The Great Gatsby book review

Written in the year 1925, The Great Gatsby is one of the most complex and analytical books I have ever read. In just 218 pages F. Scott Fitzgerald has taken The American Dream and the enigma of hope-two of the world’s most complicated ideas and molded them into a work of fiction so powerful it helped shape both literature and our very perspectives.

So what makes The Great Gatsby so great? In my reading experience, I have seen two types of books; those which are driven by external conflict (what happens to the characters) and those that are driven by internal conflict (what happens because of the characters). It’s easy to see that the Great Gatsby is extremely character-driven, and thus the problems that they face are also internally driven. Their futures are devised by the choices they made in the past, both good and bad. This makes the external conflict matter more to the reader, giving the book that much more meaning.

But besides the unique characters and carefully crafted plot, the subtle symbolism and heavy themes in The Great Gatsby took my breath away. Themes like how, much like Gatsby, we all have that one almost unattainable goal that always seems just out of reach. And although Daisy Buchanan isn’t the most likable character, Fitzgerald used even her character to show the themes of the book. Themes of regret, the dangers of power, the contrast of what we think the world should be, opposed to what it is, and most importantly…hope.

“Tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning– So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Authors We Love: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald was born on September 24, 1896, in st. Paul, Minnesota, to a family of small businessmen. His ancestors, who had once been rich and powerful, have faded down to his parents’ generation. In 1913, supported by relatives, he attended Princeton University, an aristocratic institution of higher learning in the eastern United States. But he had no interest in his studies, often missed classes and failed exams, and focused almost entirely on social activities. He managed to get into the school’s literary group, was invited to the most famous clubs, shook off his country accent, and developed a standard “advanced” English, trying to subtly erase differences of birth. In 1915, when Princeton’s theater troupe toured the United States with his comedy “The Evil Eye,” he was barred from performing with the group because of his grades.

In the spring of 1917, the United States entered World War I, and Fitzgerald joined the army. In late 1918, Fitzgerald left the army and headed to New York, where he found only a job writing the words for a little-known advertising agency. In June 1919, his lover Zelda lost patience and called off the engagement. Early experiences led to Fitzgerald’s lifelong sensitivity to money. In 1919, Fitzgerald returned home with nothing. Published in February 1920, the novel “This Side of Paradise” became an instant hit for its vivid sense of The Times, and the first edition sold out in a few days. Magazines began to scramble for him.

On December 21, 1940, Fitzgerald died of a heart attack caused by alcoholism at the age of 44, leaving behind an unfinished work, “The Last Tycoon”.

He is a legendary author with a flourishing life, but his outstanding literary understanding and writing abilities did not leave him with a glorious ending.

-Coreen C. 

The works of F. Scott Fitzgerald is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They may also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Short Story Review: The Offshore Pirate, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

offshore_pirateAfter reading both The Great Gatsby and This Side of Paradise, I decided that F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of my favorite authors.  While I do find some of the plots of his stories to be a bit slow at times, his writing style more than makes up for lack of action.

After checking out Flappers and Philosophers, a collection of short stories written by Fitzgerald, I flipped to the first story and was immediately hooked.  The Offshore Pirate is a story of youth, lust, and adventure.  Fitzgerald’s description of tiny islands off the coast of Florida are enchanting and beautiful.  If you guys don’t believe me, then take a look at this quote from the book:

“Taking her hand he led her out into a broad stretch of hard sandy soil that the moon flooded with great splendor. They floated out like drifting moths under the rich hazy light, and as the fantastic symphony wept and exulted and wavered and despaired, Ardita’s last sense of reality dropped away, and she abandoned her imagination to the dreamy summer scents of tropical flowers and the infinite starry spaces overhead, feeling that if she opened her eyes it would be to find herself dancing with a ghost in a land created by her own fantasy.”

Is that beautiful or what?  It is a short story, so I feel like giving out any of the plot would sort of ruin the adventure that is this book, so please just take my word for it.

If you like writing that will make you feel warm and fuzzy and magical inside, read The Offshore Pirate!  It only takes about an hour to read (if you’re a sloth-speed reader like me) and is more than worth the sixty minutes.

-Amanda D., 12th grade

How to Improve your SAT Critical Reading and Writing Scores

glasses-272401_640As a high school junior, I have grown to realize the importance of the SAT, and have searched for hours for ways to improve my scores.  From my own experience, reading is ridiculously helpful in improving critical reading and writing scores, so I thought I would provide you guys with a list of books that are both rich in SAT vocab, and enjoyable to read.

Leonardo di Caprio and Carey Mullligan in a still from The Great Gatsby1.  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald:  Fitzgerald is one of my favorite authors of all time.  I love him because he writes about the 1920s, which is pretty much the most interesting era of all time, and his writing style is beautiful.  The Great Gatsby is one of those rare books that I actually recommend reading after you see the movie, as it makes the plot much easier to understand and hey, looking at Leo DiCaprio for three hours isn’t all that bad either.

2.  Lord of the Flies by William Golding:  This was my favorite book that my class read during sophomore year.  It’s a fictional expose on the concept of civilization and it is interesting and terrifying all at once.  I definitely recommend this book if you are a fan of survival stories, adventure, or even horror.

brave_new_world3.  Brave New World by Aldous Huxley:  This book was required reading for my sophomore year, but I would have read it even if it wasn’t required.  Brave New World is a book that predicts how our future society will look, and also uncovers the startling faults in our own present-day society.

4.  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee:  I can sum up all the reasons I love this book in two words: Atticus Finch.  Atticus is one of the main characters in the book and is pretty awesome.  He is one of those silent-but-deadly literary heroes that are so hard to find in books nowadays, and that makes me love him even more.

catcher_in_the_rye_cover5.  The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger: This book is amazing because it is written exactly the way I think: sarcastically, honestly, and caustically. (Like how I threw in an SAT vocab word?)  Holden Caulfield is one of the most famous literary characters of all time, and you should definitely read the book to find out why.

6.  Animal Farm by George Orwell:  This book is a satire on the Russian Revolution, as different figures of Russian history are represented by farm animals.  The great part about this book is that it will help you learn grammar and a little bit of history at the same time!

Other books that I haven’t read yet, but are rich in SAT vocab include:  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, and Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

Have you guys read any of these books yet?  What did you think of them?  Are there any other books that helped you with your SAT studying? Reply in the comments and good luck on your SATs everyone!

-Amanda D., 11th grade