What effects do the children’s perspectives have on the novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee?

**This post assumes that you have already read the novel**

Children are often considered inferior to adults, yet they have so many positive and beneficial qualities that adults have unfortunately lost, resulting in the development of many negative aspects in society. The realistic fiction novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee narrates the trial of Tom Robinson. The speaker, Scout Finch, recounts the events preceding the trial, the trial itself, as well as what happens after the trial. Although the central event is the trial of Tom Robinson and the injustice faced by colored people in America, Harper Lee cleverly implements the themes of courage, coming of age, and perspective. Specifically, the voice of young Scout Finch and the actions and dialogue of the rest of the children provide perspectives of innocence and impartiality, as well as a strong moral compass to portray societal aspects in a unique way.

Scout’s naive mindset allows readers to understand the events of the novel as they are, without the influence of prior biases. This genuinity enables readers to have a clear understanding of the unjust actions in Maycomb’s society. One such example is provided when Scout recognizes Mr. Cunningham in the group of people who arrive at the jail where Tom Robinson is being kept. Although she provides some background facts on Mr. Cunningham, Scout does not state her specific opinions or thoughts about him. She does not describe the group’s intentions, nor does she explicitly say that they are a mob–she simply describes what is happening. Harper Lee created the character of Scout as an honest young girl. With Scout’s unbiased account of events, readers are able to use their prior knowledge and develop their own opinions and understandings on the intentions and morals of the group. Many works addressing the topic of stereotypes and prejudice have authors writing with an argumentative tone, so the open-mindedness of Scout’s narration provides a sincere perspective, allowing readers to evaluate the negatively segregating aspect of society in a new way.

In addition to Scout, the rest of the children’s actions are highly notable. They place strong emphasis on morals and ethical behavior. Arguably, one of the most momentous examples of children displaying ethical behavior in the novel is woven in Dill’s disappointed and angry reaction with the way Mr. Gilmer is talking during the trial. Dill is not quite as young and naive as Scout, nor is he as understanding and observant as Jem, so his behavior during the trial is very significant to the theme of justice. On the other hand, Jem is a character whose growth and increasing comprehension is a major part of the novel, yet he is still young enough to not have caught “Maycomb’s usual disease”: the racial prejudice in Maycomb. His earnestness is seen in his reaction to Tom Robinson’s verdict: he starts to cry, and says that it is very wrong. With his comparatively higher level of maturity and understanding, Jem’s behavior again depicts the immorality of Tom Robinson’s case. In turn, it depicts the immorality of many aspects of society, especially the aspect of racism, stereotypes, and assumptions. 

Children are considered the epitome of innocence, kindness, morality, and ethics. The use of children in To Kill A Mockingbird unveils an aspect of society otherwise obscured by prior judgements, influence, stereotypes, expectations, prejudice, and much more. A youthful voice allows for readers to evaluate multiple aspects of society in a new way, and it also ensures a strong sense of morality throughout the novel. The use of children’s perspectives in Harper Lee’s work help to emphasize the just and unjust aspects of society, and readers also acquire significant insight into these aspects. Memories and qualities may fade away, but insight is never lost, and people will be able to adopt habits to improve their ways. After all, if children’s qualities are so admired, it only makes sense to make an effort to eradicate the negative effects the absence of these qualities have on society.

-Ayati M.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Book Review: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is an incredibly interesting and, at times, deeply unsettling novel on just how far humanity will go to suppress what it doesn’t understand.

The book is set in a dystopian future- the United States has become a massively powerful republic, and all news coverage and media are centered around a single event: the “War,” which the Republic is winning. It centers around a seemingly ordinary firefighter named Montag- but in this universe, firefighters do not put out fires. They light them, burning down houses which contain contraband items, usually books.

On one such night, Montag witnesses one woman refuse to leave her house, choosing to burn with her books- and is unsettled. How important must books be if she is willing to die with them? From the smoldering wreckage of the house, Montag takes a single book home with him. On his way home, he meets a teenager named Clarisse, who is out alone, walking in the night. Clarisse expresses the beauty of the night, and how the fallen autumn leaves “smell like cinnamon.” Montag is again deeply uncomfortable- primarily because he himself never thought to look up at the night sky or focus on the smell of fallen leaves. Soon, wracked with guilt about his crime of taking a book, Montag decides he will simply read a few pages to satisfy his curiosity, and then burn the book. But what he finds will change his life forever….

I, personally, have a love-hate relationship with this book. The dialogue is clumsy, the expositions are vague, and the setup and lead-ins for the plot are often simply nonexistent. However, what makes Fahrenheit 451 so memorable is the ideology rather than the imagery. There are indeed some beautifully-written passages where Bradbury fully lives up to the term “author” and beyond- but the idea that the slow eradication of culture and eccentricity is the individual citizen’s fault as much as it is the government’s really rings true in today’s society especially.

