Expensive People by Joyce Carol Oates

Image result for expensive peopleRichard is a 10-year-old kid with a 40-year-old brain. It’s was very astonishing to see how mature he was. His mom looks like a 3-year-old kid to him all the time. And yet, his mom Nada goes away.

But Richard never felt really down until his family moved into a suburban area and he was sent to private school with many other rich but neglected boys to support his dad’s business. His mom Nada is a very pretty woman with a Russian accent and was a writer, though she never let Richard call her “mom” nor allowing him to take a glance at his story.

Life must be really hard for Richard because both of his parents don’t really love him like normal parents are. It was such a shock to me when his dad ended up marrying the neighbor after his mom went away. Richard’s life was tragic, and this book embellished a veil of society on the tragedy.

-April L.

Expensive People by Joyce Carol Oates is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

International Games Week: Chess

In the spirit of International Games Week, I had the unique pleasure to teach two young boys how to play the wonderful and challenging game of chess. Young though these kids are, they picked up the basic points of the game surprisingly quickly and were soon playing against each other with no need for my hints or conjectures on their next move. I was glad to see that the game was still exciting in these young boys’ minds, for I do not know many children nowadays who are still interested in playing board games. It was also nice to see how the game of chess was able to give us some bonding time as they listened and questioned me on the finer points of the game.

These kids are my church youth-group leader’s children, and he was quite thankful that I taught them to play because he himself did not know. Chess is a game assigned to the smart kids and perhaps even the ones who do not fit in with the rest of the crowd; but as time goes on, it is quite a useful game to know how to play and one that one can continue to play for the rest of one’s life. Though I am no master at chess, I love to be able to sit down with someone and be able to have a silent battle with them trying to strategize, develop tactics, and anticipate their next move while also able to teach others how to play.

-Kyle H

The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

Pretty much all his life, Call’s dad has warned him away from magic. During the trial to enter the Magisterium (administered to all those who may have the ability to do magic when they’re twelve), Call is supposed to mess up—and he does, but doesn’t expect the result. Instead of failing, Call is chosen to train under the most prestigious mage at the Magisterium. Taken away from his dad, Call learns about things his father never wanted him to know, making friends along the way and learning dangerous secrets about himself.

I really liked this book. The characters are each their own person with their own personalities, and the plot is intriguing. The book has really good world building, and the history narrated by some of the characters also reflects some of the characters’ personalities in how they deal with the knowledge of their pasts. There are parallels to Harry Potter, but I didn’t think it took away from the book—it was enjoyable as its own read.

-Aliya A.

The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

Turtles all the Way Down, a novel by John Green, tells the story of a teenage girl named Aza who struggles with obsessive compulsive disorder. After one day becoming involved in the search for a fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, she is reunited with an old childhood friend: who happens to be the aforementioned billionaire’s son. Despite the search for Pickett taking the spotlight as the guiding force of this powerful novel, the resulting work of fiction depicts a battle with mental illness sharpened by author’s personal struggles with OCD.

As Aza balances her fear of the human microbe, school, a budding relationship, and a criminal hunt, she begins to discover that in her own struggles, she has withdrawn from the world around her. The entire work highlights the value of life, much in the way past John Green novels tend to do. However, Turtles all the Way Down stands out from the rest of Green’s work. It obviously rings with his unique writing style and emotionally moving qualities, but also coursing through the veins of this work is a level of authenticity that makes it relatable to our very human nature.

As a personal fan of John Green, I came across this book expecting it to be incredible. I was not let down in the slightest. I could talk about the character development that enriches the plot of the story. I could talk for hours about how the comic elements of this novel are balanced with sharp, relatable reality in a way that triggers emotion within the darkest recesses of your brain, even as the main character discusses Star Wars fanfiction. I could even talk about how despite the obvious focal point of the novel being a criminal investigation, every other element of the novel becomes a tapestry of woven word and plot, with each string tugging and guiding the next into forming a textile of humor and sadness. But I digress. Simply, this book is a must read anyone who wants to read a funny, emotional, page turner of a novel.

-Mirabella S.

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

The History of Thanksgiving

Turkey, breaded stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, mashed potatoes, and apple cider? Sound familiar? You got it.

The meal of Thanksgiving is a hearty one, shared with friends and family. You know the star of the meal, the turkey, but have you ever wondered how the first ever Thanksgiving was celebrated? It was nothing like the one we have today, that’s for sure.

