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Student Review: The Homework Myth, by Alfie Kohn (reviewed by Sheila T.)

The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad ThingThe Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing by Alfie Kohn

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Have you ever thought “is homework beneficial?” The ongoing debate on the benefits of homework has lingered for several years. In The Homework Myth by Alfie Kohn, the myth of homework being beneficial is proven wrong. Kohn states several valid points about how homework is doing more harm than good and how the American school system is falling behind with the rest of the world. Although Kohn states several valid facts about how homework isn’t beneficial; he provided very little analysis to back up the facts. Mostly this book consisted of studies on studies on studies. In Kohn’s study he misses a very important group to base his study on, students. Kohn uses parents and teachers for his study. Although these people play an important role in students’ lives, they aren’t doing the homework. Kohn centered his study around elementary and middle school students and briefly touched upon high school students. By the time students are in high school they find homework as mostly busy work and get it done just to get it done. While elementary students need homework because it repeats or gives review for what happened in class. The only time where homework isn’t beneficial is after 8th grade. Most of the homework that students get in high school is mostly busy work or it is a repeat of what they did in class. Overall, the book had some great points about how homework does more harm than good and how the American school system is failing yet there were too many statistics which made this book tedious. ~ Student: Sheila T.

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Student Review: The Homework Myth, by Alfie Kohn (reviewed by Sasha B.)

The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad ThingThe Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing by Alfie Kohn

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

If you were to ask me my thoughts on homework, I’d say it was one of the most unproductive concepts of our time. In The Homework Myth, Alfie Kohn provides evidence as to why this idea of doing work at home is not beneficial to our society. Within the book, he includes how it doesn’t help us learn, that it makes us miss out on our childhoods, why studies that support it are wrong, etc. In his writing, he voices his clear opinions and uses tons of evidence to support his claims. Generally, I concur with his notions throughout the book; however, he tends to be very repetitive and has the absence of stimulating language to engage the reader, and therefore I did not particularly enjoy this book.

Although I agree with his main points and overall opinion about the negativities of homework, Kohn writes a 200-page book that could have easily been cut in half and avoided constant repetitiveness. For example, Kohn remarks more than enough how many studies that have been done in the past show no correlation between amount of homework and success in and out of the classroom. Chapter 2 describes this idea, explaining that “at best, most homework studies show only an association, not a casual relationship,” to achievement in and out of school (28). Then, there is whole chapter following this dedicated to, wait for it, more research proving that homework is not the cause of accomplishments. While one section would have been acceptable on its own, these separate two provide endless information on the same idea that causes the reader to quickly lose interest. I’m not denying that the information is good and actually verifies a point, but was it really necessary to go on and on about it for a fourth of the book?

In addition to this, the book itself lacked intriguing writing and thoughts to draw the reader in, leaving the need to finish as a chore rather than a pleasure. Personally, when I read a novel, I enjoy being sucked in by the exceptional language and storyline, and love that feeling of not wanting to put it down until it’s finished. Unfortunately, while reading The Homework Myth, I found myself disinterested and easily distracted. In fact, I ended up making excuses of why not to read the book, so that I could put it off as long as possible. Needless to say, when I finally did finish, I was relieved. The overall concept of the book was a fine idea, but there was nothing in it to provoke attention and therefore it was a cringe-worthy read.

Lastly, the way the book was written made each part one of two things: extremely boring or utterly complicated. Most of Kohn’s sentences were either short with no substance or long and tedious to read. While the repetitiveness of basic, simple lines caused the reading to be dull, the complex ones such as “imposing competition or standardized tests or homework on children just because other people will do the same to them when they’re older is about as sensible as saying that, because there are lots of carcinogens in the environment, we should feed kids as many cancer-causing agents as possible while they’re small in order to get them ready,” made a lot of the book confusing (146). Though a sentence like this may seem easy, you’ll probably find yourself needing to reread it several times before actually comprehending it, especially if it happens to follow a similar one. ~ Student: Sasha B.

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Student Review: Intern, by Sandeep Jauhar (reviewed by Madeleine M.)

Intern: A Doctor's InitiationIntern: A Doctor’s Initiation by Sandeep Jauhar

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Intern, by Dr. Sandeep Jauhar, is a study in pompousness, and lack of conviction. In addition, he warped the timeline of the stories he was telling, so that the reader gets a story about a patient, and then receives another one about a patient who had left the hospital before the first one was even admitted. It was supposed to aid the flow of the story, but just ended up disrupting the flow of the book. The intention was to detail Dr. Jauhar’s first year as a practicing doctor, and for us to follow him on a journey of improvement, so when that improvement was not consistent, part of the story was lost. In addition, Jauhar undulated between recounting his heroic and intelligent exploits that saved countless lives, and hating himself for inconsistency, and wanting to quit medicine.

I am confident that he told true stories about real patients, but I also believe that he chose to tell only what was beneficial for him as an individual, and as a doctor. This, I find, is the problem with memoirs. Writers can’t possibly be objective, and often, it seems they aren’t even trying as in Intern. The ultimate unreliable narrator is sporting a label that certifies their truthfulness: nonfiction. ~ Student: Madeleine M.

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Student Review: World War Z, by Max Brooks (reviewed by Torsten B.)

