About Keira Deer

Keira Deer is a junior at Mission Viejo High School, who enjoys participating in the school's journalism program. Apart from writing, Keira's interests include playing guitar/ukulele/piano, listening to music, and obsessing over the Beatles, David Bowie, and the Patriots.

Authors We Love: John Green

OK, nerdfighters, it’s time to talk about John Green. As one of the most celebrated authors in the genre, John Green has published five young adult novels, of which four have been nominated for an award and three have won in their respective category.

So what is it about his writing that makes us fall in love with the characters, the situations, the settings? While I can’t say for sure, there always seems to be a haunting realness to the stories he tells, drawing us in and allowing us to feel as if the characters are people in our own lives and that we are a part of their story.

The voice that Green takes on as he writes makes for startling accuracy, capturing the teenage spirit and creating lifelike characters to play out the situations presented in his stories. Something about the characteristics of each person and the adventures they embark on makes them seem more connected with us, which is truly one of Green’s greatest gifts.

In Green’s first novel, Looking for Alaska, the tight-knit cast of characters all vie for an answer about life, existence, and the spirit of searching for one’s self, ultimately a concept that burrows itself into the process of growing up. The universal ideas that Green writes about are things that are very closely linked to the human spirit as a whole, connecting the readers and the author in one group together.

And, of course, the nerdiness. Green brings his own interests into the books that he writes — things like Star Wars, music, and knowing the last words of famous figures throughout history. Though they seem trivial, small things like this give more depth to the stories and make the characters so much more realistic and believable.

If ever in pursuit for something thoughtful and charming to read, turn to YA’s John Green. The characters, the emotions, the heartwarming, and the sad. It’s all there — all you have to do is open to the first page, and consequently, open up your heart to a new world.

—Keira D.

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

Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert

The recent representation of Asian-Americans in film and literature has been thundering the media. From the more obvious success of Crazy Rich Asians and Fresh Off the Boat to the smaller-rooted Netflix film “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” (and it’s soon-to-be sequel), the portrayal of Asian families has skyrocketed, building new stepping stones in which the small society of its own is rendered in society as a whole.

Kelly Loy Gilbert’s second novel, Picture Us in the Light, is a beautifully crafted story revolving around the Asian-American cultural hub in San Francisco. Picture Us in the Light follows eighteen-year-old Danny Cheng, as he struggles with his pursuit of artistic inspiration (post-college acceptance to an art and design school) and finding footholds in his graying, mysterious family life. Accompanied by long-time friends Harry and Regina, Danny unearths his family’s deep past piece by piece and discovering small realizations about himself and the relationships he has with those he loves most in his life.

As Danny jockeys with the slow, difficult reveal of his parents’ secrets and tries to find some balance over what he does and doesn’t know about his own identity, the audience is presented with the intense and haunting realities of global immigration. Every turn of the page brought a new feeling of suspense — each time we were given new information, the plot became more and more complex, heading a dozen different ways at once.

Being Asian-American myself, I found the story delightfully relatable in a small-scale way that it was powdered with concise “Asian insider” instances that I could relate to — the abundance of food, the hefty trips to Costco and Ranch 99, the intensive preparation for big exams.

The featured family in the novel, the Chengs, center the majority of their conflicts and victories over meals, which is extremely relatable to me in the way that family bonds over food. Just this seemingly insignificant instance opens up huge discussion for literary meaning (communion occurs over cuisine, perhaps?), but also exhibits how striking and intimately real the characters and situations Gilbert creates are.

Picture Us in the Light, published just over a year ago, is one of YA’s most down-to-earth and honest storylines thus far. Gilbert brings together shattering occurrences with the small moments of merriment, joining together two of our center emotions into a heart wrenching and, slowly, heartwarming book.

     So, as we are, picture us enchanted by Gilbert’s authentic and profound capability for storytelling.

—Keira D.

Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

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

End of Watch by Stephen King

Only a mind like Stephen King could catalyze such strange, thrilling storylines and concepts as those presented in his 2016 novel, the third and final installment of the Bill Hodges trilogy, End of Watch. I admit, I began reading the novel blindly with no background on the previous two installments of the series but was appeased by the fact that King was extremely articulate in giving background on the origins of the trilogy, which easily made End of Watch a more enjoyable and smooth read.

End of Watch features a diverse array of characters, centering on retired Detective Bill Hodges as he juggles monumental health issues and an even more monumental case: a large stretch of suicides sharing a single common link, a handheld video game console with a strangely hypnotic effect. Hodges and his makeshift team — his current and former partners, Holly Gibney and Pete Huntley, and his lawnboy-turned-friend, Jerome — follow the sinister paths taken by Brady Hartsfield, the culprit of the so-called “Mercedes Massacre” that King created for the first book of the trilogy, Mr. Mercedes.

Through pages of suspense and moment after moment of action and mystery from King’s wild imagination, to the saddening farewell of the final pages, End of Watch brings the classic Stephen King “stranded in the murk” feeling, leaving us wandering stone-blind and never knowing when the next plot twist or mind-bending connection will strike. The premise made for King’s legendary style without a hitch and makes us consider the possibilities before swiping to play a video game again.

Upon closing the final curtain and concluding my journey with the characters in the book, I was struck with two very different realizations: the frightening reality of suicide cases across the globe and the authentic ties between friendships. Every character had a unique interaction with each other, which only made the story even more realistic, and consequently, all the more chilling.

So be careful next time you play a new game of Fishin’ Hole — or read a Stephen King novel — you might find it hypnotizing.

—Keira D.

End of Watch by Stephen King is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive