Image Archives

Ellie’s Letter Essay #7




Dear blog reading audience,


                Recently, I finished reading Everything, Everything, a 352 page realistic fiction novel, by Nicola Yoon. Nicola Yoon is a hopeless romantic, as said by her herself, which inspires some ideas for her books. She also was a former jewelry maker before she found her passion for writing. She has won several awards including, the 2016 National Book Award in young people’s literature for her book The Sun is Also a Star. This award was given to her a year after, Everything, Everything was published. Everything, Everything will soon become a major motion picture this summer and over 8 months was already on the NYT’s best seller’s list. It also is in the American Library Association’s 2016 Best Fiction for Young Adult’s Section. I chose to read Everything, Everything because I was looking for new books to order and the cover of this book attracted me to reading about it, and I then remembered that I saw the trailer for the movie of this book a little earlier and really wanted to see it. The movie hasn’t come out yet, so I decided to buy the book and get an idea of what the concept of the book actually is, as the explanation was a little vague.   


                   In the book Everything, Everything, Madeline, the main character has a sickness. You’re most likely thinking it’s a common sickness much like others, but she has a rare sickness, unlike several. Madeline is entrapped her in her airlocked home with no connection to the outside world, due to her highly compromised immune system. Crazy right? Her isolated life is intervened only by online classes, her nurse, Carla, and her physician mother. If she came into contact with the world outside she might just die. All until the day a family moves next door and she meets Olly. At first, it is a virtual relationship, signals through their windows and online, but eventually they finally meet in person, thanks to her nurse, Carla. Madeline begins to experience something new and huge shift in her life as she falls in love for the first time, but wonders how she can have a real relationship with her disease lingering in the middle of it. Olly and Madeline’s relationship progresses and soon enough her controlling mother finds out and fires Carla for sparking the teenager’s love, while endangering her daughter’s isolation. With Olly, Madeline conquers her fears and runs for freedom, flying to her dream place, Hawaii for a trip she believe will be her last. Madeline explains to her mother she’d rather spend a couple days in freedom, rather than spending the rest of her life dying in the confines of her home. She risks even more trust when she lies to Olly, telling him she is on experimental medication that allows her to travel. When in Hawaii, Madeline gets sick and she is flown home, but the doctor who treated her in Hawaii reveals something shocking that will impact Madeline and the people around her for the rest of her life.


                      I liked the way the author left Olly as a mystery in the beginning, and the aspect of him moving in next door possibly dangerous, which got the reader thinking, what could a family moving in do to Madeline? The author constantly made the reader guess what would happen next, which was also a very intriguing way of making the reader keep reading. I would say the theme of this book would definitely have to be bravery as Madeline followed her beliefs and overcame her fears for love. Madeline has lived in fear of the outside world her whole life and daring to even step onto the grass right out of her house would be a huge risk, but travelling to Hawaii is whole other section of boldness and doing it out of love is something some would never challenge to chance. She also defies her disease out of curiosity and self-courage. When Madeline gets the idea that she’s possibly not sick, she does something insane and leaves. She doesn’t consult her new nurse or her mom about if she’d be affected, she just believes she needs to find the truth out on her own. I was very surprised when the author ended on such a simple, yet misleading ending. I honestly was shocked she ended it on a dull note, she kept the reader interested throughout the whole book, but kind of gave up at the end it seemed like. The reader was at first looking at this happy ending, but then she left the reader on this cliff-hanger wondering what happens next in the future after an eventful situation happens. Lastly, I liked this piece of writing that pivots between Madeline’s thoughts and what she actually says, by Nicola Yoon,


“ “What did you wish for?” she asks as soon as I open my eyes.


Really there’s only one thing to wish for — a magical cure that will allow me to run free outside like a wild animal. But I never make that wish because it’s impossible. It’s like wishing that mermaids and dragons and unicorns were real. Instead I wish for something more likely than a cure. Something less likely to make us both sad.

“World peace,” I say (pg.14).”

I find this part in the novel to be a great example of how the author gives the reader a peek into how Madeline thinks, in contrast to what she actually says. The author shows that Madeline has this conflict in her head of what she wants to speak and do, but what she actually says. It gives insight to how the main character differs from her mind to her mouth in just a couple, simple sentences. I would rate this book a 9/10 as the whole book was so compelling, thorough, and fascinating, rather than the end where the author added in a quite disappointing ending.

