Pulitzer Prize Winner/Nominee

Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird
Author: 
Lee, Harper
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee may strike your perception as a seemingly uninteresting story. The book tells the tale of two young children in a sleepy Alabama town, and at face-value, the plot does not garner much intrigue. However, I was in the same situation when I was required to read this book in the spring of my freshman year at high school.
Indeed, while at first the story seemed boring, as I continued to carry on with reading, every turn of the page immersed me ever further into Lee’s timeless story.

As a reader, you share the emotions felt by Jem and Scout, two young siblings, as they learn the nuances of life in the prejudiced American South during the early 1900s. Not only was their community weakened by the economic collapse of the Great Depression, but also sickened by the bitter contempt felt among whites and blacks.

In the beginning of the novel, Jean Louise “Scout” Finch and her brother Jem innocently play games with their friend “Dill” and enjoy life in Maycomb with their father, Atticus. During this time, they have little to no apprehension of the racial tension hanging in their society, but when their father, Atticus Finch, who works as lawyer, openly chooses to defend an African American in court, trouble arises.

Jem and Scout undergo a number of personal developments during the course of the novel. While at first, they carry with them a genuine and child-like innocence, the court trial their father has taken on exposes them to the racist indignity felt by their fellow community members. Jem and Scout struggle to balance their conflict between the social norms of Maycomb and the morals their father has instilled in them. With the trial’s end, Jem and Scout are lead to discover the imperfections of their society, and the ways with which they are forced to deal with them. As the reader follows along, they not only watch Jem and Scout change, but they too themselves are shaped through Lee’s captivating story.

Overall, I enjoyed most aspects of the book. Although some scenes I felt were a bit plain and unprogressive, these minor flaws were overshadowed by the powerful themes Lee expresses through the story. If you haven’t already read To Kill a Mockingbird, I would certainly give the novel a try. If not for the genuine enjoyment of reading the story, try this novel to feel the powerful emotions stirred from Lee’s literary masterpiece.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: 
Ethan M

Book Review: Angela's Ashes

Angela's Ashes Cover
Author: 
McCourt, Frank
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This is an incredible book. One day, while going through some stuff in my basement, I came along this book and decided to read it even though I already have a bazillion books I plan on reading. This one surprised me. It is so funny yet so sad as you get to grow up with this witty young boy through the trials and tribulations of living in Ireland with a dad that can't keep a steady job "enough to feed ya a days meal" and the hardship the school boys bring on the daily. You will probably find yourself crying and laughing at the same time all throughout this book. It's just a work of art.

Reviewer's Name: 
Isabella S.

Book Review: The Devil's Highway: A True Story

The Devil's Highway: A True Story
Author: 
Urrea, Luis Alberto
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

In "The Devil's Highway" Urrea shares the stories of people making great sacrifices to provide for their families. Urrea interviewed the family, friends, coyotes, doctors, and Border Patrol agents linked to the 26 men crossing the border from Mexico to Arizona. Only 12 men survived the journey through the unforgiving desert. Urrea gives insights into the daily lives and aspirations of people wanting a better chance to make a living. He also explains the procedures Border Patrol follows to find people in desperate situations.

Reviewer's Name: 
Maria

Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird
Author: 
Lee, Harper
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

To Kill a Mockingbird shows us that growing up can not always be as easy as it seems. Especially when you live in Maycomb, Alabama, and your father is a lawyer defending a black man. Scout grows up not knowing much about the real world it is not until the trial that turns the whole town upside down that she really discovers how the South is really run. I love how relatable the characters are to teenagers like us today. I love how simple the story line is and the literature is beautiful. It tells you simply how things should be, it states things blatantly through Scout's eyes. The only thing I did not like about the book is that at some points it was hard to follow the story line. Although the story is very simple it got more complex when reading further. I chose this book because I had heard from many people that this was an incredible book and decided to see for myself. The book itself did surprise me as it did have a rather twist ending that was rather unpredictable. The characters were extremely relatable, I could see that in certain situations I would have acted similarly. I would say that it is definitely one of the best book I have read this year or even ever for multiple reasons. It can relate to old and young and describes an issue that still exists today.
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: 
Sarah C.

Book Review: Grapes of Wrath

Grapes of Wrath
Author: 
Steinbeck, John
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Many readers are immediately turned off by the immense depth and length of this classic (450+ pages). However, within the hundreds of pages, Steinbeck is able to create a realistic world with dynamic characters and an immersive story line. The book takes place during the Great Depression era, and the story follows the Joad family as they travel to California after losing their family farm. The story begins with the main character, Tom Joad, returning home from his time in prison. He quickly finds out that the Joad family farm has been repossessed, partly due to the Dust Bowl, and the entire family must travel to California in search of work. Along the way, the family meets and interacts with many characters facing the same difficulties of the Great Depression. Throughout the book, we see the hardships faced by these characters, which accurately correspond to the struggles of those during the 1930's. As an avid history nerd, I found myself quite intrigued by the story, since I was able to feel more connected to this tragic time in American history. Overall, I greatly enjoyed reading this book, and would strongly recommend it to someone who has an interest in history and enough free time to tackle this classic title.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Alex K.

Book Review: The Snow Child

The Snow Child
Author: 
Ivey, Eowyn
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Set in the 1920’s, this is the story of Jack and Mabel, a childless couple homesteading on the Alaskan frontier. The workload is never-ending, and without children to help with plowing, planting and harvest, they struggle not only to survive, but to avoid losing themselves to despair and disappointment. It is a story not only of survival and grit, but also of the kindness found in a community of like-minded individuals and families. This theme is typical of much historical fiction about western expansion and pioneer life, but this story holds an unexpected and delightful twist, where magic, reality and fairytales intersect. The first snow of the year is met with a playfulness that is not typical of Mabel and Jack. They end their snowball fight by building a snow-child near their cabin, complete with mittens, a hat, and arms made from twigs. The next day, they discover that their snow child was destroyed during the night – likely by wild animals. Their journey from that point is full of hope and expectation. The story has a dream-like, ethereal quality, yet the author maintains the sense of solidity that is required for historical fiction to work. The pace is slow, but fits well with the time and place. I sincerely enjoyed this author’s first novel. It made me think about the importance of accepting others as they are – always an important consideration. I have Eowyn Ivey’s second book in my “to read” stack right now, and will eagerly read her future offerings.

Reviewer's Name: 
Laura F.

Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird
Author: 
Lee, Harper
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Six year old Scout Finch is living in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama during the Great Depression. Raised by Atticus Finch, Scout and her brother, Jem, are very comfortable with Maycomb and understand the well being of their neighbors, except the house of the mysterious Arthur Radley, whom they obsess over. Half the book is basically about Scout, Jem, and Dill (their new friend) trying to lure Arthur Radley out of his house. However, when Atticus, a lawyer, decides to take the case of a black man named Tom Robinson, tensions become high and the trial to see whether Tom Robinson is guilty or innocent based on his crime and, especially, his skin color is at stake. I absolutely love To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and it is my #1 favorite book because the structure of this book is so eye-opening since it addresses the struggle and tensions between African- Americans and Whites during a time period where slavery was abolished just less-than a century ago. I highly recommend this book because it is just so jaw-dropping and it hit me with surprises that had me at the edge of my seat.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: 
Joe T.

Book Review: The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea
Author: 
Hemingway, Ernest
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This book is about an old man who is having bad luck in catching fish. One day he goes fishing in the early morning and has the experience of a lifetime. I liked this book because it showed that the journey is more important than the destination. I chose this book because it seemed very meaningful. I enjoyed that very many idle objects represented important concepts. I did not enjoy that the book is so predictable. I cannot relate to the characters because they were very thoughtful and knew what life means. This is not one of the best books I have read all year.

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: 
Alex L.

Book Review: Behind the Beautiful Forevers

Author: 
Boo, Katherine
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

It has taken several days since finishing 'Behind the Beautiful Forevers' for me to put together what I might like to say about it to others. Before now I've basically just resorted to, "Yeah, you should really read this book."

But, yeah, you should really read this book. Even if you're not like me, and you DON'T try to pick at least ONE book about India every time you pile up your requisite stack from the library, you should still really read this book.

Narrative non-fiction books are some of my favorites, and Katherine Boo does an incredible job of telling a true story that reads like a novel. The action takes place in the slum of Annawadi, one of the many shantytowns or slums in the city of Mumbai, India. Mumbai has one of the highest concentrations of people in the world, and nearly 3/4 of the population lives in poverty. Poverty that is abject beyond anything you would see in the United States. No electricity or running water, and diseases that have long been extinct in other developed countries.

Boo has chosen to chronicle the stories and lives of a few of the slum's inhabitants, and it actually gives the reader a closer look at how a specific group of people have inserted themselves into the global market. In a place where so few have so much, and so many have so little, even trash is a commodity that is bought, sold, and traded. Many of the people of Annawadi scrape out a meager existence on the scraps of plastic and metal that are thrown away and discarded by others. I don't think I'll ever look at trash in the same way.

In summary, an excerpt from the advance praise on the book jacket aptly describes the book like this: "There are books that change the way you feel and see; this is one of them. If we receive the fiery spirit from which it was written, it ought to change much more than that." ~Adrian Nicole LeBlanc

Reviewer's Name: 
Evan

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Pulitzer Prize Winner/Nominee