In 27 Days by Alison Gervais

The novel is about a young teenager who goes back 27 days in time to save a classmate from committing suicide. The teenage girl named Hadley never knew the boy named Archer who took his own life but felt compelled to help save his life. She goes through a lot in order to get closer to this boy. She uncovers secrets about him and learns more about herself.

I love this novel for multiple reasons. The first is that the story is very compelling and the characters are relatable. Many people have been through traumatic experiences and would probably feel the pain Archer was going through. People are lonely all of the time and no one seems to notice. I relate to Hadley, the girl who tries to stop the boy from committing suicide. She is a very compassionate character who goes out of her way to help this classmate that was a stranger not too long ago. I truly felt like I understood her feeling of emptiness when he was gone, guilt for not trying to talk to his freshman year and dedication to saving him from taking his own life where people cared about him and needed him.

The second reason is because suicide is a prevalent issue that needs to be addressed in 2020. This novel shows the importance of looking for suicidal signs and the possible ways people can help prevent others from taking their own life. Many people are very lonely and need to have someone to talk to. I think that this novel is an example of what could happen if we as a society were more inclusive.

-Ellie B.

If you or someone you know has discussed or thought about suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

Caesar is one of William Shakespeare’s best plays. It not only portrays the friendship of two major characters but also describes how democracy, instead of tyranny, is the best way to govern a nation and protect the rights of its citizens.

In this post, I would like to explain why, Brutus, in my opinion, is a patriot instead of a traitor. First, he killed Caesar because he thinks that it is the only way to save Rome from a dictatorship. Signs of corruption and power in Caesar warns Brutus that a tyrant is in sight. Therefore, he killed Caesar for the common good and to ensure democracy.

Another reason why killing Caesar can be justified as a way of patriotism is because the benefit equal representation in Senate brings outweighs the loss of Caesar. The plebeians do not know how the government operates, and therefore, they don’t know Caesar’s selfish plans and his personality. Hence, it is Brutus’ responsibility to assure that the Roman citizens’ rights are not taken away. If Brutus is already aware of others will accuse him of murdering his best friend and be entitled to that of a traitor, yet he still chooses to do it, this proves that he is a person who values his country above his personal relations.

-Coreen C. 

Julius Caesar is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

True at First Light by Ernest Hemingway

True at First Light eBook by Ernest Hemingway | Official Publisher ...

True at First Light: a novel written by Ernest Hemingway after a trip to Italy and his return from hunting in 1949. It reflects the author’s abhorrence of war, his concern for the future of mankind, and his reflections on the value of life, love, and death. The book’s title, taken from the dying words of Confederate General Thomas Jackson during the American Civil War, shows Hemingway’s tough-guy character — and that of himself — facing death. Although the novel is not his most famous work, it reflects the personal life of the writer incisively and vividly from one side, so that readers can have a comprehensive understanding of Hemingway.

Hemingway went on his second safari in 1953-1954 with his fourth wife, Mary Welsh. The couple, along with several locals who were working with them as their helpers, hunted a vicious lion. They also shot some gazelles, leopards, and sand hens on the way, which reflected the author’s pure and friendly sense of loyalty to the ignorant and loyal African indigenous people, Mary’s positive attitude towards learning shooting and training courage, and the happy atmosphere of their life together. Hemingway’s local girlfriend, Debba, is described in the book as “his fiancee” by Mary.

This girl was quite close to Hemingway, but she did not affect the relationship between the couple, showing a precious spirit of mutual consideration between people. An intricate counterpoint of alternating fiction and truth forms the heart of this memoir. In many passages, the author makes extensive use of this polyphonic tone, which will no doubt please any reader who enjoys this kind of music. True at First Light is a manuscript by Ernest Hemingway. The original was published in July 1999, just in time for the writer’s centenary.

What sets this book apart from many of his other novels is that it is an autobiographical novel written in the first person, so it feels intimate to read. It is a detailed and vivid account of the author’s second safari in Africa from 1953 to 1954 with his fourth wife, Mary Welsh, and reflects Hemingway’s affection for the uncomplicated natives.The book is permeated with a cheerful atmosphere, and appreciating this work is like tasting a cup of fragrant coffee which makes people have a sense of clarity and cheerfulness. In a way, this book is not so much a novel as a colorful travelogue or memoir, and many of its passages are beautiful prose pieces that add to Hemingway’s many works.

-Coreen C.

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers, Paperback ...

Biff, Mick, Copeland, and Jake, four people living in a small town in the south of The United States, all have their own ideas and goals. However, they fail in their attempts to communicate with the people around them, leaving them in a lonely situation that no one understands. Everyone is afraid of loneliness and unwilling to live alone but is lonely every day. Biff runs a cafe, and one of his favorite things to do is observe the diverse clientele sitting in the cafe. The marital life between Biff and his wife Alice is not harmonious and they seldom talk. Mick is a masculine little girl who loves music and painting and wants to get out of town and become a musician. But her dream was not supported by her family, and her parents only thought it was whimsical.

