The kite runner by Khaled Hosseini

What if you make the worst decision ever when you are only twelve years old and have to regret it all your life? It happened to the Afghan boy Amir, the main character of the book, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975. Amir sees how his friend, who is actually also his half-brother, Hassan gets raped in an alley, but doesn’t help him at all. Growing up and being an adult he thinks back to this moment all the time. It is hard to empathize with his emotional pain, because what he did, or actually didn’t do is really awful, especially because Hassan was his best friend who always helped him out of trouble.

The kite runner is the first novel Khaled Housseini has written, it was published in 2003. The novel is partly autobiographical and partly made up. Khaled also left Afghanistan when he was a child to live in the United States and came back to see how it is in Afghanistan many years later, when the Taliban is ruling the country.

The horrible act that happened in the alley took place the same day Amir finally succeeded in earning his father’s love, which took so long because his father, Baba, is a totally different person than him. His father isn’t much there for Amir because Amir isn’t just exactly like him. He wants him to take over the business and carry on his imago, but Amir isn’t as generous and kind as his dad. Amir earned his father love by winning a big kite flying tournament, but then loses it slowly in the next years. By not being there for his son, because he is not exactly like him, Baba only makes him more into what he doesn’t want him to be, a coward who can’t stand up for himself.

In 2001, twenty-six years after the terrible incident, Amir gets back to Afghanistan to ‘be good again’. Rahim Khan, an old friend of his father, tells Amir he can be good again if he takes Sohrab, the son Hassan left to the world to a safe place. The job of Amir isn’t an easy one, he has to take Sohrab out of the hands of a Taliban fighter who took him out of the orphanage he came in after his parents were killed. Amir and his wife adopt Sohrab and Amir discovers he is just as bad as a person as his dad, because he isn’t being an empathetic fatherly figure for Sohrab just like Baba never was for him. Sohrab isn’t saying a word to anybody, he is really sad but when he and Amir go kite running they finally get some connection.

Jannes van Beek (V5C)

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Lord of the flies


‘If you like your books to have gripping and believable characters with a plot second to none, then Lord of the Flies is for you’

What would you do, when you’ve to flee your home town because of a war? The only thing on your mind is a safe destination. The moment you leave your home town you just want everything to be over, you’ve seen enough. You think you’re going to be okay, but everything doesn’t always goes as it’s supposed to be.

Lord of the flies is a interesting story about a group of boys aged 6 – 12 who were in a plane crash. The plane was supposed to bring the passengers to safety. The survivors of the crash end up on a uninhibited island without parents, rules and without any idea’s how to survive. There are a lot of dangers on this island and they need to figure out how they’re going to get back to the mainland. They come up with smart ideas to stay alive, elect leaders and set rules.”Rules are made to be broken” is an often used sentence by children, and that’s exactly what happens. This leads to disagreements. And disagreements come along with consequences.

William Golding (1911 – 1993 )
After 21 rejections, Golding finally published his first novel: ‘lord of the flies’  in 1954. This is still his most read novel. He wrote the book because of the horror he had been through in the Second World War. The book has been made into a movie twice, by Peter Brook (1963) and by Harry Hook (1990). People who compare the book and the movie all agree that the book is way better. I read the book and watched the movie, and I totally agree.

I would recommend Lord of the flies to teenagers; your gender doesn’t matter, as long as you’re into adventure and mystery. If you’re more into happy endings, romance or innocent books Lord of the flies is not your book. I can promise you; this book has such a touching story, and stays exciting throughout the whole book! You’ll finish the book in no time, because once you’ll start reading you’ll be hooked. Don’t believe me? See for yourself!

