An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser

This story starts with a very poor Griffith family being Christian missionaries and singing on the streets. The oldest son in this family Clyde desperately wants to escape poverty and therefore left his family to work in Kansas city at a very luxurious hotel. While he was working there, he and his friends were in an accident that killed a little girl which prompted him to escape to Chicago. There, he met his wealthy uncle and appealed to him to ask if he can get a job in his collar company. Moved by his sincerity and svelte manner, Samuel Griffith agreed.

Thus, in New York Clyde witnessed the lives of the upper society after meeting his cousins Gilbert, Myra and Bella. Through Bella, he also met her friend Sondra Finchley whom he immediately has fallen in love with but due to his penury again, recoiled from courting her. After being switched from the shabby shrinking room to the sewing department, Clyde met a very pretty factory girl named Roberta, they quickly fell in love. However, as time passes Clyde found himself in love with Sondra Finchley, who wants to revenge Gilbert for his complacence also fell in love with Clyde later on. Avid to get rid of Roberta who was pregnant, Clyde unintentionally struck her on a boat when they were on a trip and thus let her drown while he could have saved her. Being captured, later on, Clyde was sentenced to death at last.

Personally, I didn’t enjoy reading this novel too much because of its straightforwardness. There weren’t a lot of surprises and twists in the plot. Greed and inhumanity prompted by money seeping into each character were too ostentatious as to paint a sheen of unreality on them. I wish murder plot could be more carefully planned, thus causing the police to take more time in investigating the crime and potentially create some more suspense.

-Coreen C. 

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Lunch Money by Andrew Clements

Lunch Money is the story of Greg Kenton’s comic book business in middle school. Ever since he was a kid, Greg has liked making money and having money. He mows lawns, shovels snow, and walks dogs for money. When Greg finishes fourth grade, his dad tells him to put his money into a bank where he’ll earn interest. Then, in fifth grade, Greg forgets his lunch. A school lunch is two dollars and he only has one dollar and fifty cents. He asks his teacher if he can borrow fifty cents but she says no. Then the teacher asks the class if anyone has an extra fifty cents that Greg could borrow. Most of the class raise their hands and Greg realizes something. He calculates that around a hundred dollars in extra money comes into the school every week. Greg then makes a plan to sell candy and gum. However he soon stops because the students take the candy and gum into classrooms which is against the rules and could get Greg in trouble. Instead of flat out stopping, Greg starts selling toys, but soon the kids get tired of the toys. Greg then also stops selling toys right around the end of fifth grade, but he has an idea. By the start of sixth grade, Greg has multiple handmade comics that he’s ready to sell. He chooses comics because they’re like books and teachers love books. He names his comics Creon: Return of the Hunter. However, like always, his neighbor Maura Shaw copies his idea and also starts making her own comics. This leads to a big fight between the two. Eventually the two come together to make comics. The principle soon finds out and tells them that nothing is allowed to be sold at the school. In response, Maura and Greg go to a city council to argue the school’s decision. The compromise they come to is that Maura and Greg get to make a store in school for their comics, but the school gets 10% of their sales. The council agrees and the comics continue to be made.

-Emilio V.

Lunch Money by Andrew Clements is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Overdrive