YHS Class of 2022 discussion

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message 1: by John (new)

John Russell (johnmartinrussell) | 8 comments Mod
If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I have never read anything like this book. Calvino's insane ambition gripped me from the first page basically to the last. While the jig got a bit repetitive at times, overall this book is an astounding demonstration of how inventive and refreshing fiction can be, of how, despite the fact that authors are limited to letters and punctuation and spaces and a whole bunch of pages, the possibilities for invention and ingenuity are effectively endless.

It's not an easy book by any stretch, but, if you're a reader who is up for a challenge and likes to look at the world from a delightfully skewed angle, you may well enjoy giving this one a try.



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message 2: by Nick (new)

Nick | 1 comments 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi by Mitchell Zuckoff

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book is about the attack on the US embassy in Benghazi. I really liked it but wish they talked about the attempt of a cover-up by the Clinton administration. But this book really showed me how quick tables can turn in a war-torn corrupt country. This book also made you feel like you were there in the moment with the suspense and how they described what they went through.



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message 3: by Maddy (last edited Oct 09, 2019 01:51PM) (new)

Maddy | 3 comments Women Talking Women Talking by Miriam Toews

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Miriam Toews' Women Talking is exactly as its title states, yet simultaneously so much more. This contemporary realistic fiction novel based on true events describes the furtive conversations between a group of eight Mennonite women of four generations on behalf of their children and fellow women. Following a series of brutal attacks conducted by several men of this remote Bolivian colony upon its hundreds of women and young girls, eight women have been assigned the task of determining the women's response. The women's response must be determined within the time of the men's brief sojourn to the city, who have journeyed there to bail the perpetrators out of jail. Shockingly, the minutes of this discussion are recorded by one of the few men left behind to stay in the colony, August Epp, the colony's teacher and ridiculed 'effeminate' who recently returned to the Mennonite community after being excommunicated as a child.

As a poignant yet empowering work of art, Women Talking weaves ideas of feminism, patriarchal standards, and religion into a suspenseful and quietly impactful novel. Its complex combination of contrasting concepts makes it best fit for those of open minds, as well as though who are able to appreciate the author's occasional sarcastic sense of humor. In addition and as a warning, the novel discusses contentious topics such as suicide, appropriate family structure, premarital relations, corruption of religious authorities, and abuse, so Women Talking is therefore geared towards more mature individuals.

I truly enjoyed reading this novel, and although I first found myself struggling with recognizing each of the eight women and their corresponding identities, I eventually became familiar with each character. Furthermore, while the level of difficulty of reading wasn't especially challenging (except for the occasional, but appropriately placed, strong vocabulary), I often found myself having to set down the book and think of symbolism of what I had just read, or having to flip back to previous pages to reference past parts of the discussion. Also, the text can sometimes become dry or somewhat difficult to follow, as the women tend to use metaphors relating to their agricultural lifestyle to support the idea that they mean to convey to the other women, meaning this book will be most enjoyed by those who are able to patiently perceive the true lives of these women through their word choice, appearances, and reaction to the thoughts of the other women, rather than those who prefer novels of physical action. However, this idea is disputable – who's to say that the who are women talking are not acting?



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message 4: by John (new)

John Russell (johnmartinrussell) | 8 comments Mod
Eva Luna Eva Luna by Isabel Allende

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Eva Luna is a marginally fantastical tale of a young South American woman who, despite facing some unusual and intense hardships, grows up to be a confidently creative force thanks to an uncommon self-possessedness and talent for storytelling. Allende's writing is richly descriptive and starkly captivating at times, especially in the sections about the tragic childhood of Rolf Carlé, an Austrian who leads a somewhat parallel life on a collision course with that of the protagonist. Unfortunately, the story takes quite a while to take shape--there's enough that's compelling at the beginning to make up for this, but it winds up lagging a bit around the middle. Still, it makes for an enchanting and rewarding read for anyone who enjoys sprawlingly ambitious narratives, richly multi-dimensional characters, and exotic settings... with a hint of magic.



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message 5: by Justin (new)

Justin (missturkey) | 5 comments Mod
Lincoln in the Bardo Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is fiction as I've never experienced it. George Saunders' _Lincoln in the Bardo_ is simultaneously experimenting with structure, playing with absurdities, and asking some of the most fundamental human questions about letting go, mortality, what happens after death, and the space between physical and spiritual existence.

Having read two collections of his short stories, Saunders was already one of my favorite authors. His fiction, in general, is unique, but LitB seems to operate inside of zero fictional confines I've ever encountered and is pushing the boundaries of what fiction can be. Outside of some fantastical images in the bardo, I wonder what this would look like as a play.

Because the structure of this book is unique, it offers unique challenges. I found myself rereading a section that made me want to reread a different section. It was, at times, slightly irritating, especially if I had a limited window of reading time. However, the payoff for connecting dots was more than worth it. I know that I will be rereading this in the not-too-distant future and would love to bring this book into the classroom.



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message 6: by Zhi (new)

Zhi | 5 comments Champion (Legend, #3) Champion by Marie Lu

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I read "Champion" by Marie Lu. It is the third book in the Legend trilogy. The book splits the perspective of two main characters named June and Daniel or Day. They live in the future where the waters rise and the United States split into two separate countries, the Republic of America and Colonies of America, that are fighting a very long war. June supports the government of the Republic when Day hates everything the republic stands for. I would rate this book a four out of ten because it was action-packed, yet had a little romance in it too. I would recommend this book to people who like Si-Fi.



