Monday, March 6, 2017

Tolog Review: I'll Give You the Sun

I'll Give You the Sun 
by Jandy Nelson
reviewed by Katrina Manaloto

Jandy Nelson’s contemporary novel I’ll Give You the Sun follows identical twins Noah and Jude at ages 13 and 16. As twin siblings, Noah and Jude naturally grow together as an inseparable pair, but soon find themselves within a whirlwind of change that adolescence brings. The prospect of new high schools, romance, goals of popularity, and questionable sexuality all manage to cause a rift between the close knit siblings. Furthermore, the sibling relationship that was once most important to them becomes even more obsolete as their mother has an affair with an unknown man, prompting Noah and Jude into isolation by leaving them to deal with these problems alone. In Noah and Jude’s struggle with change, readers wait in suspense for the twins to realize that they cannot handle their burdens alone and to rekindle their previously close relationship.

This highly intricate novel alternates between the 13 and 16 year old perspectives of the quirky twin protagonists. In using two separate narrators, a young Noah and an older Jude, Nelson keeps the reader entertained with multiple refreshing personalities rather than a single, one-minded narrator. Additionally, Nelson’s use of perspective expertly reveals snippets of information that, when gathered, foreshadow how all the events and stories connect. Apart from structure, readers will enjoy the emotional clarity Nelson showcases through her simplistic but beautiful writing style. She writes with inspiring integrity and seeks truth in fairly controversial subjects. For example, Nelson showcases her sense of balance when she lets Noah and Jude’s estranged father apologize for his lack of involvement in their lives even after previous negativity towards the subject, saying, “...I think you can sort of slip out of your life and it can be hard to find a way back in… sometimes a good person can make a bad decision” (Nelson 358). Nelson’s writing style also utilizes devices such as metaphors and similes in order to achieve her distinctive earnest and hopeful tone.

Moreover, Nelson deftly uses familiar experiences and surroundings to explain a complex subject like love in a way all readers can relate to and understand. A prime example of her exceptional manipulation of literary device and familiarity is when she writes, “Meeting your soul mate is like walking into a house you've been in before - you will recognize the furniture, the pictures on the wall, the books on the shelves, the contents of drawers: You could find your way around in the dark if you had to” (Nelson 221). Nelson’s novel surpassed all of my expectations; her expert use of perspective and lyrical writing style impressed me immensely and left me utterly satisfied. Nelson’s pride in her craft is evident in the words she weaved an exceptional and dynamic novel with. It was poetic, breathtaking, passionate, and kept me wanting more from start to finish. As an avid lover of contemporary novels, I can confirm that this novel exceeds many books of the same genre and will please readers of all interests. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson contains characters and stories that fly off the page and evoke emotions from all over the spectrum; it is a novel truly worth anyone’s time.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tolog Review: Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park 
by Rainbow Rowell
reviewed by Emily Gomez

In Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park, two teens, living in the ‘80s, are caught up in a love that will never last. Park, a half-Korean teenager, meets Eleanor, a crazy red-haired girl, on the bus one day. Instantly, they spark a love for one another that not even 400 miles can destroy. Throughout the book, Rowell addresses controversial themes that can young adults can relate to. Also, the author switches narrative, between Eleanor and Park, every chapter as well as using immense amounts of dialogue. Through these aspects of the book, Rowell tells an impeccable story of love and danger between two teens.

Domestic and child abuse, bullying, and body image are all themes that teens going through high school understand. In the beginning of the book, Eleanor was returning to her locker when she realized, “It was covered with Kotex pads” (Rowell 54). Eleanor was the less-fortunate, poorly dressed girl in school that everyone bullied. In every school or high school there are girls or people that want to embarrass or bully another. When Eleanor gets home, “she could hear them fighting” (Rowell 278). Them as in her mother and her stepfather. Rowell talks about the domestic abuse between Eleanor’s mom and stepdad. She speaks to the fact that it is a prevalent issue and can happen to anyone. The author informs the reader the importance of knowing that these problems exist and she does it among a group of people that are the future generation, young adults.

Normal novels are told from one single perspective; however, Eleanor and Park encompasses the point-of-view of both the main characters. Every chapter and even throughout one chapter, the story switches from Eleanor to Park. This helps the reader understand the thoughts from both characters. It aids the reader in seeing and feeling what Eleanor and Park are feeling at different times. This technique also helps to project two different views or opinions the author might have. By doing this, she also increases the level of emotion within the story. Because we are seeing two stories woven in to one, there is emotion being contributed from both stories. Through the intense sensation in the book, Rowell pulls the reader into the worlds of Eleanor and Park.

Through Eleanor and Park’s story, the reader can understand the importance of body image, bullying, and domestic and child abuse as well as feel immense emotion. Rowell grabs the reader and leads him/her through a great love story where it is impossible for everyone to end up happy. She demonstrates that even though love may mask the truth, it may never be enough for some. I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants to be shown the reality of life and that not everyone is happy. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Tolog Review: Angela's Ashes

Angela's Ashes
by Frank McCourt
reviewed by Grace Sadahiro

In the New York Times Bestseller first person novel Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt, the author himself expressed his thoughts from when he was a child to a humorous, compassionate, luminous, and complicated memoir of his life during the Great Depression. Frank, growing up in Ireland, never boasted about his childhood. At a very young age, he acknowledges that his family was poor and realizes that the impact for this was all because of the father, Malachy Sr., having alcoholic problems. Frank describes the unfortunate events of his life as the novel develops.

When the book began, Frank revealed just how dreadful his childhood was, “When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived at all… Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood” (McCourt 11). Frank only had his mother, his father and brother both named Malachy McCourt, twin brothers Oliver and Eugene, and a deceased sister Margaret. Angela McCourt, although she had an exceedingly irresponsible husband, manifested that her first priorities were her children because she maintained great expectations for them and raised them to be well-behaved, hardworking men. Malachy McCourt Sr., on the other hand, was evidently not the most helpful or supportive father. The illness that Frank’s father had, which decreased the welfare of the family, was his uncontrolling and endangering drinking. His several alcoholic 
consumptions after his children’s deaths were supposed to help him numb the pain. Frank’s other siblings charmed the hearts of Angela McCourt and worked hard to try to benefit the family.

Two major themes in Angela’s Ashes were class limitations and hunger. Although Frank McCourt was intelligent, he never had the opportunities to further his education because him and his family were paupers. Frank knew what he would have experienced in school because, “People everywhere brag and whimper about the oes of their early years, but nothing can compare with the Irish version: the poverty; the shiftless loquacious alcoholic father; the pious defeated mother moaning by the fire… the English and the terrible things they did to us for eight hundred long years” (McCourt 11). No matter how hard Angela McCourt tried, Malachy (Sr.) was always keeping his family on the low-class status because of the decline of prosperity. The McCourt family was so poor that because of Malachy McCourt Sr., they were always on the low-class status. Frank wanted to learn but did not have the money to pay for schooling. Frank’s figurative hunger was to get valuable teachings. Since Mr. McCourt was always alcoholic and health problems, he took more things away from his family than just hunger. Every McCourt desired to work hard except for Malachy Sr., who never learned how to control himself.

Tolog Review: Angela's Ashes

Angela's Ashes
by Frank McCourt
reviewed by Lilian Welwood

Angela’s Ashes, an Autobiographical bildungsroman, is an Irish story that tugs at the heart. Frank Mccourt is the son of Angela and Malachy Mccourt along with the brother of Malachy Jr, two twins Oliver and Gene, and a new baby Girl named Margaret. Frank Mccourt's story starts with the birth of the mother Angela’s birth into a catholic family, and goes on and explains her family forced marriage to the Irish man Malachy Mccourt. The story is written from the innocent young point of view of Frank Mccourt. Frank takes us through his terribly impoverished childhood, having a father that drinks away his daily wages leaving the his mother and siblings hungry, and the sudden deaths of 3 of his siblings causing his mother Angela to go into depression, Frank feels the need to take care of his family. As a young child Frank wants to “be like all the big people in the church, standing and kneeling and praying and understanding everything” (Mccourt.108) under the unrealistic impression that all adults understand everything. Throughout his childhood Frank has a real respect for adults, especially his father. Despite his drinking and little help to the family Frank’s Father Malachy Mccourt really grabs the respect and love from Frank as their relationship grows stronger through the stories and lessons he teaches his son.

The author, Frank Mccourt’s innocent and curious point of view gives the sad childhood story a refreshing and comic relief touch, that really makes reading it very enjoyable. As Frank grows up the audience really can see through the new insights and his growing knowledge that he gets wiser as time passes. Having to deal with going to school and getting jeered at for wearing old shoes nailed with squares of tire to having to walk around town on christmas eve being laughed at and called, “Frankie McCourt an’ his pig’s snout”(98) for having to carry a pig's head home for a christmas dinner, the themes in difference in societal class and perseverance are shown in a wonderful ways through the eyes of McCourt's child and young adult self. Overall I enjoyed Frank McCourt's story telling.