In a country, where we are freely granted several rights, we never stop to think what life would be without them.But life is very different in a corrupt world without religious and political freedom.Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book provides us with insight into life in Nigeria during a military coup. Purple Hibiscus is a fascinating book that incorporates cultural and historical perspectives into a story about self discovery.
Fifteen year old Kambili lives a life that is heavily dominated by her father’s choices.While he is extremely wealthy and very charitable, he is also authoritarian and physically abusive.In her high walled family compound, Kambili knows no life except one spent striving to please her father.This all changes when Nigeria begans to fall apart under a political strife, and Kambili and her brother are sent to live with their aunt. For the first time, the children experience autonomy. Kambili struggles with change, as she realizes she can have her own opinions and make her own choices.
Why you want to keep reading
Purple Hibiscus is told from Kambili’s perspective, as her own views on the world are changing.It is told in a fragile, calm voice, contrasting the obviously dark happenings of the time.Through the writing, you can almost feel the tension that she faces at home, and the power struggle going on outside her.Her father’s dominance at home reflects political reality, as well as his need to maintain power in one aspect of life when everthing else is falling apart. Kambili manages to find her salvation in a country overshadowed by political threats, and a life controlled by family drama.
The story is very personal yet unforgettable.Through clearly three dimensional characters, Adichie blurs the lines between right and wrong, and leaves you wondering: what is forgivable?
Generally when I read a book, I don’t have any emotional reaction to it because it lacks depth and serious content. This was not one of those books. I would not recommend this to someone strolling along to breeze through a casual read or someone who I didn’t feel was mature enough to handle the content. Just as a forewarning, this book contains a lot of mature content with some very disturbing scenes.
Warnings aside, this book was very intriguing with a unique structure. Each chapter was a different source to tell a part of the story, be it a newspaper, report, homework assignment, or a conversation. With the variety of sources, all the characters fleshed out and seemed more real. Though it was fiction, Draper did a marvelous job creating a real atmosphere with situations that are very applicable to the mindsets of teens.
Draper begins with the tragedy that causes the story. Andy, the main character, returning from a basketball game after a few drinks, gets in an accident and his best friend dies. As the plot progresses, we are introduced to his close group and how each person deals with their grief. The variety of routes to acceptance are wide and help to show how different people deal with pain.
I’ve learned a lot about depression, death, pain, relationships, consequences of actions, and the stages of grief. If you have the maturity, and want to learn about how fragile life is and the importance of thinking before you act, READ THIS BOOK! I wouldn’t say I enjoyed this book because at times it was disturbing and weighty, but I do appreciate how my perspective has changed.
Book review by Ethan Carter
How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents is the story of a Dominican family that immigrates to the U.S. in order to escape the secret police. The author tells the tale by discussing numerous occurrences during the daughters’ transition to the U.S that impacted their sense of heritage and self. The daughters Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofia have distinct personalities, and they are reflected through the events the author chooses to retell about each one. Their parents are also a major influence on them, with the strict, traditional punishments from their father and the encouraging, yet uninformed support from their mother. Unfortunately, the disparity between their parenting styles often caused feud within the household.
The book is sectioned in chapters with one daughter at a time as the focus, but the sequence and timeline are both not uniform. The author’s purposeful disorder allows her to keep the readers’ involved in the book by telling seemingly unrelated stories and tying it all together at the end.
The first sentence of my review may have mislead readers to believe How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents was an eventful novel. On the contrary, this book is not something to pick up for an intriguing plotline or characters. Those who wish to put it nicely could refer to this as a “lighthearted, easy read”. However, in my opinion, reading page after page of uninteresting events in the characters’ lives is pretty hard.
I recommend this book to anyone who is open to simple writing styles and novels. Those who can stomach the boring plot enough to uncover the author’s central message may enjoy it, and might find some insight into the lives of immigrants in the U.S.
Book Review by Teja Mogasala
Most people would not look at a book whose cover features a word spelled out in lines of cocaine and think “hey, a poetry book!” I certainly didn't. Regardless, the cover is intriguing and jarring and makes a bold statement right off the bat, much like this book. It hooked me immediately, much like “The Monster” hooked Kristina. Based loosely off the real-life events of the author’s daughter, Crank instantly grabs the reader and doesn't let go until the very end.
