Bridge To Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Jesse Aarons lives in a big family with four sisters and being the only boy pulls him down sometimes. But he never would have imagined that there would be a girl named Leslie Burke beating him in a foot race, becoming his class’ fastest runner. His confession of this fact led to the starting point of their relationships as chums.

As friends, Leslie and Jesse create an imaginary place to hide from the troubles of the world. There is a narrow rivulet in between the two worlds, sometimes when it’s raining the water roared and raved its intensity with the thunder and the rainwater never really got mollified. During sunny days, the singing water just lets it’s tender skirt trickle along the moist shore, showing happiness and relaxation with the caressing of the soothing sunlight. A decrepit rope connected the two of them as they created an imaginary bridge to the Kingdom Of Terabithia.

There were fewer things in the modern society compared to this magical kingdom. Ogres, fairies, and trees that can extend its flexible branches and help people are components that fall under this natural shield. The first thing after school isn’t homework anymore, but to implement their duty as queen and king to patrol in their own kingdom with the guard dog Prince, Jess and Leslie were inseparable.

It wasn’t until when Jess’s dream came true that he went to this art museum with his music teacher Ms. Edmunds, unaware that tragedy strikes while he is away. A miracle could happen, only so that Jess could be salvaged immediately from the interminable guilt.

-April L.

The Bridge to Terebithia by Katherine Paterson is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Pearl by John Steinbeck

Kino, the novella’s protagonist, is a young Mexican-Indian pearl diver married to Juana; they have a baby named Coyotito. Their lives seem rather peaceful, but their tranquility is threatened when a scorpion bites Coyotito. Juana tells Kino to go to town and get the doctor, but Kino and their neighbors tell Juana that the doctor will never come to where they live, so Juana decides to take matters into her own hands and sets off with Coyotito to the doctor. Kino accompanies Juana, and many members of the village follow them to see what will happen. At the doctor’s house, the doctor’s servant tells Kino and Juana that the doctor is not at home — in truth, the doctor is home but will not help Coyotito because Kino cannot pay the doctor as much as the doctor wants, but also because the doctor is prejudiced against Kino’s race.

Kino goes to work diving in the Gulf for oysters from his canoe; Juana tends to Coyotito in the canoe by applying brown seaweed to his shoulder, which is swollen from the scorpion’s bite. As Kino is collecting oysters on the ocean bottom, he spots a larger-than-usual oyster, collects it, and returns to the canoe. Kino does not want to open the oyster immediately, but Juana prompts him to open the oyster; when he does, he finds a pearl the size of a sea gull’s egg. Juana gazes at the immense pearl; she then goes to check on Coyotito and discovers that Coyotito’s shoulder is no longer swollen. Kino is immensely happy about both the pearl and Coyotito, believing that this a type of heavenly good luck.

However, the pearl twists Kino’s mind. As a man tries to take Kino’s pearl one night, Kino fatally kills the man, resulting in him as a wanted man.

Juana, Kino, and the now healthy Coyotito, have to make a run for it. They take Kino’s canoe, cast it into the water, and quickly sail off. They arrive in a heavily wooded area, which provides shelters. But there are riders upon horses keeping a close eye on Kino and his family, trying to find him and execute him. Kino and his family find a water hole, where they stop to drink and rest.

Kino, Juana, and Coyotito then hide in the cave and wait for an opportunity to escape back down the mountain. The trackers are slow in their pursuit and finally arrive at the watering hole at dusk. They make camp nearby, and two of the trackers sleep while the third stands watch. Kino decides that he must attempt to attack them before the late moon rises. Just as Kino prepares to attack, Coyotito lets out a cry, waking the sleepers. When one of them fires his rifle in the direction of the cry, Kino makes his move, killing the trackers in a violent fury. In the aftermath, Kino slowly realizes that the rifle shot struck and killed his son in the cave.

