Monday, January 9, 2017

It's a Sin to Kill a Mockingbird

I have finished my 7th and final book for this semester, which ended up being my favorite by far. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, is a compelling story which addresses the ideas of racism in america, the idea of right and wrong, and how things and people are not always what they seem.

This book most definitely deserves it's place on the AP reading list due to the authors amazing use of diction, imagery, and his ability to make you connect with a person's morals and see past the color of their skin. THe book explores the ideas of right and wrong when Atticus Finch, the father of our main character, Scout and her brother Jem, is a white lawyer in Maycomb, Alabama during the depression, takes on a case involving the accused rape and beating of a young white girl by a middle-aged black man, Tom Robinson. Although there is substantial evidence proving the mans innocence, Atticus knows he will lose the case but takes it on anyway because it is the right thing to do. Below is an image of the court scene in the award winning film adaptation of the novel.
Image result for court scene to kill a mockingbird

Before and during all of this, Jem, Scout and a boy named Dill from Mississippi who spends his summers with his aunt in Maycomb, are all intrigued by the mystery that is Boo Radley. Radley is said to be a former delinquent who was basically imprisoned by his father within his home after getting in trouble with the law. By the end of the story the kids have been punished multiple times for disturbing the Radley's by Atticus but in the end it is Boo Radley who saves Jem and Scout's lives by stabbing the father of the girl who was supposedly raped, even after it was decided that the black man was guilty, the father felt that he was embarrassed by Atticus and wanted revenge.
Boo Radley was not the murderous delinquent everyone thought he was, he was a hero who was not even tried for murder after saving the two kids.
Another example of someone or something not being what they seem in this novel is when the kids are caught trying to leave notes on Boo Radley's windowsill, they are forced to read to an old woman everyday as punishment. While the children saw this at punishment at the time, after the woman's death, they are told by Atticus that their reading to her was aiding her battle against addiction and they helped prolong her life.

Lastly the book focuses heavily on the idea of racism in America during this time. Atticus although I don't see this as what he intended to mean, says, "Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." This could be taken as white people being the mockingbirds, and African Americans being the bluejays. This does not fall in line with the ideals of Atticus Finch who earlier had stated that all white men who do a black man wrong are trash, yet it still invokes the thought that it certainly could be taken as a reference to race. It reflects how black men and women were seen as lesser and expendable during this time. These ideas can still be applied in our world today with all of the recent brutality and racism towards the black community that while it is not at an all time high, it is finally being shown to the world. The Black Lives Matter movement is the culmination of all of this oppression. Just like in this novel, the black community does not seek superiority but simply want equality and to be treated as human beings and be given all the same freedoms that others are given just like Tom Robinson in the novel who seeks a fair trial.

Atticus Finch is a character that can be a role model for all people who have the ability to stop the oppression of all people through kindness, looking past what people are on the surface, and not letting the color of someone's skin keep you from doing what is right. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

A Race In Red Waters

After yet another break from this book to take up another short novel, I have returned for the last time to finish Close to Shore, by Michael Capuzzo. This book is incredible. A murder mystery that allows you to view and feel for both predator and prey. This book officially has me enveloped in it's increasingly intense story.
This novel tells the story of the harrowing shark attacks along the Jersey Shore in 1916. Shark attacks were considered a fisher-mans myth that held no real ground in the highly Victorian society at the time, but all of that changed in the summer of 1916. That year more people than ever, entered the lair of the gracefully deadly, Great White Shark.

The shark, a juvenile at the time, was pushed up the Atlantic coast line of the United States by an extremely powerful current. After weeks of travel, although being the most deadly predator caught in the current, the shark had barely eaten. The smaller fish were more elusive and the shark was out of it's territory. After exiting the current, the shark made it's way to the Engleside Hotel of the coast of New Jersey. This put the massive fish in perfect condition to hunt the entirely new prey being offered to it, humans. This lack of food for so long coupled with everything around the shark being foreign and new, made the appeal of 2 large mammals in the water irresistible to the silent beast.

The first attack was on the promising, young son of a well respected doctor in Philadelphia, "Seconds before the attack, a shiver traveled down his spine...As the creature's shadow merged with his on the bright, sandy floor of the sea, Charles experienced an adrenal explosion, the over-powering natural urge to live. He was in only three and a half feet of water, close to shore. Safety was at hand. But it was too late." Charles Vansant was attacked and later bled to death due to the enormous wound on his left leg, during a swim with his retriever. The news of this initial attack traveled slow but after the second attack, fear spread. Headlines erupted with news of a man eating shark.

Image result for vansant shark attack

This fear, which is yet to subside even today, has caused the mass hunting of sharks to the point of near extinction. Fear is the catalyst of chaos and action without thought. This fascination and terror at the mention of sharks has lasted for a century now and only through exploring these magnificent beasts can we begin to understand them, for all humans fear what they don't understand, it is our nature.

This book is a horror story which recounts the tragic events that took place that summer but also explores the idea that these attacks were not the actions of a serial killer. They were the praxis of an animal only trying to survive after a lack of sufficient food and the ever-growing opportunities of attack by way of all of the sharks senses being triggered by the splashing, yelling, and shear amount of flesh in the water. This book is opening my eyes as to what is truly going through a sharks mind when they attack humans, it is almost always provoked and an action of pure instinct. Capuzzo embodies the carnivores immense power and grace, while also showing us that while they should be respected, we cannot let our fear continue to allow us to hunt these animals. Sharks are one of the oldest living creatures on the planet and we must learn from them before we no longer have the chance to do so.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Returning From the Stars to Dive Down Below

After taking a break from, Close to Shore, by Michael Capuzzo, I have now returned to the non-fiction horror novel and I am loving it so far. The book started off very slow and was very confusing and nothing really seemed to blend chapter by chapter. This is no longer the case, I am neck deep in the action and terrifying imagery of the gruesome shark attacks. Michael Capuzzo is a master of making you feel like you are the one in the JAWS of the beast (See what I did there?). I have a few chapters left to go but so far it is a rollercoaster of mystery and a trail of blood left by the gliding monster along the Jersey Shore, “The fish appeared gray and white and moved with the precision and trajectory of an enormous bullet, a shot somehow fired in slow motion through the medium of the sea, moving with a purity and suppleness that were eerily beautiful.” (Capuzzo 22). It truly is terrifying to realize that something this large and deadly could be so silent and strike at any moment. This image below illustrates just how close a massive great white could get before you even knew they were there!
Image result for Great white shark gliding through water
          During my break from my current book, I picked up what some would consider a classic as just a fun read, Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card. This book was mesmerizing. Although it is a 300 plus page book, I just could not put it down. The characters were so enticing and the action seemed to dare me to put the book down. After finishing the novel, I could not believe it was over. I have so many questions that I wish could be answered such as, Where did the Formics come from? Was their intention really just to conquer us? Did we ever attempt to make peace? As you can see, the so called villains of the story turned out to be the most intriguing to me, "... the adults are the enemies, not the armies. They do not tell us the truth." (Card 82). This book is an epic read and one that I would highly recommend you read before you watch the movie. The movie is also a great film but it just can not do justice to the serene imagery and feeling that the book invokes in all of us. Check out the trailer:
This book truly brought out the little kid in me who always dreamed of becoming an astronaut and traveling the stars. If you too had the dreams of action and adventure, prepare to relive those moments with this book.
          This book along with, Close to Shore, have truly resurfaced old memories and sparked new intrigue to explore the unknown such as space and our very own ocean. Maybe there really are monsters deep below and high above us, but there is only one way to find out.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Finishing The Maze and Treading New Waters

This past week I have finished The Maze Runner, by James Dashner. This book was surprisingly surprising. Yes that is an odd description but after seeing the movie before reading the book, it is genuinely the only way I can describe this roller coaster of a book. The movie is a great film but just does not do the book justice. The plot twists and mystery continue from cover to cover. There was never a dull moment. If you are a fan of thrill rides, I recommend also reading the book and watching the movie adaptation of Jaws, by Peter Benchley. This movie is the original shark film which spawned the cult following of shark movies. Also this movie is famous for one of the most recognizable sound tracks ever, check it out!

Scary right? This movie actually inspired me to read my current non-fiction book, Close to Shore, by Michael Capuzzo which tells the tale of the 1916 shark attacks along the New-Jersey Shore which inspired Peter Benchley to write Jaws. So far the book has started off slow but I have faith that it will only get better! Along with Close to Shore, I have also begun reading, Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. Unlike my other book, this one has started off fast and right in the midst of action. So far I am hooked in and can not wait to learn more about the kids and the mysterious island they have been stranded on.

Diverging From Divergent

My reading is going slow but good. I have finished Divergent by Veronica Roth. As I suspected, the book turned out to be better than the movie which I watched before reading the book. The book gave the characters, especially Four, a lot more depth and complexity. The story as a whole was much more diverse and had some very relatable underlying themes such as perseverance and the power and beauty of diversity. The story showed the great perseverance of Triss when she was fighting Peter, "I just have to stay on my feet. Stay on my feet I kept repeating to myself, just stay on my feet"(98). This is scene in the story reminded me of a recent movie starring the actor who plays Peter in the Divergent movie,  Miles Teller, titled Bleed For This, which tells an incredible story of perseverance and never giving up.
I personally have had to persevere during tough times in my life when dealing with medical issues and having to stay strong for my family when my grandfather passed away. He used to always repeat a quote after a tough loss or when I was struggling in school, "Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did." Newt Gingrich.
I have now finished 1 of my 8 books I planned to read this year, although I may be increasing that number to 10! After finishing my first book so quickly and actually enjoying it much more than I originally though I would, I now have confidence that I can read and enjoy so many more books.
Just this past day I started reading, The Maze Runner, by James Dashner. So far the book has been a thrill ride of confusion and questions without answers. I am enjoying this book greatly and can not wait to see how it all plays out. Will Thomas become a runner? Will he solve the maze? What secrets is Alby hiding? I'll have to keep reading to find out!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Epilogue Of Me

I have never been a huge reader. All my life I have been the jock, the sports guy. I was your stereotypical sporty kid who thought reading was dumb and all that mattered was my next practice or game because that is what would make me stronger, faster and smarter. If I could make sense of the complicated world of sports, what could I not comprehend? However, recently I have come to realize that while sports are good for my body, it is books that are good for my mind.

I have opened up my mind to reading and its benefits. I have now set goals for my reading just like I set goals for my workouts. I have set the goal of reading 8 books this year, at least 20-30 pages a day, and to read everyday. I plan on reading; Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, LOTR The Return of the King, by J.R.R. Tolkien, I plan on finishing the Eragon series by Christopher Paolini, also I would like to finish the Michael Vey series by Richard Paul Evans and lastly I will read two books form the AP reading list.