Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Juliana Stilwell- The Missing Religion, Christianity

Religion has been in our student’s textbooks since public education has come about. However, Christianity is slowly escaping from our student’s textbooks and being replaced with Muslim. In a school in California, students were forced to memorize verses of the Quran and dress up in Muslim attire and recite those versus to the class. However, the students did not review a single chapter on Christianity the entire semester. I am all for students learning about other religions, but public schools are not teaching our students Christianity. Schools are slowly taking Christianity more and more out of our kid’s educations. I am not religious myself, but I believe that if our kids are learning about other religions, then they need to learn about the religion that our country is based off of. Our Constitution and government was based off of Christianity. Our forefathers purposely put it into our Constitution of Independence. Now, our students are being taught other religions, without dedicating one day to The United States of America’s founding religion. It is important that students are taught every religion in an educational manner. They should be taught Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Muslim, etc. It is important that in order for them to be well rounded students that they learn every main religion in order to be accepting of others. If students are forced to recite quotes from the Quran, then why are they also not being forced to recite versus from Buddhism or the Bible? Christianity has become such a taboo topic in our society that our students are not learning it from a historical stand point. I believe fully that religion should not be in our public education system, but it is important from a historical standpoint that our students learn the history of it.

Juliana Stilwell- Censoring Reality

Literature has been censored since people have been writing. Some of the books that we probably know that were or are censored are The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Beloved by Toni Morrison, and The Call of the Wild by Jack London. These three novels were censored because of their language, sexuality, and brutality. However, it is important that students are socialized with books that have violence in them. Children are going to deal or see violence all throughout their lives. It is better that they learn about violence at a young age in an educational environment, so that they know how to handle it when they see it. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn refers to African Americans in a derogatory way, but it is important that this novel stays in our schools; because it shows students how bad things use to be in the United States. They need to see how bad slavery used to be, so that they can respect those around them and make sure that we never slip back to treating each other like animals. Also, Beloved by Toni Morrison is about slavery and it is so important that students realize that America was not how it is now. In order for us to feel pride in how our society accepts one another’s differences, we need to know how bad things were before. Children are surrounded by sexuality and violence as soon as they turn the televisions on. However, books make students use their imaginations and think freely. Television just shows students images and forces their message upon them. It is important that students are able to read books that are referred to as “trashy” and “brutal” to others. Students need to be given the chance to read a novel and think for themselves. We need to give them the chance to read novels how they want and take from it what they want.

LeTriece Calhoun- Inside Out/Outside In by Maria V. Snyder, a Book Review

Maria V. Snyder is best known for her Study series (Poison Study, Magic Study, Fire Study) which are fantasy novels. However, this time Maria V. Snyder has branched out into the Young Adult Sci-Fi section and these two books were a great start.

This story focuses around a young woman named Trella who is a scrub, or someone who cleans the pipes of the Inside. Scrubs live in the Inside which is a massive superstructure with two main social classes: Scrubs and the Uppers. Scrubs perform the menial tasks while Uppers police them and do all the jobs that require technology proficient people. Like any society, the Inside is strife with conspiracy theories. At the urging of her best friend, Trella uses her skills of navigating the pipes to get answers about who is actually controlling the Inside.  With each new piece of information she uncovers, the plot thickens to include several high ranking Uppers, some crafty siblings, and a very knowledgeable sheep. 

Although the premise sounds really intriguing, the execution of this novel was a little shaky. It’s really hard to identify with and like a main character who dislikes everything and everyone she comes in contact with. Trella regard everyone with suspicion and it’s increasingly difficult to trust a character who is unreliable in her decisions and motivations.
I feel like Maria V. Snyder drew out all the great plot points she wanted to include and then tried to write a story around it with a half-realized romantic subplot. Sometimes the writing gets so bland the subplots so complex I wanted to flip through the book until everything slowed down and the story was actually being shown to me, not told. Everything happens so fast there’s hardly any build up so the entire story ends up exploding in your face. Some readers may like that, but occasionally it’s nice to have a little suspense and thrill when reading a novel. 

Ultimately this was a valiant effort for Snyder to write outside her comfort zone. Perhaps with some time and a little more character and plot development, she will become just as amazing with this genre as she is with fantasy.

Rating: 5/10 

Juliana Stilwell- Virginia Woolf and The Angel of the House

Virginia Woolf was a writer during the early twentieth century. Many of her writings are full of messages to women that influence them to stop being the “angel of the house” and receive their own education. Her novel, “A Room of One’s Own,” explains to readers the importance it is that women gain their own identity. During this time, women were expected to solely take care of their families and not think about themselves. In her novel, “To the Lighthouse,” her main character, Mrs. Ramsey, spent her entire adulthood raising children and did not focus on herself. Towards the end of her life, Mrs. Ramsey starts to question herself and realizes that she is unhappy because she has not accomplished anything for herself. Woolf was writing in a time when not many women were holding professions. She ultimately made her own printing press so that her writings would not be criticized by male critiques. She stressed to women readers in majority of her novels that we need to gain our own identities in order to be happy with ourselves. Thankfully, today majority of women are working and are able to balance both a career and a family. In her novel, “A Room of One’s Own,” she explains why women have not been able to be writers throughout history and it is because history has traditionally placed women below men. Men have traditionally been expected to go to college, while women are expected to stay at home. She also realizes that women were not given their own rooms and a place to write. They constantly were interrupted by their family members and it would have been near impossible to write a novel when a bunch of children are running around the house. Woolf stressed to women the importance of not marrying young and finding yourself before you get married.

LeTriece Calhoun- Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, a Book Review

Finally! A sequel to one of my favorite books from last year, Cinder. Scarlet is another spin on the fairy tale story of Little Red Riding Hood, and while some elements are still the same (Girl in hood, wolf, grandmother) that’s where the similarities end.

Scarlet helps her grandmother in a futuristic France that’s still reeling from the explosive events described in Cinder. War is still imminent, and it was refreshing to see a different country and a different set of characters react to the events of Cinder. What I liked best about this book is that it immediately follows Cinder without too much of a gap. Scarlet’s grandmother goes missing, and Scarlet embarks on a very action-packed (and very sexy) adventure. Along the way she meets some very familiar faces, too.

I think the thing that saved this book from being a total flop is the fact that Cinder, the main protagonist from the first book, was still prevalent within the story. The narrative switched between Scarlet and Cinder and most of the time I was aching to get back to Cinder’s story arc. The dynamic between Cinder’s set of characters and Scarlet’s was imbalanced. Scarlet’s character seemed a little forced, and so did her romantic interest, Wolf.  It felt like Marissa Meyer was going:

Because while their circumstances were certainly interesting, the conversation between Wolf and Scarlet were superfluous at best. They’re a cute couple for sure, but their relationship needs a little more time to mature before I can start feeling like they’re full-fleshed characters instead of two puppets dancing for our entertainment. 

So all in all, Scarlet was a very worthy follow-up to Cinder. The original fairy tale isn’t lost on the reader, yet it still manages to tie in some new elements that make the story well-paced and memorable. I can’t wait for the third installment of the series called Cress.

Rating: 7.5/10