Crank, like I assume many drug addictions do, starts off innocently enough. Kristina is a 15 year old girl visiting her dad in a small, dusty New Mexico town outside of Albuquerque. She resents her parents for their messy divorce and for forcing her to spend weeks holed up in her father’s disgusting bachelor pad. But given enough time to explore, Kristina discovers the darker side of her father’s life: a strong love of methamphetamines, also known as crank. A few nights at the sleazy bowling alley where her father works introduces Kristina herself to crank as well as a mysterious boy, Adam. Both addictions are the result of Kristina’s struggle with what seems to be Multiple Personality Disorder. While Kristina has her doubts and self-restraint, her alter ego Bree takes the lead when it comes to destructive decisions. Kristina heads home after a short while, but not without a newfound addiction. Back in her hometown of Reno, NV, Bree struggles to fuel her crank addiction and maintain Kristina’s straight-A student status. More boys enter the picture, bringing nothing but trouble. As the novel escalates and Kristina/Bree gets into more and more trouble, she is faced with harsher consequences as her life spirals out of control. In the end, she is faced with a difficult decision in a lose-lose situation.
Like I mentioned previously, Crank is written in free verse, a fluid poetry style that creates different emotions depending on the style of each page. The verse formatting meshes well with the story without distracting from the plot. This book may not seem very poetic at first glance, but Hopkins is a master of her craft and uses free verse to her advantage.
Crank is a strange book in that it’s very easy to read but also very difficult. It’s a quick book with few words that carry a fast-paced and exciting plot. However, the subject matter is very heavy, including drugs, rape, and teen pregnancy. This book is certainly not for the faint of heart. But those who are willing to read about Kristina’s difficult life will definitely get something out of this book. It’s been used across the nation to dissuade young readers from drug use. I can’t say I’ve ever had an interest in getting hooked on crystal meth before reading this book, but I certainly don’t have any interest after reading it.
Andrew Pospeshil is a Novi High School student involved in Robotics, Japanese club, and the school newspaper. He has a love of reading, but finds little time to sit down with a good book between his classes and extra-curriculars.
There is a line halfway through Jacqueline Woodson’s novel that perfectly encompasses the lesson learned, and reflected upon throughout her childhood. Little Jacqueline sits at her grandfather’s, or “Daddy’s”, feet while he explains the silent fight blacks had to endure during recent years. He explains the marches, boycotts, and silent acts of rebellion that people must be “ready to die for.” He looks down at his three grandkids, their eyes full of innocence, and says “Be ready to die… for everything you believe in.”
Woodson takes readers back in time to the 60’s and provides a firsthand view of a young black girl’s childhood during the fight for civil rights. She captures the days spent swinging under the hot summer sun in her South Carolina backyard, with blue ribbons tied to her braids whipping through the air; and the times spent gripping tightly to her mother’s hand as they walked to the back of an empty bus, where they were told they belong. It is an eye opening journey that is told through the fresh perspective of young Jacqueline trying to understand her friends, family, and place in this big world surrounding her through the will of her pen in hand.
Though Woodson captures her childhood beautifully, it can be quite confusing placing each of the many family members mentioned on the family tree correctly. This repeated confusion throughout the novel takes away from her overall purpose of her novel. Just like how words became scrambled in her five-year-old mind, her family and their purposes were confused in mine. Although, this may distract from Woodson's story, it does not detract from the learning experience that can be gained from reading this book.
By sharing sweet stories told from her happy summer days spent at her grandparents’ Carolina home, to the gloomy days of her preteen years in New York, Woodson forms a bond with readers that allows us to feel her happiest and most painful moments. Readers develop an empathetic understanding. The basic storyline of an African American’s struggling lifestyle in America during the 60s opens the eyes of those who have lived a more privileged lifestyle presently. Experiences such as murdered family members, being discriminated against in stores, and feeling fear as mama walks out the door to join the marches, is all eloquently captured in poetry format ironically reflecting her love of writing poetry as a child and longing to become an author. This novel opens a reader’s eyes to the day-to- day life of an African American in the south coping with turbulent times by following her dream as a writer. Kids to adults can all enjoy this novel and take valuable lessons from it.
What do you value most?
This is a complex question that can be hard to answer and may not only have one answer. In fact, it could take an entire journey to find the answer. The Alchemist takes us through this journey of a humble shepherd boy named Santiago.
Santiago travels the world with an open mind and heart. He is in search of a treasure buried close to the Egyptian pyramids that he hopes to fulfill his personal legend. While trying to find this treasure, the vast and mysterious desert leads him to discover much about wisdom, the world around him, and the treasure found within. He meets people that help him learn lessons of love, omens, and the force that brings the universe together.
Paulo Coelho is able to pack all of his wisdom in a very simple yet thought provoking story. It's filled with philosophical moments that can leave you staring at the wall in self reflection. These moments of self reflection were some of the best parts of reading this book, and leads me to recommend it to anyone and everyone. Take it from me, this journey through a mysterious desert will ease your mind, improve your mind, and open your mind.
