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Archive for May, 2009

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Book Review on Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Heathcliff and Cathy. Rochester and Jane. Do any of these names sound familiar? If they do, then the names Elizabeth and Darcy should rouse some memories too. Written by Jane Austen in 1775, Pride and Prejudice weaves a tale of love formed while characters clash.

When a neighboring house is let out at last to a certain Mr. Bingley, Mrs. Bennet can hardly contain her excitement at the prospect of marrying off one of her five daughters to a wealthy man. At the ball, it is obvious that Mr. Bingley holds an attraction for Jane, the oldest daughter, and vice versa. The excitement grows as the attendees realize that Mr. Bingley brought his prosperous friend, Mr. Darcy. The eager crowd of people rush to make his acquaintance, only to pronounce Darcy the most disagreeable and arrogant man. “[…] he was looked at with great admiration […], till his manners gave a disgust […] discovered to be proud, to be above his company […]” (pg. 11). The protagonist, Elizabeth Bennet, is an intelligent, witty, young woman who is offended by him when she finds out that Darcy feels a strong condescension towards the country people. Elizabeth’s attitude is filled with venom because of his obnoxiousness. When she hears from Wickham, a soldier whom she is attracted to that Darcy has misused him in the past, Elizabeth jumps at the chance to solidify her reasons to hate him. “I had not thought Mr. Darcy so bad as this— though I have never liked him. I had not thought so very ill of him. I had supposed him to be despising his fellow-creatures in general, but did not suspect him of descending to such malicious revenge, such injustice, such inhumanity as this” (pg. 70). Meanwhile, through many chanced meetings, Darcy finds himself liking Elizabeth’s wit and fiery spirit and proposes to her. Because of his pride, the reasons he state for proposing to her are very belittling. To his shock, he is rejected vehemently by Elizabeth. Will they ever truly like each other and look past their prejudices?

I enjoyed reading this book because the language Austen writes in is no longer in use today. The language used is formal yet easy to understand, helping modern day readers build better grammar. It lets readers gain insight into a world past, its social customs and modesty. It is very interesting how the people used to subtly insult each other and yet still seem civil. Their wit is very refreshing as people today no longer apply these skills. Another thing I like about this story is that it’s very realistic. It addresses issues that are still problems today, such as prejudice and pride. Yet in the end, if a person looks past society’s preconceptions, one just might find love. I recommend this book to people who want to read a classical example of romance. The instances where the two main characters try their wits against each other are just hilarious. This book is very smooth reading, no bumps in the plot with any major tragedies. Therefore, many might say that this book is boring, yet it is the mediocrity that is so appealing at the same time. It lets us gain a true insight into courtship and love of a time long gone, without all the unnecessary drama.

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Trigger by Susan Vaught

Trigger by Susan Vaught

Trigger by Susan Vaught

What happens when you can’t remember memories that are crucial to the gradual process in which you try to piece back your life? That is what Jersey Hatch is trying to figure out in Trigger by Susan Vaught.  He doesn’t know why his best friend suddenly hates him, he doesn’t understand why random words fly out of his mouth, but most of all, Jersey doesn’t know why he tried to shoot his own head off.

Popular, proficient in athletics and school, what really drove Jersey to kill himself? In fact, Jersey doesn’t even really believe that he killed himself. “Did I really get shot in the head? […] The scars—but I didn’t remember anything.” (p. 12) He keeps forgetting the existence of his left leg and arm because of the effects of brain damage. He’s now dealing with not being able to see in his right eye, relearning how to do everything from speaking to tying his shoes, and not only that, Jersey also starts school again. Now with the mind of a five-year-old genius, Jersey tries to find the trigger, the reason why the last barrier between his thought and action broke. As his mom grows more and more distant from the family, Jersey must learn to cope with the real world, armed with his memory book and Mama Rush, his ex-best friend’s grandma. Even so, Jersey never fails to see the humor in his situation.

Vaught writes the story in Jersey’s voice. Every time I reread the book, the power of the mental strength of a person in his position never fails to move me. Written in short simple sentences, it really helps us gain insight into a world we do not understand. I recommend this story for anyone who wants to read something that is very realistic. Because the story is written from Jersey’s perspective, it allows us to feel what he feels— his despair, his happiness, his confusion. The voice he has is very raw yet powerful, infused with strength that he has gained from his disabilities.

There are also many morals to be learned from this book. Even though Jersey’s situation is very helpless and full of hardships, he still learns to be less selfish, to stop wallowing in his own self pity, and learns to be less self-centered. “You’re so self-centered that you think I’m mad at you.”(p. 268). And because Jersey learns these lessons, we do too, but because we learn this lesson from someone who is severely less fortunate than we are, this lesson makes a greater impact on us.

The cover of the book also makes a great impact on me. It seems that the inner Jersey is trapped and the truth of his failed suicide is being kept ducted taped into unwilling silence. But most of all, it is the story that speaks for itself, for Jersey. We learn that only a person’s perception of his own world counts and that Jersey will have to make a difficult decision of pulling the trigger again.

Reflection and Self-Analysis

Analysis: I had to cut some excess words in some sentences because I wrote extra words. There were some parts of my review that confused my peer editors because I wrote the review as if people had already read the book and knew what I was talking about. I also wrote some run-on sentences and it seems that I also need to write a bit more to explain what I’m talking about in the review. A lot of people seemed confused about the many things I wrote in this review because, as I said earlier, I wrote the review as if people would know what I’m talking about.

Reflection: This review was difficult to write because there was so much I wanted to share about the book, the things I thought were really special about it. The problem was because many of the things I wanted to share would give the plot away; I could only describe each aspect in an abstract manner that only made it more confusing. Overall, I really had a desire to write out everything about the book because it felt that important for me to share the contents of the book but because it was a book review, not a book report, I had to restrain myself.

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