Arthur Rimbaud was a poet from France in the late 1800s. Like most, he was underappreciated in his time and died early, but nearly a century after his work he became an icon for the free loving, anti war hippies of the 60s and 70s.
Through his work, compiled and translated by Paul Schmidt, the reader may watch Rimbaud go from a fanciful, romantic teenager chasing love in the form of skirts and blonde hair to an angry young man searching desperately for his life through forbidden lovers and drugs. The fall of Rimbaud is chaotic yet beautiful, in the way only a poet could fall from grace.
Rimbaud’s early work describes beautiful women, gods and goddesses, and the golden, carefree days of youth. In his poems, he writes of girls who spin stars on their fingernails and the beauty of flowers and streams, painting a pretty picture of the soul of a romantic. However, through his letters to his mentor and friends, the reader catches a glimpse of a confused boy, desperate to make something of himself and escape the monotonous, ordinary life his mother is forcing him to lead.
As Rimbaud gets older, his desperation and longing for something more becomes increasingly explicit, and his poems take on the bitter edge of a hopeless youth, yet many are still laced with hope. Through his letters, the story of the poets journeys are told- his drug abuse and the gay lover that shot him in the hand in an alcohol induced rage being perhaps the most interesting.
Rimbaud, dead at 37, then spends the last few years of his life scorning the poetry and romance he loved in his youth. His bitterness and anger at the world are seen through his last few letters to the same lover who shot him, and then the world loses a poet who will be remembered as a lover, as the man who proclaimed “I don't love women. Love has to be reinvented, we know that.”
I've always been entranced by poetry and pretty words, but Arthur Rimbaud is truly the most interesting poet I've ever read. His struggles with love and life create beautiful poetry that kept me up at night, rereading and memorizing specific lines that I found especially beautiful or profound. While I'm generally more hopeless than romantic, Rimbaud had me wishing I could always see the world through his eyes, not just when I'm reading one of his poems. Even when what he wrote was about ugly things, it was still laced with the beauty that we associate with poetry.
Rimbaud is a poet anyone can enjoy, as I found when I read some of his sweeter poems to my younger cousins in an attempt to get them to sit still. Even at 4 and 5, they enjoyed the lovely way his words form and were content to sit and listen to me read for a good half an hour. Even if you're not a poetry person, Rimbaud is easily enjoyable and the way his tone changes from romantic to angry to sad makes it possible to find at least one poem that you will enjoy.
Review by Emily Kaley
It took me nearly 17 years but I finally did it. For the first time in my life, I finished an entire book in one night (picture books excluded). Even though part of my success may be attributed to procrastinating studying for a test, the intriguing plot and effortless writing in Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You was what really made this book such a page turner.
On page one of Everything I Never Told You we find ourselves having breakfast with the Lees, a Chinese American family living in 1970s Ohio. Unfortunately, things don’t remain normal for long when the Lee family realizes that Lydia, the favorite child, has gone missing. To their horror, she’s found dead a couple days later at the bottom of a lake. The police believe the cause of her death is suicide but each family member has their own theory. With Lydia, the linchpin of the Lee family dead, the Lees collapse into a downward spiral and we witness their struggle as they try to understand what truly happened to Lydia.
What frames this book into such an irresistible read is that the driving question is how rather than why Lydia died. From the beginning of the book, we know Lydia drowned to death but we fail to comprehend why she supposedly killed herself. This unique mystery along with Ng’s seamless prose propels the storyline forward and compels you to race through the sentences, paragraphs, pages, chapters until you at last find the truth behind Lydia’s death in an agonizing yet unforgettable finish.
Not only is Everything I Never Told You an incredible mystery, but it also is a powerful tale regarding an interracial family. As the story unravels, you learn the secrets of all the Lee family members and how their past personal experiences and different cultures shaped them into the people they became. Since I come from a long line of Indians, I was never truly aware of the struggles that came along with being part of a multiracial family. Through Everything I Never Told You, I began to grasp just how complex it is when two distinct cultures coincide and the difficulty it takes to work around cultural differences. This novel also opened my eyes to the extent to which secrets can penetrate a family, making me realize that even though you may share the same roof with others, you could very well not even know them.
Book Review by Sarah Jacob
From the beginning of this book I knew it was not your average murder mystery. When I heard we had to read a book written by an African American, my mind immediately went to The Color Purple. I had my heart set on reading this drama but I decided to read something I usually would never pick up. A murder mystery. After finishing Monster by Walter Dean Myers I knew I made the right decision to step out of my comfort zone because it left me with one single question. Guilty or Not Guilty?
The Plot: Myers tells the story of a sixteen year old African American boy, Steve Harmon, and his journey on trial for felony murder in Monster. Harmon treats the whole situation seriously but he also decides to tell it in a play and diary form. This book exposes what a sixteen year old feels like going through this type of situation and how one action could change your whole life.
Why you should read it:
As I said earlier this book is not your average murder mystery. This book is not average murder mystery because the story is all about Steve Harmon’s trial. Usually, a murder mystery is about detectives finding out what happened and sometimes they can be gory, but not this book. The only description of what happened at the site of the murder was exposed to the reader in his diary entries in the book. I really liked the way the book was written because to me it felt like a fresh take at a murder mystery. All the way through the book I was never able to guess what would happen next. I can usually do this in a typical murder mystery but in this book there was no way of knowing what would happen next. Also, in some murder mysteries the reader at the end of the book is able to figure out who committed the crime/murder. Again, this was not the case in this book and I think this is why I liked it so much. From the beginning to the end of this book I had no idea whether Steve Harmon was guilty or not. I usually don’t like reading a book with unfinished ends but for some reason it felt so right to be left with this question. Overall, people should read this book because it is a very well written murder mystery that leaves you wanting more. I liked it so much; I can actually see myself re-reading it down the road. If you don’t take my word on this book then you should know that this book was nominated for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature in 1999 and the Coretta Scott King Award Honor in 2000. It also won the Michael L. Printz Award in 2000. Yeah, it’s that good. If my opinion doesn’t persuade you to read this great book hopefully the fact that it is a highly recognized book does.
In my many years of reading, I was never the one to invest my time in a science fiction, or a fantasy novel. The thought of reading about dragons, magic, or space never quite appealed to me. So when this year when I forced myself to break out of my comfort zone and read from those genres, I didn’t expect myself to enjoy The Night Circus as much as I did.
The Night Circus is about a mysterious yet a magical circus that is held by a competition between two illusionists, Marco Alisdiar and Celia Bowen. Training for the game all their lives, the two competitors never expected to fall in love with one another. The competition consists of a competitor making a move by adding a tent in the circus. But not just any tent. A tent where its contents must enchant and amaze the audience in a way where nothing else in the world could even compare to. As the circus grows to become more magical, it begins to catch the attention of people all around the world. As it also attracts more patrons, the dangers of the game becomes more evident, putting Marco and Celia’s loved ones in danger. Knowing fully that grave consequences could occur, Marco and Celia must act together to decide on the unknown future of the circus.
I’m a natural sucker for cute romantic stories and mind-blowing endings, and this book had the perfect combination of just those. The Night Circus is playful and mesmerizing in every way, and the intricate imagery used in the novel truly captivates the reader’s attention. This page turner makes you feel like as if you’re a part of the circus, and takes you away to a mystical place filled with incredible performances and eye-opening magic.
Book Review by Grace Choi
Darius & Twig is a light story about two high school students striving towards their dreams, despite being held back by multiple obstacles in their lives. Darius and Twig, both very talented at what they do, walk together through the pressures by their family, bullies at their school, and the different standards of the outside world. And through each obstacle Darius and Twig fly through, they come a little closer to understanding their purpose in a seemingly hopeless world.
Judging from this book alone, Walter Dean Myers is a brilliant author. His light but unfluffed wording was really surprising for such a deep book. Clear and straight to the point, the story was easily understood without taking away any emotion from it. The light language makes this book a quick, yet thought provoking, read.
Being a high school student on the verge of applying to college, I found this book very relatable. Of course I never had it hard, or faced most of the societal challenges Darius & Twig faced, but i could find the theme of purpose in my life as well. Ending your high school career and going off to college is considered one of the first steps into finding your role in the real world. And Darius’ journey in finding his purpose of life matches many other high school students.
Darius and Twig, a short but very good read. A great recommendation for getting a book project done quickly while enjoying it.
Book Review by Albert Tan
We started off the new semester being introduced to novels by African American authors. With all honesty, I can recall maybe two books I’ve read with African American authors. Of all the hundreds, if not thousands of books I’ve read in my academic career, only two. I was definitely up for the challenge; I was ready to move outside of the zone of “dead old white guys” as my teacher put it. We circled around and examined the tell-tale dust jackets of a wide variety of novels selected as examples, and I chose to reserve and read All American Boys, a newly published book coauthored by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely.
All American Boys is a novel following the perspectives of two teenage boys in regards to a case of a police brutality and race. Rashad, a young black boy, involved in ROTC and the son of an army veteran/ retired police officer, was hospitalized after an unfortunate turn of events resulted in a white police officer to falsely believe that he was stealing, and using excessive force to arrest him. Quinn, a white classmate of Rashad's, the son of a soldier killed in action, happens to be a witness to Rashad's arrest, thus pulling him into the center of an event that would turn their community upside down. To complicate things further, the officer who arrests and beats up Rashad is none other than the older brother of Quinn's best friend.
I chose to read All American Boys because I felt that it was very relevant to the issues with police brutality and race relations that have been very prevalent in America in the last few years. I wanted to see another perspective to these issues, one other than the view offered to me by the news and social media. All American Boys definitely fulfilled this desire. I was left with a haunting reality of how there is such a huge racial disparity still existing in this country, and that the issues that have been so loudly broadcasted are not just isolated incidents. Something really interesting about this story is that it's told by perspectives of both black and white characters. As a white reader, it was really interesting for me to get to see the reality of race issues from a character directly affected by them, as well as following the white characters struggle as to how to react to a sanitized reality and how to come to terms with an issue that you had grown up being told was from the past. Having two characters of different races tell this important tale really helped me as a reader relate to them and their experiences, and allowed a controversial issue be told in a way that was relatable and easier to connect to.
Overall, I’m really glad that I read this book. It opened my mind up to the reality of racial discrimination in this country, and that it's something that we need to actively fight against. It left me feeling more informed and in touch with these issues, and with a better understanding of them. I would absolutely recommend All American Boys to anyone who’s interested in reading a book about modern social issues as it beautifully portrays them in a reliable way to young adults.
Cameron Bennett is a junior at Novi High School. She enjoys reading, kayaking, spinning on the color guard, and traveling. She plans on pursing a degree in microbiology or biochemistry.
Read a book by an African American author. These eight words instilled fear throughout me as I sat in my third hour English class. Immediately I pictured long, repetitive books, based on African Americans' struggles in slavery or Jim Crow south. Not to say these books are bad, but they aren't my cup of tea. So, that evening I set out to find a book I would enjoy for this assignment. From a quick Google search, I came across a book, A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines. After Reading a short review, I was intrigued.
A Lesson Before Dying follows two men who have given up on life, one a school teacher and another a man on death row for being in the wrong place at the wrong time and the wrong race. Grant, the school teacher, has been tasked with making Jefferson, the man on death row, a "man" before he is executed, as Jefferson's lawyer compared him to a hog-- and therefore less of a man-- in the trial. As Jefferson and Grant's stories develop, the reader learns what the south in the 1940's was like. Beneath this, questions about what it means to be human, how others' opinions impact your own thoughts, and what it takes to be a hero unfold. This simply written and seemingly straightforward novel slowly reveals itself to be anything but that.
Gaines' novel is still relevant today. Jefferson's situation - being imprisoned because of circumstance and his race - is similar to what African Americans continue to face today. They have been jailed or shot simply due to skin color. This causes me to question-- do people today still feel how Jefferson did in prison? Thrown away simply because of their race?
This is a book for history buffs, psychology lovers, or anyone in between. However, read it with caution, and maybe a tissue box near by. You can't help but feel for Jefferson, and as he lives his last few days in prison, it might get to you.
Emma Hammelef is a junior at Novi High School. She is on the volleyball and track teams, and is in the band. In her free time she loves to read and draw. Emma aspires to study bio-medical engineering or go into medicine after high school.
One of my favorite things to do in my free time is to read a good book surrounded by pillows and blankets while soft music plays in the background. However, the past few months have not been generous to me and I find myself stuck in a pile full of homework, projects, and tests. As you can guess, sitting down and enjoying a book wasn’t really an option. Until I came across Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming. Because of this book, I finally had time to wind down and enjoyed something that I like to do.
Brown Girl Dreaming describes a young Jacqueline Woodson’s journey living in the South and the North right after the Civil Rights Movement. We find ourselves immersed in Woodson’s world of family, life lessons, and self discovery. Woodson also gives insight to how conditions were in the strict South after the Civil Rights Movement by describing the expectations and habits that were set for her family.
But what really separates this book from other memoirs is the way it is styled. Instead of paragraphs that decorate the page, the book is filled with stanzas. The stanzas give a refreshing feel as it gives a poetic vibe for the story. There were some words and sentences that sent goosebumps down my body because they just fit so well to the story. Brown Girl Dreaming is a perfect book to deviate from traditional storytelling.
It is also a great book for anyone who wants to learn a little history as Woodson does a phenomenal job in sprinkling American history in her story.. On top of that, it is a very quick read due to Woodson’s style which gives it a fast yet comfortable pace.
I definitely recommend Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming to anyone who wants a quick read with a heartwarming storyline.
Book Review by Katherine Wei