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message 7: by Celina (new)

Celina | 5 comments Angels & Demons (Robert Langdon, #1) Angels & Demons by Dan Brown

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


In this action-packed, fast-paced story follows Robert Langdon, a symbologist at Harvard as he figures the mysterious and dangerous uprising of the Illuminati. I rated this book five stars because this was the best book I have read this year. I love Dan Brown's writing style because every chapter leaves you with a cliffhanger. Also, his use of detailed facts lets you understand the foreign territories where the story takes place. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy a fast-paced, action-packed and knowledgable mystery.



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message 8: by Laney (new)

Laney | 4 comments I just finished reading 4:50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie. Despite the issues I had with the book, I think I would rate it a 4 out of 5. In the very beginning of this book, the main character, Ms. McGillicuddy, sees a strangulation happen in a passing train. The authorities she informs of this are sure that she's crazy, but she knows what she saw. When she gets to her destination of Jane Marple's house, she attains a partner in this investigation. The two of them hire Lucy Eyelesbarrow to investigate the mansion in which their suspect and his family live. Between the three of them, they solve the mystery with various obstacles. I really enjoyed the characters in this book for multiple reasons. I was refreshed to see female detectives, and their descriptions and actions made them come to life. The setting was vibrant, with a collection of intricate buildings. Although there were many things I liked about this story, the writing style was hard to follow because it felt too formal and dense; each sentence was the kind that makes you think for a minute. Anyone who can handle waiting the whole book to get the surprising ending will strongly appreciate the story when it comes together. I've read many Agatha Christie books, and I don't think this was her best. I would still recommend it to any mystery fan. In conclusion, 4:50 from Paddington is a book with a dramatic, detailed storyline that would be appealing to lots of readers.


message 9: by Maren (new)

Maren | 3 comments The Night Circus The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Reading this book was magical. It's supernatural with some elements of fantasy and a love story that emerges as the novel progresses. This story takes you along the history of the wonderful Cirque des Rêves (Circus of Dreams) in addition to the journey of several characters with close ties to the circus. The circus isn't just a magical place full of entertainment, wonder, and splendor, it is also home to a competition between Celia and Marco, two illusionists who were bound to compete against each other from a young age. Morgenstern draws you into this complicated competition and keeps you hooked as the two illusionists begin to fall deeply in love. This book kept me hooked and intrigued until I turned the very last page as I waited to find out what was to become of all of the unique characters.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fictional stories containing magic and little bit of romance. I would say that this book was not extremely challenging but did contain some more advanced vocabulary in addition to being a little hard to follow at times because each chapter takes place at a different time, setting, and different perspective. Overall, I thought this was an outstanding book, was well written, and had an amazing storyline that was extremely unique.




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message 10: by Maddy (last edited Oct 09, 2019 02:43PM) (new)

Maddy | 3 comments When She Woke When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


"When she woke, she was red" (Jordan 3).

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan is a dystopian fiction novel that describes an imminent future of a nonsecular America in which the nation's laws reflect the official state religion, Christianity. In this world, convicted criminals are not held in prisons but are instead forced to have their skin 'chromed,' meaning their skin must be colored according to the severity of their crime. Hannah Payne lives in Texas where Christianity has been securely established amongst both its government and residents. Consequently, Texas has become a place where chroming legislation is strictly enforced. In the eyes of the state, Hannah has committed murder and has received the resulting sentence of spending 16 years as a Red: "not flushed, not sunburned, but the solid, declarative red of a stop sign" (Jordan 3). Broke, homeless, and renounced by her own mother, Hannah must navigate a dangerous and prejudiced society in which she has no privacy or worth.

While I feel as though the structure of the plot and formality of the writing gradually dissolved as the novel progressed, I especially enjoyed reading When She Woke for the variety of topics that it artfully juggled: abortion rights, religion, politics, love, gender equity, sexuality, and strong friendships. I also found the fast-paced, action-driven plot entertaining, as it allowed the author to communicate her own strong ideas about these topics. Additionally, although this book was written eight years ago, its contents are extremely relevant to contemporary society. When I read that the origins of this nonsecular American government began with the ratification of numerous states' 'Sanctity of Life' laws, I got chills. This fictional legislation seems eerily similar to the Heartbeat Bills passed by several states earlier this year, and I think this novel makes an interesting political statement about where such anti-abortion legislation could lead the United States. Overall, When She Woke is a moderately easy read with great contextualized vocabulary incorporated into the text which I would certainly recommend.

"It's not enough to just fight for choice, or even for women's rights. If we want a truly fair society, we have to go beyond that" (Jordan 207).



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message 11: by Jj (new)

Jj | 1 comments The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave, #1) The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I liked the book felt like a movie. I pictured everything that happened. Thats why I gave it a 5 star review. The book was very descriptive, think its one of my favorite books so far and I only read books once in a blue moon that's how you know its good. if a person who barely reads ever liking the book that's what you call a piece of art if I knew the author I would give him a hug, no homo, very noice me really likee.



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message 12: by AIDEN (new)

AIDEN | 5 comments Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha, #1) Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I thought this was a good book but not a great book so I rated it a 4. It was about a girl who tries to bring magic back to her home country. The premise of the book seems a bit childish but it is more about how the people that can do magic are persecuted and abused by the government. I liked the characters because I thought they seemed like real people rather than legendary figures like you might find in other fantasy books. I also liked that the author had a world built in the story with its own language, government and geography. I didn't really like that it was about bringing magic back, like I said before it seemed a little childish in that way. I think people that like fantasy would like this book, but if you don't like fantasy it is probably not for you.



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message 13: by Hillary (last edited Oct 18, 2019 08:30AM) (new)

Hillary | 2 comments Parkland Birth of a Movement by Dave Cullen I rated this book 4/5 stars. It is about the Parkland shooting in Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. It follows the student organizers of March for our Lives, the movement for gun law reform and it is nonfiction. I really enjoyed seeing the development of the students that experienced the shooting and seeing how that affected their beliefs about gun reform and their character. The author of this book is a journalist who interviews the teens and followed their journeys in trying to restrict assault weapons and unnecessary and dangerous guns. I found it very interesting because it is a topic that is controversial and the book did a good job at displaying the other side of the issue, while still maintaining support for gun reform. It also was very emotional as he described the PTSD and the therapy the teens had to go through following the shooting and their experience with it. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the topic of gun reform, regardless of the side you are on, to either get a new perspective on it or solidify your previous opinions. I also think that this book is incredibly beneficial for youth to read, as it affects them directly. In conclusion, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to a wide variety of readers, but I think it would mainly be beneficial for teens to read.Parkland: Birth of a Movement


message 14: by Celina (last edited Dec 05, 2019 09:38AM) (new)

Celina | 5 comments The Art of Racing in the Rain The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A modern-day story told through the lenses of a dog with a human soul. On the eve of his death, Enzo (the golden retriever) reflects on his journey with his best friend. No spoilers, but the ending is perfect and all you could wish for after reading this novel. Throughout this well-crafted novel, Garth Stein moves the plot at a steady pace which keeps you hooked from the beginning al the way to the last word. I rated this book 5/5 because of the emotion this book makes you feel. This book makes you go on a roller coaster, I almost guarantee that you will cry while reading this book. I would strongly recommend this book, especially to curl up with on a rainy day.


message 15: by Charles Henry (new)

Charles Henry | 1 comments Looking for Alaska by John Green
My Rating: 5 out of 5

This novel was an amazing read. The book is a mix of adventure, comedy, drama, and love. It is the story of a high school boy named Miles who goes off to private school where he quickly becomes a part of a unique friend group that enjoys causing a bit of trouble on campus. However, there is a girl named Alaska in the group who Miles falls in love with which leads to further conflict and disaster. John Green does a fantastic job of making the reader feel attached to Miles throughout his day-to-d life. I would recommend this novel to a reader who enjoys some drama in their books but is also content with a pretty relaxed book. If you’re interested in books with a teenage perspective, Looking for Alaska by John Green is definitely the book for you.


message 16: by Eliza (new)

Eliza | 2 comments The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

My Rating: 5/5 stars

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah is a heart-wrenching novel that looks at the dysfunctionality of family and abuse. It goes into depth about how love can transform lives and both the beauty and danger of the Alaskan wilderness. At the age of thirteen, Leni Allbright’s father, a Vietnam war veteran, makes the impulsive decision to sell everything they have and move north to Alaska. Completely unprepared for extreme conditions to come, Leni and her parents learn what it takes to survive. The darkness of the Alaskan winters brings out the best and worst in each character. The plot takes you on many emotional twists and turns to show each character’s regrets, dreams, and true characters. One aspect that I wouldn’t necessarily change but I didn’t love was how the perspective in the novel changes for a short period towards the end. Despite any flaws, I would give this book a 5/5 rating for its incredible description, action, and emotion. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical or realistic fiction.


message 17: by Camden (new)

Camden | 1 comments The Magician (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, #2) by Michael Scott The Magician by Michael Scott

My Rating: 4/5 stars

The Magician (The secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel #2) by Michael Scott is about a set of twins who are prophesized to be 'The twins of legend’. The twins, Sophie and Josh Newman, along with some accompaniment by immortal Nicholas Flamel (the Alchemyst), and Scathach (an ancient Warrior) are on the run from Nicholas Flamel's enemy, Dr. John Dee, and his accomplice, Niccolo Machiavelli; They are in search of an ancient text, called the Codex. On the twins' adventures, they travel to many places such as numerous parts of the U.S. and Paris, France, and encounter many ancient beasts.

I enjoyed reading this book because it was full of adventure that left me wanting to read more and made me feel like I, too, was experiencing the events that took place in the novel. Also, the main characters, Josh and Sophie, were relatable because they are relatively the same age as me. One final element that made me enjoy reading this book was the description and imagery that the author uses. Scott does a really good job of using dialogue and descriptive language to create a lasting picture in your mind. One thing I was not fond of in the book was the large number of secondary characters that were introduced throughout the story. For me, I like to have a little amount of main/secondary characters because it allows me to get to know the main characters better and be able to understand their perspectives and feelings throughout the novel instead of having to bounce between many characters, making the plot slightly more confusing to me. You would enjoy this book if you like fantasy and adventure because those are the main elements of this book that keep it interesting and fun to read.


message 18: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Kostin | 3 comments Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
Just Mercy is an inspiring story of a black man wrongfully accused of murder, his determined lawyer, and the society that dragged him into this situation in the first place. When I began reading the book, I didn't realize until halfway through the book that we have to read it for english next year, as well. However, determined to finish the novel, I decided to keep reading the heart-wrenching novel, and found myself once again wanting to figure out what happens next. Ultimately, though I found myself bored on numerous occasions, and stumbled over vocabulary words I didn't understand, I am, in the end, very grateful to have read this novel, as it helped me become more aware of the terrible events that still occur today.


message 19: by John (last edited Oct 29, 2019 06:34PM) (new)

John Russell (johnmartinrussell) | 8 comments Mod
A Wild Sheep Chase A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was my first Murakami novel, though he's been on my list for so long it's criminal. Often in situations such as these, there accrues an insurmountable quantity of hype. In other words, I was expecting to be wowed. Somehow, Murakami delivers.

