Authors We Love: S.E. Hinton

Ideally, in every form, artists try to mold creations from what they see in their everyday lives and the world they have inherited. S.E. Hinton, boldly nicknamed called “the voice of the youth,” has demonstrated this artistry in each piece she has written, displaying the realities and complexities presented throughout her life growing up in the race and class divided 60s and 70s.

Two of her most famous books, The Outsiders and That Was Then, This Is Now, are written from the perspectives of young boys experiencing the ups and downs of adolescence alongside their close friends and siblings. Though written over 50 years ago, the themes presented in her novels still ring true to this day, to children, teenagers, and adults alike. The slang used in her novels reflect the time periods in which they take place, making for nostalgia and remembrance of decades past.

Hinton’s writing style is simple yet sincere and is relatable to the wide variety of people contained in her audience. Her ability to describe her personal experiences through different lenses ultimately allows her to assimilate herself with the audience, strengthening the relationship between the reader and the author, bringing us closer together.

The events depicted in Hinton’s novels are strikingly mundane when presented alone, but with the accompaniment of her likable and authentic characters, they hit close to home. The ever-present themes of loyalty and friendship are heartfelt, and only make the stories all the more pleasant to read.

In addition to her publications, multiple films have been made as counterparts to her novels, including The Outsiders and Rumble Fish. Similar to her writing, the films have an uncanny ability to universalize emotions and situations to strike the hearts and minds of the audiences.

Whether you are young or old, male or female — S.E. Hinton has something to offer. With her profound and humble stories, every aspect of the story comes full circle. Savvy?

—Keira D.

The works of S. E. Hinton are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Just Above My Head by James Baldwin

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This is the sixth novel by James Baldwin, and again it is set in Harlem, New York where he grew up in. All of his books can be seen as children inappropriate but to some degree, I am just so engrossed in the realism aspect of these novels that I can’t seem to stop myself from checking out another one from the library. I actually really revered in the brotherhood of Hall and Arthur Montana. However, the character that made the most impression on me would certainly be Julia.

She was a child preacher from the age of eight and has since been a very devout Christian. Her parents always took huge pride in her which is also the reason why her brother hates her because she has all the attention of their parents. Gospel hymn quotations kind of adds a lyrical sense to the novel and thus suggests the fact that music has played a large part of the African American experience and life.

I know Julia did not want to be a preacher by heart or even believe in Christianity. However, she was a very filial girl and therefore would do anything to make her parents happy. By way of contrast when her mother passed away eventually due to health issues and his brother was sent away to her grandma because his father couldn’t endure him, Julia notices signs of degradation in her father. Which eventually, led to sexual assault and she was raped by her own father. Not only in the novel did I notice the main focus isn’t on racism anymore, but it just so much struck me when Baldwin employs a very vivid and strong way to protest against sexual abuse, a very morbid form when it was done by a father to his own daughter.

-Coreen C. 

Just Above My Head by James Baldwin is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

The young adult novel, Eleanor & Park written by Rainbow Rowell, is a heartwarming, but the soul-wrenching story about two sixteen-year-olds in Omaha, Nebraska from 1986 to 1987. The unique red-haired girl catches the heart of Park by merely sitting beside him on the bus. Their slow love sparked when she secretly reads his comic books, believing that she was sly enough to not get caught. Over time, Park noticed and decided to allow her to borrow his comic books.

However, at home, the young girl finds herself dealing with family issues revolving around poverty, so she ends up keeping to herself. She is terrified by her abusive stepfather and fears for her future to end up like her mother’s. Her thoughts are mostly clouded with judgment about her weight, which affects the way she thinks about her relationship with Park.

On the other hand, Park is trying to get through high school by being popular enough to not get teased but also finds it hard to fit in. He becomes an outsider, like Eleanor, but within his own house. His father and brother both have a liking towards sports and trucks, however, Park feels himself attracted to music and books.

The book duals between the narrative of Eleanor and Park, thus allowing the reader to connect with both of the characters. Teens can deeply connect to both characters, from the way they think to the way they act. The duo rides an emotional rollercoaster, taking the reader with them every step of the way.

Rowell does an exquisite job in taking in the attention of the reader and leaving them wanting more with this romantic, light read.