-Vaidehi B.

Fahrenheit 451 is available for checkout at Mission Viejo Library. It is can also be downloaded for free on Overdrive.

Book Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry

Imagine a community where life is idyllic: Citizens are assigned their partners, jobs, and family units. Everyone, being the same, obeys the laws. Those who are slightly imperfect are released from the community. Aforementioned community is one relieved of conflict, inequality, divorce, unemployment, injustice, poverty, disappointment, and pain—but all the same, deprived of true joy, color, music, sunshine, choice, and love.

Jonas, an incoming twelve-year-old, is of course extremely eager to determine his predetermined Life Assignment, just as the other soon-to-be Twelves are. However, during the long-awaited Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas is completely skipped over. The Elders, who assign jobs to the incoming Twelves, have carefully studied the children for years—yet Jonas has been skipped over.

And here, he learns that he was not assigned, but selected—for the most honored job in the community. Jonas was selected to become the next Receiver of Memory.

Jonas enters a new life, one where he is entitled to rudeness, questioning, and lying. He is also prohibited from discussing his training, dream-telling, applying for medication, and applying for release.

In training, a mysterious man called the Giver—the last Receiver before Jonas—begins to transmit memories to Jonas. Memories of the entire world, memories no one else in the community has experienced before. With these memories, Jonas is able to experience sledding downhill in snow, sunshine, rainbows, holidays, and family. On the other hand, he has also transferred memories of sunburn, fire, vomit, war, and other sources and results of pain. As the days go by, the burden of the memories Jonas carries transforms him into a much wiser person. He often becomes aggravated with his friends, as they do not understand him—they know nothing and feel nothing of what Jonas does.

The Giver, a tale of a utopia and its downsides, is unforgettable. In the part it plays in telling readers how important the little things in life are, I’ve realized how much we take for granted. Maybe those things won’t ever be taken away from us, but that’s no reason not to appreciate them. One part of the story that truly shocked me was the aspect of family—assigned Birthmothers would give birth to children, and two would be assigned to a couple to take care of. Citizens have no way of knowing their blood-related siblings, cousins, parents, aunts and uncles, and grandparents. Also, citizens are so shielded from pain and conflict that all seem to know nothing—all but the Receiver. Imagine!

Do not miss reading The Giver by Lois Lowry. This exceptionally perceptive novel tells of an unimaginable lifestyle in an unimaginable community through Lois Lowry’s powerful words, which craft a descriptive tale of law against love and safety against choice.

-Lam T.

The Giver by Lois Lowry is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Book Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

In the vast city of Golvahar resides a princess named Soraya, forced to be hidden away from the public eye. Cursed, she was born with the ability to kill any living being with a mere touch. Her yearning to be a part of her family and society flourishes with the years she stayed concealed in the gardens, watching everyone’s lives from a far distance. But all changes when a demon creature (div) who holds the knowledge to break her curse is captured and being held in the palace dungeon. A beau who perceives her past the poison running through her veins vows to help her but to what extent will she go to get what she desires? And will the choices she makes conform her into the monster she always tried not to become?

This enthralling tale of self-discovery and will power kept me hooked from the very beginning. Melissa Bashardoust takes stories from Persian mythology and makes a fascinating queer fairytale with many elements from Sleeping Beauty. The secrets told in the most unexpected times compels the readers to think deeper into the true meaning of “monster” and what it takes to be a hero. Told in the perspective of Soraya herself, we see the loneliness she had been through firsthand, allowing us to relate to and perhaps find ourselves in her story.

-Saanvi V.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Book Review: Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I recently finished the book Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid and fell in love with Reid’s writing. The book tells the story of first, a band called The Six and a girl by the name of Daisy Jones. Living separate lives trying to make it on the music scene in Hollywood during the 60s, the two groups collide to create a joint band.

The story is told in the format of an interview that takes place long after the band has split due to circumstances you find out as you continue reading. As you read the book, you get to hear about the beginning, middle, and end of the band from their own perspective. The story dives into issues of the 60s and how they impacted the band on their way to success. 

Reid is very good at putting you into the book. She is able to create a space where readers can become one with the band and the way they write, and oftentimes why they write the music in the novel. One of my favorite parts is the end of the book, after the last chapter and epilogue, shares the lyrics for a multitude of the songs that are sung by the band on tours. 