Copeland was a black doctor. He always had a strong sense of responsibility and mission. He made it his solemn mission to save the whole black race. He sacrificed his family for his ideal, leaving his wife and children behind. Jake was an active organizer of the workers’ movement with his own political views. He felt disappointed at the failure in his work and helpless at the whole social system. His heart yearned for someone who would understand him. To many in the town, Singer is the perfect man. He generously helped everyone in need. He was a patient listener who listened to their chatter with great interest, so everyone looked to him as a confidant and a source of support.

There are many legends about him in the town, and some people regard him as the incarnation of God. Biff, Mick, Copeland, and Jake all think that Singer understands what they are saying and agrees with the way they think and act. In fact, the irony is that Singer never understood them at all. Mr. Singer just needs them to cope with his loneliness. In the same way, they cannot really read Singer whose loneliness is so deep and hidden. As a child, Singer yearned for love and belonging. Singh and his best friend Antonapoulos lived together in the town for ten years.

Deep love for Antonapoulos was the backbone of his life. After a serious illness, Antonapoulos became irritable and was no longer content to stay at home quietly at night. When he went out, Singer followed him closely, and they went into a restaurant and sat down at a table, while Antonapoulos secretly pocketed sugar cubes or some silver. Singer always picks up the tab after him. Antonapoulos is eventually sent to an alien psychiatric hospital, and Singer’s life is filled with memories of their happy past and the prospect of a brief vacation together. Without him, Singer moves to a new house where he spends his boring time with Biff, Mick, Copeland, and Jake. When he went to see his companion for the third time, he received news of his death. Singer was then so desperate that he shot himself.

-Coreen C.

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

As one of Hemingway’s many classics, The Old Man and the Sea retells the story of man versus nature. Hemingway writes the novel in such a way that makes the reader urge for more.

The story begins with Santiago, an aged and experienced fisherman who has been out on the sea for 84 days with no luck of finding fish to catch. He is viewed as a lonely outcast to the rest of society, and his own apprentice is told to stay away from him. Santiago is even labeled as a word that means unluckiness in his native language.

Santiago’s character can be seen in today’s world in people who are still waiting for a win or change in their lives. Many individuals are still on their journey to reach their goals in life just like Santiago. Suddenly, on the 85th day, a large marlin takes the bait on Santiago’s hook that is 200 yards deep in the water. The marlin is massive and unlike anything, Santiago has ever seen in his years of fishing. Through the next days and nights, the marlin holds onto the line, but it is too heavy for Santiago to lift.

From breaking his wrist to cramping his whole body and not being able to sleep properly, Santiago risks everything he has to catch the great marlin and lift his pride. Finally, the marlin is caught, but Santiago admires and feels like he built a brotherly relationship with the animal.

Santiago’s story reflects the human relationship with nature that is filled with admiration and struggles. His character is not defined by his defeat or “unluckiness”, but rather his determination. It takes courage to endure pain and hardships.

Hemingway uses such symbolism and words that the novel requires an analytical mind to read. Every small detail is impressively used to build the theme of the novel in the end. This book can be read by anyone as young or as old because everyone is eventually lead to the same motif about life.

-Zohal N. 

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Book Review Of Mice and Men

John Steinbeck’s classic novella Of Mice and Men is about two ranch workers, during the Great Depression. Both of these men are the exact opposite of each other: Lennie is large, but he loves touching soft things and he is mentally paired, while George is small but intelligent. Together, they travel from ranch to ranch, with the dream of owning land.

At the beginning of the story, the two arrive at a new ranch, after being chased out of their old one, since Lennie had done a “bad thing.” On this ranch, the two meet Candy, an old, physically disabled ranch worker, who greatly cares for his old dog, a parallel to George and Lennie’s relationship. George and Lennie realize that with Candy’s help, their dream of owning land and rabbits is obtainable until all their plans are disrupted by a flirtatious woman, the wife of their boss’s son.

Steinbeck’s novella portrays the theme that the best plans often go amiss, and that immigrants often come to America because of their hopes and dreams. Despite George, Lennie, and Candy’s careful planning, their vision fails to materialize, showing that nothing in life goes perfectly. In addition, Steinbeck’s novella shows that people often come to America due to the opportunities and lack of a rigid class structure. People often come to America because like George and Lennie, they have dreams of moving upwards socially, economically, and politically that they cannot accomplish in their current country.

Overall, I would recommend Of Mice and Men to students seventh grade and above, due to the dialect of the characters, author’s writing style, and strong language. It is definitely a classic, with universal and significant themes relevant in society.

– Josh N.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive.

