Friday, November 21, 2014

Tolog Review: Twisted

by Laurie Halse Anderson
reviewed by Darcy Michero

A lot of teens think that if they have the perfect body, all their troubles will go away and life will be wonderful. This notion is shot down in Laurie Halse Anderson’s novel, Twisted. Tired of being a nerdy nobody, Tyler Miller, committed a “Foul Deed” during his junior year of high school and is on probation. He spent the summer doing physical labor as a part of his community service and has the muscles to show for it. Tyler has caught the attention of Bethany Milbury, the popular “queen bee” of the school, with his rebellious reputation. Unfortunately, his looks do nothing to improve his relationship with Bethany’s twin brother, Chip, who has bullied Tyler for years.

When Bethany invites Tyler to a party, he is ecstatic. But after a terrible incident happens there, the police come looking for him, and Tyler learns that he is the prime suspect. Even though Tyler has done all the right thing after the “Foul Deed” it continues to haunt him. The unforgiving principle banished him from his classmates, Chip’s crew beat him up, and his controlling father threatens him with military school. Tyler is at rock-bottom when he goes looking for his father’s gun. What will he do with it?

Twisted is a coming of age story that is both funny and sad. Laurie Halse Anderson reveals Tyler’s inner thoughts to the readers, which are sometimes humorous like when his hormones are roaring, and sometimes scary like when he has suicidal thoughts. Though some of the characters are stereotypes, others like Tyler’s sassy and supportive sister, Hannah, are refreshing. I think that many teenagers can related to Tyler’s struggle with the high school life and will love a glimpse inside his head. Overall, I really enjoyed reading about Tyler’s journey to maturity and manhood. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tolog Review: My Brilliant Friend

My Brilliant Friend
by Elena Ferrante
reviewed by Morgan Sarno

When Elena gets a call one day from her friend’s son saying that his mother, Lila, has disappeared, Elena is not surprised. Having known Lila for over sixty years, Elena knew that one day she would do this. Lila always overdid things wanting to be the best. Elena had known that Lila wanted to totally erase every particle of her existence. Anything that had some connection to her had gone missing when she disappeared. Elena thought that Lila was really overdoing things this time. Elena realizes that not even she has any reminder of Lila. All Elena has of her friend are memories. The story of their childhood together unfolds as Elena embarks on a mission to save the only thing she has left of Lila and out do her friend, as if they were children again, once and for all. 

Elena Ferrante’s “My Brilliant Friend” transports you into a rough, blue-collar town in post-war Italy in the 1950s to witness the shifting friendship between Elena, a pretty, smart, and, well-liked girl, and the scrawny, feisty, troublemaking, but extremely intelligent Lila who is always one step ahead of Elena. The competition between the two began as innocent first graders when Lila and Elena venture to Don Achille’s apartment to retrieve their lost dolls. He was hated by adults for unknown reasons and considered the hoarder of all lost objects by children. Hand in hand, the girls dare to retrieve their dolls from Achille, something unthinkable for any child to do if they valued life. This begins the relationship that carries Elena through her difficult school career when she has no one to look to and loses motivation and keeps Lila sane from her manic, abusive family. 

Elena idolizes Lila. Elena pushes herself to the breaking point just to do better than her friend, who is hard to outdo since she is practically a genius. To Lila, Elena is a sanctuary where she can escape the threats of beatings from her harsh father and wealth-obsessed brother. Despite their love-hate relationship, they realize that in the end each girl needs the other otherwise they are miserable. 

“My Brilliant Friend” has the reader turning pages nonstop as you follow the twists and turns of two companions’ on-off friendship through the most lighthearted and the toughest times and a city being revived from the war. This is the first of three books in a series. Ferrante’s other two books in the series are “The Story of a New Name” and “Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay”.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

It's Ok to Be Smart is my other new favorite thing

Tolog Review: The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones
by Alice Sebold
reviewed by Emily Curley

Alice Sebold creates a world like no other in her novel “The Lovely Bones”. The reader grasps an understanding of a young girl named Susie Salmon. This includes the days before her murderous death and the elongated months after. Full of suspense, mystery, and crime this novel will leave the reader constantly wanting more.
The author begins the novel by giving the reader a clear understanding of Susie Salmon’s normal teenage life. Susie attends high school and is like any other ordinary teenage girl. She had friends, a crush, and for the most part enjoyed the life she knew so well. But just when the reader is led to believe there is likely a happy ending, a terrible misfortune occurs. Susie Salmon is murdered on December 6, 1973. A murder caused by someone thought to be a reclusive and worry free neighbor, Mr. Harvey. 

The murder creates a major shift in the small town of Norristown, Pennsylvania. While everyone is trying to accept the loss of a beloved child and friend, Susie is trying to accept the fact that she will no longer be present on earth, but rather present in heaven. In heaven, Susie witnesses the ups and downs that occur after her death and she constantly tries to send signals to her family and friends, pointing them in the direction of the murderer, Mr. Harvey. Through all her attempts, the reader experiences an emotional roller coaster ride filled with anguish and hope.

Words cannot express the level of suspense in this novel; lets just say I could never read this book without having nightmares. At times, I found myself jumping out of my seat, running out of my room, telling my parents the gory details about the death and eventual dismemberment of the main character’s body. If you like murder and mystery, I would highly recommend this book. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Maurice Sendak on Being a Kid

Tolog Review: And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None
by Agatha Christie
reviewed by Christine Grimes

The book, And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, is a general fiction and a mystery story. This was a good book to read because the beginning had a very good hook to it and all throughout the first chapter and even the second chapter as well. For example in chapter two it says, “ ‘Must go through with it, I suppose,’ and thereafter dismissed everything from his mind. Warm steaming water—tired limbs—presently a shave—a cocktail—dinner. And After—?” I would wonder what he has to go through with and what choice he is making. Even the title of the name of the book, And Then There Were None, sounds very interesting because you want to know what the situation is and what happened to the people who left or disappeared.

Eight complete strangers all were invited to go to an Indian Island. As all of the guests gathered all together, they hear a recorded voice that was accusing all of them of something horrible. Every day, something awful has happened to someone and you can’t imagine what it is. It is a mystery to find out who it could be and why there were brought on this island. Did something happen to all of the people who were there or was it just some of them? It will be especially good if you not only love to read mysteries, but are interested to find out what they were accused of and what happened to them. Also, like any mystery, the clues are very important and this book is no exception and need to be followed carefully.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Tolog Review:The Joy Luck Club

The Joy Luck Club
by Amy Tan
reviewed by Leah Rassam

Family is a lifestyle. It involves your culture, the people that surround you, and what you believe in. The Joy luck Club by Amy Tan constructs the idea of what defines a family and what it represents.

Eight ladies tell stories of either living in China or living in America as a Chinese-American. The greater emphasis is on the symbolism of the relationship between a mother and daughter. The stories in the novel are written from the point of view from four mothers and their four daughters. The stories are not necessarily sequential. I would read one story in the middle of the book and then skip to the back and read a story there. Though the book is made up of different short stories, they are all connected through the same message of the importance of culture and relationships. It was interesting to read through the eyes of the mother and then again from the vantage point of the daughter. The novel can be related to fables. Tan makes a statement through each of her fictional stories that teaches a lesson, often one learned from her relationship with her mother. 

The book contains the culture and tradition of the Chinese and the Americans. It was well written and symbolic. The short stories within the novel connect and progress to form a message about the bond between a mother and a daughter. Although each family is Chinese, they have different ways of conversing with each other. Some of the mothers and daughters understand each other, while others do not. The stories from each pair of mothers and daughters are similar and have messages that relate to one another, such as the fact that some mothers and daughters do not communicate well, but still find ways to love each other. 

Everyone has his or her own belief system. This is constructed from numerous things, including religion. A daughter describes her experience with God. She conveys how her mother’s faith in God never falters until the day she loses her little brother. The mother carried a small Bible with her wherever she went. Then after the loss of the child she no longer read it, but rather used it as a shim to keep a table balanced. Everyday the daughter watched as her mom acted as if the Bible was not there. Secretly she knew her mother still thought about it because it was never dirty, even though it was on the floor. 

Amy Tan defines family through the relationship of a mother and daughter. The stories encompass examples that show cultural influences, a mother-daughter bond, and a belief system. No matter who you are or where you come from, these ideas of love are universal and can be felt by families all around the world.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Tolog Review: Forgotten Fire

Forgotten Fire
by Adam Bagdasarian
reviewed by Monica Ng

In this world, everyone is struggling for survival. Everybody hopes to live happily in the world, but not everyone can be like that. People in the world have to work hard that they can survive. Some people are not lucky, perhaps they may be very poor or they have disease and they have no money to remedy, they need to work twice as hard as other people because they want to live. If you are a person who always protect by other people, may be one day you must have to exercise and challenge yourself to understand how to survive in the outside world. 

The main character in Forgotten Fire is Vahan Kenderian, who is the twelve-year-old boy at the beginning of the story. The story is written in the first person narrative, so that the author and narrator seem to be the same. The story is mainly about the boy lived in a happy home; because he was the youngest child in the family, so the members in the family were really care of him and the boy also believed his real world would be harmonious forever. In 1915s, at that chaotic time, the boy met a huge transition in his life that he lost his home and family. Everything was change for him, his life just like fell from heaven to hell. His mother helped he escaped from the control of soldiers with his friend Sisak but at the same time, that was the last he saw his mother. They left; he wonder in different places and he also met many different people. 

He overcame lot of difficulties and experienced things by himself. Through these things, he learned how to survive in the world and he created a strong spirit and tenacious belief for himself. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Kurt Cobain on Identity

Tolog Review: Uglies

by Scott Westerfeld
reviewed by Natalie Burnham

Scott Westerfield’s science fiction novel Uglies follows a community where a person stays “ugly” until they are sixteen, when they then have a surgery to become “pretty.” More specifically, Uglies follows an ugly named Tally Youngblood, who only ever wanted to join her best friend Peris-who was older than her- in the pretty world. Only, things start to go askew when she meets Shay, an act-before-she-thinks ugly who starts to change Tally- in a rebellious way. When I first read this book, and I’ve read it about five times now, the first thing that came to mind was “This is our society, too.” Teenagers, usually up to about the age of sixteen (give or take a few years), are considered awkward, gangly, and ugly. Then, they “miraculously” change into adults, no longer awkward or out of place. But also, the novel highlights the idea of natural beauty, especially when an ugly falls in love with Tally herself- when she’s still an ugly. The novel talks a lot about the surgery, which is the equivalent to plastic surgery, with a lot more attached. But basically, the surgery is the same as plastic surgery today. 

My thoughts are, which then continues in the next book Pretties, what would actually happen if everyone was pretty? Or, maybe just the stereotypical, “Hollywood” beautiful? Even in their world, they find other ways to become superior or inferior to one another. That would happen in our society, too, because humans (in my opinion) fall to superiority and inferiority. The next book especially, but also the first, show ways that we don’t think about when we are thinking about how our society could change. Even if we all were stereotypically “perfect”, there would still be ways to separate people. 

But, either way, this book is one of my favourite books. The characters are very relatable, because they’re near our age, and feeling (obviously) out of place, and kind of going through similar situations- though their situations are a bit more extreme. The novel keeps you interested with romance, action, adventure, and friendship. I couldn’t put it down. Definitely recommend this book to anyone!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Tolog Review: The Color Purple

The Color Purple
by Alice Walker
reviewed by Meiqing Gao

This great book which is not only describe a dark world, but also give people a newest, challenging and some different points of views. “The Color Purple” describe a black woman Celie who is not beautiful, intelligent, no characteristics and cowardly with a totally different world with us. Celie writes the letters to the God everyday about her daily through her lifetime. Through this process, she knows some new people and new qualifications; she is changing, she become a greatly, confidently and hopefully person, she get lover, friends, kinship and something she even cannot imagine before. I’m going to talk about some plots about her changes next.