You’ve probably heard of the Pilgrims, traveling across treacherous oceans on the famous Mayflower to reach Plymouth, escaping from religious persecution. It all started in 1621, when the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of Thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

First off, turkey wasn’t the bird of choice for the first Thanksgiving meal. It is suspected by researchers that duck, geese, swans, or a now extinct bird named passenger pigeons would be the main wild bird of choice. It is possible that the birds were stuffed, though probably not with bread. The Pilgrims instead stuffed birds with chunks of onion and herbs.

In addition to wild birds and deer, the colonists and Wampanoag probably ate eels and shellfish, such as lobster, clams and mussels. They had a well-balanced diet, with chestnuts, walnuts, and beechnuts. They also grew beans, pumpkins, and squashes. All this, naturally, begs a follow-up question. So how did the Thanksgiving menu evolve into what it is today?

Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of the popular women’s magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book, was a leading voice in establishing Thanksgiving as an annual event. She is also famous as the author of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Beginning in 1827, Hale petitioned 13 presidents to make it a national holiday. Finally, she pitched her idea to President Lincoln as a way to unite the country in the midst of the Civil War. In 1863, he made Thanksgiving a national holiday, a day to give thanks.

Throughout her campaign, Hale printed Thanksgiving recipes and menus in Godey’s Lady’s Book. She also published close to a dozen cookbooks. Hale is readying women to accept the idea of Thanksgiving, and instructing them what to cook. And the Thanksgiving food that we think of today — including roast turkey, creamed onions, mashed turnips, even some of the mashed potato dishes? You can find them in her cookbook.

-Katharine L.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Anthony Doerr’s historical fiction All the Light We Cannot See brings out the tragedies and horrors of Nazi-occupied Europe. Set in France and Germany, Doerr writes about the stories of a young blind girl and orphan boy and how each adapts to survive during World War II.

Marie-Laure loses her eyesight at age six and eventually manages to learn how to cope with her disability. Her father looks after her as she attempts to memorize the streets of her home in Paris so that she can navigate the city independently. Six years later, when Germany invades France, she and her father seek help from an uncle to take refuge, where she spends the majority of the war hidden in the walled city of Saint Malo.

Werner grows up in an orphanage in Germany with his younger sister. They find a radio and fix it, only to be astounded by Werner’s talent with the device. This later grants him a schooling for the brutal Hitler Youth, and is assigned to use his intelligence with radios to track the resistance.

Doerr introduces two very opposite perspectives during the war and demonstrates both the beauty and brutality of living during such a frightening era. He constantly shows how such an obstacle such as blindness should urge one to keep fighting and overcome it. Likewise, he writes how a gift or talent can change one’s life into one of the most powerful groups in history.

On a scale of one through ten, this novel deserves an eight for its beautifully described picture it portrays of World War II. I would recommend this novel to those of 14 years or older for its maturity and historical content.

-Riley W.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download from Overdrive

The 2017 World Series

November 20, 2017 (Monday)

It was the 2017 World Series between the Houston Astros and the LA Dodgers. After a solid 7 games, the Astros would come out on top, with the Dodgers left wanting more.

I’m a huge football fan; however, this year’s world series drew my attention because it was the LA Dodgers, a local team.

The winner of the 2017 World Series was the Houston Astros, which was founded in 1962. It was their first World Series championship and they would receive the crown of the MLB’s best team.

In game 7, with the series tied 3-3, the Dodgers had the home field advantage. However, George Springer would homer again in the 2nd inning to give the Astros a lead they wouldn’t give up the rest of the game, eventually earning him the World Series MVP honors. As throughout the whole series, he played a big role in the Astros’ victory. He was quite deserved of the MVP award as this homer would mark his fourth straight game in which he hit a home run during the World Series.

Yu Darvish would receive a lot of criticism from the local news because of his poor performance, and the Dodgers would lose their chance to win a World Series they were waiting for since 1988. Due to this extreme scrutiny, it seems as though Yu Darvish may not be able to get a new contract with the Dodgers.

This victory especially significant for the city of Houston after facing devastation this year from Hurricane Harvey, and was extremely comforting for all the citizens that suffered from this catastrophe.

In the end, this year’s baseball season came to a finish. I wish the best of luck to the LA Dodgers in the next season.

-Kobe L.