Category Archives: Books/Art

The Manga section at Highland High School

By: Maya Breininger

Suppose you’re a student at Highland High School, a school building under the Saint Paul Public School system, and your main interests and hobbies consist of reading manga, graphic novels, and picture books. 

There are many available systems that make the libraries enjoyable and accessible to the students. Systems such as the book return policy, different librarians working to make sure that students enjoy their experience, and so on. 

The librarian working at Highland, a wonderful librarian working to keep our school library system working continually for students.

She works very well with the school, trying her hardest to give the students satisfactory and organized books to their liking. Even though she often pulls through with very satisfactory layouts, the materials and resources given to her are very limited. 

The library receives very little funding from the school district, and has a very limited amount of Title 1 funding. The money it does receive is from a combination of district library services, and Parent Student Teacher grants, or PTSA grants. Even though these resources are available, the librarian expressed how it is not enough to get the school to the recommended amount of books for students across the district.

Some of the main problems the librarian encounters are books often being taken without being checked out, some books never being returned, and some being returned in worse quality than initially rented out. She’s a team of one – basically, drastically understaffed – and often finds it hard to balance her home life with school, considering the limited amount of staff.

Although she faces these many challenges, she acknowledges that the Manga section is the most popular section in the library and tries her hardest to make the best decisions on which manga’s to bring for the students.

As we take a closer look and indulge ourselves in the manga section of the library, you find a wide variety of selections that would satisfy any anime watcher or manga fanatic.

As you can see in the picture below, it’s a very popular and wide section of books that are rented out quite frequently. From a personal perspective, it’s very admirable how organized and clean the Manga section is, despite being handled by many teenage students every day.

Now one may wonder, how can this section be expanded? Does it have enough options? Will the books be accurately displayed within their genres, as well as book titles and descriptions?

The answer is; Yes. The books are all carefully placed and fruitfully organized, and with the money from the school, they have bought and put together a wonderful collection for many students to enjoy. 

A few things to note: Always be mindful of returning your books punctually and in respectable quality, so as to keep the Manga section enjoyable for all who visit. It’s a cool, calm and collected little corner of the library that is kept in wonderful quality by our Librarian Ms. Rahman. It’s a small space that can be used to read your newly purchased books, or that you can recover from your stressful day. 

With all hands in unison, working on growing and improving our library, we can accurately and truthfully say that the Manga section, as well as the whole of our library, is aptly and kindly taken care of. 

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‘The False Prince’ – Review

By: Abisola Dosunmu

In a kingdom named Carthya, war is coming. To bring the divided people together, a nobleman named Conner devises a plan to find an orphan boy who looks enough like the king’s son, (who was thought to be lost at sea) and may be the last link to the royal family, as the entire royal family—king, queen, and heir— all recently died under mysterious circumstances. His plan includes three orphans, one of which is a cunning thief named Sage. Sage knows Conner’s plan is far from honorable—yet he’s forced to play the part of his puppet as his life hangs in the balance. Yet as more lies unfold, and more blood is shed, one lie becomes more important than the rest and all of it comes down to a single question.

Who’s really the puppet?

‘The False Prince’ is the first book in a five book series written by Jennifer A. Nielsen, and the name of the series is called the Ascendance Series. I read the books for the first time in 8th grade, and now they are one of my favorite books to read. From the fleshed out characters, to the humor, to the cliffhangers and the various twists and turns, once you start this book, you can’t put it down.

The book immediately introduces us to Sage, a clever and wily orphan, trying to steal some meat from the market to share with the other boys at the orphanage. He is quickly apprehended by Conner and loaded into Conner’s wagon along with the other orphans he’s found, Roden, the athletic one, Tobias, the smart one, and Latamer, the sick one.

When they finally stop the wagon, Conner reveals his plan to the boys. He’s trying to find the orphan boy who looks and acts enough like King Eckbert’s youngest son, Prince Jaron, who had been missing for the past four years. His plan is that whoever is named to be Prince Jaron can stop the country from going to war. The boys have two weeks to learn everything there is to know about being a prince, and then to be able to fool the king’s court into thinking they’re Jaron.

After that, Conner tells them that any boy who wishes to abstain from his plan can do so, and Latamer, being as sickly as he is, decides that he can’t be the fake prince because of his condition. Conner tells him it’s fine and he can return to the wagon, and Sage immediately senses something is wrong and tries to warn Latamer. Before he can, Cregan swiftly shoots Latamer with an arrow, killing him before he even reaches the wagon. The boys now understand that it’s too late to back out of Conner’s competition.

Sage is soon trapped in Conner’s deadly win or lose all game with the two other boys, just to have a chance to be Prince Jaron. The downside? The price of losing the game may be his life. As Sage moves from being a rundown orphan, to having the chance to be a king, and have everything at his fingertips, he’s racing against enemies, trying to save his life, his past, and most importantly, his country.

I definitely think this series is worth reading if you’re into medieval fantasy. I loved the humor, the fleshed out characters, the plot twists, the main character, and the way the book kinda threw you off and made you work to get to the conclusion.

I would rate the book a 4/5. The only reason I won’t give it a full review is that it’s not really a book that’s short and ties itself up quickly, which I understand kinda turns off some people from certain books (and I definitely had trouble putting all of my attention on the book, but it was worth it).

A review of the ‘Vinyl’ trilogy

By: McKenzie Welch

Image taken from: goodreads.com

Many well known titles come from the dystopian genre, such as ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Divergent’. ‘Vinyl’, ‘Radio’, and ‘Siren’ by Sophia Elaine Hanson are a part of a self-published set of additions to this prevalent sector of novels. The ‘Vinyl’ series features action, adventure, romance, found family, and a critique on something that exists in the society that we live in today.

The ‘Vinyl’ trilogy takes place in a self-created world, featuring countries such as Revinia and Tovaire.

Hanson adds a creative twist to music, making it so that song is practically intertwined with the words on the pages of the novel. Essentially, the people of Revinia have earpieces, dubbed “singers”, that play music throughout all hours of the day and night. These monotonous pieces are meant to implement control over the citizens of the country.

Ronja Zipse, our main character, is a citizen who struggles greatly with her singer, mainly because she works so hard to resist the music playing in her head. The description of the world makes it seem very drab, as there is no individuality; everyone thinks the way that the conductor has decided is best.

Of course, most dystopian novels are not complete without a rebellion, and the Anthem (the name of the rebellion in the book) is a prevailing aspect throughout all three novels. The Belly, where the rebellious members of the Anthem live, is a place where people can forge friendships, find family, and make a life for themselves right underneath the people whose lives are continuously being stolen away by repetitive music notes.

I cannot connect to any type of media, whether it be shows, movies, or novels, if I am not connected to the characters. The main characters were well fleshed out in this trilogy. These characters were named Ronja, Roark, Henry, Evie, Iris, and Terra, and they all had their own traits, relationships, and backgrounds that made them who they were.

Because the characters were all so different, it was easy for me to find a character who I could see myself within, which I generally believe makes a book more interesting to read. That character for me was Iris, who was shy, sensitive, but also stronger than you would ever know just by looking at her. The characters also gave representation for the LGBTQ+ community, as there were multiple same-sex relationships between both background characters and main characters.

All in all, even if I could not directly connect to a character, I still found myself sympathetic towards them, which shows that Hanson created loveable characters that made the novel itself more enjoyable.

Overall, I ended up rating the book 3.5/5 stars. My reasoning for this is that, although I enjoyed the plot and the characters immensely, in my opinion, there were still areas that lacked. For example, there were relationships between characters that felt as though they were either underdeveloped or as though they were created out of convenience. I personally feel as though the relationships would not have been so lackluster if characters had been paired with others outside of their own circle of friends.

Also, there was the beginnings of a love triangle that never matured into anything more. If you’re going to add a trope into a book, be sure that it actually evolves into what it’s supposed to be.

Finally, the writing style was, at times, not captivating to me. Although there were some typos and mistakes, it was not bad by any means, especially when you take into consideration the fact that this book was self-published, but there were moments throughout my reading where I wasn’t able to keep my mind solely focused on the words on the page.

However, there were other times where the writing descriptions were extremely vivid and kept me enthralled in the story.

