A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams’s play A Streetcar Named Desire is set two years after the end of World War II in New Orleans. The play follows the lives of two differentiating sisters: Stella Kowalski and Blanche Dubois. 

Stella chose to leave their home in Belle Reves to marry Stanley Kowalski and explore the reality of the world. Meanwhile, Blanche held on to the fake riches and luxury of Belle Reves until all her loved ones died. 

Blanche brings the daydreams and illusions of her Southern Belle persona to visit her sister. While she lives in the cramped flat with Stella and Stanley, Blanche builds a fake personality to charm everyone and hide her dark past. Eventually, Stanley reveals Blanche’s secrets to Stella and uncovers what truly drove her to insanity – desire.

 Thus, the play focuses on the theme of illusion versus reality. Williams shows the audience of the terrible consequences that come from not owning up to your own actions. He emphasizes the ideal “Romantic” era in contrast to the cruel reality of World War II’s effect. 

The play’s symbols, irony, and allusions tie in beautifully in order to make the reader understand the underlying tragedy. However, this classic book is recommended for analytical individuals or for those who want to reach out of their comfort zone. I loved reading this dramatic literature as I am sure others would too.

-Zohal N. 

Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The End of Forever by Lurlene McDaniel

This book is basically about how Erin, the older sister has to cope with Amy, her beloved younger sister’s death. The thing happened when after a very successful show at the theatre, there was a party and Amy offered to buy some food and drinks for the party when there was an accident and after a lot of efforts from the family, they eventually lost her. But another even bigger problem was the question if their family chooses to donate her organs to the hospital where it can be used on other patients who need it.

Facing this challenge, Erin strong opposed it because she wanted to keep a complete body, but her parents thought it wise to donate it after all since Amy was already dead and it’s better than her organs can help somebody. In my opinion, it’s very hard to imagine how Erin finally came to the conclusion that she would agree with this proposition. Imagine, if it’s my own sister I would never let anybody extract her organs and give it to somebody I don’t know.

Through this story, I saw a family getting together and facing this grieving incident at the same time. It is a very healing novel to read for normally a lot of families would give up on their child or blame each other for this accident. However, although everyone is tired, exhausted, or hopeless even, Erin’s parents still chose to tell Erin that it’s not her fault at all, but merely Amy’s carelessness which caused all of this. If every family can just understand the other families more and put themselves in their shoes, wouldn’t a lot of arguments and fights be avoided eventually?

-Coreen C.

For One More Day by Mitch Albom

It so often seems that the answer to the question is always clear after something has happened and can never be reversed. No one knows why the answer wasn’t there before, why it’s here now if it’s even there at all. The only thing we could ever know is this: we should have been different Before, in order to prevent a distinguished After.

This idea, this concept that has shadowed us for as long as we have existed, is presented in Mitch Albom’s eerie and reflective masterpiece “For One More Day.”

The story concentrates on Chick Benetto, who’s addictive abuse of alcohol and general absence drives a barrier between himself and his ex-wife and daughter. Chick, believing that his broken life is no longer worth living, attempts to return to his hometown, determined to end his life in the very place it began. Before reaching the town, he experiences a fatal car crash, leaving him unconscious for a short period of time.

In his unconscious state, Chick explores a third place, in which he and his mother (who had passed away eight years previous) are reunited. Chick experiences this phenomenon as one day — a final full day to spend with his mother, fit together the mysterious pieces of his life that have haunted him since childhood, and understand the mistakes he has made in the relationship between himself and his mother.

Through Chick’s retrospective memories of times his mother stood up for him versus the times he didn’t do the same for her, the audience is able to make a compelling realization: the immense power that regret can hold over us. The concept is one familiar to us all, one with stable foundations in the evolution of human nature. Through regret, we begin to visualize the border between Before and After.

In the miraculous account illustrated in For One More Day, the readers encounter the pure, everlasting enigma that is a mother’s love. Alongside the idea of love’s promise of forever, the novel, while exceptionally sad, sends a message of hope to the readers: hope for forgiveness, hope for mending the mistakes we never truly meant to make, hope for new beginnings. And perhaps the best new beginning to offer is to pick up For One More Day and marvel at Albom’s literary craftsmanship.

—Keira D.

For One More Day by Mitch Albom is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. OIt can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Despite its length, this novel is certainly one of the masterpieces still in the history of American literature. What I really admire and value the most in this book is the friendship between Lennie and George. I’m sure there is a bond between them which could have lasted forever if it wasn’t for Lennie’s mistake in the end and also it is a relationship which perhaps transcends those these two main characters have developed with their parents even.

From what I know, Lennie is a very physically robust but mentally weak character. He does not recognize his strength and only wields it when George tells him to; he even seems to be afraid of his surprising strength a little. George on the other hand, although always blames and reproaches Lennie for what he does, at important times he is the one who saves Lennie. He seems to be a bit of nonchalant, but when Lennie offers to leave him, I can sense a trail of yearning and guilt in George when he pleaded Lennie not to do so and that he is sorry.

