Monday, February 16, 2009

A Walk to Remember Review

Do you remember your very first true love? Or, like me, are you still waiting on it to come along? The number one New York Times bestselling romance novelist Nicholas Sparks outdoes himself in A Walk to Remember, a touching and timeless story of young love.

Landon Carter, a typical high school boy has known Jamie Sullivan his entire life and never given her much thought. Desperate for a homecoming date, he resorts to Jamie, the daughter of the local Baptist minister. She agrees on one condition, he had to promise not to fall in love with her.

Through drama class and the annual production of the Christmas pageant, Landon and Jamie get to know each other. In a predictable fashion, he falls for her, the nerdy girl in a brown cardigan who is never without her Bible.

Landon must overcome his insecurities about being seen in public with Jamie before their love can truly take flight. In the winter months, Landon becomes completely smitten with Jamie, who obviously likes him too, but is holding something back.

Can their young love stand the tests of God's plan?

This book is both heartwarming and tear jerking. I recommend it to anyone with a romantic side or anyone looking for a good cry. A Walk to Remember is a great valentine read.

Taking a Stand

"'Cause when push comes to shove, you taste what you're made of. You might bend till you break 'cause it's all you can take. On your knees you look up, decide you've had enough. You get mad, you get strong, wipe your hands, shake it off. Then you stand.'"

The country music group Rascal Flatts sums up the meaning of taking a stand in their hit, Stand.

Sometimes situations become dire enough that a person must take actions. Although standing up for one's beliefs may bring about immediate negative reactions, it is always a positive choice to follow one's heart.

Back in sixth grade, my group of friends had a tumultuous time. My best friend's mother was battling cancer. My new baby brother was in and out of the hospital seven times. My other friends were constantly battling over the same boys. Life was hectic.

In that world of middle school drama and best friends forever scandals, the dynamics of our formerly close-knit group constantly fluctuated.

Sixth grade was the first year of the magnet programs, so we had classes with brand new people. Some of these people were unbelievably fractious and just plain mean. One particular girl had her mind set on stealing my best friend. She left me out of slumber parties and secrets. On the playground, she would not let my best friend play with me. I was devastated.

Finally, I had had enough. I was sick of this girl's fake friendship and trouble making. One day after school, I confronted her. I told her that she had no reason to be mean to me and had no right to steal my friends. I said that I really did not care what she thought of me because I knew what true friends were and she did not fit the bill.

After that incident, she stopped coming between my best friend and me. She found another girl to befriend who helped her harass less assertive girls.

I am glad that I stood up to that bully because if I had not, I probably would still be tormented today by her and would be a far less confident person.

By letting that girl hear my voice, I made it known that I would not allow bullies to push me around and control my life. I live by the same philosophy today.

The Call of the Wild Review

Kidnapped and sold into a brutal workforce in the frozen Arctic, Buck is in for an adventure. Jack London's The Call of the Wild captivates readers with its realistic insight into the mind of a sled dog on a plight to find himself.

Buck, a domesticated pet from a southern home, is kidnapped and sold to go to work pulling sleds in the Klondike gold rush. He meets brutal men who rule with clubs, kind drivers who marvel at his talent and one man whom he learns to love. Along the way, Buck learns how to defend himself in the cruel, competitive world of sled dogs, steal necessary food, and stay on the winning side of fights. In order to become the leader of the pack, Buck even fights one dog, Spitz, to the death.

London, a seasoned gold rusher himself, paints vivid scenes of the Canadian wilderness, barren ice trails, and rugged trading posts.

Throughout the story, Buck finds a certain thrill from living in the wild. The instincts passed down from ancient generations tug at Buck's heart. After his best friend, John Thornton dies in a Yeehat attack, Buck finds that "man and the claims of man no longer [bind] him" (The Call of the Wild, 134). He can finally answer the "call of the wild" and join his feral brethren.

Buck is a strong willed character who stands up for his beliefs and gets what he wants. Even though he is canine, he can be a role model for people everywhere. I learned from Buck never to allow my past to control my path in life. I must take charge and answer whatever call my heart may feel.

I would recommend Jack London's The Call of the Wild to anyone and everyone. Readers will laugh and cry (if they have any heart at all that is) at Buck's journey to find himself. This classic is still a must-read.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Antigone Review

A family curse. A fratricidal duel. A woman disregarding a royal decree. These themes are center stage in Sophocles' enduring play Antigone. His Antigone, the epitome of feminine strength and will, is inspiring.

Antigone and her sister Ismene have lost both of their brothers, Polynices and Eteocles in an ill-fated battle. King Creon declared Eteocles a hero for defending his city and honored his death, but ordered that Polynices, who had left the city then attacked it as a foreigner, be left in the streets to rot.

Sophocles focuses on the issue of choosing between loyalty to royal authority and family. Antigone risks her life to honor her brother's death without a second thought. I am unsure if I would be able to take such a strong stand as she did.

This story, full of ultimatums and ironic deaths, is paralleled in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. In both plays, suicide ruins romantic relationships in a quite untimely manner.

Because of the time period in which it was written, Antigone may not be the average reader's cup of tea; however, I do recommend this tale of fate, rebellion, and brotherly love.