Review of YA Title: Divergent By Veronica Roth

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***SPOILERS***

 

 

Recommended

I recommend this novel for young adults based on the strong female lead, Tris Prior. This is a sixteen year old female who is faced with the challenge of leaving her family for another way of living and finding out that her new home, along with others are planning on killing her family and everyone from her previous life. With this she must also survive through an intense initiation process and deal with her feelings towards one of her trainers, feelings she has never had before. Tris is an example of a young woman dealing with the challenges of the world and not acting in the typical teenage, love driven way that many teenagers in popular culture are displayed as.

The writing in this novel is fluid and keeps the audience engaged, wondering what will happen next. As each new character enters there is a mystery as to what benefit may come to them based on their actions and how those actions will affect the outcome of the story.

A disadvantage to the book is its length of 487 pages. Some readers will be turned off form the novel from the sheer volume. The description in the novel allows for a clear picture of the settings, had Roth used less imagery she would have been able to have a smaller book in size that would have appealed to a larger audience. I would refrain from allowing readers under fourteen from reading due to violence.

I would place this novel in the Young Adult section of my library as it appeals to both young adults and adult readers.

 

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Reflection on Joseph Bruchac’s “Point of Departure”

The article Point of Departure by Joseph Bruchac in response to Clare Bradford’s essay highlights the importance of Native writers writing about their heritage. It talks about how those that study and even immurse themselves in other cultures cannot fully understand what it is like to be part of them. Bruchac who is of “mixed blood” (Bruchac, 343) explains that he is someone who struggled to find his identity in Native writing as he grew up during a time where it was safer for your family not to be Native. It is also explained that while someone can be born Native, it does not mean they are instantly born with the understanding of what those before them have experienced.

I found this article to be interesting because it provided a different view on the writings of Native people that I have not often found in academic writing. It is important to remember that studying a culture does not mean that you have lived it, the experiences from generation to generation affect how the family lives.

D-I-Y Projects

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            A commonly used web site that promotes Do It Yourself Projects is Pintrest. This is a public forum that allows for people around the world to come together and present ideas to other members of the site. While this site does require a membership in order to save ‘Pins’ or post ‘Pins’ but a membership is free and only requires a valid e-mail address and a password. By searching “DYI & Crafts” you are instantly connected to hundreds of craft ideas and step by step instructions.

            As a crafter, I find this site to be a useful source for a variety of projects ranging from candles, paint, snow globes and knitting. As a young adult, I value this source because it has encouraged me to try new projects that I did not believe I would be able to complete because of a lack of direction. Crafting for me a way of relaxing and allowing myself to become completely engrossed in a project that I decided to pursue on my own for my own enjoyment. 

This site can be accessed at http://www.pintrest.com 

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Author Profile: S. E. Hinton

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S. E. Hinton Biography

Susan Eloise Hinton, better known as S. E. Hinton is an acclaimed writer who has influenced the lives of youth through her writings for generations. Born July 22nd in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Hinton enjoyed reading and writing for both school and pleasure from a young age (Random House). Through the use of writing, Hinton was found she was able to express herself in a way that allowed for her to share her views without worry. At age 15, she began writing what would become one of her biggest literary accomplishments The Outsider (Thomas). When the book was first published, the author was at the young age of 17 and already on her way to was on her way to becoming a literary icon (Random House). When The Outsiders was published in 1967, Hinton’s publishers presented her with an idea that likely influenced that this novel made on the readers. The Narrator of this novel is a boy named Ponyboy and considering that Hinton is female, it was suggested that she publish under the name S. E. Hinton, fearing that “their readers wouldn’t respect a “macho” story written by a woman” (Random House).

It was not until Hinton was in college at the University of Tulsa that she began to write her second book That Was Then, This Is Now (Random House). This was done with the encouragement of her then boyfriend, now husband who was able to see how her writers block was upsetting her and refused to go on dates with her unless she would write two pages a day (Random House). While this method took time, it was effective for Hinton as she was able to finally over come her writers block.

