A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks

At 17, Landon Carter experienced something, or rather, someone who changed his entire outlook on life. A Walk to Remember starts with describing Landon among his community in Beaufort, North Carolina, 1958. The way he describes the town is quaint, a perfect setting to the story.

At the start of his senior year, Landon ended up in drama, expecting an easy class. Drama was the better alternative to taking Chemistry II, according to Landon.

Landon was also on student council, and thus was expected to bring a date to Homecoming. With no one left to ask, he approached Jamie Sullivan, the daughter of the minister to join him. Despite her father’s reservations, he took Jamie to the dance. That was the end, or so he thought. He couldn’t bear to be seen with her in front of his more popular friends.

Yet Jamie showed him how to care for others. Landon drove around town, collecting the tip jars Jamie had set out for Christmas gifts for the orphans. That year, barely any money was collected, as Landon discovered. But by the time Jamie counted out the money herself, there was enough to buy plenty of gifts for the children.

The most touching part of this story, aside from Jamie and Landon, was between Jamie and her father. It was heart breaking to see how their relationship deteriorated after Jamie’s secret was out.

The prologue of this novel warns readers that they will laugh and cry. That is definitely true, and it is part of the reason why A Walk to Remember is worth reading.

– Leila S., 12th grade

A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks is availalbe for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Book vs. Movie: The Great Gatsby

The Great Gastby encompasses life in 1920’s America. Nick Carraway moves to New York to experience life in the stock market, whereupon he rents a house next door to Jay Gatsby. Throughout the summer, he becomes involved with Gatsby’s affairs, helping his cousin, Daisy Buchanan, and Gatsby reunite after five years apart. On top of that, Daisy’s husband, Tom, has found his own contentment in Myrtle Wilson, one of many women he has seen since being married. As one might expect, these many secrets are not kept hidden for long, and of course, Nick gets involved.

As a novel, I understand why it may be chosen for required reading in English. There is a lot of material to work with. For me, reading it on my own, there were some parts that I felt were missing that could have been analyzed further in an English class. However, I did enjoy the book, as I felt it was an accurate portrayal of life in the 1920’s.

The movie, on the other hand, was not what I expected at all. The parties that Gatsby held at his mansion were more like parties of this century rather than anything from the 1920’s. On it’s own, the movie is extravagant and well executed. It’s present day twist is similar to Romeo+Juliet, the 1996 rendition of the romantic tragedy also starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Both films, directed by Baz Luhrmann, appeared to cater to present day audiences more than stay true to their respective literary works.

Despite the discontinuities between the novel and the movie, I enjoyed and recommend both. I just wish someone had given me a heads up about the movie.

– Leila S., 12th grade

The Great Gatsby, both the film and book versions, are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. 

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

After I had finished all the books I brought with me on vacation, my mom lent me Britt-Marie Was Here. I didn’t know what to expect, but I read it, mainly just to have something to read.

It deserves more credit than that. Like A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman focuses on the real lives of people for this novel. Brit Marie had left her husband and went searching for a job. But the last job she had was when she was in her teens. And the woman at the unemployment office was not too helpful.

Until she got Britt-Marie a job in Borg, as the caretaker of the recreation center which was about to be shut down, along with the rest of the town. Borg was not a place that Britt-Marie, with her sophisticated ways and obsession with cleaning, would ordinarily have visited. After all, moments after arriving, she was hit in the head with a soccer ball. What a warm welcome!

Britt-Marie comes to realize that there can be a place in your heart other than the familiar life you are used to living. There can be room to love children who have lost everything. There can be room to learn to love soccer, not necessarily for the sport, but for the ability for the players to move on, even after crushing defeat.

Britt-Marie Was Here was a touching novel. I loved the transformation of watching an older lady, seemingly set in her ways, change and help the people around her, despite her lack of worldly experience up until that point in her life. I definitely recommend checking this novel out!

– Leila S., 12th grade

Britt Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Film Review: Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho

Psycho is an amazing piece of both horror and suspense. One day when my mom and my little brother where at Sea World, I took advantage of the time to watch some good, old classic horror movies with my dad. At first we watched Apocalypse Now, a movie about a soldier in the Vietnam War. Then we stumbled upon Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, a movie about Norman Bates and his crazy relationship with his mother.