Honestly, it's so hard for me to talk about this book. Any summary of it sounds insane. Let me try.

In late-70s Japan, an ad exec uses a photo he received from an estranged friend as part of an ad campaign and, in doing so, attracts the intention of a mysterious, ultrapowerful magnate who recognizes in said photo a magical sheep which he then forces the ad exec to seek out on his behalf. Also, the friend's name is The Rat. Also, that's practically the only name we get in the whole story. Also, the main character enlists the support of his girlfriend, who happens to possess supernatural, supremely beautiful ears. Also, there's a geriatric, flatulent cat. Also, the cat is one of the only other characters in the book with a name (Kipper). Also, there's quite a bit about whale penises.

See what I mean? INSANE.

But somehow it's absolutely not. Rather, it's dreamy. As in I felt like I was in a dream while reading it. The narration is supremely compelling. The story is supremely enticing (think magical realism meets film noir). The book is supremely worth reading.

Avoid if you have a low tolerance for the bizarre. Otherwise, I highly recommend it.



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message 20: by AIDEN (new)

AIDEN | 5 comments Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1) Scythe by Neal Shusterman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is one of the best books I have read in a while. It is about a utopian future world where people can not die, and a computer does most of the jobs for them. To keep the population down, there are people called scythes that kill legally. And instead of being revived like you would with a normal death, you die permanently. The two main characters, Citra and Rowan are apprenticed to a scythe and the book is about their trials as scythe apprentices. I thought the premise of this book was very interesting and different from things I had read before. I also thought the characters were very well developed and were relatable despite there intense situation. The only thing I didn't like about the book was that it ended on a cliffhanger. Fortunately there is another book in the series. I think most people would like this book, unless you are very opposed to science fiction.



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message 21: by Zhi (new)

Zhi | 5 comments Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1) Illuminae by Amie Kaufman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


In the distant future, two lovers Kady and Ezra, who fight for survival to escape the invasion of a BeiTech fleet on their planet and their escape is meer, and the BeiTech fleet chases after them to make sure there are no witnesses to the crimes they committed. The book is formatted extremely different than most books with short little clips from messages or call being sent to and from characters. Also, there are some parts where it describes what the security cameras are seeing that a certain point in time where the main characters are doing something.



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message 22: by Isaac (last edited Nov 01, 2019 08:20AM) (new)

Isaac | 2 comments Looking for Alaska by John Green

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Looking for Alaska by John Green is an amazing novel. Miles (Pudge) Halter is ironically very scrawny. His entire life up to this point has been extremely dull but he is embarking on a journey to Longcreek Boarding School in search of a “Great Perhaps”. His obsession with people’s last words is a bit of a quirk but it seems at his new school everyone has a little quirk. I really enjoyed how John Green incorporated last words throughout the whole novel, it gave the novel a real personality. Similarly, the way he was able to use the World Religion class throughout the book to tie everything and everyone together as well as integrate deeper learnings was extremely clever. At his new school Miles is immediately drawn into a lifestyle very different from his old one. He has to learn to balance his new life with his old habits of being a very responsible kid. He also has to figure out his feelings towards the wonderful Alaska Young who lives down the hall. This novel takes you through an emotional rollercoaster. What stood out to me was John Green’s ability to have me laughing and on the brink of tears, all in one sitting. I would recommend this book to just about anyone; it is an amazing book.


message 23: by Jack (new)

Jack | 1 comments Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster by Svetlana Alexievich

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Reading The Voices of Chernobyl was fascinating for a vast number of reasons. The issues of radiation and miscommunication that millions of people faced due to the Chernobyl accident and how they dealt with it gave me a new understanding of the pains and troubles that so many went through from losing loved ones to losing everything they once held dear to their hearts. While this book was interesting, it was a little hard to follow. It would skip from person to person with no sign that it was happening. First-person accounts of tragic events such as this one are sometimes the only way that we find out the true impact that nuclear accidents have on people. This book was also very repetitive; I understand that they were interviewing lots of people who had very similar situations occur. Yet this repetition shows the seriousness of the accident and how many lives were affected and lost.




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message 24: by Cassie (new)

Cassie Watt | 2 comments Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch is the perfect book for the non-perfect reader. As someone who struggles with finding the motivation to pick up a book and the time to read, this book is a winner and a real page turner! As a realistic fiction novel , it plays very well to the teen-girl audience and delivers an entertaining story about loss, love, and friendship.

Lina, a kind- hearted girl who just lost her mother, travels to Italy to live with her mom’s friend which leads to her finding closure on her mom's death and a new definition of family.

While other books may have better quality writing or character development, I couldn't wait till I picked up the book before I went to bed. I would be exhausted, but I would just keep reading because of the great descriptions of beautiful Italy, plot twists, and honest characters. This book is a perfect escape from reality.


message 25: by Emeline (new)

Emeline | 3 comments The Enemy (The Enemy, #1) The Enemy by Charlie Higson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The Enemy, the first book in a seven-book series written by Charlie Higson, is a book I checked out from the library and greatly enjoyed reading. I rated this book 4/5 stars because it is a little hard to follow as it jumps between characters. I also rated it 4/5 stars because I thought that everything could have been tied together better and that characters had more development, but because it is a seven-book series I assume that this will happen later on. Even though it was a little hard to follow, including the adventures of different kids in different areas and providing a more open view into their mind is something I've always enjoyed. I felt that Charlie Higson depicted these characters the way a teenager (as this book mainly follows the teens of the group) would act when they are put into this situation. If you are like me and enjoy a good zombie dystopian adventure I would recommend this book to you.