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie WarWorld War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

A book about a widespread zombie apocalypse is a book I would typically enjoy reading. However, in the case of World War Z, by Max Brooks, a zombie apocalypse book is not at all what I would enjoy. The novel follows not just one, but way too many people as they describe their experiences during the outbreak. All of these experiences are told through a series of interviews taking place after the disaster. If you are able to maintain some kind of understanding as to what is happening, the novel tells a spectacular story of a struggle to save the human race from uncontrollable zombies. The writing style of Max Brooks is not favorable. It is far too hard to understand what is happening when the character being interviewed is constantly switched to another more confusing character. Although complicated, the novel does offer a new and unique reading experience by only using interviews to tell the story. It is also interesting when the story is told after the events have happened. This is certainly a different style for books in its genre and gives a bit excitement to the reading. I absolutely do not recommend this novel to anyone looking for an even somewhat understandable read at all. Ultimately, if there is any lesson illustrated by this book, it is that you should probably just give up during a zombie apocalypse because most of the people trying to do something about it are useless. ~ Student: Torsten B.

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Student Review: Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie, by David Lubar (review by Roee G.)

Sleeping Freshmen Never LieSleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

When I saw the cover and title, the only thing I wanted to do was to read the book. Now the only thing I want to do is warn other people not to read the book. David Lubar’s Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie successfully bored me to death with its magnificently dull plot. Firstly, the author’s style is horrendous. The main character, Scott Hudson, is an average kid with nothing special about him. Dedicated solely to depict Scott’s journey throughout freshmen year, this book is terrible. I personally despised how the book consisted of multiple diary entries, all of which are addressed to Scott’s unborn sibling. The author tried too hard to recreate a teenager and ended up creating a mess. Secondly, Scott writes his diary entries with an unbelievable and unmatchable level of immaturity. Scott consistently greets his sibling with stupid names and references like when Scott says, “Hey, toe sucker” (199). It is even more humiliating when Scott says, “Hey, you fluid-dwelling piece of protoplasm” (55). This book is supposed to be humorous but instead it’s one of the worst reads I’ve ever had. Referring to his unborn sibling as a “fluid-dwelling piece of protoplasm” (55), Scott merely embarrasses himself over and over. Is that supposed to be funny? Grow up, Scott! Why did he refer to his sibling as a “toe sucker”? It was phrases like these that made me lose respect for Scott and this book. At home, my eyes closed as I write this review, I realized that the bottom line is that it is better to get hit by a truck than to read this book.–Student: Roee G.

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Student Review: TTYL, by Lauren Myracle (review by Kristen M.)

ttyl (Internet Girls, #1)ttyl by Lauren Myracle
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Teenagers, usually pictured as selfish, savage party animals, binge drinking and experiencing pregnancies by the time we are sixteen, seem to be a popular topic in the media. The way Lauren Myracle portrays girls of the age of 15-16 is ludicrous and unrealistic. Angela Silver, Zoe Barrett, and Maddie Kinnick are three under-aged girls in the 10th grade. Experiencing a high level of drama, the main characters are subjected to a variety of commotion that most modern teens would not reach until reaching college. The novel, TTYL, includes a portion of pedophilia, drinking, cyber-bullying, and nudity. I would infer that older audiences would admire this book for its level of “lifelike” scenarios and dialogue. However, I have never directly encountered any human being with the intentions of misspelling half of all their words on instant messaging in high school. Near the end of the book Maddie’s two friends discuss about how a girl named Jana sent pictures of “maddie dancing on the table, and she was naked from the waist up”(176) after a frat party with alcohol. The “winsome threesome” (2) gossip about their school mates constantly and are subjects to peer pressure and insecurity. Although this is a quality that is very realistic with teenagers today, the characters do not show any purposeful quality. They seem like very shallow characters and I find it very hard to relate to such falsely developed personalities. I personally take offense to the fact that Myracle pictures teenagers of my age as small-minded creatures and that she has the nerve to distribute the idea. TTYL by Lauren Myracle seemingly expresses what the media feeds to its viewers about stereotypical teenagers, the novel is just as superficial as the character development, and it’s crafted with dialogue that is unrealistic and overly exaggerated.–Student: Kristen M.

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Infinte Days, by Rebecca Maizel

Infinite Days (Vampire Queen, #1)Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I have a better title: Interminable Days: Until this Book is Over . I wish I could write a more positive review, because I’m sure the author put a lot of effort into this book, but either she got a lot of bad advice from those surrounding her, or she needs to find another career. The best feature of the book is its cover, which is what attracted me, and probably a multitude of other hopeful, unsuspecting readers in the first place. Lenah Beaudonte was seduced in the year 1418 at the tender age of fifteen by the love of her life: Rhode, a stunning vampire who granted her infinite days with him by her side. Now flash forward nearly 600 years to the bucolic campus of Wickham, an exclusive boarding school in coastal New England. Lenah awakes as a 16 year-old beauty after 100 years of hibernation following an obscure ritual in which her beloved Rhode sacrifices himself so that she can be human again. This is where the novel really starts to annoy. Lenah adjusts to life in the 21st century without much more than a few endearing social gaffes (like dropping to her knees when she hears recorded Mozart, or coyly asking for the definition of prom after being invited). She quickly falls for the most popular, hottest guy on campus, who drops his girlfriend at the first site of the lovely Lenah. Their relationship is based solely on being well matched aesthetically, as they appear to have nothing more in common. This is enough, however, for Lenah to fall deeply in love (again) with Justin Enos, and to endanger him and all of their shallow friends by sticking around long after she becomes aware that the forlorn and forgotten members of her coven will soon seek her out and kill those to whom she has become attached. The writing is stilted, the characters are flat, and the plot is plodding. Here’s a prime example, “His chest was covered in rain, and we were both drenched. We smiled at the sky, then at each other, and for the moment I forgot I was nearly five hundred years older than he was. ‘What’s your name?’ he asked, his green eyes protected by long, wet lashes.

‘Lenah Beaudonte.'”

And so it begins. And goes on, and on, and on. If you’re desperate for another teenage vampire love story, and have a lot of time to kill and nothing else to read, then go for it. Otherwise, don’t waste your time.

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Filed under Paranormal Romance, Romance