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Student Review:Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return, by Marjane Satrapi (reviewed by Khashayar D.)

Persepolis 2: The Story of a ReturnPersepolis 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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Filed under *Student Review, Biography/memoir, Graphic Novel

The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Women, beware. This is not a Hunger Games-style dystopia. It is much more disturbing than that, because it is so much more feasible. Though written in 1986, this cautionary tale for women resonates highly today as, unbelievably, we find ourselves revisiting women’s reproductive rights issues that were supposed to have been settled decades ago. Welcome to the Republic of Gilead, formed after the entire U.S. Congress was gunned down by religious fundamentalists. Before that, life was much we experience it today for our protagonist and her family. She was married, had a young daughter, and had work that she enjoyed. The first sign that her life was about to change forever was when all of the women in her office were summarily fired. Now she has become “offred,” Handmaid to the Commander, charged with producing his child on behalf of his wife through a bizarre and degrading ritual in which all three parties participate. This is the role of all the Handmaids, who dress in red habits and use their ever-rarer fertility to populate Gilead, a totalitarian society where women’s roles vary but are completely subjugated to men. There are rumors of escape to Canada, but who can Offred trust? Though at times slow-moving, this is a thought-provoking read that will stay with you for a long time. ~Ms. Dimmick

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Student Review: Burned, by Ellen Hopkins (review by Colleen C.)

Burned (Burned, #1)Burned by Ellen Hopkins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Burned is a powerful novel about being a girl raised in a religious but abusive household. Ellen Hopkins speaks through Pattyn Von Stratten on a Mormon teen’s thoughts about God, sex, love, and a woman’s role:“in a woman’s womb. another chance. to make the world better.” Pattyn falls in love with a non religious boy while she is at her Aunt’s house for the summer and finds “salvation” and God’s acceptance but instead finds love that will haunt her forever. Pattyn returns home to an abusive alcoholic father and finding out she is pregnant. Scared, alone, and lost she attempts to run away with Ethan where everything falls apart. This story is powerful and heartbreaking and once you pick it up, you will not want to put it back down.–Student:  Colleen C.

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Filed under *Student Review, Contemporary Realistic Fiction, Fiction

Student Review: Section 8, by K’wan (reviewed by Samantha A.)

Section 8Section 8 by K’wan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you’re from the city and have been involved with drugs, alcohol, violence, or want to know about what people’s lives are like that are involved with these things, then this book is just for you. Section 8 is filled with events that teens in high school go through involving drugs, and alcohol and learning to deal with the events and hardships that come their way. I myself have had friends go through times that put their lives at risk and had to cope with hardships like the teens in this book. That’s what made me so interested in this book. Tionna and her friends’ lives start out perfect in the beginning and as the book continues, we see them choose drugs/alcohol and go through events that aren’t the best for them. These specific events lead up to the climax of the book. So if you like to read books that make you wonder more and more as the book continues on then this book is right for you. Tionna (the main character) is involved in relationships that contemplate how she lives and result in the actions she chooses throughout the book. This book is a great read if you’re into books about the city and what happens within the city, which we don’t normally see or hear about on the outside. Lastly, I would recommend this book because of its descriptions and the events that happen in this book. It is so descriptive that you can visualize what events are going on in the book and feel as though your are actually there.–Student:  Samantha A.

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Filed under *Student Review, Contemporary Realistic Fiction, Fiction

Burned, by Ellen Hopkins

Burned (Burned, #1)Burned by Ellen Hopkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Pattyn (named for the General by an abusive father who has named all 6 daughters after Generals) is 17, Mormon, and beginning to question the teachings of her church. The beauty and emotional impact of this story comes from its unusual form for YA fiction: verse. The themes of religion, sex, feminism, love, abuse, alcoholism, and more are wrapped in creative verse that flows so smoothly and eloquently that the reader skims through the deceptively short book (it looks a lot longer than it is) in no time at all. Brace yourself for an intense and emotional ride.

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Filed under Contemporary Realistic Fiction, Romance