So B. It by Sarah Weeks

I was looking through my bookshelf, pondering which book I could write a review for next and my eye wandered over this lovely novel I read as a fifth-grader. Six (seemingly long) years ago, I read this book and was touched. My reaction remains the same even as I read this book again in 2018. Wikipedia labels So B. It as a children’s novel and yes, based on its reading comprehension levels, the label makes sense. But on a deeper, emotional level, the book holds a number of truths.

A twelve year old girl, Heidi, lives with her mentally disabled mother, whose name is practically unknown, and Bernadette, an  agoraphobic neighbor, Bernadette. Their lives are built around these obstacles and uncertainties for as long as Heidi can remember but as she starts to grow up, she becomes aware of the gaping holes in her history. Wondering more about her and her mother’s past lives before meeting Bernadette, she embarks on a cross country journey to answer her questions: Who is her father? How did she and her mother end up at Bernadette’s door step all those years ago? What does the mysterious word “soof” mean? Her search for the truth begins with her mother’s list of 23 word vocabulary and an old disposable camera, starts in Reno, Nevada and ends in Liberty, New York.

Along the way, Heidi meets various strangers from different paths of life and she learns important lessons that ultimately make her wonder if it’s always worthwhile to uncover the truth and realize how uncomfortable or undiscoverable the truth is. Heidi balances tragedy and luck, love and loss, hope and defeat on this coming-of-age journey.

Week’s novel may be a children’s novel at surface level but I definitely believe that the audience gains perspective after reading this book. The characters in this book are easy to love and the plot is simple to follow, making for a quick read. There ought to be no excuse for you not to check this one out!

-Jessica

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

Image result for one flew over the cuckoo's nest book

Imagine being caught in a prison like setting, treated by people who should be treating you better. You often see things that shouldn’t be there more than often because of it. Believe it or not, this was the setting for a mental hospital in the 1960s, which is where One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest is set, with the narrator Chief Bromden. He is just trying to stay under the radar, not trying to leave the hospital despite its abuses. That is, until he meets McMurphy who teaches him and the other men in his ward how to live.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. If you have watched the movie, it is quite different, as the narrator in the movie is McMurphy while in the book it is Chief, in which we find out from the beginning that Chief is pretending to be deaf and dumb instead of in the middle like in the movie. Despite knowing this, Chief and McMurphy are still enjoyable characters. McMurphy is very charismatic and like the best friend in our school that we all know who manages to make the teachers mad by laughing in the back of the class and making fun of their lessons. Additionally, we see Chief as he goes through a period of growth in his life, as we as the reader see how he changes because of McMurphy, and I see this change as something amazing, and it is remarkable how much Chief changes from the first page to the last page.

Additionally, Ken Kesey has a very interesting view of motion, especially around this time. This book was made during the 1960s, just fresh out of the fifties and its idea that women should stay in the home and do domestic work while the men did the “real” work. However, the women are not as sweet as they are often portrayed in other media to be. In fact, one of these women is actually considered as the main antagonist of the novel, seen as the devil by the men. From a different perspective, seeing them in this novel shows how human women actually are, which we would not usually see in a novel of this time. For example, we see how one of the women are considered mean to their husband, but only because they have been treated as a child by their husband.

Also, surprisingly, the book is very funny. For example, Kesey makes fun of every single little thing in the novel, from playing hooky to pranking the head nurse.

However, it should be noted that Kesey wrote the book to protest the real life situations that were happening to people in mental hospitals at the time, even if they were not really mentally ill. From this, he was pushing a real life problem unto us, the readers, in hopes that it would change. It may not change, as it could be happening today too, but I really appreciate an author who at least tries to make a change with a very good book.

Overall, this book was very enjoyable, and I will encourage everyone to read it.

-Meagan V.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

This book, was incredible. It follows the perspective of three teenagers, Tony, Conner, and Vanessa. All who come from different backgrounds but are connected by mental illness. Tony struggles with pills, Vanessa with cutting, and Conner with suicidal thoughts. They all meet in a mental institution called Aspen Springs where they must fight their mental illness for a better life. This book is one of the longest books I’ve ever read, 666 pages.

Although, the book is written in a poem style, I really enjoyed it. This books made me feel all kinds of emotions, happiness, sadness, nervous, and many more. This book really changed my perspective on life, and made me appreciate that I have others around me. For this book, I recommended you read it if you have a high maturity level. I would definitely read this book again and others by this author. From the moment I read the first page to when I closed the book at the end, I was obsessed. I did not think I would love this book as much as I did. This book is definitely now in my top ten favorites. I highly recommend this book, and hope you find it as intriguing as I did!

-Kyndle W.

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive