Modern Music and Classic Literature

“Classics in literature are irrelevant now and don’t relate to life today.”

At least, that’s what I used to think before given an assignment where I had to relate a classic to a text “in my own world”. I didn’t like classics before, and some I’m still not interested in, but after analyzing one for the assignment I realized there is much I can relate to. I started to see the relation and it was pretty surprising. And there really wasn’t that big of a generation gap.

As a very big fan of music, I have a lot of connections to songs and my life. One of the main reasons I love it so much is because it’s so similar to my situations and how I feel, so I always love to tie it to anything I can. In this particular assignment, I found a song that I think is a shorter, more modern version of the idea behind J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye.

“Somewhere in Neverland” by All Time Low closely resembles the story of The Catcher in the Rye. The song talks about a boy in between adolescence and adulthood who doesn’t want to grow up. He doesn’t want to get a job and a life on his own. He feels lost “with no compass to guide”, much like Holden during his stay in New York. He wishes he could start over and be “forever young” and innocent, which is why Holden admires children.

In the song, the boy wants to run away with a girl to Neverland, a place where time stops and everything just keeps going around and around like the carousel. Holden just wants to go to a place where everything can stay the same, something he also likes about his memories of the Museum of Natural History museum. Holden proposes the idea of running away with Sally so they can escape the inevitability of growing up and having responsibilities. He wants to “start a life of the plain and the simple” when he has the idea of staying in a cabin in the woods away from the real world. This song is a close interpretation of the book and ties in with the ideas and themes very well.

-Sabrina C., 10th Grade

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

catcherintherye_salingerSomething I am sure we can all relate to are the struggles with facing the reality of teenage life. This crucial point in our lives can be seen as the final step away from childhood, but is the adult life really as wonderful as teenagers make it out to be?

According the Holden Caulfield, a sixteen-year-old boy struggling to cope with the death of his brother, the adult-world is full to the brim with disgusting “phonies.” His narration of his experiences begins after being expelled from school because he failed four of his five classes. Thinking he might as well experience the world before it is too late, Holden decides to leave for New York a few days before his parents are assigned to take him back home. From taking taxis, hanging in bars, and going on dates, Holden comes to realize that the adulthood is a dangerous, dark reality and is not as perfect as one may think.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is a classic coming-of-age novel that depicts one adolescent’s interesting experiences with love, life, and maturity. Holden can seem a little too critical and may complain excessively at times, but I found it especially touching that even among of all of his pessimism, Holden really does have sensitive feelings and cares for the younger children, whose innocence he wants to preserve forever. Every teenager can relate to his journey that involves him finding himself as a true individual. The criticism and cynicism towards society, as well as the confusion of growing up, is similar to the thoughts of adolescents as they mature and pass into adulthood. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as I was able to connect to many of the human emotions Holden experiences. The writing is simple and easy to understand, yet the underlying meaning is so deep, empowering, and compelling. There are some mature concepts mentioned throughout, but I absolutely recommend this book to anyone over the age of fourteen. A timeless novel, The Catcher in the Rye is surely one of those books that are a must-read for everyone, teenagers and adults alike.

-Kaylie W.

The Catcher in the Rye is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library.

Book Review: The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

catcher_in_the_rye_cover“The mark of an immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.” -Wilhelm Steckel

J.D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye, although highly controversial, is no doubt in my opinion a work of art. Most people who have read this book either love it or hate it, and if not properly read and analyzed, it’s completely understandable if you hate it. On the surface it’s a boring story about a whiny teenager moping around New York City, but really its so much more than that.

Holden Caufield tries to mask his sensitive and delicate true character with a crude and uncaring persona, and with deep reading, it’s apparent when his real character bubbles its way to the surface. He travels around New York City revealing bits and pieces of his true identity as the book progresses. While he reveals information about his character, we also learn about his past, which you are taken back to beginning in almost the first chapter. All in all, I greatly appreciate this book and I hope more people will enjoy reading it.

“Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.”

-Sara S., 11th grade

Book Review: The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

catcher_in_the_rye_coverI’m sure many other bloggers-along with myself- have read The Catcher in the Rye in our English classes. The Catcher in the Rye is the story of Holden Caulfield- a lost, confused, and depressed teenager who struggles to find hope after a traumatic experience. Holden believes that he presents himself as confident and “suave,” but instead the reader sees his insecurities. Although this book has been banned from public schools previously for its “adult” content, I found that many people have enjoyed reading it.

First, I’ll mention my favorite things about this book. I love the unique writing style that Salinger gives Holden. It’s easy for today’s teens to read this book that was written in the 1950s because of Holden’s slang and habits. (Not to mention it was the perfect book to read after Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities! That’s some language to decipher 😉 My favorite character, however, is Holden’s younger sister Phoebe. Even though she is introduced late in the novel, the reader can see that she has a special place in Holden’s heart. She is around ten years old, intelligent, creative, and independent. She also acts as Holden’s mother since their own mother becomes a nervous wreck after the terrible event. I just love reading the parts with Holden and Phoebe because his character changes completely and you can tell that he truly loves and wants to protect his little sister.