Harro Schwencke V5e

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Extremely loud and incredibly close by Jonathan Safran Foer

“What about little microphones? What if everyone swallowed them, and they played the sounds of our hearts through little speakers, which could be in the pouches of our overalls? When you skateboarded down the street at night you could hear everyone’s heartbeat, and they could hear yours, sort of like sonar. One weird thing is, I wonder if everyone’s hearts would start to beat at the same time, like how women who live together have their menstrual periods at the same time, which I know about, but don’t really want to know about. That would be so weird, except that the place in the hospital where babies are born would sound like a crystal chandelier in a houseboat, because the babies wouldn’t have had time to match up their heartbeats yet. And at the finish line at the end of the New York City Marathon it would sound like war.”

Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is an inventor, jewelry designer and a pacifist, but particularly lost since he lost his dad on ‘the worst day’, 9/11. Oskar is different from other kids of his age and it’s clear that he is autistic. He gives the key of his apartment to strangers, like the nice guys from Greenpeace, the mailwoman and the pizza delivery guy and likes to crack people up by saying things like ‘When you look up the word ‘hilarious’ in the dictionary, there would be a picture of you.’ He has the intention of helping everyone around him but at the end he always manages to fail. Oskar has the best grandma, who thinks that everything that he does is a million dollars.

Peter Lohmeyer

Writer Jonathan Safran Foer was living for a short time in New York when the disaster happened. In the mean time was actually working on another book, but found himself thinking a lot about the idea of this little boy who was trying to deal with a great loss.

Foer’s first book , ‘Everything is illuminated’ , was about the holocaust and his second novel isn’t any lighter. But the style of writing he used doesn’t make the book feel so heavy.  I have to say that I was actually more laughing out loud than crying, but that’s mainly because the main character has a very funny way of thinking. He is for example confused when a  45-year-old woman refuses to kiss ‘a little’ with him.

Oskar and his dad would sometimes play Reconnaissance Expedition, his father would give Oskar some hints, and then he had to talk to people or go searching in the Central Park for instructions. The last Expedition they never finished. A couple of years later since the loss of his father he finds a key in an envelope ,with ‘Black’ written on it, in a vase in his father’s closet. Oskar thinks that the key belongs to his father, that it’s a part of the Reconnaissance Expedition. But which of the 162 million locks in New   York will it open? So begins the quest, in which he talks to complete strangers and walks trough the boroughs of New York with his tambourine. But will it take him any closer or even further from his father? He is afraid of losing him more than he already has, afraid that his mother is already falling in love with someone else instead of feeling miserable all the time.


The story isn’t only about Oskar, there are letters which his grandparents wrote to their son about how they try to live with a loss. His grandparents survived the bombing in their place of birth Dresden in Germany during the Second World War. So not only Oskar is coping with a loss but his grandparents were too, and still are, after all these years.


The difference between books and good books is that good books leave you thinking about them for a day, or a few days if they are really good. This book was really mind blowing. What makes this book different from the other ones is the great lay-out: pictures, letters and business cards, without making it childish.  I have to confess that at the end I was bitting back the tears (because there were other people in the room). If you still haven’t read this book, and have to listen to one of your students, then please listen to me: You must read this book.


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Review of the book “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”‏

Recently I’ve read the book “The perks of being a wallflower” written by Stephen Chbosky and I’d like to share my thoughts about this book. First of all the book is written in the first-person and that’s always a bonus I think personally, because this way you can experience the book via the perspective of the main character and this is what makes reading books so interesting because you kind of are living someone else’s life. The narrator himself however is not a reliable source at all, this is because he has psychological problems and you’ll find out later in the book what has triggered his so called social inability. I find an unreliable source inconvenient at times but the writer has given it a special twist because you don’t know what is wrong with the main character or whether something is wrong at all until you come near to the ending you realise that everything you’ve read has been thought, said or written by someone who isn’t a reliable source and that is what makes this book fun to read until the end. You figure something is wrong here, you don’t even know what or whom it may concern but something is not feeling right and until the last page of the book you have to figure out yourself with the information the writer has given you. In my opinion the writer has made this fictional story also something about reality and the “real world” how we know it because the answers aren’t always given to us but we can always figure things out with the given information that we have.

