Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Lost childhood

     In the book A Long Way Gone, Ishmael Beah explains his tragic life story and all the obstacles that it entailed. I had a hard time reading such a sad disturbing story and knowing that this was someone's reality. This book challenged me and called me out of my comfort zone because I normally wouldn't have read a book like this. This book is a nonfiction biography that had me captivated every time I read it. Since my last blog I have read three books and a total of 636 pages which has kept me on top of my reading goals. I read Thank You For Your Service by David Finkel, The Reasons I Jump by Naomi Higashida, and A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah.

     A Long Way Gone is a book consiting of stories of Ishmael Beah's life experiences of being forced into becoming a boy soldier during the Sierra Leone civil war. Beah was only thirteen years old when he was captured by the rebels and forced into the government army. Much of his childhood was stolen from him and he was brainwashed from a kind hearted boy, to a person capable of truly horrifying actions. When he was captured he was told "not to make a move" and if he did they would kill him. "So don't even breath too hard because it might be your last." (Beah 32) Beah's fear stricken circumstances force him to cut off his emotional side in order to survive. The war leaders instill in him the idea that emotional attachment is a weakness and weaknesses get you killed. The reason Beah stays emotionally unattached is because his life had turned into one that was unpredictable. He lived everyday without knowing if he'd see another. With the death of all his family and watching his friends be killed, he never knew when someone else would be killed. Bleach said that he "[wouldn't] speak for days" (Beah 72). During times of fear driven silence, Beah dwelled on feelings of revenge. He was constantly told to take those feelings of avengance and use them to fight. Later on in the book after Ishmael was removed from fighting by UNICEF and brought into a rehabilitation center, he learned how to regain humanity, and heal from the traumatizing events. Beah explains, " What I have learned from my experiences is that revenge is not good. I joined the army to avenge the deaths of my family and to survive, but I have come to learn that if I am going to take revenge, in that process I will kill another person whose family will want revenge; then revenge and revenge and revenge will never come to an end..." (Beah 199) Through the use of repetition Beah directs the readers attention to his main point that revenge is an on going cycle. His syntax illustrates the cycle he is trying to convey.

     Reading the end of this book about his process of healing through the rehabilitation center, it was very similar to the process people went through in the book Thank You For Your Service. In that book, many stories were told about soldiers from the Iraq war who were suffering from PTSD. PTSD is a medical condition affecting ones mental health following traumatizing events. In both books we see the way gentle human beings can be turned into people capable of atrocities and how that affects their mental processes. Many beginning to develop suicidal behavior and depression. Our world needs to medically focus on mental health just as much as we focus on physical health. In the book Thank Your For Your Service, I was shocked to realize the depths and complexities of PTSD and how that disorder affects people. Rehabilitation centers are a great help and I loved reading about Beah's progress he had made following the war. I was glad I had the background knowledge from Thank You For Your Service while reading A Long Way Gone because it  gave me insight on the issue.

Beah, Ishmael. “A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah Official Site.” A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah Official Site, 2007, www.alongwaygone.com/.

Kakutani, Michiko. “Battles Without End.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 30 Sept. 2013, www.nytimes.com/2013/10/01/books/thank-you-for-your-service-by-david-finkel.html.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Downfall of Pressure

Where You Go is Not Who You'll Be

In the book Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be, Bruni continually challenges the reader to be open minded concerning the topic of college. This book is a nonfiction, which has really taught me a lot and has helped me understand the unnecessary pressure regarding college. This book was packed full with interesting information and personal stories from those who had experienced rejection from multiple of their prized colleges.  Over the past two weeks I've read 246 pages of Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be and 192 pages of a book called For Young Women Only that I have read in my free time. I have been pretty on top of my reading goals and have found myself really enjoying it. 

Within only a chapter into the book, the authors purpose becomes very understandable. Bruni  begins explaining through several stories that the Ivy League colleges are just a brand-name and that people can find just as good of an education elsewhere. Bruni  uses the example of Governor Chris Christie who managed to be very successful and didn't go to an Ivy League college. Through his achievements at the University of Delaware, he never put too much pressure on his four kids to attend Ivy League. From this story Bruni explains the opposite kinds of parents and the danger that entails. "My fear is that these kids are always going to be evaluating their self-worth in terms of whether they hit the next rung society placed in front of them at exactly the time that society has placed it. And that is dangerous, because you're going to slip and fall in your life." (25) Bruni  illustrates the difficulties kids today face by providing in-depth word choice that provokes the reader to question the unnecessary pressure put on them regarding college acceptance.  He calls it "dangerous" and warns  kids who put their "self-worth" into it.  He is very blunt and tells the reader they are going to experience some setbacks, he does not imply that they might. He frankly warns the reader of the inevitable truth. Later at the end of the book Bruni  uses an example of two similar people who went to two very different colleges and how they both turned out to be successful, ivy league or not. He states, "In both cases, a bright future and a meaningful life, because in all cases, it is as much the person as it is the path." (246) Bruni  equivalents the two examples to everyone to emphasize his main purpose; that the student is more important then the school in determining the ultimate outcome.   The structure of the quote helps the reader make the connection of their lives to the lives of the people in the examples. 

