As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

Written in 1930, this novel written by William Faulkner follows the Bundren family. Told from the perspective of over 10-15 different characters, the Bundrens are on a mission: to carry out the wishes of their dead mother and bury her with her family. The only problem? This will be a LONG journey. Throughout the novel, hidden desires and motives are uncovered, as the reader discovers the true reason as to why various members of the Bundren family agree to fulfill their mother Addie’s last wish. From the quiet Cash to the observant Darl, every member has a secret reason as to why they are on this trip. And it is not just to bury their mother out of respect.

Written near the start of the Great Depression, this novel completely goes against the “typical family” stereotype. Rather than everyone being very supportive and loving of each other, it is as if everyone is just a hired actor forced to spend time with everyone else in the family. Each family member goes on this trip for every reason except to actually bury their mother. Some characters are easily disliked in this novel (cough, Anse, cough), while other characters are grown to be well-liked.

-Kobe L.

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Written in 1898, The Awakening follows the main protagonist Edna Pontellier. Edna begins to feel somewhat out of place and out of touch with the morals and customs typically followed by the other women in her community. Her view on femininity and her roles as a mother begin to deviate from the norm, making her feel even more out of place from the other women. The novel follows her journey into discovering herself and her attempts to break free from society as she slowly becomes “Awakened”.

Under the surface of this novel, however, is a discussion of women’s roles in society during the late 1800s / early 1900s. Kate Chopin uses various characters– Edna herself included– throughout this novel to help reflect some of the social norms and attitudes to women’s place in society during the time she wrote the novel. Oftentimes hailed as one of the earliest works and novels on feminism, this book clearly highlighted to anyone that read it that women were being subjugated and that there were plenty of women who were unhappy with the traditional motherly role expected of them. Because of Chopin’s controversial portrayal of this fact, the novel would often be censored. Over time, however, this novel would grow to become recognized for its brilliance and its importance in discussing femininity and women’s roles in society.

-Kobe L.

The Awakening by Kate Chopin is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Event Recap: Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions (9/30/2018)

What a game. From the opening kick to the dying minutes of the game, there was intensity– enough to keep anyone on the edge of their seats. Bouncing back from an absolutely horrendous stretch of play, Quarterback Dak Prescott did just enough to push the Cowboys to a victory of 26-24. However, there is no question that the best player in the stadium was Runningback Ezekiel Elliot of the Dallas Cowboys. Leading the Cowboys in both rushing (152 yards off 25 carries) and receiving (88 yards off four receptions and one touchdown), Elliot was the engine that breathed life into an offense that has seemed dead the past couple of weeks. Though QB Prescott did help the Cowboys with timely throws and solid decision-making, there should be no doubt that the Cowboys would have been going home with their third loss of the year without a career day from Elliot.

On the other side of the field, the biggest question coming into this game was if the Cowboys could manage the loss of Sean Lee. The answer? They could. Though RB Kerryon Johnson of the Lions made his presence felt on a couple of big runs, the Cowboys mostly bottled him up on the ground (55 yards off 9 carries and one touchdown) thanks to solid days by linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander-Esch. A bigger concern, however, was WR Golden Tate’s field day. Though the defense has been playing well this year (ranked at 3rd entering this year), the secondary seemed to be unable to do much to stop Tate (132 yards off eight receptions and two touchdowns). A catch-and-run specialist, Tate slipped coverage and tackles all day, and would’ve been the most impressive player had Elliot not had an amazing day himself. In the coming weeks, it remains to be seen whether or not Dak could do enough to put the Cowboys in position to win once again, and whether this defense is more of their Week 2 performance against the Giants or their Week 4 performance against the Lions.

-Kobe L.

Film Review: Pele, Birth of a Legend

This movie follows the story of Edson “Dico” Nascimento, better known as the football legend Pele. This movie shows Pele’s life before his illustrious soccer career, back during his childhood in Brazil and eventual lead up to the 1958 World Cup. It shows the trials and obstacles Pele had to overcome before even playing for the National team.