So, in the end, I believe that there are things to critique throughout the novels, but, if you like representative dystopian novels that implement new twists on things often perceived as mundane, I would recommend the ‘Vinyl’ series to you.

‘Looking For Alaska’ book review

By: Alexa Ramirez

Image taken from: Image from https://www.
commonsensemedia
.org/book-reviews/looking-for-alaska

*Warning: contains spoilers

I didn’t think I cared much about ‘Looking for Alaska’ until I was coming across its last pages. I first encountered this book when my friend told me she was reading it, and I thought the smoke filled cover looked cool. She had recommended it to me and I ended up finding and buying it at a buy one get one half off sale at Barnes and Noble.

Looking back on that small action, I can’t believe I hadn’t known just how powerful this book’s hold would be on me.

The book takes place at a boarding school in Birmingham, Alabama, where a very bright group of 4 high school kids, that come from many different places, and social classes (who would technically be considered outcasts), live at the school and go on many adventures in their time there.

In the story, the main protagonist, Miles, who comes from a life of mediocrity in Florida, falls in love with the mysterious and unpredictable Alaska, the only girl in their group. The book follows their romance through thick and thin, as well as his journey with Takumi, the Colonel, and Laura, the other three members of their group, while they show him the complete opposite of what his life was in Florida.

In most of the books I’ve read, the takeaways are all very similar; all including lessons about how to better enjoy the life that we as humans lead here on earth. But a lot of my questions don’t include any of that. Obviously, I do live with the human curiosity most have about how to live life to what they consider its fullest, but since I was young, there hasn’t been a day that’s gone by that I haven’t had some kind of curious realization about life after death. For a long time it has been something that has scared me, and in all honesty, after reading the book it definitely still does, but now for different reasons.

In the book, Alaska struggles with many things. Her upbringing caused her to grow with a struggle with irrational decision making, impulsiveness, and arguably suicidal thoughts. She also (among many others at the school) struggles with a drinking and smoking addiction. All of these were causes of her death in the story when she drunkenly got in a car crash that the Colonel, one of her closest friends at the school, believed to have been a suicide. This left them all to cope with a loss that weighed an unimaginable ton on them all and inevitably raised the question of what happened to her after death.

This provided me not only with answers to many of my questions, but many new questions of my own. I grew up with the fear that if someone in my life died, I would never be able to cope and would live a miserable and clouded rest of my life. But this book really proved that although grief isn’t something linear, it is periodic. Though it took Miles and friends weeks to even comprehend her death, it was evident that it didn’t destroy them. They continued their studies, some even studying how it was that she died, and growing together from all of this.

One of my favorite of Miles’ quotes was “She didn’t leave me enough to discover her, but she left me enough to discover the great perhaps.” It really showed me how much he wanted to know her, and how he was not getting to do that really doubled his grief. This quote really showed me how much Alaska’s death matured him, and concludes the internal conflict he faced throughout the whole story.

This “great perhaps” that he was seeking throughout the story really mirrored and brought into the light something very common for teenagers and anyone struggling with their mental health. I think for a lot of teenagers (myself included) or people in general, we all become very guilty of chasing this life of constant excitement and productivity which is something that in a healthy way, can arguably be good for a person’s motivation. But for many, it can quickly become an unhealthy hyper focus that really just clouds us of all the good things that really are happening all around us.

I think the life of mediocrity, that was his life in Florida, was something hard for him, but when all the grief was going on at the boarding school, it became something comforting to look back on. I think the constant sense of wanting more really stood in the way of him enjoying his life in Florida and is what pushed him to try to start over his life. In my opinion, Alaska being his door to the long awaited “great perhaps” and that all of a sudden being ripped away was a crucial part of his development, and a crucial part in the life of any reader who shares this mentality.

This book helped me realize that a life without mediocrity will never be caused by a person, a place or one specific event. The great perhaps is the way you view the things that happen to you; it’s all internal. This book led me to believe that the great perhaps is anything you do with intention that gives all of the big things and little detail of your life purpose.

