Monday, May 2, 2016

Tolog Review: The Help

The Help
by Kathryn Stockett
reviewed by Hannah Musich

Set in 1962, The Help, by Kathryn Stockett encompases the racial divide in Jackson, Mississippi. Stockett grasps readers’ attention by using written testimony of the main characters. Written by two African-American maids, Aibileen and Minny, and an aspiring young caucasian writer, Miss Skeeter, this novel shows the struggle of African Americans in the south during the Civil Rights Movement. As all three women describe their part in the racial divide, the reader comes to appreciate their honesty. Women especially African American women during this time in the south were looked at as housewives and maids. Their bravery in publishing this book, shows their determination to make their voices heard. 

One of the tactics used by Stockett to emphasize segregation in the south is by allowing characters to deny racial tendencies. While Minny is at her the home of her employer, Miss Celia, Miss Celia asks Minny why she won’t be friends with her. Minny says that, “you white and me colored just fall somewhere in between” (Stockett 264). It is evident by her personal narrative; however, that she doesn’t trust white people because of her past experiences with them. Stockett also uses the events of the time to implicate the danger that all three women are in. She does this through a character named Missus Stein, the woman Miss Skeeter enlists to help all three women publish their book. Missus Stein reminds Miss Skeeter, “The marches in Birmingham, Martin Luther King. Dogs attacking colored children” (Stockett 124). These small quotes of reality remind the reader of their dedication to publish their book; they are overcoming countless obstacles to allow the public to see the truth.

These book takes readers around sharp turns and narrow alleys; however, its captivating plot leaves readers turning pages faster than one can imagine. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an inspiring historical fiction novel. It allows its audience to see the suppression of African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of both sides. The voices of these women inspire whoever lays eyes on their powerful words. 

Tolog Review: Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity
by Elizabeth Wein
reviewed by Sophie Johnson

Imagine being stuck in a cell, tortured, or starved after being captured in enemy land. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein tells the story of two young women, Maddie and Queenie, and their incredibly strong friendship. The genre of this book is historical fiction, which is when some characters are fictional but it is in certain time or place in history. This story is set during World War II and with the powerful German Nazi party. The setting is in the mid 1930s to the early 40s. 

The book starts with the story of Maddie, a young girl in England, who rides a big motorcycle. She has always been interested in mechanics and transportation which leads her to becoming a very good pilot. Queenie is a British secret agent who gets caught in France and is taken captive in an old hotel that the Gestapos uses to hold their prisoners of war. She is tortured and forced into writing down confessions about everything she knows as a secret agent. In the hotel she is constantly watched by Engel a lady who watches over her and makes sure she keeps writing day after day. The man in charge is called SS-Hauptsturmf├╝hrer von Linden. He gives Queenie two weeks to write down everything she knows and if he does not get what he wants he will kill her in two weeks. What she writes down is the story of her how she became best friends with Maddie and all the information that comes with it. 

In the first couple pages the narrator is reciting her own account of the story but then it changes to talking about this girl called Maddie. This is because Queenie is writing about her and Maddie’s story so she writes in the third person for herself which was confusing at first. Also in the first half of the book Queenie is narrating and in the second half Maddie is narrating. Queenie says at the beginning on the book “And I’m going to give you everything you ask, everything I can remember. Absolutely Every Last Detail” (Wein 3) right before she begins her first confession. Doing this Wein makes the story even more powerful and personal because the knowledge given of both sides of the main characters. Wein uses the motif of Peter Pan which gives more visuals and description to her readers. When Maddie arrives at Queenie’s family’s house Maddie describes how she got to their house as “Second to the right, and then straight on till morning” (Wein 124). He also matches the characters in both stories “Von Linden resembles Captain Hook in that he is rather upright story of gentleman spite of his being a brute,” (Wein 5). Wein adds a lot of creativity to the book and also provides familiarity to the reader with a well known story that they can relate t

Tolog Review: The Outsiders

The Outsiders
by S.E. Hinton 
reviewed by Mila Mendoza 

S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders tells a suspenseful story about “greasers” vs. “socs” filled with wit, action, and tragedy. Ponyboy, a greaser, guides the reader not only through the novel but through the class divide, and defines what it means to be a greaser and a Soc. Greasers are the rough and tough teens who find their own version of a family in their gang and fight, drag race, and steal for sport. Socs, short for socials, are the high class kids who have flashy cars and lifestyles, and are the enemies of all greasers as they unreasonably attack the lower class gang. Every member of a gang loathes every member of the other simply because of their reputation and a few dangerous members from both sides. From a shallow point of view, the greasers are uneducated, inhumane, and criminals, but throughout the novel even the toughest of the tough Dally Winston shows redeeming and heroic qualities. From a shallow point of view, the Socs are brats with too much time and money on their hands, but Ponyboy’s entire viewpoint of the Socs becomes more open and accepting after meeting two kind, caring girls from the enemy gang: Cherry and Marcia. His view of the Socs later improves following an unforgettable run-in with a few of their members, accompanied by the most innocent greaser Johnny. In this novel, darkness appears from the pure and goodness appears from unexpected places and people.

Repeatedly, Hinton explores classism and the idea that: “Not all of us are like that” remains constant throughout the novel. (33) Hinton suggests how uncalled for the class divide is and intimates that each person should be valued as an individual rather than forming assumptions about his or her character based simply upon gang affiliation. Ponyboy begins the book constantly musing upon the immense class divide, and later realizes that: “Maybe the two worlds we lived in weren’t so different”. Hinton’s straightforward writing style suggests the harsh reality the greasers and Socs face and to an extent, lightens what could be an intensely dark novel therefore making it appealing to a wider audience. The Outsiders has action, surprises, and wisecracks, but I found the straightforward, matter of fact style dull at times. I recommend this book to anyone who likes action novels or likes the musical “West Side Story” because the greasers and Socs hold many similarities to the jets and the sharks.