Celie was the poorest woman in this world; she lost her self-esteem, her children and her sister Nettie because of her gutless. The first time she got the new thought is from Sophia. Sophia was an impulsive person, she knows how to reject things and speak it out, she has her own mind; however, Celie is afraid of refuse the things she doesn’t want and resist people. Sophia gave her a big influence because that’s an amazing thing she did not contacted before. Sophia has so much different with Celie. she hit back her husband and leaves him with fearless. She made a new point of view for Celie.

Shug Avery gave the second impact of her worldview, which is the most important part of the book. The author described Shug as a brave, critical and creative form. Celie and Shug fall in love and with a huge courage that regardless of the secular view. Celie learned a lot from this lovely woman, her views, her personalities, and also some feelings she ever felt before. Shug is a proud, beautiful woman for her. The last thing happened make Celie waked up with a powerful energy, she started to resist her fate; she leaved with S from Albert. Celie got her new beginning. She worked hard and got her happiness. The God is fair, she met her sister Nettie again and hade more friends, the property from her father got back and gained her lover. Almost everyone in this book realized the problems for themselves and changed in a good way.

At the ending of the story, they got happiness undoubted, readers felt relax and feel really delighted, for people in this story. This tory main theme is that feminist awaking and revolt, also tell as repressive and intolerant is everywhere, genders are not a problem for love as well.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Blank on Blank is my new favorite thing

Tolog Review: The Help

The Help
by Kathryn Stockett
reviewed by Julia Swart

Aibileen Clark has raised over sixteen white children, and counting, drawing energy from nowhere but the love in her heart. She is not the mother of these children; she does this for a living. No she is not a foster-mother, or a nanny, guess again. She is a black maid, living in Jackson, Mississippi in the year of 1962. For Aibileen, dealing with scowls and snide remarks from white ladies is perfectly normal and she deals with these situations quite well, her friend Minny, however, has some room for improvement.

Though Minny possesses many talents that are ideal in a maid (good cook, hard working, etc.) she also possesses an attitude that is less than desirable, and has caused her to lose job after job. At last Minny finds a job that right off the bat seems too good to be true: double the pay of her last job, no kids around to mess things up, and cooking for no more than two, but as Minny becomes more acquainted with her employer, she finds that the life of her boss may not be as perfect as it seems.

Eugenia, or Skeeter, Phelan is in her early twenties and more greatly educated than most of the women in that day and age, and nothing could be more unfortunate in the eyes of her mother. As implied Skeeter was blessed by brains and not beauty. With her frizzy, curly hair, boney frame, and height that leaves her towering over most people, she isn’t exactly desirable in the wife department. None of this matters to Skeeter it seems though, as her heart is lost in writing. Though her first job of writing a Miss Myrna column isn’t all that glamorous, it does open more than one squeaky door to success.

In The Help, Kathryn Stockett weaves together individual stories of the lives of these and many other women throughout the book, allowing them each to narrate their own tale. From the first page of the first chapter, we are placed in a time capsule and flashed back to Jackson, Mississippi during the tumultuous era of the sixties. The Help is a book that comes full circle and will leave you laughing out loud one moment, and weeping tears of sadness the next. It will draw to your attention how prejudice tore apart family and friendship, and that sometimes the hard times are the only thing that can reveal who our true friends are. This novel radiates the idea of equality, and exudes the impression that you must either accept what you can’t change, or change what you can’t accept.
The Help ties in humor with something that was once a far more serious issue. It is an easy read for anyone who decides to pull it off the shelf, and it is a novel that I hope will remain on bookshelves for years to come. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Santa Teresita Book Drive - something NEW!

This year, the Santa Teresita book drive is a little different.  Yes, you can still donate your gently used books from home (and we hope you will!).  But this year you can also choose books from our Santa Teresita Amazon Wish List, created just for this purpose.  We want to make sure that students of all grades receive exciting reading material, and we've noticed that in the past the donations don't always include enough books for the older students.  Books purchased through the Amazon Wish List will be sent directly to the FSHA Library, where we will package them for the Christmas Party at the end of the semester.  Now with just a few clicks and a few dollars, you can help make sure every student at Santa Teresita has something wonderful to read this winter.  Thank you in advance for your generous donations!