A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks

At 17, Landon Carter experienced something, or rather, someone who changed his entire outlook on life. A Walk to Remember starts with describing Landon among his community in Beaufort, North Carolina, 1958. The way he describes the town is quaint, a perfect setting to the story.

At the start of his senior year, Landon ended up in drama, expecting an easy class. Drama was the better alternative to taking Chemistry II, according to Landon.

Landon was also on student council, and thus was expected to bring a date to Homecoming. With no one left to ask, he approached Jamie Sullivan, the daughter of the minister to join him. Despite her father’s reservations, he took Jamie to the dance. That was the end, or so he thought. He couldn’t bear to be seen with her in front of his more popular friends.

Yet Jamie showed him how to care for others. Landon drove around town, collecting the tip jars Jamie had set out for Christmas gifts for the orphans. That year, barely any money was collected, as Landon discovered. But by the time Jamie counted out the money herself, there was enough to buy plenty of gifts for the children.

The most touching part of this story, aside from Jamie and Landon, was between Jamie and her father. It was heart breaking to see how their relationship deteriorated after Jamie’s secret was out.

The prologue of this novel warns readers that they will laugh and cry. That is definitely true, and it is part of the reason why A Walk to Remember is worth reading.

– Leila S., 12th grade

A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks is availalbe for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

This is my favorite book of all time. It is about a girl named Skylar Evans who lives in the trailer park with her alcoholic mom and Josh Mitchell, a Marine come back from the war without a leg and demons in his head.

Personally, I had never read a book before I’ll Meet You There that made me feel so many emotions. I was torn apart by these beautiful characters as they struggle to find peace in their lives and find hope in one another. I cried, laughed, and screamed. The immense emotions I felt made me read this book again, and then again. And again.

If I could I would make everyone read this book. I received an insight into the mind of someone with PTSD. The short passages from Josh’s perspective made this book worth wild. I believed that I was there right next to Josh, watching the war around him tear men, who had become his friends, apart.

I cried more than I expected at the end of this novel. Sure, a happy or sad ending can be a tear jerker, but Demetrios wrote this young adult novel with a purpose, and boy did she achieve it. I see that there is still a battle to be fought against ableism when Josh is uncomfortable by the “special” treatment he receives for his injury. I see through Skylar’s eyes the poverty that has overtaken this country and makes it almost impossible for her to achieve her dream.

Overall, please read this book. It has an amazing, fun plot with serious underlying themes.

Read I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios!

-Sophie W.

I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. 

Code of Honor by Alan Gratz

Image result for code of honor bookIf you are into current events, this is a good book to read. Kamran Smith is half Iranian, the QB of the varsity football team, and is named homecoming king. But that all comes crashing down on him.

Kamran has always looked up to his older brother Darius. He is currently in the military, and Kamran has decided to follow the same route as him. But when Darius says on video that he was in charge of several terrorist attacks, all bets are off.
Everyone at school looks at Kamran like he’s a terrorist himself. He girlfriend ignores him, his best friend doesn’t want to talk to him, and he’s distracted in football practice. At home, the phones are ringing off the hook, and his parents aren’t functioning well. Camera crews show up at his house. And it only gets worse from there.

I feel that the ending was a little bit weak, and it could have been written better. When you find out who one of the terrorists is, it’s funny. The beginning and middle of the story was well written, but then the ending was crammed.

Terrorism has been a major part of current events since 9/11. It’s been 16 years, and it’s not improving by much. This story really hit me hard, because if we were in the shoes of Kamran’s friends, we would probably do the same things. Even if you aren’t that into current events, this still is a good book to read. Sure, a lot of the action is unrealistic, but imagining it is still interesting. It’s also a short book, about 250 pages, if you’re tired of annotating your long, annoying English book.

-Rebecca V . 9th grade

Advantages vs. Disadvantages of Required Reading

As students, we’ve all experienced novels in English class that are required for us to read. Sometimes these books turn out to be good and other times, not so much. Personally, I have disliked most of the books I’ve been required to read for a number of reasons. However, I can see the benefits to required reading as it is done through the school system.

There are certainly some advantages to required reading material in school. One could be that the book causes students to branch out of their comfort zone, as far as books go, and help them pursue a new genre that they, normally, would not have read by themselves. This advantage holds true to me, since I am someone who has no trouble re-reading Harry Potter for the zillionth time. I find it interesting if we read a book in class that I would not have otherwise wanted to read.

Required reading can help to grow vocabulary, reading, and writing proficiency. If a student was to go to a library and pick out any book, they would most likely pick one they like or are comfortable with reading. In school, students do not have the luxury of choosing which books to read, and therefore are subject to harder vocabulary and sentence types in higher level books written by authors with insanely confusing diction. This relates to my English class experiences with A Tale of Two Cities which challenged my reading and writing proficiency greatly. Although these examples may make required reading seem great, students may also find themselves despising any book they are forced to read and make it harder for the student to get involved in the class or homework.

A solution to this problem would be to give students a list of different books they can read, all out of their comfort zone of genre and reading proficiency level, and give them the choice of which book they would like to read. This gives students the idea that they themselves are choosing what they want to read which may result in fewer students being uninterested or unfocused while keeping a challenging level of reading and vocabulary along with it.