 As the years go by, our society is continually becoming a more competitive in every aspect of life.  The high intensity pressure put on students looking at colleges can easily compared to the pressure put on athletes. Too much pressure can hinder an athletes  confidence and negatively affect their performance. Our culture needs to become aware of the fact that the increasing competition can be crippling to both students and athletes. That is why I love this book and how it shouts the positive message that no matter the school you go to you can still succeed.  In this article  psychological studies show the effect of the intensity put on a kid. The article explains that the kind of pressure can lead to long-term effects such as substance abuse. It does a great job of highlighting the disadvantages of intense pressure.

Bruni, Frank. Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be 2015. Print

"Parental pressure takes toll on young athletes" Phycology today Nov 19, 2015.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Responsibility vs. Love

 Hello again! I am doing great when it comes to my reading goal. I have finally completed the five book series called The Selction by Keira cass. I just started reading The Book Thief  by Markus Zusak on my phone. Reading a digital book is nice because you never forget it at home and it's one less thing to carry in your backpack! 
 The Heir by Keira Cass is the fourth book in the series. It is told in the first person by America's and Maxon's daughter, Eadlyn. The book is about the difficulties she faces while being forced into her own selection in order to fall in love. She is initially very resentful about the selection and wants no part of it. She doesn't think anyone is above her and doesn't want love to get in the way of the career until she realizes through a shaking event with her mother that,  “You can be brave and still be feminine. You can lead and still love flowers. Most importantly, you can be queen and still be a bride" (Cass 234). In this quote, she realizes she can have both in her life. With how important business is in the world we live in today, people tend to want to push possible love opportunities away, including love between pets, friends, and family. With jobs and responsibilities taking top priority in people's lives, people often lose sight of other things. They don't realize that they can have both love and career. For example, my cousin, who is in college right now, is so focused on her studies that she is not spending time with loved ones the way she used to. She is so immersed in her work that she seems to have forgotten that destressing is important as well. The lack of community and affection has resulted in her being very stressed and unhappy. There should be a healthy balance between the two. Once you find a healthy medium, you may be able to focus and process information better. Your mental health is important, so breaks should be a part of your routine. Thinking of only work  can cause more repercussions than expected. "It's all about quality of life and finding a happy balance between work and friends and family" (Green).

Friday, December 16, 2016

     Hello fellow readers, I'm back!! I am pleased to say that I have been keeping up with my reading goal. I have continued the Selections series and have been reading Cass's fifth book. This book has been an excuse to put off my AP book, which I have put off for quite some time. However, I eventually pulled myself together to start and finished the novel. I chose to read A Separate Peace by John Knowles. Since I put this book off so much I had to quickly read the book in a matter of two days. I thought I was going to hate it but it actually was pretty interesting. The book left me with many unanswered questions and left me curious about many aspects of life.
     The book took place in the 1940's during a war. It was about an adolescent boy named Gene, who dealt with an internal conflict of jealousy towards his "best friend." The jealousy was always only one sided and his friend Finny never had an issue with it towards Gene. Gene was aware of this and kept this battle to himself. Ginny's athleticism, charm, likability, wittyness were all key factors that subtly enraged gene. The first time the reader sees Gene's envy towards Finny was when the head master approaches Finny and questions him and the trouble he has been getting into. Finny was able to get out of anything using the complete truth and his charm. Gene becomes very jealous of this quality and expresses  "I felt a sudden stab of disappointment... He had gotten away with everything." (Knowles 28) He then tries to justify his hateful feelings by talking himself into thinking those feelings were normal. This book has many confusing aspects in it. If they are truly friends how can Gene be feeling such hateful things towards Finny? Why does Gene have such a hard time expressing his issues? I have experienced jealousy before but never to the extent that Gene takes it. Jealousy is an internal conflict that goes way deeper then the external situation. It can be brought about by many different problems in people's lives such as insecurity and abandonment. Gene was able to keep this conflict well hidden which makes me understand that you can never know what someone is going through because sometimes the most normal people end up being the most broken.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

She Loves Me She Loves Me Not

 My reading progress has made a significant incline compared to my last entry's. I have been reading a really fun nonfiction series that has left me never wanting to put the book down. I read more after school when I find a book that I really enjoy. I have been reading many books by the same author which may seem repetitive however, I enjoy it. The series I have been reading is The Selection by Kiera Cass. This book isn't the kind that leaves me mentally exhausted while trying to tackle such an intense piece of literature but, an easy enjoyable read that leaves me relaxed and connected with the characters. Fiction for me is just fun to read. Reading fiction is like watching a movie, and that is why I have been able to keep up with my reading goals.
 The selection is about a young girl named America Singer who enters in a "competition" for Prince Maxons pursuit to find love. America was hesitant to enter because she was already in love with her boyfriend Aspen, who was in a lower caste then her. The book describes her journey she endures to make the choice between Prince Maxon and Aspen.
 One night while America was asleep, she was abruptly woken to find Aspen (who became a palace guard) in her room. America was frightened to see him in her room because if they were caught together they could be beaten or possibly killed. Aspen professed his love for her once more and America had to explain to him that she can't "date" him while she is in the selection. Rejected at the thought, Aspen asked if it was over and if she chose Maxon over him. America replied, "No, I'm not choosing him or you. I'm choosing me." (Cass 125)  America is a very independent, stong girl who is just as apart of the choosing as Maxon is. She isn't like the typical girls who fawn over him in hopes that he will choose her. In this quote we can see that America has a powerful female role in the book and her recent gain of confidence lead her to focus on herself rather then the decision between the men in her life. America is very different then the typical female role we see in books. At this point of the trilogy we can see the direct contrast with America and a typical female role with a character named Celeste. Celeste is very submissive and ready to do whatever it takes to have Prince Maxon fall in love with her. Her desire to control his choice has a negative impact on Prince Maxon who seems to prefer independent girls like America. With Maxon liking America more then Celeste, this conveys a positive message to young girls reading the book that they don't have to chase after a man and change who they are, but rather grow individually and be themselves.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Blood thirsty savages

