Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, seems to always watching the entire city. George Wilson believes that Eckleburg is a God after stating “God sees everything” while looking at the billboard. This signifies that the national religion of the United States during the twenties was business and wealth instead of God Himself.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel as this precisely described how life was like in the “Roaring Twenties” with many people becoming wealthy due to the economic boost and how those people were being careless with their money and behaviors. Also, George Wilson believing that the wealthiest are like Gods was also interesting and accurate. However, due to many careless spending, this would ultimately lead to the crash of the stock market and the rise of the Great Depression starting in the 1930’s. I would recommend this book because of how it relates to the accurate history in the United States that occurred and the outcome.

-Matt J

The Great Gatsby is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download from Overdrive and Hoopla

Authors We Love: Natasha Preston

Natasha Preston, also known as the Wattpad sensation, natashapreston. Natasha Preston was born in England and has lived in small towns and villages out of the countryside ever since. At school, she received average grades and fell into administration and receptionist jobs, thinking that she couldn’t really do anything else.

In 2010, she stumbled into writing completely by accident.  She was searching the ‘app store’ when she came across Wattpad, an amateur writing site. For the first few months she just read, but then she decided to type some of the ideas whirling around her head. All of her books started as a story on Wattpad. She enjoys writing romance, thrillers, gritty YA, and the occasional serial killer.

Writing gave her an escape and Wattpad gave her the confidence she lacked.

Her #1 on New York Times young adult Ebook is, The Cellar, which was originally published in 2014. The Cellar‘s genres are thriller, fiction, and mystery. There is never a dull moment in this book. Natasha Preston always keeps you wondering what is going to happen next. The Cellar is about a 16 year old girl, Summer Robinson who gets disappears without a trace.  No family or police investigation can find her. Summer spends months in the cellar with her kidnapper and several other girls. Summer learns about Colin, (the kidnapper) and his abusive past and how he thinks of his victims being his family.

Ashfall by Mike Mullin

Image result for AshfallAshfall, by Mike Mullin, is about life after a supervolcano erupts in Yellowstone. Alex is a normal teenage guy. He’s a sophomore, plays video games, has a black belt in tae kwon do, and wishes he could go on a date with a cute girl. His family is on their way to visit his uncle’s family, and he didn’t want to go.

Even though he survived the explosion, it’s only the beginning. His family isn’t with him, he doesn’t know who to trust, and traveling through the ash is exhausting.  Alex knows that he should try to track down his family, but did they even survive? But traveling to Warren, Illinois, where his Uncle’s farm is, is 140 miles away. What if his parents never even arrived at Warren? When Alex attempts to travel to Warren, some people are friendly, while others are as dangerous as the ash filled terrain. Is this new world the survival of the fittest?

Life after a volcano eruption is already scary, but a supervolcano eruption could ruin the entire world. In Ashfall, the eruption affects the whole world, not just America because of food shortages. This book also gets you thinking about a different way that the world can end because of nature, instead of disease, zombies, or other ways.

I thought that this was a well-written book, because Mullin makes it seem real. I wish I hadn’t read this book in one sitting though, because it is 450 pages long! I do recommend this book to anyone who likes any type of science fiction, or volcano eruptions. Also, this is a trilogy, with the second book titled Ashen Winter, and the third book called Sunrise. This book isn’t meant for younger audiences.

-Rebecca V. 8th grade

Ashfall by Mike Mullin is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive

Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2

As a sequel to the first Guardians of the Galaxy film, this movie is very well done. Though, it is not quite as great as the first movie because, while a sequel is almost never as good as the original, it is still an amazing movie!

The soundtrack, like the original, is amazing. It is filled with classic 70’s rock songs that really just help make the movie. Personally, I think this movie has one of the best movie soundtracks compared to some more recent movies.

In this movie, you get to follow yet another one of the Guardians of the Galaxy’s adventures to save the universe. With Rocket’s and Peter Quill’s constant bickering (because why should a raccoon be flying a plane when you have a pilot, right?) and snarky comments from the entire team, the movie is definitely hilarious.