The next day, Kino and Juana make their way back through town and the outlying brush houses. Juana carries her dead son slung over her shoulder. They walk all the way to the sea, as onlookers watch in silent fascination. At the shore, Kino pulls the pearl out of his clothing and takes one last, hard look at it. He remembers what this pearl has cost him, and the hard journey he has gone through because of it. Then, with all his might, under a setting sun, he flings the pearl back into the sea, watching it sink, sink, and sink deep below the surface, never to be seen again.

-Katherine L.

The Pearl by John Steinbeck is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Image result for the grapes of wrathThis is a story about Tom Joad and his family immigrating to California. Their homeland in Oklahoma is being cultivated by tractors from the bank and the police officers beat them to hell more often than breathing.

In this miserable and harsh trip, their grandparents died, and Tom’s sister’s husband ran away. His brother wasn’t able to move with them so he stopped at a desert in the middle of the trip. The government camp provided hot water and the protection away from the deputies. But other times, people are treated akin to pigs, but without the slosh their owner pour in the mange every day. The people craved for slosh but found none.

To me it’s really inscrutable why people separate from their family, it’s like the fear will devour you into the black hole in the galaxy and the entire world fades away from your fingertips. And the bank in this novel sounds brutal to me, just because they want to expand some business land, the people and tenants living there are forced to leave their beating hearts on the land and left with their inane corpse. Ma is the person that resonated with my emotions and logic because she was like the leaves of the family tree. Sometimes, when autumn comes she turns yellow and shrivels a little, but her greenness brushes the entire forest with freshness and was the food and shelter to a lot of people when spring emerges. Without the oxygen, we won’t survive. The animals and the oxygen is the buttress of the inveterate root to keep stretching. And that’s Ma.

-April L.

John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah

Upon reading Mah’s Chinese Cinderella and its sequel, I recently was made aware of a precursor and her official autobiography.  Entitled Falling Leaves, the book follows the same plot line as her other two works.  However, what made it different was the voice Mah used as the story of her life progressed.

Little Adeline, originally Mǎ Yán Jūnlíng, was born into a high-class family in Tianjin, China.  Her mother, the light of her father’s life, died shortly after giving birth to Adeline.  This did not raise the youngest child’s status in the family.  From a young age, Adeline received nothing but resentment and mistreatment from her family, with the exception of her kind Aunt Baba.  Under the direction of the late mistress of the Yen household, Aunt Baba became Adeline’s surrogate mother.  But, Adeline was persistent to win her father’s attention, through and through, even to his deathbed.  She consistently was awarded medals and perfect report cards.  On few occasions, her father would notice, but with the addition of a new stepmother, Niang, Mr. Yen sent Adeline to boarding school.  Where, throughout the years she spent there, nobody paid her a single visit.

As Mah takes the reader throughout her painful life, she not only follows her own story, but retells her family’s (if they could ever be called that), so when the story concludes, all the pieces come together.  And, in Adeline’s case, quite heartbreakingly.

What Mah has written truly shows the willpower of human sufferance.  War-torn countries and refugees have stories worth sharing, inspiring the fortunate people of the free world.  However, within what may seem to be a noble Chinese household, the step-children, in particular the youngest girl, find a similar fates.  Though found the library’s adult section as it contains more mature content, I fully recommend Mah’s autobiography.

-Maya S.

The works of Adeline Yen Mah are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange

I wouldn’t call this the worse book that I have ever read, but It wasn’t my favorite either. I must say it was interesting though.

The book starts off with Henry’s mother being “sick.” We are not told the details of the illness at the beginning, we just know that something is not right. The family has just moved into a new house (more details on why later in the book). Her older brother also recently passed. Her father has to leave for business in Italy so he leaves Henry, the housekeeper, Henry’s mother, and Henry’s baby sister Piglet at home.

Henry’s mother gets worse and eventually, the local doctor is called out, she is then told to stay in bed all day, have her door locked, and to take a certain pill. She does as the doctor says and only get’s worse.

While all of this is going in, Henry feels alone, so she starts to imagine things. One night she sees a light in the woods and goes to investigate, there she finds a “witch”.
My main problem with the book was how at the beginning it was very hard to follow and hard to get into. If a child was a reluctant reader, they would not be interested in reading this book.

While I won’t go and tell you everything that goes on in the book, I will say that it was very suspenseful and once I got through the beginning I couldn’t put it down. I would say that this is a book an older child would enjoy. A child that loves a good mystery, as to me, that is what this book really is.

I thank the publisher for sending me an ARC of this novel, it did not influence my rating of the book whatsoever.

-Skylar N.

The Secret of Nightingale World by Lucy Strange is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Mediator: Shadowland by Meg Cabot

Susannah (Suze) Simon’s life is not what you’d consider “ordinary,” in fact, it’s quite the opposite. After living in New York for her whole life, only-child, Suze and her widowed mother move across the country to sunny California. There, she is introduced to her step father, Andy Ackerman, along with his three sons. She has been enrolled into Junipero Serra Catholic Academy, with her new stepbrothers, where she hopes to start a new chapter in her life.

You see, as much as moving to California separated Suze from her one true friend, Gina, it’s also a chance for her to create a new image of herself. Susannah has gotten into trouble a good handful of times, as she is no stranger to the police and is often found sneaking back into the house early in the morning. All along Mrs.Simon has thought this obnoxious act of her daughter’s was due to being anti-social. But that’s not the reason why Suze is often found alone, it’s because she can see ghosts, and she’s kept this secret from all the people she knows!

Being a mediator is no easy task; Susannah knows this from experience. She must juggle her school work, family time, along with the future of the ghosts she encounter in their afterlife. Although Suze is in love with her beach view room, she can’t help but notice the ghost of a cowboy sitting in her bay window. She befriends Jesse, a handsome teen, no older than Suze, who was killed 150 years ago in a tragic accident. As Suze is helping Jesse reach his afterlife, she can’t help but seeing something special in her new friend.

As if moving to a completely new school wasn’t stressful enough, trouble arises when a teenage ghost threatens the students at the academy. Without endangering any of her new friends, Suze must put a stop to the wandering spirit. Alongside Jesse, Susannah plans on getting rid of the academy’s unwanted visitor once and for all!

Shadowland was a great summer read that kept me occupied for most of this week! I can’t wait to see what Meg Cabot has in store for Susannah as she continues her mediator role.

-Skyler K.

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

In Challenger Deep, written by Neal Shusterman, Caden Bosch is a teenager who struggles with mental illness. This story is told from two perspectives where it switches from his point-of-view of his life and his fantasy world. In his fantasy world, he has become a part of a voyage with a man who calls himself the Captain and his parrot to explore the Marianas Trench, Challenger Deep, to find the bottom of it.

In Caden’s daily life, he begins to show signs of his mental illness. His friends, family, and teachers begin to notice his anxiety, his random thoughts, and his new hobby of pacing and walking. At first, they shrug it off thinking it’s only a phase, but everyday Caden falls deeper in his mental illness.

Caden’s story is an emotional one about a boy going through his first mental breakdown. There were some funny moments, but it’s a sad story of a teen going through a mental illness.

Although it took me some time to read this book, I highly recommend reading it. This book gave me some new insight about how people with mental illnesses feel. The author did a fantastic job in capturing Caden’s emotions and of his family and friends emotions.

There are some curse words ( no F-bombs though) and no sexual content (Yay for those who don’t want to read smut!). This book has little to no romance since it mainly focuses more on the friendships of Caden and his recovery from his mental breakdown.

This is a good book for older teens, I don’t recommend kids ages 13 and younger reading this because of the mature themes. Also, it can be a bit confusing because it’s from Caden’s perspective, but it’s entertaining.

*Spoiler alert* In one scene, some of the patients talk about what happened to them before they were hospitalized. The author doesn’t go into detail, but it’s a little disturbing. 

-Ash A.

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.