This story takes place in 1991 and I know the exact year because the entire book is the diary of the main character. Like everyone who keeps a diary he wrote down the dates when he was writing. This story takes place in the United States. The setting is an important element of the book, this is because throughout the book the main character develops changes and the setting he is in himself has effect on the way he is changing. It is vague what keeps the main character going and what he exactly feels like even though he writes down every thought of his, almost in every detail. It’s exactly this that keeps you eager to continue reading because you want obviousness and you’re forced to find it yourself between the lines.

The theme of this book is mainly about how to live even though only bad has happened to you in your entire life. How to pressure yourself to forget all the nasty memories that were hunting you and even though when you succeeded you still are not able to be happy, it’s just an illusion. It is about people who judge really fast and that prejudiced people are toxic to us all. The book is about being a teenager and going through tough times and all by yourself because no one is there to catch you if, or better said, when you fall. The story is beautiful written and the moral is that there is always more to the story than we assume in the first place. The writer used some great quotes in the book and one of them that I won’t be able to forget is: “We accept the love we think we deserve.” Sometimes we don’t realise it but we accept the bad treatments people give us at times or the names we get called because we think they’re either true or there is a reason why someone has done this in the first place. However this book shows us that we should never even considerate the thought of us being a bad person or that the mean comments we receive are based on truth, therefore we also do not have the right to be prejudiced or do the same bad things to others that could hurt us as well. I enjoyed reading this book because the message is amazing and the way the writer has given it his own life in the story is so beautifully done and I truly respect him for that. This book gave us a peak into the mind of someone who is mentally ill and who we usually don’t feel connected to but this story shows us the way these people think and it gives us a chance to develop some kind of understanding about how the world of these people is like for them. While reading this book you feel somehow connected to the main character and you start feeling compassion because of the state he is in because you realise that he is, besides his mental illness, just a teenager who is dealing with bullies, friends and annoying family members like all teenagers. You can not tell something is wrong with him if you saw him because he functions normally but his social skills are not like most people. This book forces us to look further than someone’s looks or the way they act, we should get to know them. We should get to know the story of them, the story that makes them who they are and explains why they do what they do.

This book is based on fiction. Stephen Chbosky did not base this book on any form of personal experience. Like I already said, even though this is all fiction, so it is based on a story that is “made up”, the story feels so real. The book touches you because you become attached to the main character in a way that you wouldnt’ve expected in the beginning. I can not tell you enough how beautifully written the book is because it begins with a character that you do not feel connected to and he’s someone who has gone through quite some traumatic issues in his life and by the end you feel like you’re guilty because of the fact you do not hang out with that one guy who always sits alone during lunch. This book tells us not just the “cool” kids have an interesting life or have happiness to give you, it’s about finding that one person with the right story.

Personally I have never read another book of this writer before but I am eager to pick up some of his other work. I enjoyed reading this book so much that it wouldn’t hurt to try some of his other books. It isn’t just the story that appeals to me but also the way the writer has written the book and how he brought the story to life. His style of writing I find personally amazing and everyone should definitely go ahead and read some books of his if he always writes like this.

In the ending of the book everything gets cleared up, well at least it gets more obvious. The answers to everything are not literally written down but you can find them if you read carefully. The hidden message of this entire book can be found at the end of the book. I could go on and on about how great the book is composed but I think by now it’s obvious.

Like I said this book has really touched me and I enjoyed reading it very much. The way the theme, the message of the book was given to the reader is done so well. The way he wrote down the thoughts of a teenager is done so amazing because it is really accurate. The way he has written an entire story and within itself multiple little ones just fascinates me. A big thumbs up for mister Chbosky! I encourage everyone to read this book. This book can be read by teenagers because the characters are all teens and the story is about a life of a teenager but also adults can learn quite a lot by reading this story. I just want to finish saying that even though I’m a perfectionist myself, I couldnt’ve done it better.