The Enemy is set in London approximately one to two years after some sort of virus killed off or turned anyone who was over 16 years old (or 14 in the British version of this book) into zombie-like creatures, or what the kids call "adults". This book switches between characters from three different groups, the kids in Waitrose, Morrisons, and the Buckingham Palace. It follows the lives of these kids as they treck across London to hopefully lead a better and safer life. As the adults gain knowledge and pick off kid after kid, the remaining kids will have to figure out who they trust and who to rely on to survive while trying to keep the little kids alive. Though the harrowing situations they are put through throw them further into death and despair they learn of conspiracies and other groups of kids who are hiding out just like them.




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message 26: by Maren (new)

Maren | 3 comments Second Chance Summer Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This novel put me through a whirlwind of emotions. It made me cry; it made me happy; it made me angry, but through all of these emotions, I loved it. Morgan Matson’s Second Chance Summer takes you along the eventful summer of Taylor Edwards, a teen who is known for running away from her problems. To start, her father, who has recently become ill, has decided that their family is going to go to their old lake house for the summer. Taylor hasn’t been to the lake house in years, not after she left behind two of her best friends there. When she returns, she encounters her former best friend, Lucy, and her former crush, Henry, who now lives next door. As the summer progresses, Taylor begins to realize she has been given a second chance. She has the chance to fix her relationship with her friends, make up lost time with her family, and resolve the events of the past.

I would recommend this novel to people who enjoy teen novels with a little bit of romance and some guaranteed tears. This book was a pretty quick, easy read that kept me so hooked I couldn’t put it down. I especially loved the realistic storyline and the message the book gives the reader: there is always room for a second chance.




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message 27: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte | 4 comments href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6..." style="float: left; padding-right: 20px">Little BeeLittle Bee by Chris Cleave

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Little Bee is about a Nigerian refugee who goes by the name "Little Bee" and her new life in England, a country far from her homeland. Little Bee has nothing, just a driver's license of a man she met one fateful day on a beach, so she decides to visit his family just to discover something terrible. I like the character Little Bee because throughout the book she goes through so much but keeps on fighting even if sometimes she wants to just give up. I also really liked how Little Bee compared and contrasted England and Nigeria because it gave me as a reader a sense of her perspective in life and helped me get closer to her. I additionally really liked how the plot seems pretty busy at most times, and as a reader, I wasn't ever bored because I was constantly finding out some new important chunk of information that I didn't know a page earlier. Something I didn't love about the book is that the ending is kind of a cliffhanger and I would like to know what happens. There are parts of the book that have graphic violence and somewhat adult content so, for that reason, I'd recommend it to a teen who can handle that and anyone older.



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message 28: by Asher (new)

Asher | 2 comments One Goal: A Coach, a Team, and the Game that Brought a Divided Town Together One Goal: A Coach, a Team, and the Game that Brought a Divided Town Together by Amy Bass

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book is one to remember. Amy Bass uses descriptive language to make sure you feel like you're on the team. Mike McGraw, a devoted soccer coach for the Lewiston Blue Devils, has to modify his coaching style to accommodate the culture, he experiences his talented athletes become victims of racism and has to overcome hardship. I would rate this book a 4.5/5. The motivating story of these young men had me and hopefully every reader cultivated into the book. I took 0.5 points off because although it was a biography, there was a lot of "tells" and just listing events in some points of the book. I really enjoyed how Amy Bass could describe every scene in the heartwarming story. I could imagine how the field looked on a cool, fall night. While the moon rises in the distance. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read about sports, or even a nice, heartwarming story. I will say, if one wants to learn about the cultural differences in Maine and how the Somalian population has impacted Maine, definitely read this book.



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message 29: by AIDEN (new)

AIDEN | 5 comments The Pearl The Pearl by John Steinbeck

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I rated this book three stars because I liked it but it wasn't super engaging or fast paced. This book is about a poor man named Kino that finds the greatest pearl anyone has ever seen. He wants to sell it and get his son an education. The rest of the story is about the problems that the pearl brings into his life after he finds it. I really liked that the message/theme in this story was displayed throughout the book. It was that greed and selfishness can get you into trouble. I also liked the description by the author, it was very vivid and you could clearly picture the scenery and what was going on. I didn't really like that the book could be slow at times. I think people that like books written a while ago would like this book, or people that like clear messages in the text.



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message 30: by John (new)

John Russell (johnmartinrussell) | 8 comments Mod
Tenth of December Tenth of December by George Saunders

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Brilliantly original stories from beginning to end. I know of no writer so capable of convincingly dropping you into world after uncanny world, each as compelling and realistically presented as the last. He's like a more muscular and rollicking Barthelme.

My favorites would have to be "Exhortation," "Escape from Spiderhead," "Al Roosten," and "Victory Lap." But honestly there's not a bad story in the bunch.

If you like to be surprised and touched and don't mind working for it, Tenth of December should be high on your list.



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AIDEN | 5 comments The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co., #1) The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I think this book was definitely five stars. It had fast paced action throughout the story and several plot twists. Lockwood and Co. is about an alternate, modern day London where ghosts haunt almost every old building. The main character, Lucy, is an agent that can be hired to stop the ghosts and snuff them out. She and her colleagues, George and Lockwood, end up taking a dangerous job and the book is about their fight against the ghosts. I loved the characters in this book, they were developed very well and each had a unique personality. I especially loved George, who is sarcastic and hilarious. I also loved the setting of a London haunted by ghosts, I thought it was unique and interesting to read about. There was nothing that I didn't like about this book, except that there were times that the characters did seem unusually lucky. I think anyone that likes sci-fi type books or just a really good book would like this story.



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Justin (missturkey) | 5 comments Mod
Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Range by David Epstein is a fascinating read. Epstein curates his book with exceptional research to demonstrate over and over again how wide-ranging experience, not specialized training, leads to success in any field and even more success than people who have specialized in a narrow field.

I was drawn to this text because of two podcasts that interviewed Epstein, particularly as the book relates to athletes that specialize. He begins the book by comparing the great tennis player Roger Federer to perhaps the greatest golfer of all time, Tiger Woods. While both of them represent the best of their field, Tiger Woods has become the quintessential model for how specializing early can lead to success, a model that a lot of parents are following for their own children in the hopes to create leaders in a field. However, Epstein proves that Tiger is indeed the exception to the rule, and that early specialization is typically an indicator of creating thinking that is homogeneous, narrow, and in some cases (such as the Challenger space shuttle's crashing) incredibly dangerous.

In reality, having a wide range of experience leads to more long-term success in sports, music, business, art, science, military, etc., and specialization is crippling, unless you're Tiger Woods.

I gave this book 3/5 stars because of it's repetitive structure, which actually makes sense to use given how much he covers. Epstein essentially uses anecdotes to frame research in each chapter, which I found dull. However, as a teacher and a father the book pragmatically is reshaping the way I think about my own classroom and experiences I want my son to have. I wouldn't call this book a must-read. However, I'd also say that once you read it you cannot look away. In that sense the book is sharp and powerful.



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JASPER | 1 comments Bird Box (Bird Box, #1) Bird Box by Josh Malerman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Josh Malerman's Bird Box is a capturing mysterious story that will put you on the edge of your seat, the book takes many turns that you never see coming. The story is about a woman named Malorie that is running from a mysterious "being" that has killed the majority of the world's population. Malorie has to go above and beyond to keep herself and her children safe from this thing. The only way to stay safe is to wear a blindfold and not look at sunlight, otherwise, you will die. The book switches back and forth between the past and the present, the past being Malorie rowing down a river blindfolded, and the present being Malorie at a house in her town, with about ten other people. I loved reading this book because of the way Malerman describes events throughout the book, he uses a great vocabulary to capture his audience and keep then reading and engaged. If you are into mystery and horror, you will love this book.



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Frazier | 1 comments Into the Wild Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Into the wild is the story about Chris McCandless, a man who abandons his family, burns his money and journeys into the Alaskan wilderness without any preparation. The book goes in-depth about Chris' travels and his journey getting to Alaska. What I liked about the book was that it gave a lot of detail about nature and landscapes. As well as the stories of similar people who complete feats in the wilderness. On the other hand, I didn't like how the story was written by Krakauer, who could only gather research and speculate certain events or thoughts in Chris' head. Even though Krakauer uses excerpts from Chris' journal, I felt distanced from Chris throughout the story. I think people who like wilderness and adventure would like this book, however, I would also recommend being at least a teen as there are some parts and words that are inappropriate for younger readers.



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Zhi | 5 comments Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2) Gemina by Amie Kaufman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Gemina by Amie Kaufman was an action-packed book about two protagonists named Hanna and Nik who become hostage to a group of invaders that come to take control of the way station that they live on. They defend the station together waiting for someone to come rescue them. One of the main parts of the book that makes this story so attractive is the mixed in parts of the String Theory. I would rate this book 5/5 stars because it never ceased to be fascinating and suspenseful. I would recommend this book to people who like the idea of space colonies, fighting, and heroic gestures.



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Katelyn | 3 comments Stiff The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

This is a unique non-fiction writing that I’ve never seen before. In Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Mary Roach brings you deep into this world you’d never expect to go. It’s enticing to a level where you wish you were really experiencing this. Mary Roach writes in a riveting way where she not only conveys the facts from her research but also does it in a humorous way.

Non-fiction was not my go-to genre which made me nervous about tackling this book. The first few chapters weren’t very exciting and I was close to giving up. However, when I kept reading, the chapters kept getting more and more engrossing. Chapters began explaining the different experiments and what happens to our bodies when we have left them. It was hard for me to put the book down when I started reading this chapter about a Chinese restaurant and how they used a very interesting part of a body in their dumplings.

Towards the beginning, it was a little more challenging of a read but as you continue through the text you start understanding the way the book is written. I really did enjoy reading this because it kept me on my toes wondering what experiment would come next or what’s going to happen to the body. The fact that this book is non-fiction honestly doesn’t matter when reading it because if you are interested in the human body and enjoy somewhat gruesome things I would strongly recommend this book for you.


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John Russell (johnmartinrussell) | 8 comments Mod
Dandelion Wine Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


I was sorely disappointed with this book. I've always enjoyed Bradbury, and I was really looking forward to experiencing a different side of him. Add to this the esteem and hype this book seems to attract, and it seemed reasonable to expect that I would have a grand old time with Dandelion Wine. Alas, 'twas not to be.

Perhaps I was too attached to the idea of a narrative arc. Maybe I should've known better that that was not in store for me here. This book is essentially a collection of vaguely interlinked anecdotes and reflections from a boy's idyllic summer in the suburban Midwest. Bradbury pulls out all the stops in making it as poetic and lyrical as he can, resulting in a few nice passages but far more trite tripe.

I guess if you really get carried away with the romance of summer and Americana and boyhood and the good ole days, you could enjoy this. Apparently, there's a great many people of such a bent. For my part, I can think of dozens of books that accomplish all that far more artfully (To Kill a Mockingbird seems the most obvious example at this time).