Reid also writes the characters very real. They’re not written like many books or TV shows where the characters are perfect and can do no wrong. In Daisy Jones & The Six, the characters make mistakes and own up to them. This was one of my favorite aspects of the book. I recommend this book to anyone who loves music, or wants to dive into an entirely different world. The interview format that this book takes allows people to feel almost like they’re watching a documentary about these fictional characters. Reid with Daisy Jones & The Six is able to create a beautiful story about the struggles of making it in the music industry when you don’t always take the easy path.

-Danielle B.

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Book Review: The Art of War by Sun Tzu

The Art of War: Sun Tzu: 0800759832941: Amazon.com: Books

Written over two thousand years ago in China, The Art of War consists of 13 chapters on “military calculus” written by the famed military strategist of ancient China, Sun Tzu. Within each section, Sun Tzu elaborates on key concepts regarding military strategy that he claims will allow any army to ensure victory if his guidelines are followed. Some examples are the importance of creativity when devising stratagems, the idea of incorporating deception in warfare, the different factors needed while fighting against the enemy, and more. 

While the work is quite old, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War continues to be relevant in contemporary times, not just on the battlefield, but also as it relates to ordinary civilian life. For example, throughout the book, Sun Tzu emphasizes the importance of relying “not on the likelihood of the enemy’s not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him.” Though the average reader will most likely never face a situation where an actual opposing army is attacking them, the idea of an “enemy” can easily be broadened to refer to any challenge faced in life. In this case, Sun Tzu urges the reader to not overly depend on luck, but instead on their own skills and abilities, to achieve their goals through proper planning of every possible scenario.

In addition, the concise language employed by Sun Tzu hints at other truths about life. Although this may not have been Sun Tzu’s original intention, and could possibly have arisen through the multitude of translations of the work, the simplistic structure of the novel itself is undeniable. Rather than pushing the information in large blocks of text, Sun Tzu breaks up his main points into easily digestible statements that serve to stress their importance to the reader. This avoidance of overly convoluted sentence structures also lends itself to the implication that simplicity should be prioritized over complexity, both on the battlefield and in life.

Overall, despite the fact that most of today’s readers of The Art of War are not actually at war, it is an undeniably fascinating look into the thoughts, actions, and habits that can lead to success in any endeavour that one pursues.

-Mahak M.

Sun Tzu’s The Art of War is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Book Review: Rea and the Blood of the Nectar by Payal Doshi

Rea and the Blood of the Nectar by Payal Doshi follows the life of a 12 year-old girl named Rea. She lives in Darjeeling with her grandma, mother, and twin brother, Rohan. After finding out her brother is missing, Rea makes it her mission to find him—even if it takes her to a world she’s never been to before and she has to face her family’s past.

This book is amazing for a multitude of reasons. First, it’s rich in culture. There may be unknown vocabulary, such as clothing or foods you may not know of, but there is a glossary in the back of the book that provides explanations.

Another thing, the book has maps in the first few pages. A fantasy book isn’t complete without its maps, and I found it endearing that there were even maps of India and Darjeeling to further immerse the reader. Little details like that make the book more accessible for younger readers.

The world-building in this book is also outstanding, another thing very important in fantasy books since they take place outside of our world. When reading about the whimsical world of Astranthia, where Rea is supposed to find her brother, I found myself wanting to explore as well.

Given all these things, Rea and the Blood of the Nectar is a great book for all audiences. If I could, I’d give it 5 out of 5 stars. It’s a feel-good book that includes cultural representation, family love, and a fantasy adventure.

-Shadi H.

Book Review: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Everyone’s heard the old saying “Live every day like it’s your last,” but how would you live knowing it was your last day? This is the position Rufus Emeterio and Mateo Torrez find themselves in when they receive the dreaded phone calls from Death-Cast, a service that calls people to let them know they’ll be dying at some point that day. Mateo and Rufus connect through the Last Friend app, one designed to help Deckers (people who have received the Death-Cast call) find friends in their final hours. Their bond strengthens not only as they work through the hardships of premature goodbyes and impending doom, but also as they live their day to the fullest and make the most of each moment, whether that be playing on childhood playgrounds, engaging in deep conversations, or facing fears and past trauma through exciting new experiences. 

I really enjoyed this book and I found it to be very well-written. The characters had distinct personalities that felt authentic and realistic. It’s especially notable how Mateo and Rufus complemented each other well and helped each other along in their character development by pushing each other out of their comfort zones and healing pain from the past. I also loved how the author included perspectives from multiple characters; it was fascinating hearing each of their opinions and thoughts on death even if they hadn’t received a Death-Cast call that day. This book also had great casual LGBTQ+ representation and some very sweet romance. 

