The Stranger by Albert Camus

If you were to see Monsieur Meursault walking down the street, he would appear to be an ordinary young man. He shows up to work every day, doesn’t disrespect any of his coworkers, and is on good terms with all of his neighbors. Unless you were to actually meet him, you would never realize that he was a bit different.

When people ask him things, he doesn’t ever seem to have a definite answer- it almost seems as if nothing really matters to him. Because of this, people will sometimes become annoyed at him. They want clear answers, and Monsieur Meursault won’t give them that. However, no one really questions him and his lack of feelings until the death of his mother (Maman, he calls her). He had sent her off to a home for the elderly because he was no longer able to support her. Now she has died, and to Monsieur Meursault, it doesn’t really feel as if anything has changed – everyone around him is grieving more than the woman’s own son. People question him: Why doesn’t he seem to be in mourning? Why has he not shed a single tear?

It’s not until after a horrific event takes place that Meursault’s actions (or lack thereof) begin to affect him. Meursault probably never would have expected this to happen, and neither would any of his friends and acquaintances, but it did, and now he must face the consequences.

Originally written in French by Albert Camus, this book has been beautifully translated to English by Matthew Ward. It’s written in an unusual style that I think is very fitting for the personality of Monsieur Meursault. Although it may not be filled with action and adventure, this is definitely an interesting read, and it gives us insight on how this strange man thinks. I also enjoyed learning a bit more about the French culture, as this is where the book takes place.

Despite the fact that this is a fairly short book, it took me a while to read it. I only read a little each day because it gave me so much to think about and the protagonist and his actions really intrigued me. This is the first book I’ve read wherein the main character thinks in such a strange way. I’m really glad that it’s written in the point of view of this man, else I wouldn’t have been able to understand him at all. This is a very unique book, written in the point of view of a very unusual protagonist, and although I probably wouldn’t read this book again, I don’t regret reading it and would definitely say that it gave me a lot to think about.

-Elina T.

The Stranger by Albert Camus is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

adventuresoftomsawyer_marktwainThe Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain, chronicles a few of the adventures of 12-year-old Tom Sawyer. Living on the Mississippi River, Tom lives with his Aunt Polly and his half-brother Sid. Tom gets into many misadventures and he just as deftly gets out of them. At times, when Tom is punished, one can see how he gets out of trouble and chores by manipulating his friends (though not necessarily in devious ways).

Tom and his friend, Huckleberry Finn (the subject of another book by Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn), get into all kinds of trouble, from seeing things they were not meant to see, to running away with friend Joe Harper to an island, to going treasure hunting and discovering a dangerous secret. Tom also indulges in more normal pastimes, like playing pretend and going on picnics (though he does get lost in a cave with Becky Thatcher, a girl he is trying to impress). Overall, I thought that this book was a good read, as it was relaxing in some places and funny in others. Plus, in addition to being a nice book about the adventures of a child in the past, it also had some moments where I was figuratively gripping the edge of my seat to see what happened next.

-Aliya A.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library