At first the movie was kind of slow and didn’t reach the suspense fast enough to call it the first slasher film in film history. Then as the movie kept on going and going it got to the part that made it so famous. The stunning thing about it was that you never would have seen any of these parts in the movie happen.

If I went to see Frankenstein or Dracula I wouldn’t see anything I saw in Psycho. For this review I really had to put myself in someone else shoes. It made me think how this film would make me feel if I was alive in the 1960s. This film would shock me because there was so much suspense in the film. For example, the music–an excellent job by Bernard Herrmann–had me at the edge of my seat because it was so suspenseful.

In general, the entire movie was outstanding a real master piece of both suspense and horror. This film earned this title “the first slasher movie ever”. In my mind this film put Alfred Hitchcock on the map in my opinion. This film not only was remarkably successful but, this film inspired a lot of films like it. This movie has a perfect score in my mind.

-Max U.

Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Candy by Kevin Brooks

I read this book cover to cover in a day, I happened to find it at the library without even knowing it existed. From the start I was hooked.

The intensity and suspense throughout the entire book kept me on my toes. The book follows teenage musician, Joe who meets a mysterious girl named Candy. He soon discovers Candy is a drug addict and a prostitute.

I one hundred percent recommend this book. It was so intriguing and I was surprised by how fast I read it. This book was one of those books where after I read it, I just had to sit back and reflect. Even after finishing I couldn’t stop thinking about it. This book was definitely one to re read, so if you haven’t already read this book, I can almost promise you you’ll love it!!

-Kyndle W.

Hoodooo by Ronald Smith

Hoodoo is a great book and I love it. Hoodoo is about a kid who was born without a mom or dad, because they died, and is instead raised by his grandma. Hoodoo is the kid’s name, an African-American boy with a heart-shaped birth mark around his eye. He has to defeat a demon from taking over his town, which was one of my favorite parts of the book.

Another interesting part of the book was his visit to a fair with his friend Bunny. They went to a fortune-teller booth and got Hoodoo’s fortune told. She said to trust the crow and stay away from the stranger. A few days later Hoodoo met a crow that spoke the same words about keeping away from the stranger. Later Hoodoo went to Mrs. Snuff’s house, who was the fortune-teller, where he met and fought the stranger. As it turns out, the stranger wanted Hoodoo’s left arm, saying “Mandigore and the one that did the deed.”  Why would a demon want a kid’s left arm?  Well, you will have to read the book to find out!

Even though demons wanted Hoodoo’s left arm, he lived a normal life. His grandma went to work to clean white people’s’ houses.  He did chores and stuff for his grandma. Hoodoo also liked to visit his cousin Zeke and help him at his job. His family also could “conjour”, but he couldn’t because he didn’t have the magic.

I think this is a good book for readers who like magic and adventure. The reader should know that this book starts off  slow but picks up pace in Chapter 10. I like this book because it has a lot of mystery too.

-Wes U.

Hoodoo by Ronald Smith is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

My English teacher assigned Of Mice and Men book to my whole grade to read. When I first opened the book i felt like this would be a good book and it was.

After reading a little into the first chapter I was very excited about what would happen next. Will George and Lennie’s dream ever come true and will Lennie ever get to tend the rabbits?. These are questions I asked myself after reading about migrant workers George Milton and Lennie Small.

Then I progressed to the middle of the story where things started to heat up. I was beginning to like the story even more and developed an unending love that wouldn’t stop until the book ended.

The ending of the book was really shocking to a lot of people in different ways. Some people might have had there jaw still hanging from suspense. Others maybe very confused about what happened.

My evaluation of the book is a completely outstanding 10/10. John Steinbeck really knew how to make you feel about the lives of these migrant workers. Steinbeck used many literary tools in the story such as foreshadowing, symbolism, and of course alliteration. These where used in the story because, without such vocabulary we might not have accurately pictured the lives of the migrant workers in real life.

In general the whole idea of the book was the American Dream. Think about it: George and Lennie’s dream was to be there own boss. There was also many other migrant workers who wanted this dream too. I strongly recommend this book to anyone in general.

-Max U.

John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive