Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Tolog Review: The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones
by Alice Sebold
reviewed by Isabella Durand 

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold is a fictitious tale that touches into the realities of morality, love, and life after death. This is the story of young Susie Salmon’s rape and murder during the 1970s. Susie is trying to figure out her new afterlife in her own personal heaven while watching over her family after her death. As life moves on in the small suburb of Pennsylvania where she is from, Susie is able to have a closer look into the lives of her friends, family, and even her murderer. As time progresses, we are able to see the maturity and lives of Susie and the people around her unfold. With the intriguing complexity that follows Susie’s life, it is hard not to feel a connection to this tragedy, but Sebold manages to provide anticipation, humor, and even happiness in the darkest of subjects.

With lots of imagery, such as the depictions of the school were Susie attended, the details of her room, the noises that Susie’s jingly cap make, and the description of her heaven, it is easy to imagine and depict the world that Susie was from. In this novel, Sebold also uses lots of allusions to different classic writers, such as Shakespeare and Poe in her work. For example, a scarf belonging to Susie’s mother ends up allowing another character to discover a secret of her own, referencing Shakespeare’s Othello while doing so. If you are familiar with these references, you will enjoy how the plot unfolds around them.

While reading this book, I enjoyed the connection I formed with the story and I didn’t want to put it down. At times, it made me cry and then a few pages later, I was smiling. I especially appreciate how Sebold is able to tackle a difficult subject and bring it to light without objectifying it or overdramatizing it. I also appreciate that she took some real life experiences and was brave enough to share a reflection of her story with the world. Overall, this novel is truly a touching and unique story.

Tolog Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go

The Knife of Never Letting Go
by Patrick Ness
reviewed by Hannah Huynh

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness is a science fiction novel full of suspense. Prentisstown, where the protagonist of the novel is raised, is different from other settlements. In Prentisstown, everyone’s thoughts could be heard in the continuous and never ending pouring of Noise. This strange town is comprised of only men who all have the disease known to them as Noise. The protagonist of the novel, Todd, is raised in this strange town where stories passed down for generations could possibly be all lies. One day after discovering something strange, Todd is suddenly told by his foster parents to leave Prentisstown and to never come back, but how can Todd escape the people chasing him down if they could hear all of his thoughts through his Noise? 

The Knife of Never Letting Go is a coming of age novel that takes place in a town that has not fully come of age yet. Themes of the book include, manipulation, guilt, and choice. 

This novel reflects the theme of manipulation because Todd was raised in a web of lies with the help of Mayor Prentiss. Todd struggles with guilt in this novel. An example of Todd struggling with guilt is when he tries to decide whether to Aaron or not. The theme of choice is reflected throughout the novel because the whole plot of the story is mostly based on choices made throughout the entirety of the book. When Todd flees Prentisstown, he has no more rules to follow and must make the right decisions to guide the rest of his journey with his dog, Manchee, and his new companion, Viola. Another example of the theme of choice being reflected in the novel is when Todd says, “A knife ain't just a thing, is it? It's a choice, it's something you do. A knife says yes or no, cut or not, die or don't. A knife takes a decision out of your hand and puts it in the world and it never goes back again” (Ness 84). When Todd says this, he is saying that everything is based on choice and that what you do is up to you to decide. Ness also uses symbolism. One example of a symbol is the knife. Todd has three different phases in how he sees the knife he was given. Todd first thinks that having the knife is bad. He then goes on to think that the knife makes people do bad things. In the end, Todd realizes that the knife is in his control and that he must take responsibility for all the actions done with the knife. The knife is very symbolic in the novel and also shows Todd’s character development through the different ways he sees the knife. The narration of the novel is in first person which is from the point of view of protagonist, Todd. This type of narration allows us to get to know the character well, but we also know the character’s response to all situations which creates more mystery and suspense. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Tolog Review: The Help

The Help
by Kathryn Stockett
reviewed by Abigail Kim 

In her historical fiction novel, The Help, Kathryn Stockett voices the injustice of the racial segregation in Mississippi in the early 1960’s through the voices of three headstrong female characters. It is the summer of 1962, and Miss Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan has just graduated college and returns home to Jackson, Mississippi in hopes of pursuing her career in journalism. Fiery and unwavering, Skeeter plans to stand up for the social inequality she witnesses the black community endure. She seeks the help of two other voices, Minny Jackson and Aibileen Clark, both black maids. Aibileen grieves the death of her only son while she works to raise her seventeenth white child, and Minnie loses yet another job due to her attitude and quick tongue. Together, the three women plan to create a book that anonymously reveals the harsh treatment that the black community, specifically maids, have experienced. The novel continues as the trio continues to fight for justice, with the potential consequences of losing jobs or worse. 