Hinton currently lives with her husband David in Tulsa Oklahoma (sehinton). Their only son Nick is away for college. In her off time, Hinton enjoys horse-back riding, walking the dog and reading (sehinton.com). These leisure activities have influenced her writings by expanding her mind and giving Hinton ideas for some of her later works.

Works:

            Hinton has published seven books, five of which are novels for young adults and two that are children’s books. These literary works are The Outsiders (1967), That Was Then, This Is Now 1971), Rumble House (1975), Tex (1979), Taming the Star Runner (1988), Big David, Little David (1995) and the Puppy Sister (1995).

The Outsiders was Hinton’s first novel and the one that she is best known for. This life changing story was something that Hinton felt passionately having heard by the world, having lived her own version in her hometown (Gillespie, 45). This novel looks at the harmful life altering effects the stereotyping can have on a group or individual (Gillespie, 45). This novel was also later turned into a film. Hinton is quoted as saying “I wrote it at the right time in my life, I lived that book” referring to The Outsiders (Write Stuff).

That Was Then, This Is Now, Hinton’s second novel is a story of drugs, delinquency, and a tough kid making a tough decision (Random House). This novel took longer to write than others because of her process of writing only two pages a day until completion.

Rumble House was published as a novel in 1975 after having been previously published as a short story in 1968 (hinton.com). The short story was originally published in an edition of Nimrod, which was a literary supplement for the University of Tulsa Alumni Magazine (hinton.com). This novel earned Hinton two awards; the ALA Best Book for Young Adults award and A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year award (Random House).

Tex was the third novel for Hinton and the first of her writings to be transformed into a motion picture (hinton.com). Hinton’s third novel earned her three awards including the ALA Best Book for Young Adults award, A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year award and A Booklist Editors’ Choice award.

Taming the Star Runner is Hinton’s last novel to date and was written after taking a seven year break from writing novels when her son Nick was a young child (Random House). Hinton told Random House Publishing in an interview “I couldn’t think of a single thing to say. I didn’t have a writer’s block—I was writing plenty: screenplays for my novels, television scripts, advertisements. I simply didn’t have a story I wanted to tell.” This novel earned another ALA Best Book for Young Adults award (Random House).

Big David, Little David was Hinton’s first children’s book that was written for kids of the kindergarten age. This story was published in 1995 (hinton.com).

The Puppy Sister was published later in 1995 and written for children (hinton.com).

Hinton became the first writer to be the recipient of the American Library Association’s first annual Margaret A. Edwards Award, an award that honors authors “whose books have provided young adults with a window through which they can view their world and which will help them to grow and to understand themselves and their role in society” (Random House). In 1988 Hinton became the first person to receive the YASD/SLJ Author Achievement Award (hinton.com).

Writing Motivations and Practices

Hinton has been asked in various interviews about her writing process. She explains that it began with her passion for writing that  in grade school because she loved to read and found the idea of creating her own stories was empowering (Write Stuff). Hinton begins her process the same but each writing ends differently. She begins with creating a character in her mind, and deciding on what the end result will be. After that, she works out the middle which Hinton believes to be the hardest part about writing (Random House). In regards to The Outsiders, Hinton realized that she was “not satisfied with the literature that was being written for young adults” and thus took it upon herself to write something that young adults such as herself could relate to (hinton.com). When it comes to physically writing, each book is different, The Outsiders was written three times before being it was published and for That Was Then, This Is Now, it was written in one draft, two pages a day. (Write Stuff)

From Novels to Films

Tex was Hinton’s first novel to be turned into a movie version in 1982 by Walt Disney Studios (Random House). Hinton on the filming of Tex: “Tex was just plain fun to shoot. My horse, who I based Tex’s horse on in the book, played Tex’s horse in the movie and did a great job!” (hinton.com). Hinton on her role in the film: “I play the typing teacher. I was supposed to look terrified, which was lucky, because I was.” (hinton.com).