Book review by Jessica Gardiner
I would much rather read this book again than write a review on it. And I’m a time stricken person so that’s really saying something. There is good reason for this though, this book review will never do the book justice. It won’t come close. In The Bluest eye, you follow the story of an ugly african american girl that is poor as dirt in the early 1940’s. She has everything going against her and she knows it. Pecola’s parents don’t have a stable relationship, she’s neighbors with the town’s prostitutes and she’s a small, poor, powerless and ugly girl. A small poor powerless and ugly girl that would love to see the world through blue eyes. For this small girl, blue eyes seem like the answer to her problems. If she was just a pretty little white girl with blonde hair and blue eyes things wouldn’t be so bad. Or so she thinks. However, gaining the blue eyes that she wants proves insufficient in solving her problems and this poor sad girl that has been through horrible encounters becomes even more troubled.
This novel explores many societal problems from the 1940’s, many of which are sadly still relevant in this society. The novel layers stories and conjures up emotions in a different and effective way in order to make the reader think about the faults of Pecola’s community and in a larger sense, our society. It is both heart strickening and thought provoking because Morrison writes in a way that makes it hard not to get attached certain characters - both the victims and the “evil” ones. This novel is written very well and isn’t a hard read but still will have you thinking a lot throughout the course of reading it. And as I said, this review does it no justice so you should snatch it off of Maguire's shelf and give it a go yourself.
Book Review by Lydia Dunn
I vividly remember the day in class when we rotated tables and read introductions to numerous different novels, then shared out to our peers. I couldn’t understand why it was so crucial to Mrs. Maguire that we read a novel written by an African American Author. How could a novel be so much different just because it was written by African American author? Reading this book showed me how very wrong I was in thinking that. Their Eyes Were Watching God was challenging for me to get through, I had to read many chapters, paragraphs, sentences multiple times to ensure I knew what was happening throughout the novel. The diction, jargon and colloquialisms used throughout the text was something I had never been exposed to before. All said and done, reading this novel has made me a stronger reader, and I thank Mrs. Maguire for being so persistent on us reading a novel outside of our comfort zone.
The story begins with Janie, an African American women, being raised by her “Nanny” or grandmother. Nanny has always wanted Janie to be in a secure situation, so she proposes that Janie marry a man named Logan because he can provide for her. Janie hesitates, but reaches the conclusion that even though she doesn’t love him now maybe after they get married and they spend time together the love will form in her heart. Janie leaves Logan as she realizes that it isn’t love and she doesn’t want to be unhappy for the rest of her life.
Next comes Joe Starks, he becomes mayor of the town they move to and the dominating nature stems from there. He constantly belittles Janie, and makes her feel unworthy. Accumulating to the point of physical violence, this relationship all around is a tragedy. Janie learns a lot about herself during this relationship. She discovers her own personal feelings about how a women is and is not to be treated; she learns when it is necessary to stand up for herself and speak her mind. Joe eventually gets sick and passes away, leaving Janie alone and wiser than ever.
Then comes along Tea Cake, the one Janie has been waiting for all her life. Tea Cake finally gives Janie a voice, freedom, and a purpose. Tea Cake supports Janie’s dreams, and the development of Janie’s sense of self. Janie has finally found happiness. Teacake may not have been as wealthy as Janie’s previous husbands but Teacake has inner wealth and knowledge that Janie has never been exposed to. When an unfortunate incident takes place, this beautiful relationship ends abruptly and dreadfully, but you will just have to read it to find that one out.
All in all this is a great book emphasizing on love, relationships, independence and sense of self. It is a generally slow paced novel with exciting moments thrown in during essential parts of the plot. I would encourage any readers to push through it even when there are parts that aren’t exactly the most exciting. The story starts out slightly confusing, but I promise it gets better. Also the dramatic parts can sometimes seem rushed but the plot itself is still very strong. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a new perspective on writing or reading, or anyone looking for a good novel on women empowerment. Zora Hurston does a wonderful job crafting this piece.
Book review written by Lauren Henry- Lauren Henry is a competitive dancer and varsity golfer at Novi High School. She enjoys working hard at school, hanging out with friends and spending time with her family.
When choosing this book I was hoping to gain a perspective of what it truly meant to be black in the mid 1900’s. Unfortunately, this book did not fulfill that inquiry. Sula, by Toni Morrison describes a newly formed town called The Bottom, ironically in the tops of the mountains above a wealthy white community called Medallion. The families of main characters Nel and Sula are contrasted. Nel comes from a proper, stable home. Whereas Sula lives with both her mother, grandmother, three adopted children and numerous borders; all of whom seem to be known as unconventional and loose.