     Hello again! In the beginning of the nine weeks I noticed that I hadn't been really on top of my reading goals and that I had to spend more time outside of class reading in order to accomplish such high goals. I soon began to keep up the pace for my reading goal by reading books outside of class. I end up reading two, sometimes three books at once. Some may think this is weird but I tend to do it a lot. I noticed that it had looked like I had only been reading one book this entire time to many of my pears and to my teacher.  I have been reading Lord of the flies outside of school along with the Selection series. I just thought I would clear that up for all the people who may have thought I had only read one book this entire nine weeks.
     In this blog I am going to be writing about what I am currently reading which is Lord of the Flies . I normally enjoy the book I am reading regardless if they are assigned or if I choose them, however, this book has mostly been a drag for me to read. There are so many words in this book and I personally feel as if the author could go on for pages simply describing a flower. The book hasn't been terrible though and I do enjoy the story line for the most part. I am almost finished with the book and so far I am very disturbed by the savageness the boys show towards each other and the way they live the further they are stranded on the deserted island. In each chapter you see them grow more wild and each chapter they lose their sense of civilization. There is so much symbolism throughout the book which is used to help the reader better understand there conflicts they experience on the island. Throughout the story the idea of a "beast" haunts most of the boys. As the reader we can conclude that there really isn't a beast but rather the fear built up inside of the boys. The boys are between the ages of six and twelve so the idea of this beast is especially scary to many of them. Once the fear in them fully overtakes all the remaining power of civilization and culture on the island diminishes rapidly.  In chapter five when the boys are discussing the matter Ralph suggests, "Maybe there is a beast... maybe it's only us." (80) The so called "beast" is a symbol of fear within the boys. Ralph doesn't really believe there is a beast but it is hard to explain to the little ones when jack is telling them that he will kill the beast. This also grows conflict between Ralph and jack.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Excessive Comfort We Live In

     My reading is going well, could be better but, it's better then how it used to be! I have read everyday in class and have read some nights at home on my own. I haven't been reading enough but I will really try to reach my daily reading goal from here on out. I am in the middle of a book called Kisses From Katie  by Katie Davis. It's a nonfiction book about an American teenage who becomes a missionary in Uganda straight out of high school and she explains her new life that comes with both challenges and beautiful new opportunities.
    In chapter two "In the Crucible of Contradiction" Katie explains he adjustment period and how hard it is and how wonderful it is at the same time. With her moving to Uganda she had gotten everything she ever wanted. Katie explains "My life- especially my emotions- hung in the balance between loving my new life in Uganda and battling severe loneliness." (19) As she gets adjusted she realizes how much comfort is in America. In her old life she would have no problem just dropping $100 for a pair of shoes but, now she realizes how much of an impact that money can have in Uganda.
     I feel like in our day to day life we don't even realize how incredibly blessed we are. We take so much for granted and this book has really opened my eyes to how us Americans shove poverty to the side as we spend money left and right on things we truly don't even need. For Americans if poverty is out of sight it is out of mind. Katie explains that she isn't writing the book to make everyone who reads it to drop everything and live in Uganda, she us simply writing to share her experience with the world and what we can do to help in our own communities. These children would be thrilled to even have a new pencil for school and we go shopping every school year for all new supplies and clothes for our new year. I also love the part of the book where Katie explains that they might not be rich by any materialistic standards but they are rich in love. They are rich in joy, faith, and laughter. Each and every child in Uganda has gone through so much pain in their past but they are just so happy with so little. Us Americans get so upset over what we don't have that we don't even have time to take a step back and focus on what we do have. We complain about such petty things, that we are missing the beauty in every opportunity. What would it be like if everyone in America was able to realize how good they have it? What would it look like if Americans were thankful for everything we have? What would it look like if the world we lived in wasn't so greedy?
     Americans live in so much comfort and are too scared to do anything to help those less fortunate. It is so easy for us to read something like this and go back to our luxurious lifestyles. I am just as guilty for doing this. However in the beginning of the book Katie explains how difficult her adjustment was and how hard it was for her to step out of her comfort zone but once she did, wonderful things came out of it. She grew in more ways then ever before.