Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck

Image result for tortilla flatThis story is set in a place called Tortilla Flat in Monterey, California. It’s about five men that are paisanos (compatriots). They are Danny, Pilon, Pablo, Jesus Maria, and Pirate. These men are attracted to money and content with being friends with each other, they all walk their own bitter life path.

Danny was an heir who inherited two huge houses from his grandpa and invited his friend Pilon to stay. Through his innocence, Pilon’s rent money is postponed but he accidentally burns the house down. To cover compensation, the other men introduced earlier joined the group, but still, nobody offered rent money to Danny. And amazingly, Danny never mentioned the money to his astute tenants.

In real life, we all know that if you don’t pay the money, the next day you will be finding yourself without a house. Such a character like Danny really doesn’t exist at all in our brutal society. This book to me mainly molded the variety of personalities beneath the harsh satin of this world, but we all have similarities with each other: we are gullible to our friends and we all have greediness hidden within us for the cravings of money and wealth.

-April L

Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Stepping on the Cracks by Mary Downing Hahn

Let me just say, this book was a lot better than I originally thought it would be. I usually don’t read WWII novels, I am more into the Civil War myself, so this was a different kind of read for me. But let me tell you it was worth it because it had me hooked after the first sentence.

In this book, Margaret and her best friend Elizabeth find a hut in the woods. At first, Margaret is scared to go into it, but with prompting, Margaret goes in. It turns out that Gordy (the class bully) is hiding his brother, a deserter, in the hut. To keep the secret, Gordy attempts to blackmail Margaret and Elizabeth. Along the way they get into many hardships, but they find a way through it.

The cool thing about this novel is that even though it is a children’s book, it isn’t written like one. This is the perfect book for a child to read because it is all very easy to understand and it is very intriguing. However, an adult would enjoy this book just as much as a child. The way the author portrays everything it is obvious she must have witnessed it. In my personal opinion, everyone should read this book. It doesn’t matter if you don’t think you would like it, just trust me, you will.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill A Mockingbird is one of those classic books that everyone has to read. I was forced to read it in English class, which immediately meant I was a bit more reluctant to read it than a normal book and I admit, it is not the most action packed book.

But personally, I felt that while reading the book, I grew really attached to the characters, especially Scout. She is a young girl who grows up learning about the prejudice in the world around her. Through following her story, you get really attached to her and, because of the way Lee writes the book, it really makes you feel like you are right there in the story. Which, really gives you a lot of insight of what the South was like in the 1930’s.

Another thing I really like about this story is that the two main characters, Scout and Jem, are kids that act like normal kids. So, they can really grow up as the story goes on. Which really shows how life was like for them and how much influence other people can have on you.

The second half of this book is defiantly way more interesting than the first half.  So, I would really suggest finishing this book once you started it. Though I agree, that some of the beginning of the book moves slowly and can be pretty boring.

Though, the main reason everyone should read this book at one point or another is that is really just a part of our American history. It really shows how far we have come.

-Ava G.

Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive and Hoopla

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

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Anthony Doerr’s historical fiction All the Light We Cannot See brings out the tragedies and horrors of Nazi-occupied Europe. Set in France and Germany, Doerr writes about the stories of a young blind girl and orphan boy and how each adapts to survive during World War II.

Marie-Laure loses her eyesight at age six and eventually manages to learn how to cope with her disability. Her father looks after her as she attempts to memorize the streets of her home in Paris so that she can navigate the city independently. Six years later, when Germany invades France, she and her father seek help from an uncle to take refuge, where she spends the majority of the war hidden in the walled city of Saint Malo.

Werner grows up in an orphanage in Germany with his younger sister. They find a radio and fix it, only to be astounded by Werner’s talent with the device. This later grants him a schooling for the brutal Hitler Youth, and is assigned to use his intelligence with radios to track the resistance.

Doerr introduces two very opposite perspectives during the war and demonstrates both the beauty and brutality of living during such a frightening era. He constantly shows how such an obstacle such as blindness should urge one to keep fighting and overcome it. Likewise, he writes how a gift or talent can change one’s life into one of the most powerful groups in history.

On a scale of one through ten, this novel deserves an eight for its beautifully described picture it portrays of World War II. I would recommend this novel to those of 14 years or older for its maturity and historical content.

-Riley W.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download from Overdrive

Wait For Me by Caroline Leech

This book is set during World War II in Scotland. I thought it was a great book, especially considering it is YA Historical Fiction, which is rare. Lorna lives on a farm with her father. A group of German prisoners of war come to the farm to work. As hard as Lorna tries to hate the laboring POWs, specifically a man named Paul, but it doesn’t seem to work.

“Yes, he was quite nice really. For a German.”

As Paul works on the farm longer, Lorna see’s him as he really is: just a person. She starts to bond with him, and as you can probably assume, they start to fall for each other. But it is not predictable and it is not sudden. There is some prejudice from the townspeople involving their relationship, considering that Paul technically IS from the Nazi side.

“I am German, yes, but I am not a Nazi. There is a difference, and one day I hope you understand that.”

As they start to get closer, people see Lorna as a “bad” person as well. But she does try to keep the relationship a bit hidden. Paul has issues of his own as well. He is young, and he has his mother and his sister back home that he desperately wants to see again. But as he is a prisoner of war, he must stay in Scotland

“I am not proud that my country killed many of your people, though please remember, your country has killed many Germans too. But that is war is about. We do not like it, but we must all live with it until it is ended.”

The cool thing about this book is the fact that is was never predictable, especially the ending, which I could have never seen coming. This book was very sweet. And to me the ending was perfect! This novel is more so of the two caught in the war then the war itself, there is not much gore (at least involving the war). It is a vert clean novel so the younger YA audience will most likely enjoy this.

-Skyler N.

Wait for Me by Caroline Leech is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Pearl By John Steinbeck

For diver Kino, his wife Juana and their only son Coyotito are the most important things in this world. In other ways, he has never been to the outside world, so the shabby town is all his eyes can stretch to.

But when the innocent baby got stung by a poisonous scorpion, Kino was helpless, he tramped his dignity under his feet and begged reverently by the well-polished gate by the doctor. Contemptuous rejection due to his impecuniousness was the only reply that he received, not only to him but to all the indigenes. It wasn’t an opinion of the rich people, it transformed into a casual habit a long time ago. Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure can acquire the authority to scramble a person’s pride.

The existence of the lucent pearl saved his family ostensibly but murdered his son in the end. For the incandescence of the pearl is too attractive that even the rich people bowed their presumptuous heads, but their ravenous eyes incorporated the richness. The insidious compulsion of getting the flawless pearl drove Kino’s family into a trip on a wonky bridge upon perfectionism.

-April L.

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