The Outsiders was Hinton’s second novel turned film and was released as a movie in March of 1983 (hinton.com). During this filming, Hinton became close with the cast, “I was sort of a greaser den-mother—I still miss my boys” (hinton.com). Hinton on her role in the film: “I play the nurse in Dallas’ room—Matt and I had a hard time keeping a straight face during that scene!” (hinton.com)

Rumble Fish opened 1983 after The Outsiders and was her first film to be rated ‘R’ (hinton.com). Hinton on her part in the film: “I have a bit part as hooker. I don’t know why” (hitnon.com)

That Was Then, This Is Now, was turned into a film by Paramount Picture in 1985 (Random House). This was the first film that Hinton was not involved in the filming of but still felt that a good job was done in its adaptation (hinton.com). Her main comment on the film was “I knew Hollywood wouldn’t be brave enough to handle the ending, and I was right! Still a pretty good movie, though” (hinton.com).

Reviews of Hinton’s Writings

The reviews for S. E. Hinton have been primarily positive from both young adult such as Julie Wall, exclaiming that the novel That Was Then, This Is Now was “ a fantastic story of love, friendship, growing up and even growing apart”.  Young reader Michael Arbeiter proclaimed that Tex “[had] everything—action, romance, comedy. Hinton’s realistic characters have real-life problems that you might find familiar, like I did”.

Hinton is an author who faced few literary criticisms in her career. Her books are loved by many as they speak to an age group about the everyday challenges they face in a way that they can relate to.

Other Facts:

  • When Hinton’s not writing, she rides her horse, takes courses at the university, and is involved in Nick’s school (Random House).
  •  “I think if you want to learn to write better, you need to read better”- Hinton (Random House).
  • After The Outsiders, Hinton was becoming known as “The Voice of the Youth” among other titles (hinton.com).
Shown here with her novel Rumble Fish

Shown here with her novel Rumble Fish

 

“About the Author.” Random Hosue. Random House LLC., n.d. Web. 09 Feb 2014.

“Biography.” S. E. Hinton. sehinton, n.d. Web. 09 Feb 2014.

Arbeiter, Mihael. “Bonding with Books.” Voices From the Middle. 8.4 (2001): 76. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.

Fed-Feitel, Lisa. “S.E.Hinton has the Write Stuff.” Scholastic Scope. 54.6/7 (2005): 14. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.

Gillespie, Joanne S. “Getting inside S. E. Hinton’s “The Outsiders”.” English Journal. 95.3 (2006): 44-48. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.

Marcuccilli, Nicole M. “The Book Review Grade 5 & Up.”School Library Journal. 49.8 (2003): 186. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.

Wall, Julie. “That Was Then, This Was Now.” Voices From the Middle. 11.3 (2004): 71. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.

 

Eleanor and Park

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A book were when you turn the last page, you start writing a sequel in your head.

***SPOILERS***

The two main characters in this book are Eleanor Douglas and Park Sheridan, with the people around them playing important roles in the development of both the characters as people, and the story itself. Eleanor is faced with having multiple siblings, a mother and a step father. Her father’s character is touched on lightly and it is his decision to not be involved in his children’s lives that resulted in the situation she was forced to live in. Sabrina, Eleanor’s mother was once someone that she looked up to but could not longer respect after she allowed for her stepfather, Richie to kick Eleanor out of the house at age fifteen for an entire year (Rowell, 153). Richie is referred to as a song of a bitch by those that had known him growing up. Eleanor’s siblings influenced how she reacted to things that her stepfather did and also forced her to take on the role of mother and comforter to them when Sabrina and Richie would fight, scaring the children in the night.

Park came from a home that in comparison was much more stable. He had a mother, Min-Dae and a father and one younger brother, Josh. While Park and his father did not always agree on the decisions that Park made, he never felt scared and always knew that when something bad happened he had the option of going to his family for support. This support was transferred to Eleanor as the relationship between she and Park grew, providing her with the feeling of security that she had not felt since she was a young child.

