Saturday, November 20, 2010

Joe DiMaggio: The Hero's Life by Richard Cramer

Joe DiMaggio: The Hero's Life is a biography written by the author Richard Ben Cramer. This novel chronicles the entire life of one of the greatest baseball players of all time. Joe DiMaggio, an Italian immigrant, began his American life on the Pacific coast. Raised in the Californian city of San Francisco, Joe lived in the Marina District. The area, composed mostly of other Italian fishermen, the DiMaggios fit right in. As with most young kids,Joe was interested in more with play than work. Skipping out on his turns on the boat, Joe stole a broken oar and turned it into a bat. Countless afternoons Joe would play outside, getting every one of his brothers to pitch to him. Seemingly in love with baseball, Joe practiced hitting for hours, honing his skills. Against his fathers wishes, Joe decided to tryout for a minor league team. Originally a shortstop, Joe was by far the best athlete on the field. Although not the best fielder, Joe was by far the best hitter. He could hit for power, hit for average, and he was fast enough to beat out infield hits. Sadly, all his success was not appreciated by his father. Mr. DiMaggio could not understand as to why his son was in love with something that was merely a game. Making very little money did not help Joe to convince his dad that baseball would be a great way to make a living. He felt Joe should be helping on the fishing boat full time. For as much as Mr. DiMaggio ignored Joe, the Yankees seemed to pay more and more attention. At an early age, DiMaggio signed a contract to play Centerfield for the New York Yankees, the most prestigious team in Major League Baseball. Here, Joe flourished. Dominating pitchers and running down balls in Centerfield, Joe quickly rose through the ranks, becoming known as the premier baseball player of his era. The "Yankee Clipper", as Joe was often referred to as, still holds records in the MLB today most famously his 56 straight game hitting streak. As #5's resume grew, so did his celebrity status, as Joe became a constant public figure. The media attention only worsened when Joe wed the legendary actress, Marilyn Monroe. Two of the biggest celebrities of the era caused quite the buzz around NYC. This buzz took a toll on Joe. As Joe got older and his skills diminished, he started to retreat back to a quiet lifestyle. This did not exactly agree with Marilyn who eventually split from Joe. Till the day of her death, Joe and Monroe remained close, and he consistently put flowers on her grave after her passing. As Joe reached the twilight of his own life, he was eventually honored in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. Here, the "Yankee Clipper" and his retired number 5 jersey forever remain in the hearts and minds of the Yankee faithful.


1: Is it OK to go against parental wishes if it is what you have to do to follow your dream?

2: With consistent celebrity media coverage in today's society, do you feel as though the constant attention has gone too far? If so, where should the paparazzi stop?

Thursday, November 18, 2010


This book starts in 1987 New York with a 16 year old girl named Claireece "Precious" Jones. She grows up with an abusive mother and suffers from visits from an abusive father. She is basically illiterate and is pregnant with her second baby by her father. Her mother refuses to work and counts on the monthly welfare check to barely provide for Precious. In return for the basics she provides, she expects her daughter to cook and clean and basically wait on her hand and foot. Her only escape is at school, where she is eventually expelled for becoming pregnant once again. Her guidance counselor convinces her to go to an alternative school, called Each One Teach One, where she meets an array of misfits just like herself. The teacher, Blue Rain, has an amazing way with each and every one of the students, and they learn the basic english and vocabulary skills that public school had failed them on. They write in journals daily to build their skills, and through this we see a little bit into their lives. While at the school, her mother continues to abuse her and takes living almost unbearable. She eventually goes into labor at school and comes home to face her mother. Unfortunately, welfare had found out that her first born baby was living with her grandmother, so her mother ends up getting less money. This leads to a confrontation when she gets home from hospital. After escaping her mothers wrath, Precious recieves help from Blue, and gets into a halfway house for abused women with children. She continues her education until her mother drops in for a visit. She tells Precious that her father had died of AIDs, and with having had unprotected sex with him resulting in two babies, Precious is at risk for being HIV positive. Amazingly, the mother is negative. Now Precious must go to the doctor to get tested, and learns that she is positive, but her newborn son is not. Now, instead of her world crashing down on her, Precious somehow finds the energy to attend an incest support group and counseling for her diagnosis. She learns and grows from the friendships she gains. Unfortunately, the book ends with no specific information to the outcome of her story.

1 Do you think that Precious would have been able to overcome her socio-economic background and abuse to find peace in her life? Or do you think that the obstacles are too great to overcome?

2 If you were in the same situation, what would you do to cope? Or would you even be able to at all?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dawn by V.C. Andrews

Dawn Longchamp lives with her mom, dad, and brother, Jimmy. As a child she is constantly packing up and moving in the middle of the night. When her dad gets a job as a janitor at a private school, they are both able to enroll there. Although she makes an enemy with Clara Sue Cutler, she is able to find enjoyment in singing, and with a boy, Phillip Cutler, Clara Sue's brother. Jimmy has a very hard time fitting in and finding any enjoyment at the school. After Dawn's mom gives birth to a baby girl, Fern, she becomes ill, and dies. A few days later her father is arrested for kidnapping, and Dawn soon learns that it was her that was kidnapped when she a baby. Jimmy, Fern, and Dawn are all split up, and Dawn is forced to live with her real family, the Cutlers. She is horrified to find out that Clara Sue is her sister, and her boyfriend, Phillip, is actually her brother. The Cutlers own a huge hotel and Grandmother Cutler, who basically runs the hotel, forces her to work as a chambermaid, telling her that she has to start at the bottom of the family business and work her way up, and tells her that she will be called by her "true" name, Eugenia. She reuses and tries to get help from her parents, but they are just as powerless and her when it comes to Grandmother Cutler. Clara Sue is infuriated that Dawn is her sister and tries everything get back at her and get her fired. Dawn's life is further brightened by a secret visit from Jimmy, helped by Philip. Jimmy confesses that he developed romantic feelings for Dawn a while ago, but never dared show them because he felt he was sick for thinking of her that way. Dawn admits the attraction is mutual, but they find it hard to overcome their upbringing as brother and sister. Clara Sue finds Jimmy in the basement at Cutler's Cove where Dawn was hiding him. She tells Grandmother Cutler, who goes to the police and has Jimmy taken back to his foster parents. Dawn is heart-broken that Jimmy has to leave and is furious with Clara Sue. Jealous of her obvious affection for Jimmy, Phillip corners Dawn in her bathroom and rapes her. Desperate to get out, Dawn visits her old nurse Mrs Dalton and learns that her 'kidnapping' was staged because Randolph was not her biological father and that Grandmother Cutler paid the Longchamps to take Dawn. Dawn confronts Grandmother Cutler about this, who confesses and makes Dawn a deal: if Dawn will go to a singing school in New York, she will get Ormand Longchamp, the man she thought was her real father, out of prison. Dawn agrees and the book ends will Dawn boarding a plane to go to New York.

1. Have you ever thought of what you life would be living with a different family? Do you think it would be fun to live with another family for a month and have to live by their rules and customs?
Then how would you feel if you found out that you had to live with them for the rest of your life with no contact to your previous life?

2. Dawn was unwanted because her biological mother had gotten pregnant by a man who was not her husband, and she would have grown up being hated by her mother and grandmother. Even though kidnapping is wrong, do you think that Dawn's parents did the right thing in taking the deal from Grandmother Cutler and raising Dawn as their own?

Monday, November 15, 2010

For One More Day by Mitch Albom

For One More Day is a story about a man named Chick Benneto, a washed up former professional baseball player who receives the opportunity to meet his mother who has been deceased for 8 years. He gets this opportunity because at one point in the novel, he attempts suicide. As he is driving home from a bar in a drunken stupor, he analyzes his life’s poor choices from his divorce to missing his only daughter’s wedding. He contemplates the idea of suicide and accidentally speeds off an exit ramp, flies into a drainage ditch and loses consciousness. At this the point in the novel where he meets his dead mother, thinking he has passed away also because he is seeing her again. Chick is distraught by the fact that he is having casual conversation with his mother but is even more scared when he realizes he has died from the crash. Chick is eager to see his mother and talk to her because he was supposed to be with her the night she died, but did not go to the hospital to visit her because he was at drinking at a bar. At the end of the story, we find out that Chick does not die, and was saved by his daughter, who found him on the side of the road and called for emergency assistance.
This novel revolves around the themes of redeeming one’s past sins and guiltiness. Chick feels guilt that he was never able to rekindle the relationship he once had with his daughter and for his failed marriage. This story of family, love, forgiveness and mistakes comes off to the reader as over dramatic and over emotional through Albom’s intricate writing style.

Discussion Questions:

-How would you feel if you lost a family member and never fully had the chance to say goodbye?

-Why do you think suicide is such a recurring outcome for people struggling with depression? What are some possible solutions to prevent the spread of this social dilemma?

New Moon (yes, as in The Twilight Saga)

New Moon, the second installment in the world wide Twilight Saga phenomenon, continues the complications of a human-vampire relationship between 17 year-old Bella and 109 year-old year old Edward. Edward, trying to be a gentleman throws Bella an elaborate birthday party at his house. While Bella is opening a gift, she gets a paper cut. This is obviously a problem considering she is surrounded by vampires. Edward's "brother" Jasper, cannot resist and becomes ravenous, almost attacking Bella.
Edward sulks the entire way home, whining to Bella about how he is too dangerous for her to be around. Bella proclaims to him that because she is human, he will always be a risk to her, so she then continues to try and convince him to turn her into a vampire. The next day, Edward tells Bella to walk into the woods with her. They get a few steps into the woods and Edward dumps Bella, telling her he does not want her any more. Edward abruptly leaves the scene, leaving Bella alone in the woods. Bella runs through the woods looking for Edward, then finally collapses. This puts Bella into a manic-depression, in which she isolates herself from all of her friends and obsesses with the absence of Edward. Her father Charlie tells her that he is going to send her back to Florida to live with her mother if she does not snap out of it. Bella takes this into consideration and strikes up a friendship with a childhood friend, Jacob. Jacob soon finds himself falling in love with Bella as they spend time together fixing cars and motor bikes.
Bella realizes that when she does thrill-seeking adventures, she hallucinates and can "hear" Edward. Crazy? Yes. Jacob begins to get buff, making him appear huge compared to Bella. Bella soon learns that Jacob, along with the other tribe members, are a pack of werewolves. Jacob and his pack protect Bella from the vampire Laurent and also Victoria, who seek revenge for her dead mate, James.
Meanwhile, in a series of miscommunications, Edward is lead to believe Bella has killed herself. Because Edward is still in love with Bella, he feels like he has no reason to live. Edward travels to Italy to provoke the Volturi, also known as the "rulers" of the vampire world. Bella then has to choose between going to Italy to save her "true love" Edward, or break the heart of her best friend, Jacob.

1.) Do you feel that Bella is a whiny-do-nothing that does not deserve neither Edward nor Jacob? Please explain your answer.
2.) Would you become manic-depressive if your love interest left you like Edward left Bella, or would you allow yourself to meet new people and move on?
3.) Do you feel that the Twilight Saga is misleading and Vampires should burn in the sun, not sparkle?