Ellie Stenzel



P.S here is the movie trailer to this book,

Music Appreciation: Storytelling: A Boy Named Sue

This popular Johnny Cash song is written about the distant and shaky relationship with his father, and the reunion they shared at a saloon, many years after his father leaving with the last words of naming him Sue.
¨A Boy Named Sue¨ By: Johnny Cash
My daddy left home when I was three
And he didn’t leave much to ma and me
Just this old guitar and an empty bottle of booze.
Now, I don’t blame him cause he run and hid
But the meanest thing that he ever did
Was before he left, he went and named me “Sue.”Well, he must o’ thought that is quite a joke
And it got a lot of laughs from a’ lots of folk,
It seems I had to fight my whole life through.
Some gal would giggle and I’d get red
And some guy’d laugh and I’d bust his head,
I tell ya, life ain’t easy for a boy named “Sue.”Well, I grew up quick and I grew up mean,
My fist got hard and my wits got keen,
I’d roam from town to town to hide my shame.
But I made a vow to the moon and stars
That I’d search the honky-tonks and bars
And kill that man who gave me that awful name.Well, it was Gatlinburg in mid-July
And I just hit town and my throat was dry,
I thought I’d stop and have myself a brew.
At an old saloon on a street of mud,
There at a table, dealing stud,
Sat the dirty, mangy dog that named me “Sue.”

Well, I knew that snake was my own sweet dad
From a worn-out picture that my mother’d had,
And I knew that scar on his cheek and his evil eye.
He was big and bent and gray and old,
And I looked at him and my blood ran cold
And I said: “My name is ‘Sue!’ How do you do!
Now your gonna die!!”

Well, I hit him hard right between the eyes
And he went down, but to my surprise,
He come up with a knife and cut off a piece of my ear.
But I busted a chair right across his teeth
And we crashed through the wall and into the street
Kicking and a’ gouging in the mud and the blood and the beer.

I tell ya, I’ve fought tougher men
But I really can’t remember when,
He kicked like a mule and he bit like a crocodile.
I heard him laugh and then I heard him cuss,
He went for his gun and I pulled mine first,
He stood there lookin’ at me and I saw him smile.

And he said: “Son, this world is rough
And if a man’s gonna make it, he’s gotta be tough
And I knew I wouldn’t be there to help ya along.
So I give ya that name and I said goodbye
I knew you’d have to get tough or die
And it’s the name that helped to make you strong.”

He said: “Now you just fought one heck* of a fight
And I know you hate me, and you got the right
To kill me now, and I wouldn’t blame you if you do.
But ya ought to thank me, before I die,
For the gravel in ya guts and the spit in ya eye
Cause I’m the guy* that named you “Sue.'”

I got all choked up and I threw down my gun
And I called him my pa, and he called me his son,
And I came away with a different point of view.
And I think about him, now and then,
Every time I try and every time I win,
And if I ever have a son, I think I’m gonna name him
Bill or George! Anything but Sue! I still hate that name!


David’s Letter Essay #3 :”20,000 League Under The Sea”


I have recently finished reading 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. This literature masterpiece was written by Jules Verne, as a scientific fiction novel, of 371 pages. Although this book was written in 1870, making it, 145 years old, it is still read by millions around the world. Jules Verne was a French novelist from Nantes, France. Verne’s novels are extra extraordinaire due to their futuristic and technologically advanced creations. In his life Verne published 1 book a year for a 40 year span on multiple subjects. His writing has been adored by readers for over 150 years and will continued to amaze many generations to come. I chose to read this book because scientific fiction is a genre that I don’t commonly read, and needed books for the genre. Also, other classmates in the grade that have read the novel, would say it is a classic.


20,000 Leagues Under The Sea is about a Marine Biology professor, named Monsieur Aronnax, and his encounter with a monster from underneath the water. While the french professor was in New York City along with his fellow companion Conseil, the two are invited onto The Abraham Lincoln, a battleship that was leaving from the New York Harbor to the deep oceans in search of the giant killer narwhal that had punctured holes in ships, been seen as over 160 feet long, and was traveling around the world at excessive speed. Their decision to accept the offer soon turns fatal. While aboard The Abraham Lincoln Monsieur and Conseil meet a Canadian Harpooner who had the best fisherman’s eye in the world, Ned Land. After three month asea crew members began to lose hope in finding the beast, and after the ship’s hope of finding the monster was at its most narrow, The Abraham Lincoln set its destination to land. While on its route home however, in a one in a million shot Ned Land had spotted the phenomenon underwater. Due to the monsters great speed it was almost impossible for the ship to keep up. After an intense chase The Abraham Lincoln had collided into the beast knocking it with great force but also sending Mr. Aronnax over board. Monsieur finds COnseil and Ned Land had been also thrown off of the deck, but that was not the only peculiar thing. Ned Land was also standing on the “monster”, which had turned out to be a full metal underwater submarine, and when a man appears at the entrance to the ship with the shock of seeing three live men, they realize their future lied inside this very ship.


I noticed how the author tends to name of many underwater specimens, their appearances, and their scientifics names. Adding these passages  in the novel helps the reader understand the characters knowledge of underwater life, and also teaches the reader about it too. I liked the way the author hinted towards the future pages in the book. Verne for the most part described Captain Nemo as a welcoming, intelligent, but very confusing, and unexpecting man. These mixed characteristics make the reader question everything that Captain Nemo does throughout the book. If I were the author I would have shortened the middle of the book. The middle was fascinating for the most part, but was partially unimportant and was not crucial because it did not affect the ending part of the book.


A passage I was struck by was after the spotting of the beast when The Abraham Lincoln had come into reach of Ned Land’s harpoon, only to throw Monsieur, Ned Land, and Conseil into the sea.

“Scarcely twenty feet feet remained between him and the immobile animal.

Suddenly his arm snapped forward with a violent jerk, and the harpoon was thrown. I heard ringing noise as the weapon seemed to hit something hard.

The electric light suddenly went out, and two enormous streams of water broke over the deck of the frigate, rushing in a torrent from stem to stern, knocking over men and breaking the lashings of the spars.

Then there was a terrible crash. I did not even have time to reach for something to hold on to, but was hurled over the railing and into the sea. -Page 47”


What I like about this quoted passage is the description of the ship crash. This helped me to imagine in my head water coming over the railings and onto the boat. Also, the author writes that the harpoons collision made a sound that it had hit something hard. This piece of information formulates suspension to the reader, to see if this “beast” really is an animal.


This book was very fun, and interesting to read because of Verne’s ideas, and predictions of the future that have been true. I thought that this novel was much ahead of its time, and that only a mastermind with such a open, and imaginative mind could of thought of it. I would give this book a 9.5/10, and belive it definitely belongs a high spot in greatest literature.



     David Cusick

James’s Letter Essay #3: Of Mice and Men



I have recently finished reading the 108 page classic, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. John Steinbeck is a world renowned author that has written nearly 30 books and Of Mice and Men is said to be one of his finest books. The story takes place during The Great Depression when there was a lack of steady jobs and the characters fight through the pain to live a better life. The novel was published in 1937 and people are still reading one of Steinbecks best books and enjoying it. I really enjoyed reading the book because I have never read a book by John Steinbeck and I really liked his style of writing.

I chose to read this book because I had heard about John Steinbeck from classmates and I decided to give it a try. I also chose to read it because I saw it in the Classics section of the library and I pulled it out and read the inside cover and found that it had to do with the Great Depression which I was interested in learning more about.

In the book of Mice and Men there are two main characters, Lennie and George who are an unlikely pair but always figure out their differnces. George is a short and small man who at sometimes says that life would be eaiser without Lennie. On the other hand, Lennie is a big and tall man who has the mind of a child and acts like one too. Being laborers in the fields of California’s is not an easy way of life for the pair, but they perservere through the challenges in their way and always stay together. Although, George and Lennie have a life plan: to own land a shack that is all theirs. When they land jobs on a ranch their dream feels like it’s an inch away but they don’t know what’s coming next. Even with the aguements the pair sticks together and always forgives eachother and never turns there backs on one another.

I’d say that the theme of this book is to perservere in order to achieve your dreams. I think this because George and Lennie have to work for hours out in the burning California sun during a time of great hardship. I noticed how Steinbeck made George’s frustration towards Lennie more and more as the story went on and he bursts, but the two made up after a dream costly accident. The resolution to the main characters problem was when they had recieved jobs on a ranch to pay for their dream life. That is the resolution to the problem because without jobs, Lennie and George wouldn’t fulfill their life long dream.

In the novel I was struck by this passage where George says that life would be so much easier without Lennie.

“Lennie giggled happily. “I didn’t forget that, you bet.”

George lay back on the sand and crossed his hands under his head, and Lennie imitated him, raising his head to see whether he was doing it right. “God, you’re a lot of trouble,” said George. “I could get along so easy and so nice if I didn’t have you on my tail.”

I included this passage because it shows how sometimes George is mean to Lennie just because he is a little slower. Also because it shows how George might say something bad about Lennie, but they always make u and pretend like nothing ever even happened.

I would rate this book a 9 out of 10 because it is one of the better books that I have read.