Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY by Jay Asher is a tragic story about Hannah Baker, a girl who commits suicide and leaves behind 7 cassette tapes for thirteen people to listen to. Hannah threatens that if these tapes aren’t sent to each person in chronological order, she’ll have someone release a second set of tapes to the public. Within these tapes, she explains how these thirteen people are the thirteen reasons why she took her own life. She explains how she was used and tormented by horrible people. The story follows Clay Jensen, one of Hannah’s reasons, and his reaction to hearing her story from her perspective. When Clay first gets the tapes, he’s shocked that he’s listening to Hannah’s last words on tape. Through the night, Clay listens to the tapes on his friend’s walkman. He strolls around the city to the various places marked on the map that was given to him with the tapes. There are very serious topics discussed in this book, such as rape, suicide, and depression. People should definitely read this novel just for the experience. Depression and suicide aren’t really topics that are openly talked about, especially if one experiences it firsthand. The book also talks about signs of suicide that one could apply to everyday life. Reading this would give someone that doesn’t suffer from suicidal thoughts insight on the real hardships some people go through. On the other hand, this book probably isn’t suited for people that are easily triggered by these topics. ~ Student: Tiffany W.
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Madness: A Bipolar Life by Marya Hornbacher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This incredible memoir was an emotional roller coaster ride from start to finish. I found out about it when a student read an excerpt from it during a speech tournament. The relatively short piece sparked my interest and I borrowed it from the Newton Free Library. Madness: A Bipolar Life is a lively biographical story written by Marya Hornbacher, also author of the groundbreaking memoir Wasted where she recalls the tale of her struggle with eating disorders. In this brutally honest telling of what it is like to live with severe mental illnesses interfering with her everyday life, Hornbacher brings into focus what it is like to struggle with a severe sickness of the mind. Her vivid, in-the-moment writing style makes you feel like you’re right there with her through her bad episodes, bouts of self-harm, and heartbreaking hospital visits. Bipolar disorder is characterized by mood swings from elated highs to depressing lows. And in rapid cycling, what the author herself has, such mood swings occur more frequently than normal. A person with such an illness can end up leading a very challenging life as a direct result if they don’t find treatment that works for them. What I really loved about the book was Hornbacher’s writing style. It makes you feel like you’re right there with her and just like real life is messy and all over the place, so is this book. Hornbacher’s life makes an amazing read and this memoir is will most definitely not disappoint. The numerous setbacks she experiences make you as a reader appreciate every moment of happiness and peace she finds throughout the story. I highly recommend it. ~ Student: Teresa C.
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Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Book 2 of Persepolis picks up exactly where book 1 ends. Satrapi is a teenager who goes to Vienna to continue her education away from the oppressive Islamic Regime that is ruling Iran. Book 2’s Marjane Satrapi is older and much more impulsive than the Satrapi in Book 1. I did not like this sequel to Persepolis 1 because the main character, Marjane, is much less relatable and un-engaging than the girl in Persepolis 1. As an Iranian who, like Satrapi, also left Iran at the age of fourteen, I have to say that this book is from the stand-point of a completely westernized individual. As Marjane grows up she becomes progressively stupider and more impulsive and gets herself into situations that usually take years to overcome. However Marjane, the will-guided protagonist of this graphic novel, overcomes drug abuse, depression, and a life that has been created by countless bad decisions by only a prevailing strength of will. Aside from miraculously mending her life, throughout the book, Satrapi makes decisions that make it hard for the reader to sympathize with her such as framing an innocent civilian to evade the police. Lastly I would like to point out that the “Graphic” element of this novel was completely ineffectual. Book 1 in this series succeeded because its childlike graphics and storytelling matched perfectly with this subject matter. We could imagine the child author telling her story in these terms. This sequel fails because the issues of growing up and dealing with the disillusionment of one’s own culture are much more subtle. The story and the graphics reminded me constantly of the nuances that are left out, like the issues of women’s rights and humanity that are sentimentalized and the real conflicts that this child/woman is undergoing remain untapped. I would not recommend this book to a friend.
Recommendations: Palestine by Joe Sacco, The complete Maus: A survivor’s tale by Art Spiegelman, 1984 by George Orwell, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak. ~Student: Khashayar D.
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A Slipping-Down Life by Anne Tyler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A Slipping Down Life by Anne Taylor is about a heavy girl whose life is lonely and depressing yet she has great courage, which makes her a role model for readers. Evie Decker is the main character and she only has one friend named Violet. Evie and Violet decide to go to a concert that Drumstring Casey is performing in. Evie falls in love with him and his song. After that night everything changes for Evie and Drumstring. They fall in love, start looking for new jobs and then elope. Evie also has to deal with the death of her father, her cut face, and getting pregnant at a very young age. Drumstring has to figure how to get a new job, handle feeling depressed and he also has to realize that he doesn’t have a chance to become a musician. Evie goes from being a nobody in the beginning of the story to becoming a much stronger and mature person towards the end.–Student: Irene C.
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