Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

Beautiful World, Where Are You has quickly shot up to the top of my favorite novels list. Sally Rooney’s unique style of writing gives the novel an almost intensely somber aura. The book follows two young women: Alice, a novelist, and her best friend Eileen. Alice meets a man named Felix, and invites him to travel with her to Rome. Meanwhile, Eileen, recovering from a breakup, reawakens a flirtation with a childhood friend, Simon. 

Sally Rooney’s way of making her characters realistic and flawed is impressive. They aren’t perfect, they make mistakes, they don’t say things they should, and they say things they shouldn’t. Beautiful World, Where Are You is almost plotless, a narration of daily life, relationships, falling in and out of love, and intimacy. Alice being a writer also holds a deeper meaning: while critics may believe that novels should have more profound ideology than relationships, Rooney shows the value of reading about relationships, but manages to also talk about class and modernism.

Alice and Eileen’s long correspondence to each other, with their perspectives on all aspects of life and notes on humanity, is a main highlight in the book. I strongly recommend Beautiful World, Where Are You for those who enjoy novels about navigating personal relationships while going through the hardships of life.

-Kelsie W.

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Libby.

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Woah.

This book was not even remotely close to what I thought it was going to be about. I made sure nobody spoiled anything for me cause I wanted it to be a surprise, and boy was it a surprise. This book deals with parental death, abuse, trauma, and kind of the thoughts that one goes through. Lily wasn’t exactly a character I could relate to on a personality level but the emotional turmoil is one that I believe many people go through so that was nice.

When I first finished the book, I wasn’t satisfied with the ending (yay because I actually think she’s writing the sequel and it’s set to come out soon!) but after thinking about it some more I realized it was the proper “ending” I wouldn’t have been happy with an ending where she ended up staying. The writing style and proficiency wasn’t up there but it was definitely a good plot. Ryle was never a character I could get into, he sounded dreamy sure, but he never got a chance in the book to truly be good until the end.

So if you’re in the mood for a semi-heavy page turner, I definitely recommend this book. It will keep you on your toes wanting to know what will happen next (I finished it in about 2 days and it’s almost 400 pages haha).

-Coralie D.

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Libby.

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

Wayward Son is a great sequel to Carry On; the first book of the Simon Snow series. The events of this book happen at a time very close to when the events of Carry On happened and will most likely only make sense if you have read Carry On first. Just like Carry On, Rowell has once again, done an excellent job. I definitely enjoyed this book, but didn’t enjoy it as much as Carry On. I did feel like this book progressed a lot slower than Carry On. Carry On gave us the back story and explained everything going on quickly. The plot moved forward faster than Wayward Son

Wayward Son continues to follow the four characters, Simon, who was formerly known as, ‘The Chosen One’, Baz, who is now Simons’ boyfriend, Penelope, Simons’ best friend, and Agatha, Simon’s ex-girlfriend who is making her life now in the states. Simon and Baz are having a tough time. Simon was the hero of the story and was supposed to live his happy-ever-after, but instead, he’s dealing with some of his trauma. Baz wants to be there for him and has a hard time figuring out how. Their relationship is slowly tearing apart so to help them all heal, Penelope brings them on a vacation to America with her. They plan to visit Agatha in California but this road trip across America turns into a rescue mission to save Agatha from vampires. 

We meet some new characters such as Shepard. Shepard was an interesting and unique character who became pretty significant in the story. He interacted with our characters and moved the plot. We also got to see a lot more of Agatha. She was no longer just the “main characters’ ex”, she instead became a real character and became very important to the rest of the story. 

Although Wayward Son was a bit slow and not as great as Carry On, it was still fun to read. It was mostly about their road trip and fixing their relationships in the beginning, but nearing the end, the characters get more external problems they have to solve and get rid of. But throughout the book, they all have many internal problems, like their romantic relationships, familial relationships, and how to start fixing things. All the characters are going through their own list of problems both internal and external.

Wayward Son was an excellent book.  The characters found and healed themselves throughout the book and went through many new experiences. I found out more about characters and met some new and interesting ones in the process. I enjoyed this book a lot even though it ended in a cliffhanger. But thankfully I won’t have to wait a long time since the third and final installment of the Simon Snow trilogy just came out this July ninth and I can’t wait to get the whole series to completely finish it and then re-read it later.

-Nicole R.

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz

No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz is a very compelling read. It is filled with action and suspense. It is written from the point of views of Marco, Lexi, Ryan, and Shay. They are all at a mall when Marco finds a box that turns out to be a bomb, filled with a deadly flu. The attempt to remove and deactivate the bomb fails. The deadly virus sweeps through the mall, leaving it on lockdown. 

After the mall goes on lockdown everything spirals out of control. The Senator tries her best to keep everyone calm, but how can you stay calm when you are on a lockdown and you don’t know why?

No Safety in Numbers keeps readers on their toes, ready for what happens next. It captures the problems that teenagers face on a daily basis: Shay who wants to escape daily life but has to deal with her younger sister; Ryan who tries to impress a girl; Marco who feels like an outsider; and Lexi who feels like her mom doesn’t know her.

No Safety in Numbers is very action-packed and you might find yourself yelling at certain characters throughout the book. I highly recommend No Safety in Numbers for anyone who wants a suspenseful, enthralling, and thrilling book.

-Ella Y.

No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Amazon.com: The Boy Most Likely To (9780147513076): Fitzpatrick ...The Boy Most Likely To is a very well written book. There are two books that come before it, The Boy Next Door and What I Thought Was True. I don’t think that What I Thought Was True is necessary to read however since it is about different characters in the same city. However, the two main characters in The Boy Most Likely To, Tim and Alice, are characters in the Boy Next Door, so I would definitely recommend reading that beforehand.

I remember years ago, probably almost four, I picked the Boy Next Door off the shelf since I didn’t realize that Becca Fitzpatrick and Huntley Fitzpatrick were different authors. That’s happened to me a few times, and it was a rare occurrence for me to love both of the series.

The story follows seventeen-year-old Tim and the crazy life of 19-year-old Alice. Alice is taking care of all her siblings while her dad is in the hospital, while Tim is trying to stay out of trouble. It is unlikely that they would fall for each other, but everything else isn’t perfect in their life.

The story switches off between Tim’s and Alice’s points of view, which are written in distinctly different tones, which I thought was nice. I think that it was a well-written book and sequel, and is definitely worth the read. If you’re a fan of a realistic or a romance, this book is for you.

-Rebecca V., 12th grade

Across the River and Into the Trees by Ernest Hemingway

Across the River and Into the Trees eBook by Ernest Hemingway ...

“Across the River and Into the Trees” is a novel written by Ernest Hemingway after a trip to Italy and his return from hunting in 1949. The protagonist Colonel Cantwell has something of the author in him. As he grew older and more depressed, Colonel Cantwell went duck hunting in Venice and to northern Italy to pay his last visit to the battlefields of the past. He thought of past love, thought of death, and felt lonely and hopeless. Shortly after the war, the hero of the two world wars goes to Fossalta di Piave, Italy, to revisit the spot where he was wounded in battle. The hero, Colonel Cantwell, hunts wild ducks with his friends and focuses on the pure love between him and the beautiful Italian girl Renata, which has no utilitarian purpose.

It reflects the author’s aversion to war, his concern for the future of human beings, and his thoughts on the value of life, love, and death. Though this novel may not be the most classic work of Hemingway, its profound themes and traumatized account of the war shock the reader. Its rich background gives the reader knowledge and its unique way of writing left an unforgettable impression on people. The book’s title, taken from the dying words of Confederate General Thomas Jackson during the American Civil War, shows Hemingway’s “tough guy” theme similar to himself, who faced down death.

-Coreen C.

The Torrents of Spring by Ernest Hemingway

The Torrents of Spring - Kindle edition by Hemingway, Ernest ...

The wife and daughter of American young writer Scripps O ‘Neill left one after another. He left home on snowy nights to find work and met middle-aged waitresses in small restaurants. In a small restaurant, he meets Diana, a middle-aged waitress and literary English. They hit it off and got married in a flash. As a result, he became a worker in the city’s water pump factory. But Mandy, Diana’s replacement waitress at the little restaurant, charmed Scripps with her literary wit and eloquent speech. Yogi Johnson, Scripps’ fellow factory worker, wanted no women after an affair in Paris during the First World War. However, a naked Indian woman broke into the small restaurant and was kicked out. Yogi, wandering the streets in a daze, followed her and walked with her into the night.

This novel is a parody of Hemingway’s. It has both romantic and naturalistic styles and belongs to alternative works. From the perspective of the narrator, it is of great value. In the way of narration, Hemingway likes to show and tell, usually presented in a conversational manner. The narration is generally a description, and the characters do not speak. But in “The Torrents of Spring,” Hemingway employs repetition, stream of consciousness, and meta-narrative in addition to presentation and dialogues.

-Coreen C.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

The Sun Also Rises: The Hemingway Library Edition - Kindle edition ...

The Sun Also Rises is a novel written by American writer Ernest Hemingway. The novel takes the historical period from 1924 to 1925 and the famous city of Paris as the background revolves around a group of British and American young men and women who have suffered serious trauma in affection or love or left serious psychological or physiological dysfunction in the war and the unrestrained life and the emotional dispute between them. It reflects the painful and sad state of mind of this generation after the awakening of consciousness, but they feel no way out. The author thus became the voice of the “lost generation” and created a unique style of writing with this book. In this novel, Hemingway not only focuses on the “lost generation” in the loss and despair of the unrestrained but also describes a state of mind that seeks stimulation and solace from the intoxicating, impetuous and noisy way of life. At the same time, it quietly annotates the efforts made by these arrogant, negating, and cynical “wastelanders” to find a new way out in the difficult situation and reveals the spiritual essence of their pursuit of freedom, justice, individual liberation, and independence.