Whether it be because of his mother discouraging him from playing soccer to eventually losing interest in playing soccer at all, Pele’s path to football stardom seemed all but lost. However, and as can be seen in various moments throughout the movie, Pele refused to give up. Determination and undying hope would follow him everywhere he went and would be the fuel pushing him to pursue a career in professional football.

This movie was a heartwarmer, showing his family life as a child, and showing who Pele was. Rather than just knowing him as a really good football player, it showed all the struggles he would face and just how difficult his journey truly was. What can be taken away from this movie is that you should always stay true to yourself and never once doubt in yourself and what you are able to do. Never give up in whatever happens, and no challenge is impossible to overcome.

-Kobe L.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Set during the Great Depression, this novel follows the story of the Joad family on their journey from Oklahoma to California. We as the readers are able to truly see the hardships that many farmers faced during this time, both with difficulty in growing crops and in difficulty moving westward. Steinbeck narrates this novel in an interesting way, with every chapter about the Joad family being followed by “interlude” chapters that offer somewhat of a broader perspective of events happening throughout the nation. Though these interlude chapters do not directly have any relation to the story of the Joads, they are still quite important as they are Steinbeck’s way of voicing some of his opinions with what he saw in society during that time.

Throughout the Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck really develops the theme of community and togetherness. Whether it be family, friends, or the nation as a whole, Steinbeck shows throughout the novel that people are better and stronger together, and that family is one of the most important things of one’s life. The loyalty of the Joads to one another, and friendship gained along the way help display this point that Steinbeck is trying to get across. Though the novel was highly controversial around the time it came out, it is an extremely important novel that gives an in-depth perspective of the Great Depression, and strongly pushes forward the importance of togetherness.

-Kobe L.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

October Sky

This movie follows Homer Hickam and friends in the town of Coalwood, West Virginia around 1957. His father, John Hickam, wants Homer to join him in the mines. However, after seeing Sputnik 1 shoot across the sky, Homer becomes determined to build a rocket of his own. Homer and his friends Quentin, Roy, and O’Dell set off on building this rocket. Though their first couple of rockets are utter failures, they continue trying to build and test out these rockets with the support of their teacher Miss Riley. However, their rocket building endeavors hit a snag when local authorities blame them for causing a forest fire, leading to the group of boys tearing down their launch site and ending further rocket testing. Undeterred, Homer is able to prove through calculations that he and his friends were not the cause of the forest fire and resume building rockets, eventually getting to the state science fair.

This movie was amazing in that it shows the power of passion for whatever may interest you. By putting in their all and never giving up in the face of failure, Homer and his friends were able to completely change the path of their future that washeld for them. The audience may ask themselves, “How is this even reasonable? There’s no way simple interest in rockets and entering a science fair can alter someone’s future this greatly!” However, this was in fact based off of a real story! This movie teaches a great story of following one’s dreams and the importance of family in one’s success. It is a great movie to watch, with an even greater lesson behind it.

-Kobe L.

Grit by Angela Duckworth

The word “effort” shows up often and is used quite often as the main point of a success story. There is often much emphasis on efforts and hard work, but our attitude in accepting good efforts needs a bit of change. Instead, we should also focus on the limitations that were faced. Grit is instead good enough and able to surpass this hollow and overused shell of effort.

This book took a scientific approach from the beginning to the end. I preferred this approach as it is based on research and experimentation. Furthermore, it can be applied for to most part to many peoples’ lives. It is a great and hopeful message that grit is much more important than talent to ordinary people like you and me. This book clarifies that we can develop and improve grit, and proves that our efforts in doing so are important.

This books also opens the discussion about grit and broadens its scope from personal territory to the surrounding environment. If everyone supports and encourages and never gives up and instead chooses to teach others and the next generation about the importance of grit, it will give them a chance to experience its importance in developing more grit in one’s life. The future of society would be brighter.

-Kobe L.

Grit by Angela Duckworth is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive