Posts Tagged ‘book review’

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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Journalism I

Word Count: 508


A Place to Stand by Jimmy Santiago Baca

A Place to Stand by Jimmy Santiago Baca.

Memoir: A Place to Stand Book Review

Growing up, Jimmy Santiago Baca never quite fit in as a Mexican American in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Born in 1952, Baca was abandoned by his parents when he was two, and lived with his grandmother. After a few years, he was sent to live in the orphanage and wounded up living on the streets. Soon after, at the age of twenty-one, Baca was incarcerated for drug possession and alleged murder.

Having never to learn how to read or write Baca served six years in prison doing just that. He taught himself, while trying to survive the brutal truths of the most degrading humane morals. Even though he was loosing bits and pieces of his soul, little by little, he learned to feel again through writing.

In this captivating memoir, A Place to Stand, Baca tells the side of history that we don’t learn about in textbooks. It speaks of injustice during a time when people did not have enough love in their hearts to accept people who were different from them. Filled with hate and hurt in his heart at the society that did not accept him for his culture, this youth lashed out in the only way he knew how, rebelling against society norms. “Fighting, drinking, and getting high, driving around, this was my life for three or four years.” (p. 34)

Through his years of isolation, Baca has learned to be the voice of those who cannot speak of their fears, for those who cannot mention the darkness that rules their lives. He is now a renowned writer of stories, essay, poetry, and a screenplay. In each of these, Baca has tried to present the cries that are not usually heard, and we discover how he started on this journey with this book. “I was a witness for those who […] would never have a place of their own […]. My job was to witness and record the ‘it’ of their lives, to celebrate those who don’t have a place in this world to stand and call home. […] My pen and heart chronicle their hopes, doubts, regrets, loves, despairs, and dreams.” (p. 244)

There is also a sense of Baca’s writings belonging to the people. He has found his own writer’s voice in a unique place, in a place where others before him have fallen. To be able to pull through all this shows the compassion that Baca has. Thus, the poor and the socially oppressed revere him as a symbol of hope.

I highly recommend this book, especially to people who want to read a true story of a time before, the predecessor of now. In here, Baca writes with a direct bluntness in simple terms that gets the message across. He doesn’t try to soften the reality of prison life, nor of the lives of those who are impoverished and socially ostracized. Here we learn the unforgettable struggle of a challenged young man trying to learn to forgive and still contribute back to a world that he has never truly belonged in.

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Journalism I

Word Count: 691

Draft #2

The book cover of The Client by John Grisham.

The book cover of The Client by John Grisham.

The Client Book Review

He was old enough to know that playing by the rules could get a person killed. Eleven-year-old Mark Sway knew not to tell anyone his secret or trust anyone but himself. Now in a battle between life and death he eludes the law and mobsters, who are after the secret that only Mark knows.

In John Grisham’s The Client, Mark Sway and his younger brother sneak out to smoke a forbidden cigarette in the woods when, by chance, they encounter a suicidal lawyer, Jerome “Romey” Clifford, from New Orleans.

Mark tries to stop Clifford but instead is forced to crawl into the car, where Clifford declares that Mark is to die with him. But before Clifford dies, he reveals many dangerous facts, such as, ”My client killed a man and hid the body, and now my client wants to kill me. […] I, the trusted lawyer, can now tell you, literally seconds before we float away, where the body is. The body, Mark, the most notorious, undiscovered corpse of our time. Unbelievable. I can finally tell!”(p.20). Clifford admits to the guilt of his mobster client, Barry “The Blade” Muldanno, in the killing of U. S. Senator, Boyd Boyette, and the location of the dead body.

Now in order for the FBI to win the case against Muldanno, they must find the body before anything happens to it. The FBI suspects that Mark is withholding information, and consequently takes him to court in order to find out where the body is. Mark, knowing that things could get down-right ugly, hires a lawyer named Reggie Love to help defend him. The pair is determined to elude the FBI and Muldanno, and prove Mark’s innocence before he gets killed.

Mark Sway is a clever boy who grew up with an abusive father and the responsibility of taking care of his mother and little brother. This helped him develop a strength of character at a young age. He is also a smart mouth that tends to get into trouble. Ever since Mark was little, he knew to not rely on the law, as they never helped him or his mother against his father’s abusive nature.” My father had settled down quite a bit, and was suddenly real friendly with the cops. His nose was the size of a football, and the cops were more concerned with his face than with me and Mom.”(p.209) But now, he realizes that he is not alone in the world, and that he can’t do everything on his own.

Sway also understands that he is treading deep water, and thus hires Reggie Love, a 50 something-year-old lawyer, with no ambition in becoming wealthy, to help him. She genuinely wants to help Mark and his family. When their trailer was burned down, Reggie takes on Mark’s case for free because she knows the family can’t afford it after losing everything they owned. She also knows that wealth isn’t everything after going through some haunting and personal experiences. Grisham, a lawyer turned author, uses his legal knowledge to get us emotionally involved with Reggie as a lawyer and her plight in defending her client.