This, among many things is a story about love and what it means in a variety of ways. It’s about the love between a boy and a girl, the love Eleanor gains from her two friends at school DeNice and Beebi (Rowell, 55) and the love that a family can provide not only for their child, but for the child they know is desperate on the inside to feel welcomed and not hated.

The story beings on Eleanor’s first day at a new school when she steps on the bus to see, everyone has claimed their seat and she would be the intruder who changed the system. Park, being raised to be kind and feeling embarrassed for her, tells Eleanor in a gruff manner to sit down. This seating arrangement changed their lives forever. As time went on Eleanor began reading Parks comics over his shoulder until he began giving her comics to take home at night. This act was the beginning of their friendship. Eventually, they began talking to each other, more and more and in hushed tones as to not all on the attention of the school bullies sitting in the back of the bus.

As two teenagers, they did not know where they stood with each other until  one day when Steve, a bully was making fun of Eleanor in front of Park and he responded by beating Steve up, and calling her his girlfriend (Rowell, 131). From that day, she realized that he was over (for the most part) being embarrassed by her wardrobe choices, not really knowing why she dressed the way she did—because it is all they could afford.

As Park began opening up to Eleanor, he realized how much she held back. He loved her and wanted her to open up to him but she feared that if he knew about not have a shower curtain and the shower being in her kitchen, the room she shared with her siblings, the excuse of a man that her mother married, their lack of money, that he would not want her anymore. Finally, Eleanor began telling him things, small things that allowed him to see a small part of her life away from him. They spent all their free time together that Eleanor could steal as she had to hide from her mother that she had a boyfriend.

The story becomes dark as Eleanor accepts to herself what kind of person Richie was. His writing in her text books was his way of asking her to enter into a physical relationship with him, and her understanding of Richie was that it would happen either with or without her consent. When she realized this she did the one thing she knew she could always do, she ran to Park. With the help of some characters who decided for once in the story to be kind, Park and Eleanor planned their drive to her uncle on her mother’s side home, far away where she hoped she would be welcome and safe. This was a turning point in Park’s relationship with his father who caught him packing his bag in the early hours of the morning. By helping Park and promising that if things did not work out with her uncle, Eleanor would be safe with them they were able to bond as they had not yet done (Rowell, 296).

This novel takes place in primarily three settings, the bus, Eleanor’s home and Parks home. The bus is vital to the story because without it these characters would not have met or developed the relationship that they did. Eleanor’s home as a setting explained the family dynamics and the environment in which Eleanor was living and why she was the person that she was. Parks home became the safe haven for both of these characters. They were able to be together without fear of being caught by Richie and Sabrina and it gave Eleanor a place that she was always welcome when she needed to be away from her home.

I found this novel to be very emotional. Throughout the story my heart went out to Eleanor for being in such a hard place at a tender age in life. She wanted to take care of her siblings but was not their mother, and she wanted to open herself up to Park’s love but knew there would be consequences if her family found out. The racism in this book is needed in order to show where some of Park’s insecurities come from. It is referenced but it does not over power the story line between the young couple.

The book had a steady pace to it. At times I wished more had gone into the relationship between the two, having more conversations that deepened their connection. Overall it was steady and moved well. The writing from each characters perspective throughout the story allowed for things to move well, and enabled the reader to understand how both sides felt during situations where they were not speaking or were fearful of what they might say. Both Park and Eleanor were fearful at times of saying things that might frighten the offer off from the relationship.

I would give this book 4/5 cups of tea.

Movie or the Book?

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The debate between which is better continues– the book or the movie? I have always said that the book is better, until I remembered Meg Cabot’s The Princess Diaries. After re-watching this movie for the 100th time– not an exaggeration– and thinking back to when I read the books, the movie was better! Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway bought the characters to life in a way that made them loveable, and you don’t find Mia so annoying. I found the books to lag on and made me not want to read the next one whereas the movie is enjoyable and is something I want to see again and again.

Books allow for details to be shown that movies simply cannot do. You can’t get into the heads of the characters in a movie, you don’t get to hear what it is they are thinking, you only get to see what they do. It’s said that a pictures worth a thousand words, but those thousand words allow you to create the image that you want, personalizing the story. When a book becomes a film, the reader looses that image in their head, that personalization and turns it into something else. Except in the case of The Princess Diaries I would say that, the book is better.