Some parts of the book are definitely mature because Holden falls into bad habits when in a state of depression, but I do think that these situations contribute to the story. This book deals with many issues including: depression, suicide, loneliness, and phonies. Holden constantly tells the reader how much he hates phonies (people who act a certain way to get what they want or to please others) and yet as the story progresses he too tells little lies and exaggerates to build up his character.

All in all, I recommend this book for high schoolers (as this is a mature read) because it makes you look at life in a new perspective. Salinger’s book steps outside the box and causes you to think about yourself and others, have more respect for people, and accept others’ differences from a popular society.

~Kelsey H., 10th grade

How to Improve your SAT Critical Reading and Writing Scores

glasses-272401_640As a high school junior, I have grown to realize the importance of the SAT, and have searched for hours for ways to improve my scores.  From my own experience, reading is ridiculously helpful in improving critical reading and writing scores, so I thought I would provide you guys with a list of books that are both rich in SAT vocab, and enjoyable to read.

Leonardo di Caprio and Carey Mullligan in a still from The Great Gatsby1.  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald:  Fitzgerald is one of my favorite authors of all time.  I love him because he writes about the 1920s, which is pretty much the most interesting era of all time, and his writing style is beautiful.  The Great Gatsby is one of those rare books that I actually recommend reading after you see the movie, as it makes the plot much easier to understand and hey, looking at Leo DiCaprio for three hours isn’t all that bad either.

2.  Lord of the Flies by William Golding:  This was my favorite book that my class read during sophomore year.  It’s a fictional expose on the concept of civilization and it is interesting and terrifying all at once.  I definitely recommend this book if you are a fan of survival stories, adventure, or even horror.

brave_new_world3.  Brave New World by Aldous Huxley:  This book was required reading for my sophomore year, but I would have read it even if it wasn’t required.  Brave New World is a book that predicts how our future society will look, and also uncovers the startling faults in our own present-day society.

4.  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee:  I can sum up all the reasons I love this book in two words: Atticus Finch.  Atticus is one of the main characters in the book and is pretty awesome.  He is one of those silent-but-deadly literary heroes that are so hard to find in books nowadays, and that makes me love him even more.

catcher_in_the_rye_cover5.  The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger: This book is amazing because it is written exactly the way I think: sarcastically, honestly, and caustically. (Like how I threw in an SAT vocab word?)  Holden Caulfield is one of the most famous literary characters of all time, and you should definitely read the book to find out why.

6.  Animal Farm by George Orwell:  This book is a satire on the Russian Revolution, as different figures of Russian history are represented by farm animals.  The great part about this book is that it will help you learn grammar and a little bit of history at the same time!

Other books that I haven’t read yet, but are rich in SAT vocab include:  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, and Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

Have you guys read any of these books yet?  What did you think of them?  Are there any other books that helped you with your SAT studying? Reply in the comments and good luck on your SATs everyone!

-Amanda D., 11th grade

Top 5 Coming-of-Age Novels

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photo by flickr user Justin Henry

Coming-of-age novels are written primarily for children ranging from middle school to college and they tell of those times. Coming-of-age novels have influenced and shaped my life more than any other novels and they are essential reading because they can do that! There is a quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald which exemplifies the essence of coming of age novels:

“That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”

I believe that this quote exemplifies themes present in coming of age novels because coming-of-age novels reassure the reader that they are not alone and that there are others who have been through what they have been through and they also open the reader’s eyes to new experiences and ultimately help prepare them for life.

Here are 5 of my favorite coming of age novels!

perks_cover1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
“Perks” was the novel that got me interested in other coming-of-age novels. The book was inspired by both The Catcher in The Rye and A Separate Peace. The story is told through letters between the main character Charlie and an anonymous correspondent. It tells of Charlie’s freshmen year of high school. Charlie is extremely anxious about high school because he has no friends, but he soon befriends Sam and Patrick who help him to have the full high school experience. Throughout the year, Charlie learns a lot about himself and reveals his darkest secret.

separate_peace_cover2. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
A Separate Peace takes place during WWII in a boarding school and is about two friends Phineas (“Finny”) and Gene. Phineas and Gene are polar opposites but they become friends nonetheless. After an accident that takes place between them, Gene learns a lot about Finny and abut life but ends up losing himself.

catcher_in_the_rye_cover3. The Catcher in The Rye by, J.D. Salinger
The Catcher in The Rye revolves around the life of Holden Caulfield. Holden deals with feelings of alienation and angst throughout the entire novel. He thinks that everyone is a phony and cannot find anything worthwhile in the world. He denounces adulthood and longs to revert back to childhood where everything is pure.

kind_of_a_funny_story_cover4. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
It’s Kind of a Funny Story is centered around the life of Craig. Craig is overwhelmed with life and cannot bear it any longer so he checks himself into the hospital afraid that he might hurt himself. While in the hospital, Craig meets people who change him and after being discharged from the hospital he learned that he does want to live and that he wants to live life to its fullest.

fault_in_our_stars_cover5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
TFiOs is about Hazel and Augustus: two teens struggling with cancer who fall in love. The story progresses as their health declines. It depicts the trials and tribulations of their complicated relationship.

-Sarah B., 12th grade