Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Korean-American author Mary H.K. Choi humbly states that her debut novel Emergency Contact is a book in which “high-key nothing happens,” but if one were being honest, the story deals with nuances that transcend the somewhat pedestrian nature of falling in love.

Here is a novel featuring a protagonist of color who has dealt with sexual assault and her counterpart, someone who suffers from anxiety. Because the new wave of literature in light of recent revolutions is becoming increasingly diverse, Choi falls into line by bringing in seldom-talked-about issues into acknowledgment. The novel itself, though, is relatively mundane: college, falling in love, texting, no buildup nor climax, only a couple hundred pages of fluff – but the underlying ideas make up for it.

The premise of the book, however, is sweet: the idea of having someone as your safeguard and home(hence the title Emergency Contact) is something that reinforces the idea of clear communication and healthy relationships, especially in the digital age. Additionally, Penny and Sam, our two starring characters, will become more relatable the further you read. They’re charming, bittersweet, and show a lot of the author’s heart inside each of their personalities.

Ultimately, the coffee-shop cliche and cutesie scenes make for your average YA novel, spanning across pages of sentiment. You’ll laugh, ache, and feel for the characters you’re reading for and the experiences they go through. There will be a tough time spent trying to detach yourself from Penny and Sam, and the essential message is this: if you’re looking for your next sappy(yet barrier-breaking) YA, here it is.

— Esther H.

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Stress to Service

Stress:

Google says it’s “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances”

According to psychology, it’s “uncomfortable emotional experience accompanied by predictable biochemical, physiological and behavioral changes”

And students agree stress is “AP exams, finals, CIF games and oh, those two projects I won’t be starting until the night before”

In the wee hours of the night, students strive to obtain the intense desire for success

And the wee hours of the night cook the perfect atmosphere for boiling stress.

A child, a baby: a mere fifteen, sixteen, seventeen year old

Persisting, working, sweating like a mule until their transcript shows all gold.

Who can expect a student to sleep eight hours a night but juggle five hours of work?

The expectations, I’d say, are more than enough to irk.

Every year the college acceptance rates drastically drop

And little boys and girls suddenly forget what it means to take a break

and just stop.

Tell me why students who sacrifice their health and sleep

Are still expected to be a lively teen and not weep.

Convince me that students are making the right decisions

In cheating on tests, just to get the “A” and fulfill their college envisions.

Persuade me that the education system is treating their students right

and brainwashing us to believe that a score of 5 is what makes us bright.

Let’s start to encourage using our passion and our voices

To stand up and help society make the right choices.

To be politicized and involved while we’re youthful, proud, and loud.

Time is running out, we can’t wait around.

Third world countries await our kindness, shelters demand our service, feminists deserve our support.

In all due respect, that is more important and influential than a chemistry lab report.

-Jessica T.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter is a miserable boy living with his aunt and uncle. He is often mistreated. He sleeps in a cupboard beneath the stairs and has to wear his cousin Dudley’s hand me downs. His life gets a massive change on his 11th birthday. A giant tells Harry that he is a wizard and that so were his parents. Hagrid also tells Harry about how his parents died which made him a hero in the wizarding world. Hagrid lastly informs Harry that he’ll be attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Harry doesn’t know what to do or think with everything he has just been told, but it turns out to be true and Harry starts school in September. Almost instantly he becomes friends with Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Harry loves Hogwarts more than anything ever before. Soon he starts participating in Quidditch practices and becomes the youngest Quidditch player in the last century. As the year goes on, the three discover the mystery of the three headed dog and what it could be guarding. They soon notice a professor that seems like he’s trying to steal the object, so they take action to prevent the robbery. Once they sneak past the three headed dog, they pass several challenges to get to the professor.

When they get to where the professor should be, Harry finds his parents’ killer Voldemort. Voldemort killed Harry’s parents to get to Harry, but somehow Harry survived Voldemort’s spell. He battles Voldemort and barely saves the mystical Sorcerer’s Stone. The end of the school year arrives and Harry, Ron, and Hermione are rewarded for their acts of bravery.

-Emilio V.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.  

Bridge To Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Jesse Aarons lives in a big family with four sisters and being the only boy pulls him down sometimes. But he never would have imagined that there would be a girl named Leslie Burke beating him in a foot race, becoming his class’ fastest runner. His confession of this fact led to the starting point of their relationships as chums.

As friends, Leslie and Jesse create an imaginary place to hide from the troubles of the world. There is a narrow rivulet in between the two worlds, sometimes when it’s raining the water roared and raved its intensity with the thunder and the rainwater never really got mollified. During sunny days, the singing water just lets it’s tender skirt trickle along the moist shore, showing happiness and relaxation with the caressing of the soothing sunlight. A decrepit rope connected the two of them as they created an imaginary bridge to the Kingdom Of Terabithia.

There were fewer things in the modern society compared to this magical kingdom. Ogres, fairies, and trees that can extend its flexible branches and help people are components that fall under this natural shield. The first thing after school isn’t homework anymore, but to implement their duty as queen and king to patrol in their own kingdom with the guard dog Prince, Jess and Leslie were inseparable.

It wasn’t until when Jess’s dream came true that he went to this art museum with his music teacher Ms. Edmunds, unaware that tragedy strikes while he is away. A miracle could happen, only so that Jess could be salvaged immediately from the interminable guilt.

-April L.

The Bridge to Terebithia by Katherine Paterson is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library