***SPOILERS***

I’ve provided a link to the band “Axis of Awesome” and their song Rage of Thrones which is about their view on books vs. movies (or shows) using the example of Game of Thrones. This song does talk about the plot so if you’re behind in the books you may not wish to view it… but check out their other songs, so funny.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CLCOvZOh1o

 

The children’s and young adult literature handbook : a research and reference guide by John T. Gillespie

This is a resource that offers bibliographic information on various literatures pertaining to educating those working with youth and children. This resource is useful as it touches on varying topics such as picture books, gay and lesbians, gender and fantasy and science fiction. It is interesting that this handbook also looks at books published in various countries around the world. This is also a useful resource for those searching for reading material related to the topics in the book. Each resource includes a brief description about the materials. By doing this, the researcher is able to gain an understanding about the materials prior to having to obtaining a complete copy. 

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

Image             The novel The Outsiders takes place in a four primarily locations; the Curtis’ home, the old church on the outskirts of town, the park between the Socs and the Greases territory and the local hospital. The descriptions of all these areas are of poor areas where those living in them have to work harder than those in other areas of own in order to get by.

            This story is about an untraditional family of Greasers who a forced to defend themselves in life altering ways against the Socs in town. The family of Greasers contains three brothers, Ponyboy, Sodapop and their eldest brother and caregiver Darrel “Darry” Curtis; and their closest friends that are considered brothers, Johnny Cade, Dallas “Dally” Winston, Keith “Two-Bit” Mathews and Steve Randle. The story follows Ponyboy and Johnny through the ups and downs of facing a gang attack by the Socs and the tragic results of that fight. Using this story line the other characters lives intertwine with these two characters displaying the family dynamics and how they all rely on one another in varying ways. A romantic twist shows part of the coming of age for Ponyboy and what effect a relationship or even a friendship can have on those around you.

            The Greasers dominated the characters in book but still continued to interact with the Socs. Of the Greasers, the main characters were Ponyboy, Sodapop, Darry, Johnn, Dally, Two-Bit and Steve. Together they stood united, willing to do whatever was necessary to protect each other. There were other Greaser gangs in the area such as the Brumly Outcasts who would defend themselves against Socs but would also fight another Greaser (Hinton, 140). Together they build a family that at times lives as one, will always be there for one another in a tough situation and can tell each other anything without fear.

            Of the Socs, there were two that were three that in the end were willing to make peace and did not want to fight. Cherry Valance and Marcia were the girls who the fight was over between Johnny, Ponyboy, Bob, Randy and David. Randy’s attempt to drown Ponyboy is what caused Johnny to stab Bob in order to free himself and help his friend (Hinton, 56). It was not until the end of the novel that Randy realized these gangs are not a world that he wants to be apart of and does not participate in the rumble (Hinton, 115). It is these relationships that influence the decisions made throughout the novel as well as who dies and who lives.

**SPOILERS***

            This a story that I have read and re-read since I was fourteen and will very likely read again. The first time I read this novel in full, when Johnny died, I broke down and cried. He was the “glue that held the gang together” and I knew, as did the characters in the novel, that they would never be the same again. I was mad and didn’t fully understand why Johnny had to die: he had a hard life at home, friends who loved him and everything he’d done was in self-defence (Hinton, 56). It is now that I read it with a different understanding of the world we live in and a new perception of the book that I see he had to die. If he didn’t the Curtis brothers would not have become as close as they did in the end, the rumbles would continue because Johnny killed Bob. I felt that as painful as it was to loose Johnny, even knowing it was coming, it would set off a sequence of events that needed to occur in this small and angry town. The death of Dally was tragic but understandable to the story. I wanted him to come out stronger from what he had gone through, to start over and to be the man that Johnny saw when he looked at him but it was not in his nature to change and without the anchor that Johnny provided him with, he was unable to contemplate living in such a world.

