The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian

The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian follows almost-16-year-old, Daria. Proudly Iranian-American, she is not ashamed of her heritage, which is different from the clique she and her friends have dubbed as the “Nose Jobs,” whose leader used to be Daria’s best friend. Daria and her friends nicknamed themselves  “the authentics” because they see themselves as real and honest. They have a great vibe in their group, and feed off each other very well. Daria’s family is another major part of this novel, and they also love and support Daria. Despite having normal, familial disputes, she values her parents. One day, she is researching her ancestry for a school project and this leads her on a journey that will forever change her life.

This novel had many different aspects, and these all came together in a beautiful way. Family was an important subject in this book, and was depicted realistically by Nazemian. He not only showed the celebrations and happy times of the family, but he included the hardships and troubled times the family faced as well. The way the family changes and grows throughout the course of the novel is done well. More than the family, Daria grew and matured into a young, intelligent lady. Facing hardship, I admired how she did not allow for anything to get to her on her self-discovery. In addition to depicting the coming of age of Daria, the author also includes commentary about Iran that enhances the novel. Overall, this is a great novel and provides the reader with an interesting outlook of life.  

-Anmol K.

The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be download for free from Overdrive

Film Review: Wonder

Recently, I watched the film Wonder which is told through four points of view: Auggie for most of the movie, his older sister Olivia, or “Via”, her friend Miranda, and Jack Will, a boy that will be revealed later on. The story is about Auggie who has a facial deformity. Because of this, he was homeschooled his whole life. However, his mother thinks that since he’s going into the fifth grade, which is the start of middle school, he should attend a public school. Before school starts, he meets Julian, Charlotte, and Jack Will. Finally, the first day of school rolls around. However, it doesn’t go too well for Auggie since all the kids avoid him like the plague. Soon, he becomes friends with Jack Will.

Auggie’s favorite holiday is Halloween. It’s his favorite holiday because he can wear a costume where no one can see his face. The day before Halloween, Auggie tells Jack that he’s going to dress up as Boba Fett. But, his dog Daisy threw up on his costume, causing him to reuse an old Ghost Face costume. However, a secret ends up being revealed causing Auggie to freak out at school and having to come home. He’s so upset that he even doesn’t want to go trick or treating. His sister ends up convincing him to go by giving him some of her candy. Throughout the movie, Auggie is tormented mainly from Julian and his “gang”. Some of the things were seriously messed up like photoshopping Auggie out of the class photo!

As the movie progresses on, we see the different obstacles everyone faces, like a loved one passin and someone’s first main role in a play.

This film has some great laughs, friendship, some romance, and some tears. This movie changed the way I see the world and how I see others a little. If you’re looking for a great movie to watch, I recommend the movie, Wonder. On second thought, read the book first, because the books are always better than the movies (sometimes).

-Phoebe L.

Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck

Image result for sweet thursdaySweet Thursday is basically a continuation of the book Cannery Row. In this book, Mack and his friends are trying to save their dear friend Doc from his unknown depression.

Fauna, the new owner of the brothel was introduced. She is pretty, kind and most important, smart. Even though she doesn’t know how nice and helpful she is. Fauna really detests it when people say “I love you” to her. It was very shocking to me that such an amazing woman isn’t married.

If you ask me who is my favorite character in this book, I will certainly point my finger at Suzy. Again, she is another new character in this book. Suzy is a very wild girl. She is frank, uneducated but also can be very girly when it comes to the man that she loves who is Doc. This whole entire book really touched me because I didn’t know that Suzy can be respectful to Doc. But thanks to God that Doc realized he loves Suzy and brought her back to him. I am really excited to see another gold star on the wall of the brothel which has the name “Suzy” on it representing that she is married.

-April L.

Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck is available for checkout from the Misson Viejo Library.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

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My English teachers have always had an affinity for John Steinbeck- and it’s not hard to see why. The last book my 7th grade English class read was The Pearl by John Steinbeck, and while I don’t remember the plot clearly, I remember that it was a very well-written short story. My current English teacher assigned another short story by the same author, the acclaimed Of Mice and Men.

Of Mice and Men isn’t any different- set in Northern California in during times of hardship (Great Depression), it tells the tale of two friends who want to buy a ranch, own some animals, and enjoy life. But as they are extremely destitute, they must work on a farm to raise enough money first.