A final important thing the book taught me was how important diversity of religion can play into someone’s perspective on life. In the book, Miles takes a religion class taught by an older teacher who he looks up to as a mentor, and the main three religions they learn about are Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. Many of the stories he learns from these religions provide good perspectives on life that I hadn’t heard prior to reading the book. At one point, he read a Sufi story that goes against many peoples ideas of heaven and hell and how getting into either can become really transactional. It backed up the book’s essential effect on me about how crucial intention is, and that no matter what religion or spirituality, practicing with intention will give you back the most in return without you even knowing it.

Another interesting point he took from the Buddhist, was the story of Banzan and the main takeaway is that there is no best or worst, there only is what there is and after realizing that he grew enlightened. This point was especially striking to me because although I agree with a lot of Buddhist ideas, this wasn’t one of them, but I appreciate being able to read and expand my perspective to different ideas, something key to growing from reading.

These are all just a few reasons that contributed to my love for this book. But they were examples I thought were important for an outsider’s perspective to get a clue into how strategic and smart I think John Green’s writing was when writing this book. A recurring theme in this book that I took away from the story was intention, and I think that is truly the best way to describe the writing. Intentional. It was carefully thought out and put together, and although I just spoiled most of it, I really recommend allowing this book to impact you as a reader the way it impacted me.

‘Angela’s Ashes’

By: Julia Swee

Warning *Spoilers*

‘Angela’s Ashes’ by Frank McCourt is a historical memoir about a poor and troubled, Irish Catholic family in the middle of the Great Depression. The main character is based on Frank McCourt’s life, as he grew up in multiple different homes and came across many different circumstances along the way. Frank’s family consisted of his mom Angela McCourt, his dad Malachy McCourt, his little brothers, and one sister. The first brother Frank had was Malachy Junior, and then came Michael, Oliver and Eugene, and then Alphie.

As the story begins, Frank is a young child, and does not yet know the horrors of real life until he experiences his little sister Margaret’s death. She dies as just a little baby, and this absolutely crushes his parents. His dad is a raging alcoholic, and is rarely ever there for the family, never providing for them, and leaving them with no money as he spends it all on his drink. 

As Frank recounts his life in Ireland, he mentions different historical events and incorporates traditional Irish folklore into his stories. Frank mentions his favorite childhood story, “Cuchulain”, and develops a deep connection with the folklore character.

As Frank and family grieve over the loss of their sister Margaret, the depression hits them hard, as they struggle to find a steady place to stay. As they settle in the same place that Angela’s mother lives, they are struck with more unlucky circumstances as Frank’s little twin brothers, Oliver and Eugene, pass away from famine. This only sends the family into deeper depression, as they now have three missing children. 

As Frank begins his schooling, he feels the pressure and impact of the strict Irish Catholic culture. Frank is forced to succumb to the ways of the religion and its extreme values. A part of the religion values the act of confession to a priest, which plays a big part in the book as Frank relies on confessions to relieve his guilt for many things.

Although there are good priests who listen to Frank and his issues, throughout the novel Frank comes to notice how uptight and selective the church is of their people. When the church comes to play in Frank’s education, he feels as if he’s being controlled, which leads him to distrust his higher ups in both the church and school. 

As Frank grows with age, he uncovers secrets of his family, the church, and the world around him. He loses his innocence as he tries to figure out the right ways to go about life, leading him to eventually go off on his own.

He pockets money from his job selling magazines to save for a trip to America, where he believes he will find his passion in life. Frank uses many different anecdotes throughout his story to calm the truth of how truly horrific his childhood was.

In the end, Angela’s Ashes gives the reader a detailed and inspirational true story about a young boy navigating the scary world that Limerick, Ireland was at the time of the Great Depression. As the story comes to a close, with Frank finally finding his people in the great country of America, the reader is left with closure for Frank, and hope for a future of success. 

Irish writers 

By: Thalia & Abi 

For collage sources, please see below

There were 5 remarkable Irish writers who impacted Irish culture and influenced writers today.

The first Irish writer is James Joyce. James Joyce was born on February 2, 1882. He was a poet, noelist, and a short story writer. One of his most famous works was his book ‘Ulysses’ that was published in 1922. This book is a modern version of ‘The Odyssey’. As a poet, Joyce was one of the best avant-garde writers. Joyce made an impact on Irish culture by being a part of the avant-garde movement. The avant-garde movement is a reference to art. The term means “that any artist, movement, or artwork pushes the boundaries”. James Joyce died on January 13, 1941.

The second remarkable Irish writer is C. S. Lewis. C. S. Lewis was born November 29, 1898. He was a novelist and a scholar. C. S. Lewis taught at Oxford University and he became a renowned Christian apologist writer. To support his faith, he used his logic and philosophy. C. S. Lewis is also known for writing the fantasy series, ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’. This series has now been adapted into many films. His motivations and his impact on Irish culture both had to do with religion. He restored a Christian version of humanity along with the idea of reason, and he demonstrated how Christianity could help individuals who wanted answers in life. C. S. Lewis died on November 22, 1963.  

The third remarkable Irish writer is Jonathan Swift. Swift was born on November 30, 1667. Jonathan Swift was a satirist writer and an essayist. Satire writing is a type of social commentary that uses irony, exaggeration, and other literary devices to make fun of people, traditions, or simply anything that they want to comment on. An essayist is someone who writes essays for publication. Jonathan Swift is most known for ‘Gulliver’s Travels’, which mocks English customs and politics of the day. According to the website Britlitsurvery2, Swift paved the way for political writers of the 21st century. Swift helped find a way to connect with his audiences and educate them about the economic conditions of their country through his satirical writing. Swift died on October 19, 1745

The fourth Irish writer is William Congreve. Congreve was born on January 24, 1670. Congreve was also a satirist writer like Jonathan Swift was. He was also a playwright and poet. Congreve’s most famous plays are ‘The Double Dealer’, ‘The Way of the World’, and ‘Love for Love’. According to Britannica, William Congreve is known to have shaped the English comedy of manners through his satirical portrayal of the way of the sexes. He was also known for his influence on the comedy of manners style of that period. Congreve died on January 19, 1729. 

The fifth and final Irish writer is Oscar Wilde. Wilde was born on October 16, 1854. Wilde wrote many things including epigrams, which is the “One-Liner” of literature, journalism, drama, short stories, and criticism. Wilde was most known for his novel ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ (1891) and for his comedies of manners ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’ (1892) and ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ (1895). Oscar Wilde involved himself in two movements. One of which was the Aesthetic movement which believed “that art in its various forms should not seek to convey a message to instead exist beautifully”. The second movement that Wilde was involved in was the Decadent movement which was similar to the Aesthetic movement. The Decadent movement believed that “creativity was more important than logic”. Wilde died on November 30, 1900.

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‘Divergent’ book review

By: Ella Sutherland & Lauren Kottke

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Book summary: (contains spoilers)

In the book ‘Divergent’, the population is separated into 5 different groups or “factions” within a contained city (this was the only city not affected by a war that happened earlier). Abnegation, which is selflessness, Amity, which is kindness, Candor, which is honesty, Dauntless, which is bravery, and Erudite, which is intelligence are the factions.

There is a girl named Tris, and she is a part of the faction Abnegation. She has always felt as if she doesn’t belong in that faction. At 16, everyone in this society has to take a test that helps them choose which faction they want to live in for the rest of their lives.

When she turns 16, and goes to take the test, her result is different from other people’s. Her result was inconclusive, which, in this society, means Divergent. People are afraid of Divergents because they can not be controlled like everyone else. Since she is Divergent, she fits into 3 of 5 factions. Abnegation, Dauntless, and Erudite.

At the choosing ceremony, she is scared because she doesn’t know which one to choose because the test was supposed to help her decide. She ends up choosing Dauntless because she has always felt a connection to it.

In order to be a part of Dauntless, she has to pass a series of tests that are both physical and mental. In the very beginning she is doing really bad at the training and she is falling behind. But if you do not pass these tests you will get kicked out and become factionless, which is like being homeless.

She starts training at night, and early in the morning, so that she has a better chance of making it. She starts to get noticed by one of the instructors named Four. He helps her train and win fights.

