Though the Iliad is undisputedly THE book to read on the Trojan War, this one is definitely the better choice for young adults. I was 12 when Chris le...moreThough the Iliad is undisputedly THE book to read on the Trojan War, this one is definitely the better choice for young adults. I was 12 when Chris lent me his copy of this, and about 9 or 10 when I read a graphic novel of the Iliad (and about 15 when I read the actual thing). I'm afraid that other book shocked my young sensibilities at the time--Paris's lust-fueled abduction of Helen as the cause of the Trojan War seemed incomprehensible to my 9 year-old mind but Evslin's emphasis on the three goddesses' competition ("What began with an apple...") as the true cause made a lot more sense. This one uses simple narrative language but doesn't sacrifice storytelling for simplicity. No wonder this was the book where I fell in love with Achilles, whose journey (not Paris's), begins the actual story. (less)
Fairly comprehensive. Would be nice if related items were listed after each entry--I spent hours thumbing through the names, trying to find the wife A...moreFairly comprehensive. Would be nice if related items were listed after each entry--I spent hours thumbing through the names, trying to find the wife Achilles installed in an island after his death (checking out the competition. Haha). Understandably, this would pose a lot of problems since some figures are connected to practically everyone else (e.g. Zeus).
And yes, I did read the entire thing from cover to cover. At least twice. Because I'm obsessive about my mythology that way. (less)
There are books that you can read over and over again but no matter how many times you read them, you always find something new to marvel at or deligh...moreThere are books that you can read over and over again but no matter how many times you read them, you always find something new to marvel at or delight in. The really good ones stay with you for a lifetime and become a part of who you are. For me, “The View from Saturday” is that type of book.
“The View from Saturday” is about four sixth graders, Noah, Ethan, Nadia and Julian, who come together to become The Souls and later on, the sixth-grade Academic Bowl Team. Under the guidance of their paraplegic teacher, Mrs. Olinski.
There’s nothing supremely extraordinary about the stories and perhaps, that what makes them really special. Each of them is funny and pleasant to read, but unlike most other children’s stories, there are no big dramatic conflicts to be fought and conquered. Except perhaps, the one which we all face everyday and is resolved over and over again by how we relate with other people, and how we deal with the events that life throws us. It's not a conflict that comes with just growing up, but one that comes with living in general. The characters in the story learn to deal with change, unexpected circumstances, and the harshness of other people, and along the way, they find generosity and kindness not only in others but in themselves as well.
What makes the story so memorable are the characters. Noah, Ethan, Nadia and Julian at first seem like any other ordinary sixth-graders, but more than just the intelligence they possess, there is also something in each of them that separates them from their peers. Konigsburg writes that these days most sixth-graders have stopped asking “Now what?” and have started asking “So what?” but Mrs. Olinski observes that The Souls still ask “Now what?” instead of “So what?” But more than that, the four characters are kind children. And that is what is so endearing about them. Because in a world where ‘kindness’ and ‘courtesy’ are fast becoming tinged with our own self-interests, it is refreshing to read of children who can be kind without being selfish, courteous without being insincere. Which is not to say that all of these characters don’t have their own moments of insecurity and selfishness. Because they do. What makes them a little more than ordinary is the fact that they can rise above these moments and become generous and loyal when needed.
Because "The View from Saturday" is so simply written, you don't really expect or notice straight off the fact that it's profound. You enjoy the writing, you laugh at the stories, and then before you know it, you've realized some pretty important things already.
But "The View from Saturday" is more than just the lessons we keep from the book. It's also about relationships, of the friends we have, of the family we are, and oftentimes become part of. What I like particularly about this book is how Konigsburg doesn't make the relationships cheesy or overly sentimental. Everything is always dealt with with humor and realism. And what is not expressed explicitly, expresses exactly what I love about the story.
Towards end of the book, there is a line that goes, “Every voyage begins when you do.” So, pick up “The View from Saturday” on your way to work or school or back to your home and begin your journey. (less)
When I think of this book's heroine, I'm strongly tempted to downgrade my rating to 2 stars instead. Despite my mild dislike for the lead, I enjoyed r...moreWhen I think of this book's heroine, I'm strongly tempted to downgrade my rating to 2 stars instead. Despite my mild dislike for the lead, I enjoyed reading this one, mostly because almost every single Miranda-torturing-heroine incident had me internally gasping and going, 'Omigod, I can so relate to this.' (less)
p.s. While I'm not (ever) revising my 1-star rating of this novel, I would like to grudgingly acknowled...morePretentious and overrated (sorry Jing, Chris!).
p.s. While I'm not (ever) revising my 1-star rating of this novel, I would like to grudgingly acknowledge that perhaps Dave Eggers is not so bad after all--he received the 2008 TED prize for being, among others, "a staunch advocate of teachers," he co-wrote the script for Away We Go,' which is a pretty decent indie movie, and although I've scrupulously avoided his other books all these years, I recently I read a short story he wrote which I actually liked. So forgive me if I'm a hater of this long-winded novel but go read About The Man Who Began Flying After Meeting Her instead.(less)