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message 38: by Katelyn (last edited Dec 01, 2019 08:37AM) (new)

Katelyn | 3 comments Both of Me by Jonathan Friesen Both of Me by Jonathan Friesen

Reading the first chapter of this fiction suspense got me hooked. Both of Me by Jonathan Friesen was compelling and intriguing for the first few pages. This was the time when Elias and Clara met on the plane and somehow Elias knew all about Clara’s life. As the book continued it got less and less entertaining as Clara fell in love with one side of Elias. I say one side because Elias had two different personalities to him, hence why the book is titled both of me. I almost dread reading this book towards the middle of it but when I got to the last 50 pages I just couldn’t put it down. In these final pages of the book, you find out why Elias has a split personality and it is a plot twist like you’d never expect.

This was a very east read. The language used was not challenging to follow along and the text ran smoothly. If you are a person who likes a really exciting ending then but a slow beginning I would strongly recommend this book. Also if you enjoy and twist you didn’t see coming and would never guess then I think you might enjoy reading this.

I would rate this book a 4 out of 5 because, although I did enjoy the beginning, the middle of the book really made me dislike it and I was thinking of abandoning. If the book stayed at that level, I think I would’ve rated it a 2.5 out of 5. The ending of the book was really something special though. If it weren’t for the ending of the book I would’ve been extremely disappointed. Once I finished I realized the build-up Jonathan Friesen incorporated in his text which definitely raised my rating.


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Jared | 4 comments The Boat Runner The Boat Runner by Devin Murphy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


It's about a 14-year-old boy named Jacob Koopman and his family. They live in a Dutch town in the late 1930's early 1940's. His dad owns a factory and sends Jacob and his brother to a Hitler Youth camp, so he can get business for his factory. I really enjoyed how the author used a lot of imagery to show what goes on in the book. Also, there is a lot of great characterization to show how the characters change and are affected by what happens around them. The author did a great job with the setting and used it a lot throughout the story. I didn't like how slow the story started. I would suggest this book to anyone who likes suspense, action, war (specifically WWI and WWII).



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Tyler | 1 comments Bone Gap Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Finn and Shawn are parentless brothers living in a town called Bone Gap who have lost their saving grace, a Polish girl named Roza. The book spends most of its time describing all of their independent struggles. I enjoyed the careful characterization of Finn and Petey, another teen of Bone Gap. However, I didn't care for the amount of time it took for the conflict to culminate. Those who want a relaxing read would like this book, but if you need something enthralling I would look elsewhere.



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Andrew Kostin | 3 comments What's Eating Gilbert Grape What's Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Set in the small, fictional town of Endora, Iowa, this book delves into many social issues and around mental health, teenage angst and wealth, among other things. The story follows a young man named Gilbert Grape, his autistic younger brother, his obese mother, his three sisters, and his older brother. As his younger brother, Arnie, is close to dying, as the floor underneath his mother's chair begins to sag and as his family struggles to keep from becoming poor, Gilbert scrambles through life in many ways, grappling with the many troubles he wishes his family didn't have. Though it was a very heartfelt read, I feel as though it was a little too quirky, and—at times—over-sexualized. Therefore, although I thoroughly enjoyed reading it front to back, I would only recommend it to people who enjoy reading peculiar, angsty and unique novels, with a few heartbreaking and sad incidents in between.



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message 42: by Justin (last edited Dec 05, 2019 06:39AM) (new)

Justin (missturkey) | 5 comments Mod
Drown Drown by Junot Díaz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Junot Diaz is an accessible writer whose voice is distinct. Several years ago I read Diaz' _This is how You Lose Her_ short story collection and felt like I needed to experience more of his writing because I was thoroughly engaged in his narrative voice but mostly unconcerned with the life of his protagonist, Yunior, as he experiences one lost relationship after another.

_Drown_ did not disappoint. Consistent with topics from _TIHYLH_, Diaz touches on the complexities of identity, from sexuality, to immigration, to the violence of father/brotherhood, what what it feels like to not completely be Dominican or American, while also being Dominican American, and others. Essentially, most of this collection begs the question, What is an immigrant and what does it mean to have an immigrant story?

If you love short stories and don't necessarily want to be bogged down in something super complex but you still want to flirt with an author with a truly distinct style, _Drown_ is a quick in/out read that will keep you asking questions about the human experience. For me, a lot of the stories were a reminder that my own experiences happen in a silo and that what it means to be American is a heterogenous and often socially violent experience.



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Ethan | 2 comments A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The book I read was "A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)" by George R.R. Martin this book in a brilliant work of fantasy that captured the reader's interest somewhere around page 200. The first installation in the "game of thrones" series is one of the most interesting books I have read in a long time. It tells the story of a family of seven called the starks. The starks live in a country divided into seven kingdoms all ruled by one king. After the hand (second in command of the kingdom) dies mysteriously Ned Stark, the father of the family, must bring his two daughters to the capital of the seven kingdoms to help rule the kingdom with the incompetent king. In the kingdom, he faces deception, lies, and danger he had not faced in years and among all the chaos he believes his predecessor was murdered.

I believe that anyone who likes to read about medieval times but with a fantasy twist should read this book. Although it is slow at the beginning it starts to speed up quite fast near the middle and at the end. it is a good book about leadership, deception, and loyalty to your family no matter the cost.

I gave this book a 4/5 and not a 5/5 because it was a very interesting book but the language used was either very simple or very complicated there was no in-between and it was slow at the beginning.

by Ethan Blake



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Amy | 5 comments Red at the Bone Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Woodson is known for her children's and middle grade novels, many written in verse. This adult/young adult novel, although not written in verse, flows beautifully. You might think it lacks substance as it is only 208 pages, but you would be wrong. It is a gorgeous, meaty tell of a multi-generational African American family based in New York City. Melody has a complicated relationship with her college-educated mother who had her when she was only a high school student. Melody's father was primarily responsible for her upbringing while her mother attended Oberlin College in Ohio. I recommend this book to fans of Woodson, novels in verse, and/or contemporary coming of age stories.