In just a span of a few chapters, Steinbeck weaves a touching story about friendship, freedom and confinement, suffering, and almost any other universal theme imaginable. The twist at the end was heart-rending but not surprising, and you realize that not everything will always go your way, no matter how hard you try.

There’s one thing I think could’ve been improved: the story was slightly too short. Yes, I understand that it’s a short story meant to be simple and fast, but I felt that the reader didn’t have enough time to connect with the characters other than the two main protagonists. If the book would’ve spent slightly more time on the hope and joy that the benevolent characters were experiencing, rather than just skimming over it, it may have made the ending even more effective.

All in all, I definitely recommend Of Mice and Men as well as other books written by Steinbeck (including the one I’m currently reading, The Grapes of Wrath), as all of his short stories are extremely realistic and poignant.

-Michael Z.

John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

Image result for city of emberLina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow live in the city of Ember.  A city underground, but they can still live normally as a human. Lina lives with her grandmother and her little sister Poppy, and Doon lives with his father, who is an inventor.

But political corruption seems to enshroud the city of ember by inserting a rapacious mayor in them. He was a fat guy who stored all the delicious food such as canned peaches, meat, and sweets. While his citizens only eat squash and vegetable soup. Corns could be a very luxury type of food and can be eaten only during festivals.

I thought that this book has such an amazing setting and the adventure that Lina and Doon planned to save their city of very exhilarating to me. I cried so much when Lina’s grandma passed away, that means all the burdens are on Lina’s shoulder. And that also makes me glad for living above the ground in a cozy house with my family.

-April L

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck

Image result for cannery row bookMack and his boys are living in the flophouse that they bought from Lee Cong, a Chinese grocery man with a pair of judicious eyes. Except for some special occasions, they just stay home and play with their dog, Darling, a puppy who was never housebroken. Their favorite thing changed from drinking whiskey to catching frogs for their best friend Doc.

Doc has always been a genial man who never gets mad at anyone, except for Mack. His friendliness doesn’t necessarily mean that he is stupid, in fact, he is very shrewd.  The only time that he was roiled was when Mack tried to give him a party, but because it was such an orgy that Doc’s house was almost broken into pieces. And Mack received a few punches and a lot of kicks as a gift back from Doc.

Having friends like Mack and the boys really is a wonderful thing, even though they ruined your house the intention was good. But I know that Doc must have been lonely for many years since he never got married until he met the girl laying on the beach. At last, I really liked the part when they had another party for Doc, though the results are exactly the same. Mack and his boys are all tall like giants, but they are all children inside the heart of Doc.

-April L.

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I just finished reading this book early in the morning, shortly before 1 am and to put it simply, I am still in awe as I write this. I’ve never read a book that was so casually written yet so beautiful and articulate. While writing in letter format may seem improper for a published book, the style of writing produces a personal touch that is key to the novel.

Stephen Chbosky follows the coming of age story of a young freshmen boy, who goes by Charlie. Charlie is writing to an anonymous friend and refuses to use real names of people in his life as to protect their privacy. This friend and these letters are Charlie’s source of comfort and security as he adventures through life, beginning high school without a close relationship to his family members or friends and ending his first year with new best friends. This book touches on topics that people are sadly to afraid to talk about such as depression, abuse and the difficulties many teens face as they grow up. It’s incredibly relatable and emotionally touching; you can feel Charlie’s heartbreak and you can almost touch his strong passion for those he learns to love. You can sense the bittersweetness pouring out of the pages, you can laugh at Charlie’s dry, innocent humor. Chbosky ensures a roller coaster of emotions while providing in depth insight to the simplistic yet so complex teenage mind.

I will warn that some scenes or conversations are explicit; I know many high schoolers have been exposed to these topics but some aren’t comfortable reading about it. If that applies to you as a reader, then I don’t suggest checking this book out. However, if you are still curious and unfazed, I think this is an important read because it shows teens out there that they aren’t alone in whatever they’re struggling with, no matter what it is. It also comforts them in knowing that there are kind people in the world that are willing to befriend them and help them solve their problems in a positive way that changes them for the better. Even if the road is bumpy and painful, the destination always proves to be worth the drive if one keeps pushing on. Chbosky attempts to explain that while the teenage years are full of hardships and confusion, everyone finds their way sooner or later. And until one reaches that point of self-confidence, the journey there is a learning experience that shapes you into the person you will be out in the “real world”.

-Jessica T.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive.