Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Five People You Meet in Heaven

The Five People You Meet in Heaven, by Mitch Albom, is the story about Eddy, an old WWII veteran who works and maintains an old amusement park. One day at the park, Eddy dies while saving a little girls life. He goes to heaven and learns that the only way to get to his heaven is to encounter 5 people that influenced his life and who he influenced. These people could be people he was really close with or random people he barely knew. Also, the only way for his 5 people to go to their heavens is to meet Eddy in his passing over stage. Eddy learns new lessons from all 5 of his people. In these lessons he learns to move on from his life and accept his new life in heaven.

Here are some discussion questions.

1. If there is a heaven, do you believe it is something similar to this interpretation?

2. Why do you think Eddy had to learn lessons about his old life to accept his new one in heaven?

Tuesdays with Morrie

This book is called Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. It's a nonfiction book that tells the story of a life changing journey experienced by the author, Mitch Albom himself. It begins with Mitch telling the story of his time at college at Brandeis University. While attending college, he grew very fond to one professor in particular. His name was Morie Schwartz and he was sociology professor. Mitch had always admired him all through his time at college, and at his graduation, he gives Morie a suitcase as a gift for being such a great professor. Mitch promises that he will keep a close relationship with Morie after graduation, but this never happens. Many years after Mitch's graduation, he is at his home watching television. He notices that Morie is on a news show being interviewed. Mitch learns that Morie has ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. It's a disease that causes the death of nerves and over time can lead to the muscle weakening and the inability to move. After seeing Morie on television, Mitch feels the need to meet him again and get in touch with him after so many years. The first day that they reunited for the first time was a Tuesday, and every Tuesday following that day they met with each other to talk. Each Tuesday they would discuss a different topic that had some significance to the meaning of life and what life really meant to them. Mitch documented all of these conversations on a tape recorder because he planned to eventually write a book to summarize his life-altering discussions with Morie. Each conversation had a high level of significance and these talks helped both Morie and Mitch remember certain events or memories that had a big part in their lives. It made Mitch begin to really appreciate life after hearing what Morie had to say in each one of his story and discussions. The annual Tuesday meetings would also arise strong emotions and feelings about certain subjects. Unfortunately, each Tuesday Mitch would come to visit, he would notice that Morie's health had decreased from the time of their last visit. Mitch would bring food for Morie every week too, and each week, Morie could eat less and less of it because of his condition with the disease. "I [Mitch] put the food I had brought with me into the refrigerator-soup, vegetable cakes, tuna salad. I apologized to Charlotte for bringing it. Morrie hadn't chewed food like this in months, we both knew that, but it had become a small tradition. Sometimes, when you're losing someone, you hang on to whatever you can" (Albom 182). This proved to Mitch how badly the ALS was harming Morrie, but he didn't want to believe it. The fourth Tuesday was Mitch and Morrie's last time together because Morrie passed away later that Saturday. He had died when nobody else was in the room with him. "I [Mitch] believe he [Morrie] died this way on purpose. I believe he wanted no chilling moments, no one to witness his last breath and be haunted by it, the way he had been haunted by his mother's death-notice telegram or by his father's corpse in the city morgue" (Albom 188). Mitch knew that Morrie had a good and accomplished life, and he believed that Morrie had made a huge impact on him and effected his life in the best way possible.

Discussion Questions:
1) Morrie taught Mitch some of the most valuable life lessons he could have ever learned and he effected Mitch's life in such a positive way. If Mitch had never seen Morrie on that late night television show, then he never would have been reunited with his long lost college professor and got to learn everything that he did. Do you think everything happens for a reason and there's a purpose for everything, whether it be small or large?

2) How would you react if you learned that someone close to you had contracted a life-altering disease? (such as Morrie being diagnosed with ALS)

3) Is there a person in your life that has effected you in a significant way? (Just like Morrie impacted Mitch's life)

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Edna Pontellier in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening seems to have the perfect life. She is married to the best husband known in the town, has two beautiful boys and has a lovely house. Every woman envies her life. Edna wishes for a different life though. It seems she is never happy, although her life seems to be great. Her close friend, Adèle teaches Edna a lot about self expression. Through Adèle, Edna learns she can break traditional rules of women, and show her individuality more.
Through knowing Adèle, Edna meets Robert, a young gentleman that picks one married woman a year to “attend” to for a summer. This particular summer, Edna was the woman he chose. As they got to know each other, Edna began to feel young again. Robert taught her to swim in the lake. Edna swam farther than any woman has gone before. Edna soon became depressed when she was with her husband because she misses her freedom that she felt with Robert. She felt unappreciated.
Mademoiselle Reisz, a pianist, was the only person that could cheer Edna up. Edna loved to listen to her songs. It also made Mademoiselle Reisz feel appreciated because no one liked to listen to her songs. These two women boosted each others confidence.
When Robert returns to the town, he tells Edna he loves her, but can not be with her, since she is married to another man. Edna wanted Robert to stay with her, but was forced to go when Adele was giving birth to a child. While she was aiding her friend, Robert left, with only a note saying farwell. Edna became upset and drowned herself in the lake in which she learned to swim

Discussion Questions

1. In the opening scene, a parrot was talking to a mocking bird. The parrot is talking in English and french while the mocking bird is singing back to the parrot. What do you think this may symbolize?

2. What do you think the lake symbolizes where Edna learned to swim, and also took her own life?

Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson is a Swedish crime novel that reached #1 on the New York Bestsellers List. It tells the story of Mikael Blomkvist a reporter and part owner of a magazine called Millennium who was falsely accused of libel. The lawsuit causes financial problems and threatens the success of Millennium. Mikael is unable to refuse the money when he is approached by an aging aristocrat Henrik Vanger to investigate the 40 year old murder of his niece Harriet under the pretense of writing Vanger's biography. Harriet Vanger was 16 when she disappeared off the the family's private island. Henrik had poured thousands of dollars into a thorough investigation but the case eventually went cold. The murder still haunts him 40 years later. Mikael is aided in his investigation of the case by a tattooed punk named Lisbeth Salander. Together they uncover the dark history of the Vanger family and expose astonishing corruption.

1. There are many dark secrets hidden in the Vanger family, all of which have been covered up. If you found out a secret about someone in your family would you expose them? Or would you keep it covered up in order to save face?

2. Harriet and her brother Martin had an abusive father. Harriet turned out completely normal, while Martin followed in his father footsteps. Do you think that children that come from abusive households are more likely to carry those negative traits into adulthood?

Going Nowhere Faster - Sean Beaudoin

"Going Nowhere Faster," by Sean Beaudoin, is the story of Stan Smith, the typical 17 year old high school boy. This novel surely fulfills every high school stereotype and clique as Stan battles his way through senior year, or attempts to anyways. He is be what would be considered today, a genius. He knows the answer to any question someone could ask and even has an IQ of 165, yet has no clue who he is or what he wants to do with his life. He has no idea what he is doing tomorrow, let alone next year for college. Stan has not been accepted to a university, let alone applied. As Stan struggles for a sense of belonging and the attention of Ellen Rigby, the Jock's girlfriend, he dodges it from his parents. Stan has the average set of parents, a mother and father who are anything but normal. His six foot tall mother is a tree-hugging, organic food selling vegan. She is constantly with her spiritual guru who helps guide her in day to day life. His unusual father on the other had is a carpenter, a lousy one at that. Although Mr. Smith builds things a little lopsided, he is always willing to give his son a little advice. Through all this craziness, Stan has found one thing he loves. He works for Happy Video, the only video store in his down and has developed a passion for screen play. Despite Stan's uncertainty of his future plans, he know it involves writing movies and the love of his life Ellen, she just doesn't know it yet. This novel has a quirky way of depicting a near-accurate account of a senior year in high school. From drunken parties to romantic interests, this story falls nothing short of a few good laughs.

1. Do you believe most high school kids are like Stan? In other words, do all high school kids have a good grasp of who they are and what they want to do with their lives, or are they more unsure like Stan?
2. Does high school have a big effect on the outcome of someone's life? Does it play a major role in developing people to become who they really are?