Saturday, December 18, 2010
Immediately her world falls apart. All the strange dreams she was having turn out to be her lost childhood memories, she cannot trust the man who raised her to be the woman she is today, although now she is not quite sure who she really is, and most importantly, her mother is alive. Delia asks Eric to be her father's lawyer and they all move to Arizona, where the kidnapping took place. Fitz's editor flys him to Arizona to cover the case, though Delia is not aware of this.
Everyone seems to have their share of problems in this book. Delia, Eric and Sophie move into a pink trailer next to a seemingly odd woman named Ruthann. Sophie becomes very close to Ruthann, and so does Delia. Eventually, Delia and Eric find out about Ruthann's cancer. She secretly refuses chemotherapy and eventually committs suicide. Eric also seems to be having a lot of trouble with Andrew's case as the details unfold. He seems to be losing Delia, too. He is even unware of the fact that Fitz is in love with her and Delia may have feelings for Fitz, as well. Delia searches for her mother and once she finds her, she isn't the mother she dreamt her up to be. Her mother, Elise, was an alcoholic, and that is why Andrew kidnapped Delia soon after their divorce. But Andrew's problems seem to be the heaviest. As he tells his story, we learn that life in prison is a horrible place to be, even for a man in his mid-sixties who wants nothing to do with anyone. He is constantly harassed by gangs and even stoops so low that he helps deal drugs. Andrew is in such bad shape that he changes his mind about wanting to be found guilty. He knows now that if he is found guilty and has to stay in prison, he will be murdered.
Vanishing Acts is a very fast-paced, intriguing novel. It deals with issues of the real world and finding one's true identity. Delia struggles with her identity: does the past really matter, or is it who she is now that counts the most? Will Andrew be found not guilty because he had a reasonable excuse for taking his daughter and running? What will happen with Fitz and Delia; Eric and Delia?
1) Fitz is maddly in love with Delia and he knows she is engaged. To make matters worse, all three of them have been best friends since their childhoods. If you loved someone deeply but you knew they were engaged, would you tell the one you love how you feel? Do you think it'd be the right thing to do, or are these sorts of things better left unsaid?
2) Ever since Delia was little, she believed her mother had passed away, until one day, she finds out this is not true. Would you be upset if your father withheld this information even if he had a reason to do so? How would you feel if you grew up without a mother, or a father, as some of us sadly do?
3) Andrew kidnapped his daughter in order to protect her from her alcoholic mother. If you were in Andrew's position (divorced and only saw your daughter on the weekends) would you do all that you could, even if it meant kidnapping your daughter because he could not go to the police, to save your son or daughter? Do you think he had the right to do something like that?
Hacking Harvard, by Robin Wasserman, is a very unrealistic story about something all of us seniors surely know: the college admissions system. Three extremely intelligent teens (Eric, Max, and Schwarz) have decided to take on what they believe to be the ultimate challenge. This challenge is getting an average, run of the mill guy into Harvard. While this may seem like a long shot, these three teens believe it to be possible and want to prove their point, which is that "there's something wrong with the admissions system" (48) and "to prove it's not perfect" (48).
They choose Clay Porter, a below-average student who has no plans of going to college, as their subject. Though he was at first reluctant, he soon agrees to help them when money is put into the picture. With Clay, they help him with various college admission tasks that they believe should trick Harvard into letting him in.
One admissions procedure they "guide" him with is taking the SAT test. While many students longing to get into Harvard study for days on end to get perfect scores on the test, Clay does not study at all. Instead, Eric and the other two guys help Clay by cheating the system. They install a microscopic camera into Clay's glasses, which transmits the questions Clay is seeing infront of him to a television screen. They then are able to tell him all of the answers through a microphone which is synced to an earpiece Clay is wearing. All goes well, until all of these complex electronics decide to stop working. The teens are then forced to use their brains, and figure out that they can use the light reflected from the pond next to the classroom window to highlight the correct answers onto Clay's test (this part makes no sense to me).
All of their efforts are about to pay off when they start to think about how this will affect other people attempting to get into Harvard. Harvard does not let in many applicants as is, and if Clay, someone who does not deserve to go there, gets in over someone who does want to go there, that would not be right. They are potentially taking the spot of someone who has worked all their high school career to get into Harvard.
In the end, they don't care about the fact that they are taking someone's spot and submit Clay's application to Harvard to be potentially admitted, waitlisted, or denied.
1. The characters in this story believe they played a prank on Harvard. Do you consider what they did a prank, or do you believe what they did broke the law?
2. Clay potential could be taking someone who really wants to go to Harvard spot, though people helped him cheat his way in. In the end, he actually does get in and does go. Do you believe he should ever fess up for cheating his way in?
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Winnie Foster a young girl about the age of ten, comes from a strict well-off family. For her entire life, her family has kept her locked away from the rest of the world by an iron fence that surrounds their house. One day, Winnie decides to venture out past the fence and into her family's woods. There she finds a boy drinking from a fountain named Jesse Tuck. Through Jesse, Winnie finds out that him and his family are immortal because they drank water from the spring over one hundred years ago. The Tuck family decides to take Winnie away to explain their secret immortality and to explain why their secret must be kept. While this is happening, a man in a yellow suit is watching them. This man came to town to try to find the magical well that his grandmother told him about and sell the water from it. He sees the Tucks taking Winnie as a kidnapping and uses this information to get Winnie's family to sell him their woods.
While all of this is going on, the Tucks introduce Winnie to their strange way of life outside of society. The more time she spends with the Tucks, the more she starts to love them like the family that she never really had. Unlike her family, the Tucks aren't strict and live in a modest house far away from town. The Tucks show Winnie that their secret of immortality must be kept, because if everyone else knew about it, they would abuse it. Plus if other people knew about it, it would throw off the balance of nature (the cycle of life and death). After a short while, the man in the yellow suit shows up after following them to their house. He tells them that he knows their secret and plans to expose them to the rest of the world. Filled with outrage, Mae Tuck (the mother) hits the man in the yellow suit over the head with a shot gun. The wound eventually kills him. Through all of this, a sheriff has been watching because he followed the man in the yellow suit. The sheriff takes Mae into custody and she is sentenced to be hanged. This is a problem because since she can't die the Tucks' secret will be exposed. I don't want to ruin the rest of the story so you'll have to read it if you want to know how it ends.
The story explains why immortality may not be as great as it seems, and why the natural flow of life is important to maintain and keep in balance.
1. If it was possible, would you take the chance to live forever?
2. Do you think it would be a bad thing to be immortal?
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Have you ever wanted to become someone else? Obviously not going so far as killing that person to become them, but wanted to be able to live the lifestyle they lived?
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
Despite the fact that Jane seems to be rather lonely, a good friend keeps her company. Her friend's name is Michael. Michael is always there for Jane. He walks her to school each morning. He meets her after school. He takes her for ice cream at the St. Regis Hotel on Sundays, right before her mother takes her to look at jewelry. Anytime Jane has a problem or a feeling of insecurity, Michael is there to comfort her. Jane says, "You're a good listener..." (Patterson 33). Michael seems like the perfect companion for any person, however, Jane is the only one that can see him. As Jane's mother comes to get her for jewelry shopping one Sunday afternoon, Jane shouts at Michael, "Here she comes Michael...Look invisible" (Patterson 14). This remark is ironic, because Michael is invisible; he is Jane's imaginary friend.
Jane loves Michael like brother, even though he is only visible to her. He explains to her that this is his job, that his purpose is to help children like herself until they are able to manage on their own. Unfortunately, he explains, a time comes when he must leave her. This happens on her ninth birthday. As a nine-year-old child, she is considered old enough to manage on her own. She is devestated with Michael's departure from her life, but he promises that once he leaves, she will not even remember the time they spent together.
Many years later, as Jane reaches her thirties, she still finds herself rather lonely. She works for her mother, and even though she is a famous playwrite herself, she is not happy. Her mother now seems to pay too much attention to Jane, nearly trying to control every aspect of her life. Jane has a boyfriend who works in the theater industry, but he acts too much like Jane's snobbish and conceited mother that she decides she can no longer handle him. And worst of all, Jane still remembers her best friend Michael that she had as a child. For some reason she cannot forget him, as he said she would. She thinks of him constantly, and she even writes what becomes a famous play about an eight-year-old girl with an imaginary friend named Michael.
As Jane finds her life spiraling downward, she needs something to lift her spirits. One day, as she is having lunch with a friend, a very handsome young man approaches her. Jane recognizes him immediately as being Michael. Even though this is the grown up Michael, she knows it is him. They begin talking, and Jane is estatic when she learns that this truly is the Michael from her childhood. She explains to him how she had never forgotten him as he said she would, which he finds to be strange. He explains to Jane that his immortal life is in a transitional stage right now; he is inbetween assignments, so he has a chance to live a normal life for some time.
Shortly after they return home from their vacation, Michael feels this sensation that he must go to the hospital. Is Jane the victim in the hospital bed, or is it someone else that he has come to assist?
1. Michael explains that an imaginary friend helps children feel less alone and helps them find a place in the world. Do you feel that children have imaginary friends to help them cope with things in their life? How else do we use our imagination to help us deal with life or hide from it?
2. By the end of the story, Jane becomes rather rebellious towards her controlling mother by running away with Michael. Do you think this was the right thing for her to do? If you had a mother that constantly made you feel as though you were not living up to her expectations, would you have done the same thing?
Pretty Little Liars is a novel full of deceitful girls, fabulous clothes, and a secret no one can ever talk about. Alison DiLaurentis, Spencer Hastings, Aria Montgomery, Hanna Marin, and Emily Fields are unlikely best friends. Spencer is the only girl with enough gall to stand up to the marvelous “It Girl,” Ali. Aria is just lucky to have friends because she’s known as a weird outsider. Hanna is a pudgy wanna-be, and Emily is completely confused. However, on the last night of seventh grade, the girls have a sleepover in Spencer’s refurbished barn, and get in a huge fight when Spencer refuses to by hypnotized by Ali. That is the night Ali disappears.
Over the next three years the girls all go their separate ways—Hanna gets skinny (by making herself throw up), becomes best friends with Mona, a girl they all used to tease, and the pair becomes the new “It Girls” of Rosewood Day school. Aria moves to Iceland (after her dad cheats on her mother with a student of his) and returns with a new attitude, style, and superiority complex. Spencer throws herself into school-work and is obsessed with beating her older sister Melissa (this includes stealing Melissa’s British fiancé, Wren). Emily gets involved with the swim team at school and her and her boyfriend, Ben, are the sporty couple (though, she shouldn’t be with him because she might be gay. She’s not sure).
When new neighbors move into Ali’s old house and start to tear apart the backyard to build, Ali’s body turns up. It’s now quite clear that this was a murder. Once the body is uncovered, the four girls start getting mysterious messages from someone named “A,” and A knows all of their secrets. Could A be Alison? Or her murderer?
1. How would you feel if you started getting texts from a random person who knew all your deepest, darkest, possibly illegal, secrets? What would you do?
2. In any of the girls predicaments (bulimia, boyfriend-stealing, dad-cheating, or sexuality issues), what would you do? Who might you turn to?
3. If you had a group of friends and one suddenly went missing, would you drift from your friends, as these girls did, or would you stick with them.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
1.Do you think it is possible for a so called Utopia to take place in the world?
2. What do you feel the definition of Utopia actually is? Because Utopias always fail they are never the perfect society they should be..Why? Is perfect an unrealistic term?
3. If you had the chance to stand up to the leader of a nation like Winston decided to do, would you do it?
1:) If you had adopted a child and found out it was actually a parents child who had been kidnapped and was looking for it, would you return the child or hide the fact you ever knew about it?
2:) If you were in Ellen's situation and you and your sons lives were in danger, what would you try and do to save the two of you? To what length would you go?
Thirteen Reasons Why, a fictional novel by Jay Asher, takes the reader through the tragic journey of Hannah Baker. The novel opens up with Clay Jensen, receiving a package with no return address. When Clay opens it, he finds thirteen cassette tapes labeled one through thirteen in nail polish. The contents of the tapes horrify Clay because the tapes are the voice of Hannah Baker who recently committed suicide. Hannah explained that the tapes were to circulate to thirteen people who helped push her to commit suicide. Clay had found a map in his locker that would help guide him along Hannah's journey.
Clay listened to all thirteen tapes in one night. The further he got in the tapes, the more upset he became. Hannah had decided to commit suicide because she was tired of people taking advantage of her. She was too low to ask for help and she decided to give up. Hannah decided her best means for suicide would be an overdose of pills.
Hannah's tapes left thirteen people changed forever. Hannah let them know exactly what part they played in her decision to end her life. Some of the thirteen really did Hannah wrong but Clay could not understand why he was on the tapes. When Clay got to listening to his tape, Hannah said that Clay really should not be on there but he was part of the process. Clay had a crush on Hannah and Hannah had a crush on Clay so when they were hanging out at a party, they ended up making out. Hannah then freaked out and told Clay to leave. Clay tried to reason with Hannah but she would not have it. Hannah had already decided that she could not reach out to anyone or trust anyone. She had successfully pushed someone away who would have helped her.
Clay is left a different man after the tapes. He knows that he can never be afraid to take risks again. He was too shy to approach Hannah and now it is too late. Clay cannot undo the past but he can live the rest of his life taking risks when the time is right. It is too late for Hannah, but the people she left behind in the tapes will lead their lives differently.
1) If you received tapes that pin-pointed you as the one of the reasons for someone committing suicide, how would you respond? Would it change you as a person?
2)Do you think it was the right thing for Hannah to address the people who caused or contributed to her misery?
3)Why do you think Hannah put Clay on the tapes if he really did not do anything to contribute to her decision to commit suicide?