Thursday, May 28, 2009

Last Days Of Sophomore Year

Wow! I can not believe that in two days I will no longer be a sophomore. My friends and I can't decide if this year went by fast or slow, and I can see it both ways. In some ways, this year has dragged on for eternity. For example, the homework assignments seem never-ending. But, when I think back to everything I have done in the past nine months, time has flown!

From cheering at high school football games and being in the colorguard of the BHS band, to basketball games and turning 16, I've been busy. The past two months of tryouts and elections have been hectic and crazy, but I'm excited for next year.

I don't expect a lot of change in becoming a Junior, except that I will no longer be part of the lowest class on the high school hierarchical ladder.

Although this year was busy, I know the next will be a blur. Among club responsibilities, cheering on the Pioneers and directing the band as drum major, I must also fit in a full schedule of classes-whew! I'm tired already!

But this is the life I choose, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Soon, it will be my friends standing at that podium, making speeches, and pulling off senior pranks. Here's to being one year closer to graduation!

One More Sunrise

Michael Landon Jr. and Tracie Peterson's One More Sunrise is touching romantic novel-just the kind I like.

Landon's Christian view is promenient in this story of a marriage that takes the back burner to Joe Daley's failed dream of becoming a fighter pilot.

Joe, a crop duster and alcoholic, failed his medical exam and was denied the ability to fly for his country. He lives the the shadow of his older brother who died a war hero overseas. Constantly depressed or drunk, his irresponsibility irritates his high school sweetheart and wife, Meg.

An old school friend and son of the town traitor starts courting local farmers in an attempt to establish corporate farming in the area, but something's not right.

After Meg kicks him out and he nearly dies in a mysterious plane accident, Joe realizes he must change his ways to win her back.

Can Joe truly change, give up the alcohol, and get past his disappointment to recreate the romance of Meg's high school years? Read this book to find out.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Of Mice and Men Review

Of Mice and Men, written by John Steinbeck is one of my new favorites. The tale of struggle and loyalty-and ultimate betrayal (but can it really be called betrayal if it is for the good and happiness of a friend?) is to say the least, heart-wrenching.

I won't lie-I cried at the end of this book.

George, a smart, hard-working man takes care of Lenny his huge, mentally retarded friend after Lenny's great aunt passes away.

Their dream of a better life with a house and a farm of their own drives them through their many menial jobs during the Great Depression.

Lenny, perhaps the most misunderstood character in the book, likes to pet soft things, which gets him in some tough situations. Through it all, George is by his side, helping Lenny out of the messes he innocently creates and acting for his own good.

Although this book is a tear-jerker, it is a fast read and well worth your time. If you can get past the language used by ignorant ranchers of that time, you will enjoy the touching story of two friends.

The House on Mango Street Review

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros is unlike most of my usual reads. Comprised of short, unconnected vignettes about a young Hispanic girl becoming a young woman, it was a little hard to follow.

Each chapter granted a quick glimpse into various worries in Esperanza's mind. From her hair to her neighbors to the hardships of living in the slums of town where her nationality is a burden, the book covers many topics.

For me, one who likes a solid story line and a happy ending, this work left me slightly unfulfilled. However, the book did provide an excellent view into the life of a typical young girl of a different cultural and racial background and ended with a sense of hope for a better future.

This quick read would benefit someone who wants insight into a different culture, but I would not recommend it for leisurely reading.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Giver Review

Lois Lowry's profoundly prophetic novel, The Giver, tells of a bland future society. In this world, Jonas, a young boy, is selected to become the new Receiver of Memory at the annual Ceremony, where children of the age twelve are assigned to occupations.

Although I have read this book twice before, I always find new, deeper meanings.

This time around, the harsh, controlling society stood out in my thoughts. The people in this novel had basically no freedoms.

From birth, citizens learned what was "polite" and "rude" and made formal apologies for any comments or deeds that caused discomfort or brought attention to differences. They dressed the same and lived in the same houses. Food was delivered at set times. All children born in a year officially aged at an annual Ceremony.

The Elders choose occupations for each individual. Couples had to apply for children, up to one boy and one girl per "family unit".

In this strange world, only the Giver and Jonas, the new Receiver, truly have feelings. Jonas suffers under the weight of all the memories of the history of the world. This is the society's solution to keep from repeating history.

However, Jonas and the Giver realize that their peers are missing out on so much. Their plan to release the memories back to the masses goes defunct when Jonas makes the life or death decision to save a small baby from the inhumane procedure of Release.

Ms. Lowry's book truly showed that a true "Utopia" is can only be reached outside the society's "perfect" boundaries.

Animal Farm Review

George Orwell's Animal Farm, billed as a fairy tale, is anything but. In fact, it is an allegory of the Russian Revolution.

Pigs represent Stalin, Trotsky and Lenin. Horses and sheep are the proletariat. There are even dogs to portray Stalin's secret police.

In this tale of rebellion, betrayal, and irony, the animals overthrow their human master in hopes of establishing a land of freedom. However, greed and the lure of power get in the way, leading to a dictatorship more miserable than the animals could have imagined.

Orwell tells it like it is is this novel, not painting a picture of a harmonious utopia, but rather showing the true discontent of the public when authority gets out of hand.

This book sheds a different light on the Russian Revolution and provides a grim warning for all democratic societies. I enjoyed it and recommend it to anyone with an interest in protecting their freedom.
Some of you may have heard of the poem by William Carlos Williams entitled The Red Wheelbarrow. It goes:

So much depends

A red wheel

glazed with

beside the white

After reading and discussing this poem (notice how the words of each stanza appear in the shape of a wheelbarrow), we wrote our own poem in the same style. Here's mine:

So much depends upon
a tattered sheet of music

yellowed and torn
covered in penciled squiggles

sitting on the stand.