The novel condenses and gathers young Hemingway’s own thoughts, emotions, reason, pain, and his glimpse into the future, which is a deep extension of Hemingway’s own life experience and philosophical thinking. The young American Barnes suffered a spinal injury during World War I and became sexually incapacitated. After the war, when he was a journalist in Paris, he fell in love with Lady Ashley, an Englishman. His wife went after pleasure, and he drank to drown his sorrows. The two went to Spain with a group of male and female friends to attend a bullfighting festival for spiritual stimulation. She rejected the Jewish young Cohn’s pursuit but fell in love with Romero, a matador who was only nineteen years old. However, after a period of time together, because of the age gap between the two sides, and Mrs. Ashley did not have the heart to destroy the prospects of a pure youth, the relationship ended in the gloom. She eventually returns to Barnes, though both know they will never be truly united.

-Coreen C.

Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

Carrie Meeber is from a small city who seeks to go to her sister in Chicago to have a better life. However, when she gets there she realizes the fact that her sister and her brother in law are in a very wretched condition together with their daughter. Unable to endure their apathy when she fails to secure herself a job, Carrie decided to leave. Before she even arrived in Chicago, she met Druet, a wealthy young man on the train who really likes her due to her beauty. So right after quitting her job at the factory, Carrie accidentally met Drouet around the street corners. He treats her a meal and often buys her beautiful clothing and jewelry which made her think in his favor. And thus, soon they were living together in a comfortable flat.

But it wasn’t soon when Drouet introduced Carrie to his manager friend Hurstwood. Lured by his gentleness and suave manner, Carrie fell in love with him and he with her. However, since Hurstwood was not in a relationship with his wife and his children, he lied to Carrie and said that he was unmarried. One day, Hurstwood under the influence of alcohol accidentally took ten thousand dollars from the cashier’s unlocked box and decided to flee to New York. He wheedled Carrie into escaping with him as well and so the two left for New York. However, life was not as easy there because everything was more expensive. After several unsuccessful attempts at finding a satisfactory job, Hurstwood depended on Carrie to earn and they again fell into the state of poverty.

Just then, due to her looks, passion, and aptitude for singing and acting, Carrie made a career in the theatre. She was well-liked by a lot of rich people and thus deserted Hurstwood. Although she regularly supported him somewhat, she severed the relationship at last when Hurstwood, due to his pride, stopped asking money from Carrie and suicided at last.

-Coreen C.

Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

 

Book vs. Movie: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Though Jenny Han’s charming trilogy featuring endearing protagonist Lara Jean Song Covey was released quite some time ago, the first novel, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, has only recently been released as a movie on Netflix. The story, which follows Lara Jean(Lana Condor)’s mishaps in writing love letters to her crushes(that eventually get sent, much to her dismay), is a refreshing film in the rom-com genre.

The film adaptation, while slightly straying from the source material as movies tend to do, still managed to capture the whimsies and nuances of first love from the perspective of a relatable teenager. It’s extremely gratifying to see that the directors kept most of aspects of the book intact—author Jenny Han has been vocal about her difficulty finding a movie studio that would not whitewash her main character, who is half-Korean. Lana Condor, who plays Lara Jean, continues to speak out about the importance of Asian representation in media and pop culture.

The film, while keeping surprising fidelity to the source material, also veers off direction in its decision to cut out some of the scenes in the novel. While it would have been amazing to see those scenes brought to life, some of the things added in made up for it: the yogurt drinks, Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky(The Foster‘s Noah Centineo, who also appears in upcoming Netflix teen drama Sierra Burgess is a Loser)’s partygoing chemistry, and heart-to-hearts with Mr. Covey(including a laughable moment with Chris(Madeleine Arthur) in which she questions his profession as a gynecologist).

Ultimately, this is what can be said about most movie-book showdowns: the book was better, and To All the Boys is no exception. But, like Harry Potter, the movie version is just as excitable, if not more cinematic, and it’s truly incredible to see Asian-American characters who break the mold of dragon ladies and china dolls on-screen. Cue the applause for director Susan Johnson, and of course Jenny Han.

However, many people who’ve watched the movie have not read the book, and that’s okay. The movie as a standalone work is still worth your time, and you’ll find little bits of yourself in its characters. It’s utterly shining, heart-swelling, conscientious. After watching it, it’s clear that I for one won’t stop obsessing over it any time soon, and neither will its other numerous viewers. And, though the number of rom-coms I’ve watched in my lifetime is still in the low single-digits(I’m thinking maybe three), To All the Boys wins my heart as number one—an instant classic. Netflix did a good job with this one after the whole Kissing Booth debacle.

Anyway, I’ll be waiting for the sequel. While we’re at it, you should give it a try—as well as those yogurt drinks. Those are crazy good.

Esther H.