-Kyle H.

What are your thoughts on required reading? Let us know in the comments below!

Winning by Lara Deloza

Calculative, demanding, and brilliant, Alexandra Miles has one goal in mind in the novel Winning by Lara Deloza, to be homecoming queen. With the ability to make people do whatever she says, Alexandra is the unofficial queen at her school. She wants to cement her status by obtaining the crown. On her side is her loyal best friend Sam. Even though Sam considers them to be best friends, Alexandra only uses her for her own benefit. Alexandra’s scheming for the crown is ruined when the new girl, Erin, moves to the school.

Lively and popular, Erin’s move threatens to hinder Alexandra from achieving her goal of homecoming queen. Along with Sam, Alexandra implements a plan to ensure the crown will land on her head and nobody else’s.  The novel is sure to keep the reader flipping the pages to see if Alexandra ends up getting the crown or not.

Personally, I am not a big fan of stories about the high school hierarchy; I tend to stick to novels with more action and adventure. After reading the synopsis of this novel, I was intrigued. Opening the novel, I could not put it down. Even though the characters were underdeveloped, I continued to read the novel. I would recommend it for high schoolers because of some parts. Otherwise, all highs choolers will relate to some part of this novel.

-Anmol K.

Comparison: Thirteen Reasons Why

Recently, a series for the novel Thirteen Reasons Why, was released on Netflix. Out of curiosity and the large amount of people raving about it, I decided to watch it. I read the book a couple years ago and hoped the series would do well to mimic it. Please note that this is a serious and powerful piece of work with triggering and sensitive topics. While it holds important lessons, it may not be a book/series for everyone.

A quick synopsis: Hannah Baker is the new girl at her small high school, ready for a fresh start. Almost immediately she captures the attention and interest of many and while it seems like her life is going well, it takes an unexpected downward spiral. Social media, rumors and loneliness saturate Hannah’s life and turn it upside down. She suffocates under pressure and undergoes numerous internal issues. Eventually she commits suicide and leaves behind thirteen cassette tapes holding thirteen reasons why she ended her life. The thirteen people responsible for her passing are hit with the overpowering realization that their actions and words are more than just actions and words.

The book, written by Jay Asher, is incredible and captures the essence of what it is like to be a teenager, overwhelmed by the struggles of today’s society. The book was personal and eerie but the series made everything come to life. Yes, the series over exaggerated some parts and added more details to parts in the book that were briefly discussed. However, that realism and graphic detail is what really speaks and captures the attention of many. Without using detail to demonstrate the severity of Hannah’s problems, people can be tempted to overlook them. The book and series share similarities such as the relationships between the characters, and the secrets and rumors that get spread around. Like any book and show, they hold differences as well. The biggest difference is how raw the series is. There are more in-depth character backgrounds, more dramatic confrontations between characters and heavier, darker scenes.

This book is a huge metaphor; while Hannah is one individual in this one particular book, she stands for every human in this world that may be going through exactly what Hannah went through. She stands for those who are too scared to speak out and she stands for what our society needs to fix. Thirteen Reasons Why not only acknowledges flaws in our world but also shines a light on the importance of being kind and realizing that everyone fights their own personal battles.

-Jessica T.

Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Transparent by Natalie Whipple

Image result for transparent natalie whippleI’m a big fan of sci-fi books, and sometimes I want to read something set in the modern era. Transparent, by Natalie Whipple, is exactly that.

In the Cold War, an anti-radiation pill called Radiasure was invented due to fears of nuclear warfare between the United States and Russia. A couple years later, mutations started appearing, but they weren’t that strange. But through every generation, the mutations grew worse, even with babies that never had contact with Radiasure.

Fiona is an invisible girl, and the only invisible person in the world. Imagine living your whole life never being able to look into a mirror, and never knowing what you look like. She’s the daughter one of powerful people who controls Radiasure. Her mother decided to escape with Fiona at the beginning of the book, and go into hiding, to get away from Fiona’s father, who treats them as weapons, and not people.

Being the only invisible girl is hard for Fiona when she starts in her new school. Algebra doesn’t make sense to her, and has to be tutored by an annoying senior, Seth. She doesn’t trust anyone, even Brady, and Bea, the two people who try to be her friend. Instead, she emails one of her brothers, Miles, at lunch and tells him what’s going on. Fiona especially doesn’t trust her other brother Graham, who has taken her back to her father every time she has tried to escape. Graham is supposedly trying to help Fiona and her mother, but she doesn’t trust him and thinks that he’ll tell her father where she is.

Eventually, Fiona begins to trust Brady, Seth, Bea, and Bea’s brothers. But is she going to jeopardize her friends and her safety? Or can she live a normal life where her father can never find out? Read the book to find out!

I enjoyed this book, and I think that it’s a cool glimpse into what superhero powers can be like for normal humans. There is also a sequel, called Blindsided. I recommend this book to older teens who like sci-fi and superheros.

-Rebecca V.

Transparent by Natalie Whipple is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library