The whole group goes out into an abandoned amusement park and plays Capture the Flag, but with guns that simulate the feeling of a real gunshot. Four chooses Tris to be on his team first and everyone thought it was out of pity, but she ends up winning it for the team.

After that she started training even harder and she just barely passed the first test. The second test is a test about your mentality. You are put into a simulation that simulates your worst fears. For the first time going into the simulation, it usually takes a person around 30 minutes to get out. The only way to get out is to stop panicking and come up with a solution on how to move on from that certain fear. For Tris though, it only took her 4 minutes to get out, because she realizes that the simulation isn’t real. She realizes this because she is Divergent and cannot be controlled.

At first, Four isn’t very suspicious, but every time she goes in she gets out really really fast and the way she’s getting out isn’t practical. He then asked her what her test results were. She gets scared that he knows, but she sticks to her story and says that her result was Abnegation.

After she starts moving up in the ranks, her friend, Al, starts moving down and he becomes threatened. One night when she is coming home from seeing her brother, her friend attacks her and tries to push her off a cliff. Four sees this and helps her and brings her back to his room. The next day her friend tries to apologize but she doesn’t accept his apology.

After that incident, she becomes closer with Four and she eventually tells Four that she is Divergent. He helps her because if she were to go into that final test and do what she’s been doing the whole time the government would find out she is Divergent and kill her.

He helps her and she passes the test smoothly. That night though, they put “trackers” on all of the people who passed. But they weren’t really trackers; they contained a serum that controlled them. Tris though couldn’t be controlled because she is Divergent.

The next morning everyone is being controlled so she acts like she is too. They all go to Abnegation because that is who is running the government, but Erudite wants to be the ones in control. So the Dauntless is being controlled by Erudite, to kill the people of Abnegation if they don’t comply.

Tris realizes what’s going on, and finds Genine, the leader of Erudite. She tries to get her to shut down the program, but when she doesn’t, she injects the serum into her and makes her shut it down.

Tris, Four, and a couple other people take the train to the end of the border and climb the fence to get out of that place.

Our opinions:

Ella: I really liked the book. I liked how she was different and was like the person who kinda saves it all. And I loved her and Four. I gave it 5/5.

Lauren: I enjoyed the book. I like how the whole time she was saving everyone she was also finding herself. Tris and Four were also a great part of the story. I give it a 4/5.

‘Everything I Never Told You’ by Celeste Ng

By: Julia Swee

Caution, this review contains *SPOILERS*

‘Everything I Never Told You’ is a fictional, deep hearted, literary thriller by the American writer who goes by the pen name of Celeste Ng. Within the book, Celeste includes intense imagery of heartache, as she narrates the lives of a five person Asian-American family growing up in the suburbs of Ohio. The story takes place in the year 1977, when society was much less accepting of diversity. This adds a very pragmatic sense of the racism that Asians encountered at the time.

As the story begins, Ng narrates the lives of each family member. The main character, a 15-year-old girl named Lydia, is immediately highlighted as the main subject of the story. From the very beginning of the novel, we are introduced to the fact that Lydia had died in the nearby lake where the family lived. Ng jumps back and forth on the timeline of the family, from when Lydia was alive, and after she died, as each different character’s point of view is set on display while they mourn over the loss of their family member. 

As Ng narrates Lydia’s story, relevant information is included, such as her whereabouts, her connections, and her overall lifestyle before her death. As the book goes on, more and more pieces are connected that give us hints and clues as to what could’ve happened to Lydia, and what led to her the point of death. 

Ng also narrates the lives of Lydia’s mother Marilyn, her father James, her elder brother Nathan, and her little sister Hannah. Ng uses the transitions between different perspectives from each character, and the varying timelines of each event, to allow the reader to connect the pieces of Lydia’s disappearance. 

Celeste Ng uses this story to present an almost surreal look into the life of a modern family and the real life horrors that can severely impact the foundation of such. The way that Ng uses different perspectives to show the varying emotions that are caused by loss provides insight into the notion that life and death go hand and hand in the world. Celeste Ng does a beautiful job of setting the scene for a story that opens your eyes to the cold hard truth of the impacts that individualistic differences can have on youths. 