The one issue I had was how long it took for me to become fully invested in the book. It had a bit of a slow start so it took me a while to really get into it, but I was hooked when the momentum started to pick up. I found this book very thought-provoking in regards to how it discussed the value of savoring every moment in life when death always lurks just around the corner. Overall, this is a great read and I highly recommend giving it a try!

-Kaitlyn S.

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Book Review: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

Gulliver's Travels eBook by Jonathan Swift | Rakuten Kobo

After setting sail from England to the East, sailor and surgeon Lemuel Gulliver finds himself shipwrecked on an undiscovered island to the east of Australia. To his surprise, the inhabitants of the island nation are humanoid – but they barely reach 6 inches in height! Taken prisoner by the suspicious Lilliputians, Gulliver quickly makes himself useful to his new hosts, all the while commenting on the strangeness of his life in Lilliput, both physically and socially.

Unfortunately for Gulliver (but fortunately for the reader), this unusual encounter is far from the only one. Throughout his travels, Gulliver has the dubious pleasure of meeting curious creatures such as the crude Brobdingnagian giants who keep him for their entertainment and the slightly insane Laputians with their flying island.

During all of these adventures, Swift skillfully fulfills his main purpose – to expose the truth of humanity behind the façade of reason and rationality. To do this, Swift structures the satire sections of his novels as series of conversations between Gulliver and his hosts, from the little Lilliputians to the intelligent Houyhnhnms, using the reactions of the latter to present the reader with an uncompromising reflection of mankind.

The best example of this can be seen in the latter section of the book, when Gulliver attempts to convince his Houyhnhnm host that he is not a Yahoo, but rational like the horses. As Gulliver explains what human society is like, both for good and for worse, it gradually becomes clear that the Houyhnhnms are unable to comprehend the difference between him, a supposedly “rational” creature, and the stupidly violent Yahoos that resemble him, especially when discussing about the human propensity to lie as well as the devastating advancements in weapon technology at the time.

In this way, although Gulliver himself comes to no emotional realization or character development, Swift encourages the reader to alter their own perspectives on both themselves and the world around them, and to consider the state of humanity before proceeding to place it on a pedestal above all other creatures. Despite having been written in the eighteenth century, Gulliver’s Travels is still a beloved classic because of Swift’s masterful combination of fantastical elements and bitter reality in a way that is sure to stick with the reader long after Gulliver’s travels are concluded.

-Mahak M.

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Book Review: All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace

All the Stars and Teeth is a dark fantasy book set in a world of mermaids, pirates, and princesses. Written by author Adalyn Grace, the book does it’s fair share of dramatics. Where people are gifted with powers allowing for displays of power and entertainment. The world is set in a series of magical islands with each one containing a singular power. In this world, you can master numerous powers, however it will bring death and destruction if you do. To prevent this, there is a long time tradition of picking a power based on your home and only practicing that single power.

At the heart of the kingdom, Visidia, lives Amora Montara, a princess. Who wields the power of soul destroying. She is soon to be the queen but must face a trail. A trial where she will read the souls of 5 people, and determine who is truly evil. If she passes, she shall be queen. If she does not- well, let’s just say it won’t be pretty.

Under a lot of stress, she panics and her powers consume her. Killing a man and melting his body, the people of her kingdom are disgusted and scared at this display. They scream how Amora is a monster and how she must be locked away. Amora is taken to a cell, where she awaits either execution or exile. Until a pirate named Bastian comes offering help, but for a price.

There is a bigger issue besides Amora. Where a man is not only trying to master numerous powers and soul destroying, but has cultivated a mass army to take over Visidia. After realizing the stakes, Amora sets off with Bastian. However this is a book of secrets and many will be uncovered, whether Amora wants to know or not.

Personally, I thought this book was sadly average at best. I think it’s perfect for getting into fantasy and YA. However, there isn’t much to it besides the plot. The romance was good in the middle and I enjoyed the witty banter and suspense. However, I found myself bored and a bit surprised because at the end it felt so rushed over. The plot was wonderfully done, although a little lengthy at some points. The villain was also rarely seen until the end, and was a bit underwhelming despite all the characters “fearing” him. 

It’s a bit confusing with the magical and political fantasy aspects, but I figured it out by the middle of the book. The plot was also extremely well written with twists and turns I kind of expected, but none the less enjoyed. It’s similar to books such as To Kill a Kingdom or Daughter of the Pirate King. I definitely enjoyed the pirate’s character and the side characters were beautifully done. 

Overall this book is a 3.5 out of 5 for me. Whereas it’s perfect for beginners. I definitely think that there are better books with more in depth characters. But, if you need a quick read or are in a reading slump, this is the book for you. Easy characters, heavy plot, and a sly villain make for a simple yet intriguing story.

-Ashley Y.

All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.