Lastly, I think the last scene where George and Lennie retrospect about their dream of tending rabbits on a farm and how George shot Lennie was very memorable and unforgettable. In some way, I think Lennie knows that George is not here to merely just talk with him, he knew that he has to die in order to save himself and George. Therefore, he pretends to not know and lets him do that. So in other words, Lennie is not simply imbecile, he just lacks the ability to judge things properly and talks more clearly. His reliance upon George ties them together but also, at last, kills him.

-Coreen C. 

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive.

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

From this book, the biggest thing which I learned is that dogs are men’s best friends. It is hard to imagine how much our dogs love us because they cannot talk like we do, through our mouths. They talk from their eyes and hearts and actions to show us just how loyal they are to us. Like the main character in the book, Bailey, he reincarnated so many times just to be back with Ethan again. They’ve gone through so much and it’s really the hardest for either of them to forget this relationship. One scene that imprints itself in me was the part where after Ethan hurts his leg he decided to go to college in another state and Bailey chases the car to a very far distance. I’ll bet he knows what’s best for Ethan to do in this case, but it’s just that he wasn’t willing to let his best friend just leave him at that.

Actually, a lot of the movies these days are about the relationship between dogs and humans. We devote attention, love, patience, and money to dogs but they return it with their whole life. Ethan and Bailey are not just inseparable when they are happy, they take on hardships together and it’s either both of them get blamed or punished or they escape together. There was never a time when one abandons the other to danger. And I really think through these types of books and movies humans can adjust the attitude they take on to other people as well. If animals can treat people they love and love them with loyalty and dedication, why can’t we?

-Coreen C. 

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

11/22/63 by Stephen King

This novel tells of Jake Epping, a recently divorced teacher at his local high school, teaching some GED classes for extra money. One of his GED students, the high school’s janitor, Harry Dunning, writes a tear-jerking essay for his final, about how his family was killed by his alcoholic father and how he was crippled for life. 

A few years later, when Jake visits his friend, Al, at Al’s Diner, Al shows Jake a time portal in the pantry of his diner; Al, seems to have aged years within a day, explains that he had used the portal to travel back in time, and had lived years in the past before he developed cancer and had to return. 

The few rules to the portal are as follows:

  • Each trip to the past is a complete reset to September 9, 1958. Whenever you enter the portal, you’re undoing whatever you did the last trip.
  • Each time coming back from the past through the portal, no matter how long you stay, you come back two minutes after you left.
  • The past can be changed, impacting the future, but the past is also obdurate; it tries it’s very hardest to stop from being changed.

After Al shows Jake the ropes, he sends Jake on the mission that he had been unable to complete last time. From what Al has observed, everything bad in the world can be traced back to John F. Kennedy’s assassination; if Jake could stop the assassination, the world would likely be a better place. And if it wasn’t, he could always go back and reset it. 

Jake agrees to the plan, but adds a few elements of his own; he would drop by the Dunning household, and stop Frank Dunning from murdering Harry’s family. Then, he would wait until 1963, watching and monitoring the world around him, and stop Kennedy’s assassination.

The title of this novel definitely was the eye-catcher on the library bookshelf for me, in addition to its impressive size. The reality of life that’s starkly shown in this novel, contrasting the preposterous situation Jake enters into, is why I enjoyed it so much. He constantly feels the danger of discovery, injecting an underlying urgency into the story, but I also felt a wrenching desire for him to settle down when he finds a wonderful woman in a content little town where he could live a happy life in the past. 

There’s a sense of heroism to the story as well; armed with the knowledge of the future, Jake strives to do his best for the greater good of the world. However, the past is “obdurate;” he runs into so many obstacles when he tries to change things, ultimately causing more harm than good. It’s an excellent example of how good intentions do not necessarily bring good results.

-Adelle W.

11/22/63 by Stephen King is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

Carrie Meeber is from a small city who seeks to go to her sister in Chicago to have a better life. However, when she gets there she realizes the fact that her sister and her brother in law are in a very wretched condition together with their daughter. Unable to endure their apathy when she fails to secure herself a job, Carrie decided to leave. Before she even arrived in Chicago, she met Druet, a wealthy young man on the train who really likes her due to her beauty. So right after quitting her job at the factory, Carrie accidentally met Drouet around the street corners. He treats her a meal and often buys her beautiful clothing and jewelry which made her think in his favor. And thus, soon they were living together in a comfortable flat.

But it wasn’t soon when Drouet introduced Carrie to his manager friend Hurstwood. Lured by his gentleness and suave manner, Carrie fell in love with him and he with her. However, since Hurstwood was not in a relationship with his wife and his children, he lied to Carrie and said that he was unmarried. One day, Hurstwood under the influence of alcohol accidentally took ten thousand dollars from the cashier’s unlocked box and decided to flee to New York. He wheedled Carrie into escaping with him as well and so the two left for New York. However, life was not as easy there because everything was more expensive. After several unsuccessful attempts at finding a satisfactory job, Hurstwood depended on Carrie to earn and they again fell into the state of poverty.

Just then, due to her looks, passion, and aptitude for singing and acting, Carrie made a career in the theatre. She was well-liked by a lot of rich people and thus deserted Hurstwood. Although she regularly supported him somewhat, she severed the relationship at last when Hurstwood, due to his pride, stopped asking money from Carrie and suicided at last.

-Coreen C.

Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library