The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic by Allan Wolf

watchthatendsthenight_allanwolfBeautifully crafted, Wolf’s words hit close to home in this lyrical story of the Titanic. The wealthy. The refugee. The captain. The iceberg. The voices on the ship which went down. Allan Wolf, along with a writing team including Angela Dawe, Laural Merlington, and Natalie Ross, have created another view of the tragedy which occurred on April 15, 1912 aside from its Hollywood adaptation.

Starting with the iceberg, Wolf creates a feel of the circle of life, as well as the known aura of foreboding death.  However, the scene quickly switches to the maybe-naive, maybe-ignorant lives of the humans boarding the boat.  There is a father and two sons, a Lebanese refugee immigrant, the rich, the con-artist, the crew, and 2,228 others.  Throughout all of the introductions of the book, I thought of an excerpt from Tchaikovsky’s “Winter Daydreams”.  The subtle light strings with the hint of suspense in the undertone of the bass line imitated the tone of Wolf and his co-workers.  I really enjoyed this style of his writing, for he developed each character, fictional and not, as if it had a rich library of history books published.  However, as some writers would take several chapters to illustrate this, Wolf masterfully sculpted it into a few pages of lyrical prose.

The journey the reader takes across the 480 pages start and end with the iceberg itself.  Every few voices, the iceberg would appear, as if the reader needed a reminder of its unquestionable existence.  With it, I always would think of a leitmotif of Host’s “Saturn, The Bringer of Old Age—The Planets Suite”.  Its dark and brooding sound, especially as you reach the bridge, reminds me of the sad truth of death.  Wolf’s writing about the iceberg paints these notes into the reader’s mind.  And, as the distance between the ship and iceberg becomes narrower, I think of the Holst’s piece, growing louder and louder as if in an unheeded warning.  And, as his piece ends, the fate of the ship does as well.

The Watch That Ends the Night was one of the best books I have read in a while, and it was due to the amazing writing and imagery the authors weaved into it.  I would recommend this to any reader seventh grade and up.

-Maya S.

The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

catcherintherye_salingerThe Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, is a novel that expresses the loss of innocence adolescents are required to experience in their transition into adulthood. The book begins with the main character, Holden Caulfield, talking to what is later revealed to be a therapist about his life experiences since he got kicked out of yet another school because of his bad grades. At the very beginning of the book, Holden clarifies that he doesn’t want to say all that “David Copperfield crap”, alluding to Dickens books about Copperfield that went into extreme detail about every aspect of his life.

As the story progresses, we learn that Holden’s younger brother, Allie, died from leukemia. Ever since then, Holden has been almost obsessed with the idea that innocence must be preserved in children, even going to the extent of saying his dream job would be being the catcher in the rye. He explains the job description to be hundreds of kids running around on a field of rye and whenever one of the children nears the cliff, Holden reaches down and catches them. Another way he shows his need to contain innocence in children is through his little sister Phoebe. His constant control and protection over Phoebe shows Holden’s need to preserve innocence. However, at the very end of the book, Holden accepts the fact that innocence cannot be preserved and that you must let children grow from their mistakes.

All in all, the underlying themes and ideas in this book allow for a piece of great literature that I greatly recommend. However, it should be targeted for more mature audiences because of certain scenes in the book. Although it is a generally censored book, that should not stop you from reading it because the questionable scenes all contain underlying messages that only add the book and it helps us get a better understanding of the book. In the end, The Catcher in the Rye should be a book on everybody’s reading list.

-Melika R.