Through all this an unlikely friendship is formed. The two become inseparable until a horrific event occurs; one hot summer day Sula and Nel were playing by the lake with a boy they named Chicken Little. Sula took the boy by the hands and swung him until he slipped away and fell into the lake only to drown. The two swore to keep it a secret and since, they started to grow apart. In another accident Sula’s mother, Hannah, was in the yard where her dress caught on fire, burning her to death. Sula leaves The Bottom for ten years only to return as a stranger that people saw as evil because of her eccentric way of life. At this same time Nel settles down with her husband and kids. Sula’s hatred is advanced when Nel walks in on an affair between her husband and Sula. In result her husband leaves Nel. After a visit to see Sula’s grandmother Nel realizes her mistreatment of Sula and what the difference between what “good” and “evil” really is. The book ends with Nel mourning over Sula’s grave.
The novel “Sula” depicts the real meaning of ambiguity and good from evil. Sula explores ways in which we try to make sense of the world around us in tragedy and happiness. While I understand what the book is relaying to the audience I don’t believe Morrison did this as effectively as she could have. It seemed to me as if she was emphasizing the small details and detracting the important ones. This could be a brilliant literary strategy but to me it made the book less meaningful. One major turning point in the book was the moment Sula’s mother died. However, Morrison only dedicated half a page to the event. I agree with the book in some ways, such as realizing our perception of right and wrong is not always what we believe it to be. I was just not in favor of the style of writing. The take away I got from this book did not seem as impactful because of the way this book was written. Honestly, I don’t recommend this book to many, for I feel there are many better books that can relay the same message
Book review by Heather Blair. Eleventh grader at Novi High School. Enjoys running and eating. Hoping to gain success throughout college and life.
In the US, we encourage diversity. We strive to get people of different genders, ethnicities, and religions to live in harmony, so when Americans see a Hazara and a Pashtun (both different ethnic groups in Afghanistan) out together, they don’t think anything of it. It comes as a surprise to Americans that friendships between Pashtuns and Hazaras are socially unacceptable in Afghanistan. This proves to be a hard social normality for characters to overcome in The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.
This book is a riveting story of a boy’s struggle between saving the people he cares about or surviving in society himself. It is told from the perspective of Amir, a rich Pashtun in Afghanistan. Amir begins his narration at his childhood. He lives with his dad whom he calls Baba. Amir also lives with his two servants, Ali and his son, Hassan. Ali and Baba grew up together and wanted their children to grow up together too, so when Ali’s wife left him directly after giving birth to Hassan and Baba’s wife died during childbirth, Baba and Ali decided to raise their kids together. Amir and Hassan, as well as Baba and Ali, loved each other like family, but never used the word “friends” to describe their relationship. Because Ali and Hassan were poor Hazaras, it was unacceptable for them to be considered friends with rich Pashtuns Baba and Amir. This was never an issue for Hassan and Amir, until one day they were out playing together when Assef, a bully strongly against the mixing of cultures, saw them playing and threatened to beat them up. He almost did until Hassan aimed his slingshot and threatened to blind Assef in one eye by hitting it with a rock. Aseff walked away but swore he would be back to get them. Later in the year, after school gots out, Hassan and Amir participated in their neighborhood’s kite cutting tournament. This is a tournament in which boys compete in pairs, one flying a kite, trying to cut other’s kites down and the other boy in the pair, the kite runner, runs to get the kites that were cut. Amir’s kite was the last one standing, all he needed was Haasan to retrieve the last kite for him. Hassan ran to go fetch the kite, but after not returning for quite some time, Amir went looking for him. He found Hassan in a cave, being harassed by Assef, and witnessed something terrible that would haunt him for the rest of his life, but he didn’t tell anyone because he didn’t want to look like he cared too much about a Hazara. This creates conflict for Amir later in life.
I would highly recommend this book to all readers, especially Americans, as it has helped me gain a different perspective on the lives of people in the Middle East. It is a story that not only asks whether it is better to conform to or question society’s normalities, but it also comments on the way Americans view Middle Eastern countries. When Americans think of the Middle East, many would argue that the people there are all anti-american and are what cause events like 9/11. The Kite Runner shows American readers that most Middle Easterners are not terrorists, but that they are humans with real emotions and families of their own. Although this book may be a challenge for the faint of heart, it is a book everyone should read. It will keep you up all night because of its sorrowful nature, but also because you won’t be able to turn away.
Not only does this book get my recommendation, but it is also a New York Times bestseller, a San Francisco Chronicles Best Book of the Year, and has received praise from the Washington Post, People Magazine, Diane Sawyer, and many others. The Kite Runner created waterfalls of tears from readers across the world, and continues to share perspective to all of its readers after 12 years of being published.
Book Review by Alaina Agnello