Young Adult Materials in Public Libraries

The city and library branch that I recently visited will remain anonymous for the purpose of this blog.

I recently took a trip to a local public library in an effort to look through their young adult section. This task was to help me better understand how some of the local branches in my current city organize their materials in regards to the materials they carry. When searching for the young adult section, I was unable to find area under that specific a heading so I began looking at different sections around the library. By doing this, I found that titles and authors that would typically fall under this category were divided into two sections of the library, the “children’s section” and “other materials”. This would make it difficult for young adults to find materials that are aimed at them because they would not want to be looking in the children’s section for older books and unless you are someone who is willing to ask the staff or wander the library, you wouldn’t be able to find the materials you desired. A better way or organizing these materials would be by compiling them in one, identifiable section that teens and young adults would be able to locate without difficulty.

While I feel that this branch could better organize their young adult section, I did find this library to be welcoming, provide generous space for sitting and reading and is active in its community outreach.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

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The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The story of the Catcher in the Rye is an expression of what most teenagers in North America feel at some point during their adolescence. They, as Holden Caulfield does, believe themselves to be more intelligent than anyone else in the room, and are moodier than others.

Holden Caulfield is the main character and the narrator throughout the story. He presents himself as a failing student who sees the world as full of phonies and is well on his way to becoming a severely depressed alcoholic. Holden is constantly expressing his hatred with the world and the majority of the people in it, even though it is fleeting and he only hates people for a short time until he wants to spend an evening with them again (Salinger, 187). Holden interacts with different characters that he lives with, was a student of or was a student with, strangers in public and his family, primarily his younger sister Phoebe and his deceased younger brother Allie. Of these characters in the novel, the only two that Holden appears to truly care about are his younger siblings. This shows the protective nature of the character that otherwise does not show much positive emotions for others.

Holden’s story takes place in a variety of physical places but it also takes place in his mind. Holden is telling his story to himself as he travels, thinking about those that he believes to be phonies and why he is better than them (Salinger, 126).

The beginning of the novel moves slowly as the reader begins to learn about all the different things that Holden hates and about his departure from Pencey Prep (Salinger, 2). It is not until Holden get to New York that the book begins to pick up in pace as he has more involvement with varying characters. The book does not move in a steady pace as the ending of the book, when Holden and his sister Phoebe are talking that the book moves rapidly. The slow progression in pacing allows for the reader to gain a better understanding of Holden and who he is, before introducing his sister, one of the few people that can make Holden stop, listen and think about what he’s doing and how he views things.

There are many themes throughout this novel such as family, teenage-angst, and alcoholism. Holden is constantly worried about when his parents would find out that he had once again failed out of boarding school. Holden was primarily concerned about his mother’s reaction as she had become nervous and stressed since the death of Allie. Phoebe is the other family member that is constantly on his mind, recalling how smart she was and that he hoped that she never became a phoney like their eldest brother D.B.

Holden expresses his teenage-angst by explaining how horrible and phoney everything in the world was, and how depressed it made him (Salinger, 114). Holden is constantly looking for a drink. He is underage and faces challenges in some bars when trying to order a drink and the bartender does not believe that he is legal and this is a frustration for him. He is willing to drink alone but will often reach out to anyone he can, including his current cab driver to join him for a drink. When things weren’t going right for Holden, as they rarely were in his opinion, he reached for a cigarette and a drink—proclaiming to himself that he “…felt like getting stinking drunk” (Salinger, 145).

This was never a book that I read in my youth nor was I ever full of angst. If I had read this as a teenager I feel I would have understood where Holden was coming from more but at this stage in my life, he presents himself as a self-righteous teenager who complains about everything. What appealed to me throughout this book was the relationship between Holden and Phoebe. She was the only person who was able to truly get through to him when he was depressed and angry at the world. Without this relationship, I would not have been as interested in the novel.

I would recommend this book to people ages 13-21 to read. I believe that the lessons discussed in this novel are still relevant to today’s youth.