As we learn more and more about Lydia’s life before death, and what led up to it, we are able to grasp and understand the inner workings of her family. Ng leads a heartfelt path to the final devastating conclusion of the novel, allowing the reader to grasp the notion that nothing is ever really what it seems. 

Celeste Ng published a novel that drew a portrait of life, loss, family, heartbreak, and everything that comes with it. I recommend this book to fans of books that touch on deep family trauma and reconnection. The subject is touchy, and it is depressing, but it is not without hope at times, including the at end.

Book review on ‘Where The Crawdads Sing’

By: Ella Sutherland & Lauren Kottke

Image taken from:
https://www.goodreads.com/
book/show/36809135-where-the-crawdads-sing

‘Where The Crawdads Sing’ is a book about a girl named Kya growing up on her own in a marsh who gets involved with a murder case.

Summary (CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS)

Kya has grown up most of her life alone on the North Carolina marsh. Her family left one by one because of the abusive household. Her mom left when she was 6 years old, and her brother left not long after. Kya and her dad started having a good relationship, until Kya’s mother tried to contact them again. He began his drinking again and left her to live alone on the marsh.

Kyas never fit in with the rest of the town. If she were to go into the town, people would look at her and scold her. She didn’t wear the right clothes for them or talk the same. She was called the “Marsh Girl” because she lived alone, and isolated, on the marsh. But she loved everything about living on the marsh. She loved to feed the birds and explore the species.

After Kya’s family left her, a social worker came to the marsh and sent her to school. Kya went and immediately felt judged. Unlike all the other kids, she couldn’t read. She ended up never going back to school, but she did learn how to read.

Her childhood friend, Tate, left bird feathers on a tree stump for Kya knowing that she had a love for the marsh. They started talking and Tate offered to teach her how to read. They began growing a friendship and then a romantic relationship. They spent every day together on the marsh. Tate was never ashamed of their relationship, even though people judged him.

After a couple years of their relationship, Tate had to leave for college. He didn’t want to become trapped in the small town and knew that college was his only way out. He loved Kya but also wanted a better future for himself. Kya was obviously upset with his decision to leave. Tate promised he would come back for her on the 4th of July.

Kya waited months and months for Tate to come back to her. She waited for days after the 4th of July, but Tate never showed up. She was heart broken. Tate had become such an important person in her life, and he left like the rest of her family. She became depressed and lost her love for the marsh.

She began to fall back in love with the marsh. Kya went back to feeding the birds and exploring again. She was still angry and disappointed in Tate, but knew she had to get back up. One day, when she was exploring by the shore of the marsh, she spotted a group of people walking down by the water. She quickly climbed up a tree in the fear she would be seen. She could see that it was the star quarterback of the town, Chase Andrews, and his friends. They all came from rich families of the town. While the group of teenagers was walking down, Chase looked up at the tree and saw Kya. He didn’t say anything but held eye contact. Kya’s heart was racing. Like how it used to be for Tate. She didn’t know how to react to the feeling. She knew all the girls went head over heels for him, and now she could see why.

A couple days later, Kya and Chase met at the boat port while getting gas. Chase asked Kya to go out on a date. At first Kya was hesitant to say yes because of his reputation. They ended up going on a picnic date. Chase brought Kya over to a part of the marsh and they sat by the shore. They had a really good conversation and Kya thought it was going well. Chase leaned in for a kiss but it became more. Kya pushed Chase off and ran through the woods home.

While Kya was boating around in the marsh a week later, she saw Chase. He waved her over and she boated over to him. She didn’t trust him but wanted to know what he had to say. Chase apologized for making Kya feel uncomfortable and wanted a second chance.

Kya gave him the second chance.

They had a relationship for a while. Their whole relationship, Chase kept it a secret. Unlike Tate, who wasn’t ashamed to be involved with Kya.

One day, Kya went to her mailbox and grabbed the newspaper. As she was reading it she saw Chase’s name in the upcoming engagements. She was shocked. She had been seeing him for months without him mentioning he was getting married. The next day, Chase came to see Kya, but she didn’t answer.