Grisham easily makes use of his experiences to give us a realistic view into the legal world with heart-pounding confrontations in The Client. Yet at the same time, those who are serious legal thriller fans will be disappointed. There is no real proof, real weapon, or any solid information, except for unreliable secondhand sources, that could actually present a good case. This book is for people who wish to read a good novel and yet at the same time, not care too much about the overall silliness of the characters and the accusations that have no basis in proof. The refreshing originality of Mark’s personality does not befit a typical hero, but it also helps us see society from another perspective, a more simple way of looking at the world. At the same time, we realize that things are not all that great in life, and taking that leap before trusting will take every ounce of faith we have.

My analysis and reflection:

I choose to write book reviews because I like to read and also recommend good reading to others. The first book I choose to write about was The Client by John Grisham. The reason I chose this story because I liked how intense the pressure was on the protagonist. The protagonist is a child, meaning that there is a moral issue involved in whether or not to make him tell where the body is. There is also the issue of how to make this child tell. To cajole or to coerce? There is also a strength of character in the character that I really liked. It’s not usually so developed in someone as young as he is. I also like stories that have to deal with legal issues and because legality is a big issue in the story, I choose to review about it. There is also that fact that the characters seem to be very realistic.

This was my 2nd review, so I still found it really difficult to break the habit of writing long summaries. I had to cut some of the plot out and cut out parts of the quote, because that was too long. Writing this review helped me gain more experience, so I would get more of an idea how a review is suppose to be written.

This is one of the articles I choose to be evaluated for my Journalism Portfolio.

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Journalism I

Word Count: 534

Draft #2

Book cover of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.

Book cover of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.

Twilight the Book Review

“About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was part of him- and I didn’t know how potent that part might be- that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.”(p. 195) Told from a first person point of view, Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer, depicts of a 17-year-old Isabella “Bella” Swan who moves from sunny Phoenix, Arizona to rainy and dismal Forks, Washington to live with her father.

The klutzy and average looking Bella soon makes new friends and adapts to life in Forks. While she isn’t entirely discontent with the circumstances, Bella soon learns of the enigmatic nature of the Cullen family. She becomes obsessed with finding out why Edward Cullen seems to be so repulsed by her, and why, despite their beauty, the family seems to be outcasts. After various hints from Edward and undergoing seemingly bizarre circumstances, Bella finds out that the Cullen family are actually vampires.” ‘Go on,’ he said. ‘About vampires.’ I realized I was whispering. […]” (p.184).

Bella Swan is a very caring, pure-hearted girl who puts other’s well-being before her own. Though she knows Edward is a vampire, she sees more than just his handsome face, but into his heart and mind. She is also very perceptive because she cares deeply about the people she loves, thus, letting her see things about the Cullen family that normal humans can’t perceive.

Edward, on the other hand is very fond of Bella, but doesn’t really desire to be close to her. The reason for this is because he is afraid to lose control of the beast inside of him that thirsts for Bella’s blood above anyone else’s. Even so, he is the perfect hero; handsome, considerate, with some handy supernatural powers. His only flaw is that he would want to leave Bella in order to protect her, even though that is the last thing she wants.

At first, it seems as if the book is just about a stereotypical young girl’s life. Yet if you read deeper into the book, it is very well written to the point that it becomes more than trivial problems. Instead, you ache with Bella and muse over her agonies. In another instance, every inch of your body screams for Bella to run away from the evil, sadistic vampire that stalks her. You become engrossed in the book, only to step back and ask yourself, why is this plot so mesmerizing?

This book is well-suited for people who like a story that focuses on feeling. While there is a general plot to this story, most of it more or less is built on the development of the emotion of each of the characters in the book. It also tells of the epic story of star crossed lovers. It’s interesting because the reader can clearly see the protagonists’ relationship blossom, as they try to learn about each other and to help each other throughout the novel. While this is mainly a romance novel, there is also some action aspects in it, and the discovery of a new world, one that is thought to be only supernatural.

This is for my Journalism Portfolio evaluation. I will put my reflection and analysis here later too. :3

Reflection and Analysis:

My 2nd article is a book review on Twilight by Stephenie Meyers. Though this article is shorter, it also has more elements of a review to it. I made some adjustments to the second quote because it seemed too vague. There is also some awkward wording in it, but that has been changed so the review reads more smoothly.

I choose to write a book review on Twilight because this book is very popular right now. When I first got the book, I was very much into the book. And because I liked it, I decided to write a review on the book. It didn’t really turn out the way I thought it would, with many positive comments. Instead, I mention many parts of the book that aren’t as ideal. This made me realize that the book wasn’t as good as I initially thought it was.

My own opinions on this book:

I really fell in love with the book. I remember when I first got the book, I read it over 10 times straight… Totally obsessed. But lately, when I wrote the review, I realized it WASN’T that good. One thing that out  me off was how PERFECT they’re relationship was… Very unrealistic. So while this book is an okay read just to pass the time, it’s not really a awesome book. I don’t think it’ll ever be a classic, like Lord of the Rings, and such.

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