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Leah | 3 comments Every Day (Every Day, #1) Every Day by David Levithan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I read "Every Day" by David Levithan and I would rate it a 5 out of 5. A is unique. A wakes up in a different body every day, boy or girl. Unable to become attached to anyone, unable to feel safe or welcome anywhere, and unable to truly love or be loved because it never lasts. When A meets a girl, A is conflicted with the desire to find her again and the problem of uprooting the person's life A is inhabiting for that day just so he can happy.
I really like the writing style Levithan used to express not just A's feelings and emotions but how they correspond and affect the person A is inhabiting. I really liked how no matter what happened A always tried to find a way back to Rhiannon.
I would recommend this book to people who like SciFi but who also like Realistic fiction because this book touches upon both.



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Celina | 5 comments All the Light We Cannot See All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This novel was a masterpiece and nothing less. In Anthony Doerr's All the Light Cannot See you experience World War II through the perspective of a blind French girl, Marie-Laure, who lives in Paris with her father who works at the Museum of Natural History and a german orphaned Werner Pfennig, who grew up with his sister and has a talent for radios. Anthony Doerr did an amazing job showing the contrasting sides of the war while keeping it all together in this outstanding novel. The plot moves smoothly between the two perspectives and shifts in time. Doerr's vivid language adds so much to this story, you honestly feel like you are the living in these characters' lives. I would recommend this novel to readers how will stick with challenging read (it's worth it!) and enjoy two perspectives in a novel.



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message 47: by Zhi (new)

Zhi | 5 comments Shadow of the Wolf (Sherwood's Doom, #1) Shadow of the Wolf by Tim Hall

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


If you like books that are in the mid evil times with knights and lords, then you will love this book. It is a story about Robin Hood, but has a twist on it. Robin's family was gone and he only had one friend who was the daughter of the aristocrat Delbosque family named Marian. They go on many adventures together as young children, but Marian comes back one day to take her away. Their lives split and later they meet up again to go on a grand adventure to kill the Sheriff. This is the first book in a trilogy and I would rate this book a 5/5 because of the amazing plot, suspenseful endings, and fascinating nature imagery in the book.



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AIDEN | 5 comments The Whispering Skull (Lockwood & Co., #2) The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I thought this was a great book and I rated it 5 stars. This book is the second book in the Lockwood and Co. series. It about a girl named Lucy and her colleagues Lockwood and George. They live in a London where ghosts are real and dangerous to the citizens. Lucy and her colleagues job is to find and destroy these ghosts. In this book, they are given a job handling a dangerous ghost and a mirror with deadly powers. It soon turns into much more than a normal job though. I thought the characters were great in this book. The author does an amazing job in developing them. I also loved the plot in this book. There were many twists and surprises. There was not much I didn't like, except that it ended on a small cliffhanger. I would suggest this book to everyone, especially people that like ghosts. However, I would suggest reading the first book in the series first.



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Tori | 1 comments Home Fire Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie is a realistic fiction book about a young woman named Isma. Isma has been taking care of her younger siblings ever since their mother died. She gets an invitation from a mentor to pursue her dream in America. She falls in love with a boy named Eamonn, but there is one problem. His father is a strong political figure that is fighting against Isma's country. The story is all about the conflicts between two families and how much people will sacrifice for love. Something I liked about the book were the characters. The author wrote about strong characters with great personality traits that were important to the novel. On the other hand, something that I did not like about the book was how it switched characters. It added confusion to the story. I think that people who are into books with love, drama, and conflict between foreign countries would like this book.



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message 50: by Zoe (last edited Dec 16, 2019 08:56AM) (new)

Zoe | 3 comments It's Kind of a Funny Story It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


In Ned Vizzini’s book, “It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” the reader gets to feel a real-life problem in the pages of a fictional novel. This severe yet lighthearted book follows Craig Gilner, an ambitious teen from New York on his journey with depression. As the reader we feel bad for Craig as he struggles with his depression because we see how it can affect someone’s life mentally and physically, “I didn’t think I could get any more screwed than last night, but here I am. I’m in a hospital. I’ve sunk to the lowest place I can be…” (Vizzini, 258) Throughout the story, we feel the hurt and embarrassment that Craig endures as he tries to hide this burden from his closest friends and ends up arguing and dropping them “‘What happened?’ he asks. ‘I don’t have any friends,’ I say... I’m not afraid of dying; I’m afraid of living. I was afraid before, but I’m afraid even more now that I’m a public joke.” (Vizzini, 259) We see how drained Craig gets and how much he feels,
“It’s such a silly little thing, the heart.
Badoom
Screw it. I want my heart.
I want my heart, but my brain is acting up.
I want to live, but I want to die, what do I do?” (Vizzini, 140)
Craig’s mental battles follow him through the story, but we see how he grows with embracing the fact that he is indeed living with depression in a world of friendship, high school, family, and life. Ned Vizzini has a way of bringing parts of his life to writing. Even though his depression beat him, “Ned showed what writing about pain with honesty, kindness, and humor could do. Heal. Help. Love. Support” (End of forward, Rachel Cohn). This book opened my eyes to the secrets of depression and honestly what some of my friends are scared to admit they are going through. Ned Vizzini’s “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” has helped me understand and strive to be kind to anyone because you may not know what they are going through, I hope it does the same for you.



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