Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Tale of Two Cities

This past month I have read A LOT more than I usually do. While reading A Tale of Two Cities I have also been reading The Tales From Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare. So all in all, I have read almost 800 pages. Which is much more than I had read while I was writing my first blog. A Tale of Two Cities  is a classic which made it a little hard to understand at times so even though it is shorter than The Tales From Shadowhunter Academy, it has taken me some time to even get 2/3 of they way through. However, both books are very good in my opinion.
A Tale of Two Cities has taken me through quite a journey. The book does an amazing job of switching between many different characters and the two main settings of France and England. The book takes place at the cusp of the French Revolution and many tragic scenes explain the aristocracy's role in their own death. In one part of the book an aristocrat is speeding along in his carriage when,"One of [the carriage] wheels comes to a sickening little jolt, and there was a loud cry from a number of voices..." A child is hit and killed and the rich man who is the cause of it has nothing to say for himself except, "It is extraordinary to me... that you people cannot take care of yourselves or your children. One or the other of you is for ever in the way. How do i know what injury you have done my horse." A child has died and this man can show now empathy for the grieving family, he instead was only able to think about himself and what harm this accident had caused him. Reading through this passage it is very easy to see why the French common society would revolt against the aristocracy, but this scene also brings up a fairly new psychological term, affluenza. As defined by the dictionary Affluenza is the unhealthy and unwelcome psychological and social effects of affluence regarded especially as a widespread societal problem. The Monsignors actions are extremely similar to an accident that happened not too long ago. 
June 15, 2013 a drunk teen was barreling down a highway when he hit 3 people, killing them. However, instead of doing the proper time for his actions he was left off with barley a slap on the wrist because a phsychologists came to his rescue saying that Ethan Couch, the teen, could not comprehend his actions because of how spoiled he was. This situation and the situation in A Tale of Two Cities brings up an important topic of how money and status, when abused, could change our humane values. Both the Monsignor and Ethan Couch abused the status and power that came with having all the money they had, and the result in both cases was an inability to empathize and consider the effects their actions have on the people around them. This problem of affluenza leaves propels extremely conflicted in how to treat people with it. On one hand, people who commit felonies deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law, but at the same time people with this psychological disease need to be treated and given proper care, something they can't get in a prison. This leaves society with a huge conundrum on how lenient or how strict juries and judges need to be on these people. 

Boroff, David. Daily News. March 22, 2017, Nov 26, 2017.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Way I Used to Be

The Way I Used to Be is an amazing book that shows the journey of a young girl through high school after a traumatic experience her freshman year. The book is extremely dark, despite its bright cover, and throughout the book all you want to do is shout at the main character, Eden, to tell her family what happened. This book would fall under the genre of coming of age or contemporary, it is fairly easy to comprehend and it is so easy to put yourself in the main characters situation because she is so normal. I finsished this book extremely quickly, I put off sleep many times just so I could read which meant I ended up finishing it in about 3 days. Over the past week however I've been reading less, mostly because my new book, A Tale of Two Cities, is extremely hard to comprehend because of the language that is use due to when it was written.
In the very beginning of The Way I Uesed to Be we see our main character, Eden, go through the traumatic of a rape in her own bed. She is only a freshman in high school, and her rapists is a freshman in college and her brothers best friend. A boy whom she trusted and cared about, a boy who she considerd family. As you continue to read the book you see her internally grapple with this secret, you watch as it "swallows up [her] universe"(125). This secret consumes everything in her life, it changes every single part of her. This theme of her secret taking up her life is repeated through the entire book and it is just so heart breaking to watch any good leave because she is wrestling with herself. Even when her rapists is again accused of raping another girl she can't bring herself to expose him and what he did to her. The few words it would take to accuse him and let out the secret that is eating her out she chokes on, “And now it’s here. It could be over in one syllable. I open my mouth. I want to say it. Yes. Yes. I try to make a sound. Yes. Say it! But my mouth is so dry, I can’t.”(286). To see a girl who could so easily be your sister, your friend, or even you, struggle with something as big as this is excruciating. She is so close to freeing herself from her secret so many times, but he made her feel worthless and like her words wouldn't matter so she never lets them out. And to read that knowing that everything she is going through could very easily be your own life is terrifying.
How many times in our society do we choose to blame victims in rape cases? For nothing more other than the fact that they didn't fight back or didn't tell anyone immediately, too often do we forget the trauma that the victims have gone through and how that trauma could leave them inept from identifying their tormentors. Victims will go through a varying amount of emotions as described in this article. All of these things will lead them to feeling unwilling to give a formal report, yet still if a victim doesn't report a rape right away they are automatically considerd as liars or attention seekers. We have this warped perception in our society that if someone is raped that means they are automatically ready to point out their monster, like all their dignity was not just taken away from them, like they didn't just loose any normalcy in their lives. We look at rape and we see it as very cut and dry, but it's not. There are feelings and trauma and all sorts of emotional inbalance to deal with. We need to stop feeling sorry for the monsters whose lives are ruined by their choices and start feeling sorry for the victims whose lives are ruined just because someone couldn't keep it in their pants.