Film Review: The Secret Life of Pets 2

The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019) Final Poster.jpg

I know it might sound a little bit childish for some of the people out there, but The Secret Life of Pets 2 was definitely a very good movie for me. At least, in my opinion, the addition of more characters added more flavor to the movie as a whole. Not only was it funny, but it also portrayed the theme of family, love, friendship, and loyalty

To start off, family has always been a big thing throughout the two movies. It was first the introduction of Duke, and then Liam the son of the family. By overcoming jealousy and eventually falling in love with the new members of the family, Max has demonstrated what the firstborn of many families have gone through.

And as for love, it would be the next stage of family. For one thing, Max became overprotective over Liam and was unwilling to let him cross the street, run into people and different things, and go to preschool. It was not after when Max himself was trained by Rooster to save the little lamb hanging on a branch did he know how important independence is to a person.

Friendship has always been a big thing for the movie series. From Max saving Hu to Daisy fighting off the wolves, it’s all revolving around friendship. And again, through a series of adventures and dangers, the white tiger cub was saved.

Lastly, what I really wanted to mention in this movie is something people normally don’t pay attention to—the wolves. They might look very evil, malicious, and atrocious, but at the same time, they are very loyal to Sergei no matter what he does to them. I’m pretty sure they could’ve just run away since they weren’t chained anyways. Under the threat of killing them and not giving meals, the wolves still strived to complete their missions and obey every single command Sergei the circus owner gives. This way, I think that they resemble dogs for their loyalty but not amiability.

-Coreen C.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Despite its length, this novel is certainly one of the masterpieces still in the history of American literature. What I really admire and value the most in this book is the friendship between Lennie and George. I’m sure there is a bond between them which could have lasted forever if it wasn’t for Lennie’s mistake in the end and also it is a relationship which perhaps transcends those these two main characters have developed with their parents even.

From what I know, Lennie is a very physically robust but mentally weak character. He does not recognize his strength and only wields it when George tells him to; he even seems to be afraid of his surprising strength a little. George on the other hand, although always blames and reproaches Lennie for what he does, at important times he is the one who saves Lennie. He seems to be a bit of nonchalant, but when Lennie offers to leave him, I can sense a trail of yearning and guilt in George when he pleaded Lennie not to do so and that he is sorry.

Lastly, I think the last scene where George and Lennie retrospect about their dream of tending rabbits on a farm and how George shot Lennie was very memorable and unforgettable. In some way, I think Lennie knows that George is not here to merely just talk with him, he knew that he has to die in order to save himself and George. Therefore, he pretends to not know and lets him do that. So in other words, Lennie is not simply imbecile, he just lacks the ability to judge things properly and talks more clearly. His reliance upon George ties them together but also, at last, kills him.

-Coreen C. 

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive.

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

From this book, the biggest thing which I learned is that dogs are men’s best friends. It is hard to imagine how much our dogs love us because they cannot talk like we do, through our mouths. They talk from their eyes and hearts and actions to show us just how loyal they are to us. Like the main character in the book, Bailey, he reincarnated so many times just to be back with Ethan again. They’ve gone through so much and it’s really the hardest for either of them to forget this relationship. One scene that imprints itself in me was the part where after Ethan hurts his leg he decided to go to college in another state and Bailey chases the car to a very far distance. I’ll bet he knows what’s best for Ethan to do in this case, but it’s just that he wasn’t willing to let his best friend just leave him at that.

Actually, a lot of the movies these days are about the relationship between dogs and humans. We devote attention, love, patience, and money to dogs but they return it with their whole life. Ethan and Bailey are not just inseparable when they are happy, they take on hardships together and it’s either both of them get blamed or punished or they escape together. There was never a time when one abandons the other to danger. And I really think through these types of books and movies humans can adjust the attitude they take on to other people as well. If animals can treat people they love and love them with loyalty and dedication, why can’t we?

-Coreen C. 

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

I read this book in eighth grade as a reading requirement and at first, I thought it was relatively childish and boring. Nevertheless, the more I read about it the more that I thought this is an amazing book. Through reading this book, I think the biggest thing that I learned is friendship, family and the gap between rich and poor.

Greasers and Socials are two rival groups, the former representing the poor and the latter rich. Although Greasers are poor, their friendship seems to be unwavering. Their relationship is not built upon any foundation of money, social status, or family background. But merely that we all share a similar interest and intend to achieve it. For one thing, if one Greaser is in danger, all the others would risk their lives to help. But for Socials, they would just run away afraid if their parents should find out they would stop supporting them.

The Socials seem like they are enjoying their lives and they despise the Greasers, but in my opinion, they in some uncanny way also want to be like them. They were born and raised in well-off families, the education they received requires them to be aloof towards anybody who isn’t on the same social level as them. However, I believe in some way they also want to make friends who really care about them and wouldn’t just desert them if their parents’ company went bankrupt or something like that. So deep down, I think there is a piercing desperation and loneliness both from the fake worldliness they have to confront every day and the neglection from their always busy and snobbish parents.

-Coreen C. 

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also free to download from Overdrive