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.

Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academy) by Kohei Horikoshi

Surely you have heard of famous anime? This is a franchise like Naruto, Dragon Ball, or even Attack on Titan that people know of even if they don’t read manga or watch anime. If you never heard of it, which is doubtful, you might be wondering why it’s famous among Americans. A good look at the source material shows us why.

My Hero Academia is set in a world where everyone is an X-man: they all have a power they were born with. And with these powers, everyone can become a superhero – or a villain – if they want to. Well, everyone except Izuku “Deku” Midoriya. Despite being born without a Quirk, he plans to live up to his hero, the strongest man All Might who always saves everyone with a smile. In fact, while trying to get his autograph, Deku finds out that All Might was born without powers too, but was given a special kind of power that could be transferred to others. Deku uses that skill to win a spot at the hero training academy high school. But his trials are not over as he faces old and new classmates, class battles, and tests of whether he can be a true hero.

Why do Americans like this manga? Superheroes. Like I have said earlier, the idea of powers makes it seem like X-Men, and All Might looks like the surfer version of Superman. Additionally, while some of these powers, called Quirks, are the familiar to comic readers, such as turning invisible, there are new and unique quirks that the author created, such as the power to use both fire and ice.

The characters are also very easy to distinguish, with fun character designs, such as a girl who is literally invisible all the time or a girl who has a frog like power, and thus looks like a very cute frog. Finally, a main point to be made are the villains. Not only do they make the characters think about themselves, but they are just as awesome as the heroes. They have amazing powers, and one of the villains has a hand on his face the whole time.

Even though I don’t care for superheroes all that much, I do love how the author writes the story, and if you are interested in superheroes this one is for you.

-Megan V, 12th grade

Boku no Hero Academia by Kohei Horikoshi is available for checkout from the Mission VIejo Library

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.