Smith, Amber. The Way I Used to Be. Margret K. McElderlly Books/ Simon and Schuster, 2016

King County Sexual Assult Research Center. "Rape Trauma"

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Amazing POV of a Girl Who is Blind

As this school year is coming to end, I feel it is appropriate to reflect on all my past reading goals. Most of which I haven't completed, which I blame on the fact that I thought it was a good idea to read Wuthering Heights. I wasted two months on that book full of characters that I hate! But whatever, I finished the book and proceeded to read two books in the span of two weeks. It's amazing how quickly I can finish a book when I'm actually interested in it. The Scourge is the first book I finished after finished Wuthering Heights and it was such a refreshing turn, I love how this world is built. The main character is a girl who is fully blind, and while you're reading this book it's like your sight has been taken away also. It's so intriguing and amazing to read and experience and the way that AG Henley continues to show you her world, even though you can't have full sensory of the surroundings, is amazing. This book is amazing and definitely under hyped, it talks about so many amazing topics and creates this beautiful setting that you can't see but can feel.

 In the book Fenn, the main character, is part of a group of people called the Groundlings, who live on the ground. The other main character Peree, is part of the Lofty group, people of the same village but instead of living on the ground they live in amazing structures in the treetops. These two groups are at a constant cold war, but because of the Scourge, people who are basically zombies, they can't explore the forest and find another water source. Fenn, because of her sightlessness, is protected from the Scourge and is tasked with getting water when the Scourge are in town. Peree is her Keeper, which means he tries to protect her from the zombies when she is collecting the water. Things happen and Fenn and Peree go on journey to find a new water source, and are brought into the light about the truth of their community.

Through this book the reader realizes how much perspective can change your life. Peree and Fenn hold certain that the Scourge aren't human that they're monsters but when they're told the truth their perspective is changed, "'Instead of seeing the [scourge] as ill, you see grotesque, flesh-eating live immersed in your fear..." (140). Perspective is everything, you can see the big bad in life, or you can see the small good sprinkled on top like sugar. In this book everything that is known to be true to these characters is changed the second they leave their little bubble, if we just step out of the known for just one second our entire view of life can be changed. We see how very small we are and how amazing and big the world is.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

How is Heathcliff even CONSIDERD romantic??

Currently I am reading Wuthering Heights, and I basically hate every single character; however, the character I hate most of all is Heathcliff. Heathcliff is whiney and selfish, he uses every single person in his life, and worst of all I have serious doubts he ever loved Catherine. How many times does he trick and deceive her just to get his way? He makes her feel bad for everything, and even though she really doesn't love him either, he turns every problem they face as to the fault of Catherine. When Catherine dies he refuses to let her go, shouting,"May you not rest as long as I am living!" Who would wish a restless death on someone they claim to love? Even if it gave him a chance to see her again. It just made me stop and wonder what I would do if someone I loved died and I had some power to bring them back, even if they weren't happy. I'd like to think that I wouldn't take that opportunity, that I would let them stay in the ground dead and at peace, but we are all human. Heathcliff may not be my favorite character, but I do think he is the most human character I've ever read. He is a burning symbol of everything that is wrong with humanity (and honestly men for that matter, marrying Isabelle just to spite Catherine, total jealous high school boy move) he embodies everything we try to hide. Our selfishness, our rudeness, our savagery. Even though I still really hate Heathcliff as a person, I have to respect him as a character.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

If life was a book

One of the greatest things about reading a book is how it makes you feel. Some books make you happy, some make you sad, some make you want to scream and throw glass at a wall, some make you squeal and giggle, and others just leave you feeling empty. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl makes you want to do all those things and fall on your butt laughing. This book was so easy to read, it was funny, not overly complicated, and didn't make a huge metaphor out of every little thing (plus Greg cusses a lot so you basically feel like your in the mind of a messed up teen). Lately I've been craving a good YA book because I haven't really gotten a chance to read many, and this book totally got me back in the mood for YA. However, I can't read any YA books because I have to finish Wuthering Heights first. Wuthering Heights is still interesting but it's hard to get through because of the grammar the author uses throughout the book. I hope I finish it soon, but I really don't know if I'll be able to.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was also a book I had some struggle to complete, even though I totally loved it at the end, the middle to the end is very depressing and heavy, nothing like the beginning which is light and funny. Greg explains the change in tone and mood saying,"I mean, you can know someone is dying on an intellectual level, but emotionally it hasn't really hit you, and then when it does, that's when you feel like shit.” Nothing in the end of the book is sugar coated his feelings are raw, the author makes no attempt to make some metaphor for life it just is life. Straightforward. Harsh. And cold. And that is something that is so refreshing about this book. It is so cut and dry and no real deeper meaning is in the book until you finish and feel like you just read a book about your own life. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Journey Through the Horrors of the Red Light District

Lately I have actually been reading and it has reminded me how amazing it is to just get sucked into a book and its plot. I just finished Behind the Soiled Curtain , a book that tells the story of girls stuck in the sex trade industry of India, and it was totally eye opening. I go back to India kinda often and my family has a girls home in Kerala, so I knew what exactly I was getting into when I picked this book up; however, knowing and reading what happens to these girls in the brothels is a totally different story.
The last time I went to India was the first time I really got to hear and listen to these girls stories. I listened as they told me the story of how their parents sold them into slavery, how they were abducted from train stations or orphanages, or how they grew up in the brothel watching their mothers get raped each night before their mothers sold them to buy their own freedom. I have heard the horrors of the night life in India, I know my home isn't safe for women by themselves, I know all these things, but never did I watch it play out in my head until I read this book.

Each story told is so vivid and lively you feel like you are there watching, combined with the pictures, it is impossible to read this book without feeling some connection to these girls and being moved by their stories. One story that I really felt was amazing was the story of an 11 year old girl named Radha, her story is short but holds such an amount of pain it is nearly impossible to see a girl telling this story. She is an 11 year old girl who has been stripped away of everything, "[she has] no freedom. [She] screams and groans for a place she can live peacefully, where [she] can sleep securely at night..." No girl of her age should be denied their childhood and forced into a position where they are told to do adult things, yet even though Radha is in a constant state of slaverey she still, "dream of such a place where everyone loves everyone and no one fights..." She is a girl stuck in a place of absolute horror and her dream is not to get out, but that people would love one another. How does this young girl who has seen such immense horror have the strength to ask for love?
To meet one of these girls is life changing. They are people who have seen the worst of the worst of the world, but still mange to somehow smile and have trust in people. As we are going through this world one should always remember the stories of these children, and how even though they have been given the scraps of life they are still happy and loving.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

1984: Dystopian Society of the Past

As mentioned in my last post my book goals are just to carve out more time for reading. Unfortunately because of some recent, and rather annoying, changes in schedule I have not achieved my goal. I'm really hoping that as I get used to the schedule I will find more time to read because this whole not having time to read thing is really getting on my nerves. (I just got to that point in a book where everything starts to change and go to absolute crap). Since 1984 is going haywire and I really want to finish it I will try to stick to a goal of about 30 pages a day and a goal to read a historic book  Side note I really hate straight history books I find them boring, but I don't find history boring so hopefully I will find something I like.

The book I've been reading (and low key hating in the best way) is 1984 by George Orwell , this book takes place in a dystopian 1984 and it is terrifying. Just the idea of the government watching your every move horrifies me, yeah I know NSA probably already does that, but they don't control our every thoughts and moves like Big Brother does. Every second, every minute facial expression is recorded and stored, you are always as risk, you are always in danger, "Nothing [is] your own except the few cubic centimeters inside your skull"; that is the horrifying ownership Big Brother and the Party have on the citizens (28).

Slowly we are becoming a world that is this dystopia. Thoughts are put into our heads by media and advertising, the government has acsess to all parts of our life (which isn't always a bad thing), how much privacy do we give up in the name of staying connected to all parts of the world? Most of our lives are broadcasted, shared, liked, or retweeted, leaving no moment to our own minds. Like I said it isn't always a bad thing social media has been a vital part of having a relationship with my family all over the world, and I watch enough crime shows to know if the police couldn't access our phone records many homicides could go unsolved; however, do we ever stop and slow down and ask ourselves "Do I really need to post this tweet telling the entire world what I'm doing right now?"

Each page of this book is filled with heavy question we must ask our selves in the society we live in today, and it is amazing and mind-blowing. This is a book any deep thinker would love, the story is chilling to the core and the questions Winston has for his government and standard of living will push you. I am honestly,so far, blown away by this book.