The murder part of the book comes in after Chase and Kya end their relationship. Chase is found dead in a swamp by a fire tower. Chase was pushed off of the fire tower. Kya became a suspect because of her relationship with Chase. Although there was circumstantial evidence against Kya, she had an alibi for the night Chase died. There was also no hair or fingerprints found at the crime scene. One piece of evidence they had against Kya was a shell necklace Kya gave Chase. Chase always wore the necklace. But when they found his body, it was no longer on him.

While Kya was put on trial for the murder case, Tate came back. He came back years before but saw Kya with Chase so thought she had moved on. He still loved her and didn’t believe she would commit murder. He stayed by her side the whole time.

Kya gets ruled innocent and let free. She and Tate lived out the rest of their lives together. They weren’t able to have children, but they had nieces and nephews. She got the family she wanted her whole life. She continued her love for the marsh and even wrote books on them.

The last part of the book is when Kya passes away in her late 60s. Tate is cleaning out some of her stuff when he finds a necklace. A shell necklace. Tate is frozen in shock. Everyone in town was convinced that Chase’s death was an accident. But in reality Kya had pulled off a murder.

Reviews
Lauren: I loved this book! I loved how much detail there was. I could picture the marsh with the blue water and all of the characters. I was also shocked by the ending. In the beginning I thought it could be Kya, but I thought it was too obvious. The author did a great job tricking the readers. I would rate this book a 5/5.

Ella: I also loved this book. My favorite part was the love interests. Both of the love interests were so different and had a different impact on Kya. I think the way the book was written made the book even better. It was written from the past with Kya, and the present with the murder. While reading the book I would always be on the edge of my seat. I would rate this book a 4/5.

Book review on ‘The Year After You’

By: Lauren Kottke & Ella Sutherland

‘The Year After You’ by Nina de Pass, is a heartfelt story about a girl named Cara. She is learning to let people in, and love others as well as herself.

Summary (contains spoilers):
On New Year’s Eve last year, Cara and her best friend G, went to a party. At the party something happens that gets G really upset. She ends up very drunk and tries to drive home, but before she can, Cara takes the keys away and drives because she is sober.

While they are driving they get into a car crash and G ends up dying. Cara feels very strong survivor guilt because she was the one driving. For a while — almost a year— she shut herself out from everyone and lost most of the joy she got from being with G.

She starts attending a boarding school that her mom decided she should go to because she can see that she is not happy. When she first gets there a girl named Ren shows her around. Ren turns out to be her roommate and her first friend at the school.

Cara has a lot of trouble letting Ren in, or even considering Ren her friend, because she doesn’t want to replace G. Ren introduced Cara to her other friends, Fred and Hector. Immediately, she feels something different with Hector, but she keeps him at an arm’s length away.

She has so many walls built up that it is hard to see the real her. Ren and Hector know that something is wrong and they want to know what it is. They try to get her to open up and it takes a long long time, but eventually they figure out what happened.

For Cara it felt good to get it off her chest, except that wasn’t the full truth. The reason G had been so upset that night was because she had made things official with her boyfriend, and then later that night she saw him cheating on her with Cara. The guilt Cara felt was extreme and that is why it was so hard for her to open herself up.

Cara and Hector develop a more romantic relationship. He gets her like no one else does because he has his own problems. They become very close and that is when she finally tells him the whole truth. At first he is caught off guard, but then he realizes that she has changed and she truly does feel bad.

Our reviews:
Ella: I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was a very sad but amazing book. I loved Ren, she was my favorite character by far. I loved her energy and how nice she was to everyone. The romance between Hector and Cara really played out well in my opinion. I loved them together. I really liked how while she was finding friends, she was also finding herself. When she let these people in, she didn’t know it at the time, but it was a way of forgiving herself. Overall I give the book 4 out of 5 stars.

Lauren: This book was written really well. My favorite character was Ren as well. She had such an important role in getting Cara to be happy and find herself. Ren also had a very hard time, but she was always there for her friends and is just such a good person. I really loved the flashbacks to when Cara went to her old school, and G was still alive. It really made the connection to G stronger, which made the book even more sad. I give the book 4 out of 5 stars as well.

We both loved this book so much and we think you should definitely read it if you have a chance!