Just Above My Head by James Baldwin

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This is the sixth novel by James Baldwin, and again it is set in Harlem, New York where he grew up in. All of his books can be seen as children inappropriate but to some degree, I am just so engrossed in the realism aspect of these novels that I can’t seem to stop myself from checking out another one from the library. I actually really revered in the brotherhood of Hall and Arthur Montana. However, the character that made the most impression on me would certainly be Julia.

She was a child preacher from the age of eight and has since been a very devout Christian. Her parents always took huge pride in her which is also the reason why her brother hates her because she has all the attention of their parents. Gospel hymn quotations kind of adds a lyrical sense to the novel and thus suggests the fact that music has played a large part of the African American experience and life.

I know Julia did not want to be a preacher by heart or even believe in Christianity. However, she was a very filial girl and therefore would do anything to make her parents happy. By way of contrast when her mother passed away eventually due to health issues and his brother was sent away to her grandma because his father couldn’t endure him, Julia notices signs of degradation in her father. Which eventually, led to sexual assault and she was raped by her own father. Not only in the novel did I notice the main focus isn’t on racism anymore, but it just so much struck me when Baldwin employs a very vivid and strong way to protest against sexual abuse, a very morbid form when it was done by a father to his own daughter.

-Coreen C. 

Just Above My Head by James Baldwin is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Morning Watch by James Agee

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This is a short autobiographical novel composed in 1947 and was finished by the author in 1950. Being at the age of puberty, John Huston, a young boy at a Christian boarding school experiences teenage isolation, curiosity, and priggishness. I thought that he was a very pitiful boy at first who was blindly sent to the boarding school because his parents half-abandoned him.

However, my pity for his family background did not stop me from reading this book due to my interest in his bewilderment in the faith of God. It just seems to me that he kept on telling himself he belongs to God when internally there is a turmoil of atheism stirring, stimulating him to commit actions of blasphemy.

-Coreen C. 

Book Review: From Lightning to the Light, by Dennis Koranek

lightning_lightFrom Lightning to the Light by Dennis Koranek is a very different type of book. I have never read anything like it before. Whether it’s a good different or bad different I have yet to decide. This is probably why it took me an unusually long time to read. But persevere I did, and I’m glad because the book is unique.

This book starts out with a professor getting hit by lightning, suffering temporary amnesia and ending up with a lightning-fast brain (get it?). Physically, his body no longer requires sleep, but otherwise, he is normal. He now spends his days and nights inventing interactive machines that help humanity. The chapters fly by as the words are written as if you’re in his fast-paced mind.

The story evolves quickly and soon introduces his “superhero” daughter, with each following chapter involving a new mission for her to complete.

Being a Spider-Man fan, I appreciate the superhero aspect of this novel. However, I think it would have been more engaging if it was slowed down a bit and involved more human details. I would have enjoyed getting personally closer to the characters. I did appreciate the unusualness of this novel in that all “gifts” were consistently credited to God, not man. There was no ego involved, and these “super humans” were God’s instruments. The novel ends with time travel, tying the previous chapters together but leaving a lot of room for character development in future books or even a TV series.

This book will satisfy all of us sci-fi fans out there while still keeping a focus on God, not man, as the ultimate Creator.

I would like to point out that this book is a work of fiction. It is very extraordinary and unique in the sense that this combines the Bible (non-fiction) and fiction together. However, for me personally, this makes me uncomfortable as I don’t know if this “merging” trivializes the Bible. But please, as this is my own personal opinion, give this book a go if it interests you! There aren’t too many like this one out there!

-Danielle L., 6th grade