Saturday, December 4, 2010

Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson

From the outside Kate Malone, or "Good Kate," as she refers to herself, is an honor roll student, science fair winner, and exceptional long-distance runner. Being the daughter of a widowed minister, Kate inherited the responsibilities of a mother at a young age, doing the laundry for the family, making the meals, making sure that her younger brother takes his medications, and keeping her father's calendar. While she does all these chores she simultaneously continues to maintain an above average scholarly record, good enough in fact to apply to MIT, her deceased mother's former school and Kate's dream school.
Appropriately titled CATALYST, Kate's story is about what happens when she chooses to apply to only one college. "Bad Kate" struggles with telling her father that she didn't choose any safety schools, her jealousies over her fellow students' early college acceptances, her insomnia and midnight runs, and her desire to be the absolute best at everything she does. She struggles to please everyone, at the risk of not pleasing herself. However, when her former enemy Teri Litch's house burns down, Kate's loses control. Teri and her little brother are forced to move into Kate's house and Kate must tend to their every will. While living with the Malones, Teri skips schools to rebuild her house with some volunteers in the community. One day, Kate decides to help out after school and when they are almost done, they decide to take a break and rest on the front porch. Teri then asks where Mikey is, her little brother, and they search through the house for him. Tragically, they find him dead on the ground. They immediately call the ambulance while Teri is screaming, "My son! My son!" Kate later finds out that Teri's father had raped her, therefore, that was the reason why he was in jail.
The rest of the book is about Teri trying to get over the tragedy while Kate is trying to help her and to become friends with her. It is also about how Kate learns how to stop making life so hard for herself and to relax and live in the moment, like finding a new college to go to because MIT did not accept her. In the end, Kate and Teri become friends and Kate begins to ask her father for help because she realizes she cannot take care of everyone on her own.

Question #1: Why do you think Kate only applied to one school?

Question #2: How do you think Teri's son, Mikey, died?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder- By: Joanne Fluke

Hannah Swensen runs a successful bakery, called The Cookie Jar, in the small town of Lake Eden. The town is the stereotypical small town where nothing exciting ever happens. In fact the only exciting thing in Hannah's life is avoiding talking to her mother, Delores, who fixes her up with every man in town. However, that will all change when she finds herself caught in a sticky situation.

When she is taking her garbage into the alley behind her store, she discovers her beloved milk man and friend, Ron LaSalle, dead in his truck and a bag of her chocolate chip crunches in his seat. Determined not to have her cookies get a bad reputation, she tries to track down the killer. Could it be the owner of the dairy, a local dentist, or the richest family in Lake Eden? Hannah needs to be careful with her undercover investigation or she might be next.


1. In the novel Hannah breaks into places to find out information. Do you think that it is right for her to break the law and risk her life to find the killer?

2. If someone close to you was murdered, what extremes would you go to to find the killer?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Keeping the Moon- Sarah Dessen

This is a book a bout a fifteen-year old girl named Collie who seemed to never fit in anywhere. First it was because both her and her mom were fat, however her mom became famous and inspired many people to lose weight after she lost 200 pounds all on her own. Then, it was because she got a reputation she did not deserve. Her mom goes on a European tour to promote her work out videos so Collie is sent to Colby, North Carolina to stay with her Aunt Mira. She doesn't expect much. After all why would someone bother with her in North Carolina when no one back home did? However Colby turns out to be great for her, and almost immediately she lands a job at the Last Chance Bar and Grill. There she meets two waitresses-Isabel and Morgan-two best friends who teach her what friendship is all about and help her appreciate herself for who she is.
Even though everything works out for the three friends in the end it wasn't always that way. Isabel is a very judgemental person and she doesn't originally like Collie because she has a lip ring and her hair is dyed jet black. She makes many comments to her about how she is different and she didn't even want her to work at the restaurant with them. If you were Collie, would you forgive Isabel right away, would you confront her on it, or would you just let everything go to not start drama? And why?
Collie always knew she never really fit in. She also knew that she was going to somewhere new for the whole summer. One of the lessons in this book is to be yourself and love yourself for who you are. If you were Collie, would you change who you were for one summer to see if you could possibly fit in somewhere? Why or why not?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (Rafiq Oglesby)

The book I read was Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. She was an English novelist and poet who lived from 1818-1848 which is why the novel has an "old English" feel to it, but all in all it's a really good book with a great story. The novel begins by introducing a man named Mr. Lockwood who has rented Thrushcross Grange, a property in northern England. This is where he meets his landlord, Heathcliff, an intimidating, wealthy man who lives in the old manor of Wuthering Heights. While staying at Thrushcross Grange, Lockwood asks the housekeeper, Nelly Dean, to tell him the story of Heathcliff. She does and he writes down her words in his diary. She recalls of a time when she was a young girl and a servant at Wuthering Heights for a man named Mr. Earnshaw. A numerous amount of events happen between this point and through the end of the book as Nelly tells her story. One of the main events of the plot is the relationship between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw. Okay, so Mr. Earnshaw went to Liverpool, England and brought back Heathcliff, an orphan. When they first meet, Heathcliff is looked down upon by Catherine and her brother because he is a very messy, bitter, and dark person (so to speak), and because they are from an upper class society, while Heathcliff descends from peasants. Also Hindley, Catherine's older brother, feels as if Heathcliff has stolen his father's affection and resents him for it. Eventually Heathcliff and Catherine become friends, but as the years progress, she starts "hanging out" with a more suitable young man named Edgar Linton, and the two become close. Sometime later, Edgar proposes to her and she accepts but also confesses that her true love is Heathcliff, but that she can't marry him because it would "degrade" her and lower her position on the social ladder. She says "Whatever souls are made of, his and mine are the same....". Heathcliff is listening and only hears the part about her not being able to marry him and then he leaves Wuthering Heights and begins making his fortune.

1.) Would you resent someone who came from an impoverished life without parents or would you accept him/her into your family and show as much affection as possible?

2.) Do you think Heathcliff would have stayed in Wuthering Heights if he listened to ALL of what Catherine was saying?

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

This is the story about how a pair of pants kept four best friends, Carmen, Briget, Lena, and Tibby, together while they were apart. They have been best friends all their lives. Their mothers met while they were pregnant with them at an aerobics class for pregnant ladies. The four mothers became very close while they were pregnant. The four girls were all born in the month of September so they have been best firends since birth. After the girls were born their mothers grew apart but the girls became closer.

Carmen bought a pair of jeans at a thrift store and the pants magically fit all four girl perfectly. The pair of pants brought out the best features in the four gilrs. No pair of pants have fit the girls like these did.

This summer was the first summer they would ever be apart and they had the idea of sharing the pants between the four of them. They all met eachother at Gilda's, the aerobics place where thier mothers met, to dicuss the rules and procedure for the pants. Each girl would have the pants for no more than a week and then pass on the pants and a letter talking about all their experiences in the pants to the next girl. They made ten rules the girls must follow while wearing the pants.

Lena was the first one to have the pants during the summer. Her and her sister Effie spent their summer in Greece visting their grandparents. Her friends call Lena "the beauty." Lena is not very into boys but her grandmother insisted on her meeting a boy named Kostos. She had no intention of meeting Kostos because she did not want to deal with any drama but when she finally ran into Kostos, her feelings changed. The pants gave Lena trust and she soon realized that the only person she could not trust was herself.

Tibby stayed home for the summer and believed she was living a depressing life. Tibby's freinds think of her as "the rebel." She had to stay home because she had a job at a place called Wallmans. While Tibby was home she was working on a documentary about the lameness of her hometown. One day at work she met a girl named Bailey. When Tibby first met her she thought of Bailey as one of those annoying girls who talked too much but she soon developed a close relationship with her. Bailey was very interseted in Tibby's life and helped her with the documentary she was making. One day Bailey's mother told Tibby that Bailey had a disease called leukemia. Tibby did not think anything of it at first but when Bailey suddenly stoped showing up at Tibby's house to work on the documentary, Tibby began to get scared. She soon found out that Bailey has been spending all her time at the hospital. When Tibby went to visit Bailey, she brought the pants hoping they would work their magic on Bailey. When Tibby first met Bailey she did not think anything of it but it turned out that Bailey taught Tibby many things about time and living your life.

Carmen's parents were divorced and she wanted to spend her summer with her dad. She did not know what her friends thought of her so she just thought of her self as "the Puerto Rican." When her dad picked her up at the airport she was expecting to go home to the apartment he used to live in but when he pulled into the driveway of this perfect house, she had so many questions. It turned out that her dad, Al, had a fiance he was soon going to marry named Lydia. Lydia had two kids, Krista and Paul. Carmen did not like her dads new family because she thought they did not like her. They were too proper and perfect for Carmen to handle. They were nothing like Carmen. She was tan and built and Krista, Paul, and Lydia were small and blonde. She became very upset because she thought her dad did not want Carmen in his life and forgot all about the life he used to have with Carmen's mother. She was so upset she did not want yo go to his wedding. The pants gave Carmen the courage she needed.

Bridget's mother died a few years before and she continued to live with her dad and brother, Perry. Her father was not very concerned with Bridget's life because she spent most of her time at her friend's houses. Bridget's friends thought of her as "the athlete." She spent her summer at a soccer camp in Baja California. She made many friends at camp and she had the biggest crush on one of the soccer coaches named Eric. She knew she could not have Eric but that only made her want him more. She tried so hard for him to notice her and did anything she could to get attention. She snuck out of her cabin every night hoping he would follow her.

At the end of the summer right before school started, they met again at Gilda's. They did not really talk about what they did during their summer but how the pants brought them together even though they were apart. The theme of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is that friendship is important and someone could rely on it in every aspect of their life.

1. Who do you think needed the pants the most and why?

2. Who do you think had the most memorable summer and why?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bright Young Things

Bright Young Things is a book by Anna Godbersen set in the 1920’s about three girls whose lives connect in the illustrious city of New York. Two of the three girls Cordelia Grey and Letty Larkspur grew up in the small town of Union Ohio. Together they run away to New York City to escape the dull lives they lead. “They came to avoid kitchens and marriages, to a place where they could reasonably claim to be eighteen forever. Or for the foreseeable future, anyway, which seemed to us the same thing. They came mostly, for the fun – especially the young things, especially the girls.” Unfortunately, upon arrival they find that everything they dreamed about the city isn’t true. Astrid Donal, the third girl, is an extremely well off flapper living in New York at the time the other two arrive. After Letty and Cordelia part ways Astrid Donal befriends Cordelia and becomes her guide to the city, introducing her to a variety of things. As time goes on they become inseparable friends who help each other though the thick and thin.
On the other side of New York Letty gets to see a whole different aspect to the infamous city, she has to tough it out mostly alone. She gets a job in a club as a cigarette girl. As she struggles through a less privileged life then Cordelia she learns a lot about herself and how the world really is.
Throughout the story all three girls lose a bit of their innocence. They have to face things about themselves and about the world they previously thought they knew. Do you think it would have been better if the two girls stayed in Union Ohio and left their lives they way they were?

Which of the girls do you think learned more about themselves, Cordelia who was able to become part of the well off side of the city and meet the supportive Astrid or Letty who had to make her own way on the less privileged side of the city?

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

The novel starts off with Anna Fitzgerald, a thirteen year old girl, selling some of her belongings in a pawn shop in order to hire a lawyer to sue her parents for the right to her own body. Her sixteen year old sister, Kate, needs a bone marrow transplant in order to survive, and her parents only had another child so that child can donate their organs and bone marrow to Kate. Knowing this is a very serious case, Campbell Alexander accepts to take on Anna's case. Throughout the novel, Anna starts to feel guilty about the decision that she has made, wanting the right to her own body. Anna has been through numerous surgeries, and her mother wants her to donate her kidney to Kate. To Sara, the mother of the three teenagers, Kate always came first, and although she favors her dying daughter, her love for Anna never faded. Before the end of the trial, the reader finds out that Kate was the one who told Anna to get a lawyer because she did not want her little sister to die for her. She knew she was going to die anyways. At the end of the trial, Anna wins her case and the right to her own body. Her family was not upset her actions with the trial. At the end of the novel, Campbell and Anna get in a terrible car accident, the lawyer was not hurt, but Anna was left brain dead. Her organs were then donated to her sister.

1. In some way, do you think Anna's mother, Sara, was relieved to find out that Kate would receive the organ she would need in order to survive?

2. If you were in Sara's shoes, would you do what she did and side with your favorite daughter? Why?