The movie starts off with the Guardians of the Galaxy protecting some precious batteries from a monster trying to steal it but, after protecting it, Rocket being Rocket decides to steal one — which results in the team pretty much being chased by people who are trying to kill them. Meanwhile, Peter Quill finally learns a little bit about his past, which eventually turns into someone trying to take over the world and the team having to save it.

This is the perfect movie for anyone who loves the superhero genre and it is also the perfect movie to go out and see with friends.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm is an allegorical novel by George Orwell that tells the story of the Russian Revolution through farm animals. At first glance, the book is nothing more than a fairy tail, but behind this façade is the barely concealed rage from Orwell, who grew disillusioned with the ideals of communism after watching how its system of government played out for Russia. The book follows Joseph Stalin’s rise to power as a dictator in a society that, in theory, was supposed to be shared among all of the working class. In spite of the cruel treatment that the ruling class dishes out to them, the working class remains oblivious of the freedoms being stripped from them until it is too late to fight back against it.

As I mentioned before, the book is about Stalin’s rise to power. However, the story is about animals. So, which animal represents Stalin? Finding out is half of the fun of reading the book. With minimal knowledge about the Russian Revolution, you can deduce which animal represents each political figure or societal class, as well as which events in the book represent major turning points in Russia’s history.

When reading Animal Farm, I could not help but be in awe of how flawlessly Orwell seamed each historical event into the book. Every turn of the page brings new excitement, and I found myself actually getting emotional throughout some points in the story. It is a strange experience to watch as a group of people, or “animals”, slowly become oppressed by a government that they thought would save them from their oppressors. Whether this cycle of power is told through the eyes of animals or humans, the disturbances that it can cause can shape the course of history, as we have seen it do time and time again. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys history, or simply wants a read that will make them think.

-Mirabella S., 9th grade

Animal Farm by George Orwell is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Hoopla.

Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices Book 2) by Cassandra Clare

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TMI fans, here is the next book in the installment!

Emma is struggling with her love for Julian, and so, unknown to him, has begun a fake relationship with Mark. Mark himself is struggling whether to love his past, Kiernan, or his future, Christina. Christina is struggling with Diego and Mark. Diana finds a love interest of her own. Kit “Herondale” is struggling with his new name and the legacy of it, while also finding some new friends with the twins. We also see some TMI characters like what we saw with Lady Midnight– Clary is unsure of whether to marry Jace or not, and Alec and Magnus play a big role in helping Julian, Emma, and the gang with issues such as the concern of Downworlders with the Clave. The Clave itself is being as stupid as always, as there are many Downworlder haters there. Oh, and did I mention that we haven’t seen the last of Malcolm?

Of course, Cassandra Clare still works her comedy within the story, as shown when Ty is amazed that Kit knew about Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, even though Kit laughs at how did no one in the Shadowhunters knew who they were.

Additionally, there are, of course, secrets providing twists and turns to the plot, especially when the Blackthorn family finds out a secret of Julian’s.

However, despite all of the positives and the things I was happy with in the sequel, I was quite disappointed with a few things. First of all, Magnus and Alec appear a little too much in the book, making the spotlight go to them instead of the Blackthorns. Secondly, one can’t read the book without reading the TMI series. Robert Lightwood references what happened with Michael Wayland, making the context only relevant if one read what happened to him back in The Mortal Instruments. Additionally, the issue of Malec, one making immortal and the other not, is referenced too, making it necessary to read The City of Heavenly Fire. It is also required to have read The Infernal Devices. Kit is asked whether he is going to be a Jace, Will, Stephen, or a Tobias, requiring the necessary background information in order to understand. Additionally, we meet a ghost named Jessamine Lovelace, and if one hasn’t read The Infernal Devices, one does not know what she is all about.

However, despite all of these negatives, it is quite an enjoyable  book, one worth reading.

Megan V. Eleventh Grade

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive.