Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

I read this play last year and had my own thoughts on there. I did like the characters despite their overdramatic characteristics. Moreover, the plot was generally not tedious and did offer some twists which I like such as Juliet faking her death and Romeo not receiving the letter explaining all of it in time.

Through this play, I also learned how family feud can lead to very bad results. If both families would just allow this pair of young lovers to unite then nothing of this sort would have occurred at all. It also shows how distant and nonchalant are parents toward the psychological activities of their children. All they possibly think about is the reputation of their standing in society and who they think upon marrying their child with will bring them the most benefit. Nonetheless, I was touched by the avid love between Romeo and Juliet and how they were willing to sacrifice everything for each other’s sake.

One of the other things that I find interesting is the duel scenes. Originally, Tybalt might not have hated Mercutio and Romeo so much if it wasn’t for the fact that they are rival families. So again the theme of family feud plays a part where blinded hatred caused the two to break the probable peace between them since Romeo and Juliet were already married. So overall, my opinion on this play is that although it can be overdramatic and a little unrealistic in our life, it teaches the fact that parents should give enough attention to their children to prevent any suicidal thoughts.

-Coreen C.

William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Fictional Food: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

There are many reasons I love to read: the characters, the settings, the story … and sometimes the food. Not that it’s the force that drives me when I pick up a book to read, but I enjoy reading about what the characters eat. Maybe it’s because the little culinary details make the story so much more immersive, or because seeing the characters eat makes them more relatable. Ultimately (however silly it may seem), food can add extra depth to a story.

In her Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling adds little comments about what the characters are eating, which is one of the many reasons I enjoy reading her stories. Here is some of the food mentioned in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone that may or may not interest you.

“Stale cornflakes and … tinned tomatoes on toast” (Rowling 50): This is the breakfast eaten by the Dursleys and Harry during Mr. Dursley’s failed attempt to evade the senders of Harry’s Hogwarts letter. This slightly dreary meal matches the mood of Harry and the Dursleys on this random, unplanned trip.

Hagrid’s sausages: When Hagrid appears at the little shack where Harry and the Dursleys escape to, he roasts some sausages over the fire and offers them to Harry. After sleeping on the floor of a shack in the middle of a storm, this warm food must be a relief to Harry–a relief which parallels what he feels during his departure from the Dursleys into a wizarding world that treats him with warmth.

Chocolate and raspberry ice-cream with nuts: Harry is given this ice-cream from Hagrid after he first meets Draco Malfoy. Despite the doubtless deliciousness of this treat, Harry eats it a bit unhappily as he ponders his unpleasant conversation with Draco (but he soon learns not to place value in Draco’s statements).

Pumpkin pasties: The pasties are among the assortment of sweets Harry purchases from the trolley witch on his first journey to Hogwarts. They have a part in the beginning of Harry’s friendship with Ron, for it is a pasty that Harry offers Ron in exchange for one of Ron’s sandwiches. A pasty may also be the first wizarding sweet Harry tastes.

In J.K. Rowling’s stories, the food assists in conveying the characters’ emotions along with adding interesting facts for the readers. Knowing what the characters are eating adds a new layer of complexity to the books.

-Mia T.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (or, Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone) is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

This novel was one I was assigned as a summer reading assignment which, undoubtedly deterred my interests from the story. It took a lot of psyching myself up to finally delve into the world Marquez had exquisitely painted. But immediately the book was extremely intriguing. The first line of the novel was an eye-catcher stating “On the day they were going to kill him, Santiago Nasar got up at five-thirty in the morning to wait for the boat the bishop was coming on.”

This novel, in the beginning, was confusing. The book was not written in chronological order as suggested but instead jumped around in time. This constant shift through time made it hard to understand a cohesive story during the early stages of reading. However, after a few chapters, the story came together. So as a suggestion, do not let this initial confusion deter you from reading this book.

By the end of the novel, this jumping through time helps create a more intriguing story, creating suspense because the author can choose specific information through different times to give to the reader.

This story is also accurate to the customs of the place in which the story was written. So, it gives an almost realistic feel to a seemingly horrific action. It also allows readers to have some insight into the practices of a different era and different location. This story, stating that the main character was to be killed, then follows the actions which allowed the main character to suffer such a horrific fate. This story ended up being one I extremely enjoyed. I finished the book in a day because I just could not put it down. So, sometimes these books that we are forced to read because of school can actually be enjoyable. It gave me something to do over the summer which was fun.

This book is a nice short read for anyone who is interested in a mystery book. I would suggest it to anybody looking to read something different than the popular books that are being written today. For, this book brings a totally different perspective to the way books can be written.

-Ava G.

Chronicle of Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser

This story starts with a very poor Griffith family being Christian missionaries and singing on the streets. The oldest son in this family Clyde desperately wants to escape poverty and therefore left his family to work in Kansas city at a very luxurious hotel. While he was working there, he and his friends were in an accident that killed a little girl which prompted him to escape to Chicago. There, he met his wealthy uncle and appealed to him to ask if he can get a job in his collar company. Moved by his sincerity and svelte manner, Samuel Griffith agreed.

Thus, in New York Clyde witnessed the lives of the upper society after meeting his cousins Gilbert, Myra and Bella. Through Bella, he also met her friend Sondra Finchley whom he immediately has fallen in love with but due to his penury again, recoiled from courting her. After being switched from the shabby shrinking room to the sewing department, Clyde met a very pretty factory girl named Roberta, they quickly fell in love. However, as time passes Clyde found himself in love with Sondra Finchley, who wants to revenge Gilbert for his complacence also fell in love with Clyde later on. Avid to get rid of Roberta who was pregnant, Clyde unintentionally struck her on a boat when they were on a trip and thus let her drown while he could have saved her. Being captured, later on, Clyde was sentenced to death at last.

Personally, I didn’t enjoy reading this novel too much because of its straightforwardness. There weren’t a lot of surprises and twists in the plot. Greed and inhumanity prompted by money seeping into each character were too ostentatious as to paint a sheen of unreality on them. I wish murder plot could be more carefully planned, thus causing the police to take more time in investigating the crime and potentially create some more suspense.

-Coreen C. 

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars is a realistic fiction novel about two teenagers who suffer from cancer.

The story begins with Hazel, who is seventeen and suffering from advanced thyroid cancer. Thyroid cancer limits her ability to interact with others, so she mostly stays home, watching television and reading. As a result, her parents and doctor believe she is suffering from depression, so she is forced into a cancer support group.

At this support group, she encounters Augustus Waters, another teenage cancer survivor who lost a leg. Hazel and Augustus instantly click with one another, discovering that they both love literature.

After the support group, Hazel introduces Augustus to her favorite novel, An Imperial Affliction. The two are frustrated since the novel offers no closure; it ends in mid-sentence as if the author died. They continuously attempt to contact and meet the author, who lives in Amsterdam, which is the novel’s main plotline.

Over the course of the novel, both characters begin to bond with one another, discovering what they have in common, and their relationship eventually develops into a sad, but bright romance.

The Fault in Our Stars is a great novel, filled with slight humor and relatable characters, it is heartbreaking at the same time since it causes the reader to realize that real people suffer from cancer. The Fault in Our Stars opens the reader’s eyes to the world of cancer survivors and people who suffer from disabilities, which is why I’d recommend it.

-Josh N

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Broken Hearted

Broken Hearted

T’was impeccable, yet warped,

Repetitive, yet newfangled regularly.

Memories’ sadness is in presence,

Though, only evoked when the spirit wishes.

‘Tis a fight,

Where “moving on” is defined often,

“Attachment” is, too.

Seated alone, pondering,

How can this be overcome?

Knowledge from the wise is even proven insufficient.

Man’s best companion can’t even seek a smile,

Nor can nature’s sweetest creations.

How can this be overcome?

They say denial, anger, bargaining, depression, then acceptance,

None apply.
This feeling is unutterable,

One I swear is mine and mine only.

How can this be overcome?

Like a Satan in one’s path,

Only the stupid’s willpower could see hope.

Where the only solution is to advance,

Or seize agonizing consequences.

Rifle in hand,

Willpower in the other.

Ambition, clout, and courage tattooed on one’s shoulder,

The great battle begins.

Pushing away thoughts,

Urges set aside.

No peeking,

No asking,

No quitting.

It’s done!

Finally, ready to move on,

Acceptance becomes clear.

Pride falls,

Ache does, too.

I’ve done it,

Finally, moved on.

-Izzy G., 8th Grade

 

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