Kathryn Stockett portrays different views on the main theme of the novel by using three different narrators, each in the first person. By switching between the voices of Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny, Stockett is able to produce the same scene in different ways because of the discrepancy between the races and experiences of each character. Stockett also allows the reader to sympathize with each character due to her ability to tell each of their stories. In two of three of the narrators, Stockett has her characters speak in African American vernacular, which is categorized as a dialect of English that differs because of unmistakable grammatical structure and features. During a scene describing a conversation Aibileen has with her seventeenth, Stockett writes, “‘Baby Girl,’ I say. ‘I need you to remember everything I told you. Do you remember what I told you?’ ‘To wipe my bottom good when I’m done?’ ‘No, baby, the other. About what you are.’ … And then she say it, just like I need her to. ‘You is kind,’ she say, ‘you is smart. You is important’” (Stockett 219). By writing in this “dialect,” Stockett is able to recreate a scene with more emotion because the reader comprehends it with a greater understanding of the mood. Different views are created through Stockett’s use of multiple narrators.

I would recommend this novel to any reader of a slightly more mature comprehension. Although the linguistics of the novel are easy to understand, there are heavy topics throughout the entirety of the story. However, even though the topic is heavy, Stockett’s humor keeps the majority of The Help light-hearted through humor. This book would highly appeal to readers who want to learn or want to be inspired. After reading this novel, I feel much more educated on the injustice that occurred earlier in our nation's history and inspired to take a stand for human rights.  

Tolog Review: Dear Bully

Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories
by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones 
reviewed by Sofia Sierra

In the novel, Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories, the struggles of high school and teenage living are exposed by the authors we all seem to know and love. Throughout the novel we see a collection of real live stories which are told by authors ranging from R.L Stine to Jessica Brody.

Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories shows the struggles of growing up. We hear about Carrie Jones, an American author. Jones writes about the struggles she had with learning to speak correctly and what other struggles came along with the task. She has now appeared multiple times on the New York Times Best Seller List. We also hear about the R.L Stine, an author who has sold over 400 million copies of his books, and his story. Stine used his witty and funny personality to help those who were Attacked by his other classmates. We also hear about how bullying and harsh words inspired Jessica Brody, the author of Love Undercover, to write lyrics and music.

With a novel like Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories comes the lessons we learn. The 2011 novel still seems to hold a place in society, even after almost ten years. According to the novel, “A child commits suicide as a direct result of being bullied once every half hour…” (Hopkins 5). Today, 16% of students seriously consider suicide according to the Suicide Awareness Voices for Education while about 64.5% of students have reported an incident of bullying. But why mention these issues?

I recommend the novel Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories to anyone who wants to find out more about the current issues that people our age have today. Just because we ourselves have not experienced something does not mean that is not existent in our world. Bullying is still an issue that lots of teenagers and children struggle with. The novel may cover a topic that not all people are comfortable with, but, it shows us what people go through and how we can help them. Personally the novel pulled at emotions that I have felt and just felt very real, because it is.

Bullying will most likely never become a topic that people comfortably talk about, but, books like Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories shed a light on the issue and starts to get people talking. Talking leads to a solution; and a solution is exactly what we need in the world currently.

Tolog Review: Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park
by Rainbow Rowell
reviewed by Abigail Martinez

Eleanor & Park, written by Rainbow Rowell, is a fiction romance novel. The two main characters, as presumed from the title, are Eleanor and Park. Their romance can be seen as a Romeo and Juliet love story. The reader's thoughts can be lead to this through the fact that they are learning about Romeo and Juliet in the english class that they share. They start out as just two people living in the same place, but in two different worlds. Once their romance buds, the parents of the two teenagers do not approve of the other. Although their story is less of a tragedy, considering there is no death involved in their love, it is comparable to the love story of Romeo and Juliet, in the sense that they are two lovers of different worlds that seem to be faced against the world once their paths cross. Rowell's writing technique is my personal favorite. She uses two authors, Eleanor and Park, and throughout the chapters, there are mini sections to show the view from each character. This makes the book more well rounded, and makes the story unbiased in a way, because the opinions of both characters are being displayed. Through this Rowell has more opportunity for both direct and indirect characterization, making the novel more interesting and comprehensible. Eleanor & Park shows the ups and downs of new beginnings and of love through struggle, pain, tears of joy and happiness, through emotions and genuine care.To find out what all of these feelings prove to Eleanor and Park, pick up the book, and I guarantee that you will not be able to put it down!