-Anyssa P.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Go Tell It On The Mountain by James Baldwin

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This is another semi-autographical novel which makes it itself another classic and the first major work Baldwin has written. For one thing, I feel like a lot of children should be able to sympathize with John Grimes: we all wish and hanker to be our parents’ favorite child. We take care of our younger siblings because we want our parents to feel proud of us. But then a lot of times life treats us as unequally as how it treats John Grimes, his father abuses him because he wasn’t of his blood, but merely the child between his mother Elizabeth and another man he doesn’t know.

And then there is Gabriel’s sister Florence. In my opinion, she really hates her little brother again because of how unfairly their mother treated her. This religious woman, although strict toward her son, made Florence do everything and even denied her of her education. Sexism forced Florence to leave home and doubt religion altogether with the existence and faith in God because such a sinful man like Gabriel could become a preacher.

My two favorite characters: John and Florence both serve as the centers of the theme of injustice. They didn’t do anything wrong or egregious for their parents to hate them, but one because of her gender, the other of his blood denied them of any attention and love they could possibly get which really saddens me a lot according to the descriptions they were given in the book. Since this is semi-autobiographical I am surmising here that the author James Baldwin probably was not the favorite child either if not the least favorite child liked by his parents with eight siblings.

-Coreen C. 

Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender’s Game is a science fiction novel set in the distant future when humans have accomplished interstellar travel and faster than light communications. In this age, humans are threatened by the existence of the Formics, commonly known as the Buggers, an alien race that nearly wiped out humanity in two previous invasions. Ender’s Game is a science fiction classic with lots of physiological themes.

The protagonist of Ender’s Game is Ender, a child prodigy with exception intelligence. Ender is recruited for Battle School, a space station where exceptional children like Ender are trained to become commanders and leaders to combat a future Formic invasion. At Battle School, students are sorted into “armies,” which are their groups for a game similar to laser tag, but in a zero gravity situation. These armies are extremely competitive, and Ender soon finds himself many allies and enemies as he emerges as the best of the best.

Ender’s Game also has many psychological aspects, as Ender is constantly forced to outsmart and outplay his enemies. For example, Ender states that he constantly beat one of his bullies at the beginning of the novels to win the current fight and all future fights. There’s lots of psychology in the book since the novel is about geniuses.

Ultimately, Ender’s Game can be considered a masterpiece. It is a must-read for science-fiction novel fans and is simply a very enjoyable book.

-Josh N.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

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Another masterpiece written by African American author James Baldwin revolving around the theme of homosexuality and bisexuality. At first I was really abashed by the outright description of the characters and the erotic actions they commit, but then I realized that here the message James Baldwin wanted to convey was the high sense of reality our world and society currently needs but avoids for most of the time.

This novel attempted to tell us that not all people are the same. Especially for those homosexual people, it is a stab in the heart when they realized their sexual preference and will face the problem of confiding and admitting this fact to their friends and family, which at the same time they have to prepare against any antagonism from any outside forces. They will be condemned for their difference, but that won’t stunt them from pursuing their passion and maintaining faith in themselves.

Hella and David loved each other. However, when Hella was away David falls in deep love with Giovanni and he returns this love. But then Hella comes back, and David numbs his true feelings but telling himself that he mustn’t leave Hella, which resulted in the loss and imprisonment of Giovanni. Nevertheless, Hella and David break apart at last and David can no longer reunite with Giovanni anymore as a criminal who will be sentenced to death for murder. This taught me a lesson-never deny your real identity and embrace it, for later on right after your denouncement of yourself you will never be YOU again, but merely a wandering soul residing in a live corpse sharing the same name.

-Coreen C. 

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Reading Rocks! An Event Summary

Reading Rocks! is a great volunteer opportunity for the summer! Teens can come in and be read to by an elementary school age child practicing their reading skills, keep up their reading over the summer, and gain confidence in reading. You help the child pick out a book they are interested in from a book cart, give gentle corrections of mispronunciations, and provide lots of encouragement to keep them motivated! If you have younger siblings, this is a great opportunity for them to improve their reading skills.

The program runs every Saturday from June 15 to August 31. There is a mandatory one-time orientation you must attend, and they occur 15 minutes before each session at 10:45. The program starts at 11:00 and runs till 10:45, so it’s 45 minutes long, but you can count it as an hour of volunteering. Grab an application and sign up at the Mission Viejo Library’s Children’s Reference Desk! 

Parents, you can sign up your child for this program by visiting the Children’s Reference Desk or calling 949-830-5107.

-Kaitlyn S.