Review written by Sabrine el Haichar V5F

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J.D. Salinger’s ‘The Catcher In The Rye’



Days filled with lonesomeness and bitterness. Not the funniest book you can imagine (though occasionally filled with some humour) it is a very good book to read because it gives you something to think about. ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ should not only be considered as a good novel depicting a young adult’s life, but also as a voice for teenagers for several generations.

The Catcher in the Rye depicts a young adult named Holden Caulfield as it’s protagonist and during the story you get to watch Holden struggle in a world filled with so called ‘Phonies’. You see him alienate himself from the world and become so lonely and bitter you feel sorry for him, but you also  see him return to sanity which on the other hand makes you very happy. This al happens in a period of three days and in my opinion that makes the book feel more real, because you watch Holden for only three days you get to relate to him more because you follow his every action. 

The way a lot of things return in the book is very beautiful, for example the red hunting hat which in the end goes to Phoebe, Holden’s sister, and the question about the ducks in the pond which keeps appearing. This makes it really worth it to pay close attention to the book, even though it isn’t a real page-turner  

“I was surrounded by phonies…They were coming in the goddam window.”

Is a quote from Holden in The Catcher in the Rye and ‘Phonie’ is a word which is used in the book very often. It’s one of the many ways in which the book affected todays everyday language. For example the saying ‘Screw up’ was made popular by J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.

The Catcher in the Rye had a lot influence on the world since it was written and this makes it even more interesting to read and analyse it. It has been the most censored, and the second most thought book at public schools at the same time. Teachers were fired and rehired because of it and the book made the way people think about young adults change a lot. Also several shootings have been linked to the book for example the shooting of John Lennon. His assassin was found holding a copy of ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ with the words “This is my statement” written in them. The assassin even tried to change his name into Holden Caulfield. I think this makes the book even more appealing because it’s interesting to find out why someone would commit such a cruelty in the name of this book.


Though it’s concept was written during the second world war and J.D. Salinger published it in 1951 the book still remains very relevant.  The Catcher in the Rye was the first book to acknowledge and to address the social problems teenagers have to face. Depression, loneliness and alienation are always going to be there and for me the brilliance of ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ also lies in the way it never gets old.

If it would be up to me everybody would have to read this book once in their life, not only because it is written so beautifully or because the story is so good but also just because of its significance in the history of recent literature. The Catcher in the Rye is for me the ultimate example of the power a single novel can have. Salinger’s letters helped alter the course of history and that is something very special.

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English book report: Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

‘Like a throat being cut. Just that fast.’

The first thing I noticed about Deathless was the title. It just stood there and boldly stared at me. What pops into your head when you read such a title? I thought: ‘Should I open it and take a quick peek?’ The title kept staring. I opened the book.

”In a city by the sea which was once called St. Petersburg, then Petrograd, then Leningrad, then, much later, St. Petersburg again, there stood a long, thin house on a long, thin street. By a long, thin window, a child in a pale blue dress and pale green slippers waited for a bird to marry her.”

After reading the opening saying my interest was piqued would be a thorough understatement.

The author of Deathless, Catherynne M. Valente, wrote a story based on a Russian fairytale called The Death of Koschei the Deathless or Marya Morevna collected by Alexander Afanasyev  in Narodnye russkie skazki In the original fairytale Koschei, the evil and immortal monster who menaced innocent young girls with his magic, kidnapped Marya from her home in Russia where she lived with her husband Ivan. Of course Ivan played the role of the mighty knight who went on a quest to defeat Koschei and save Marya from his evil claws. Marya was only there to play the role of the damsel in need and Koschei was of course only there to play the role of the evil wizard. In Deathless something similar happens, but not exactly. In this version Ivan is not only good and Koschei is not only bad and Marya is not only there to make Ivan look good. In fact, the story is written from her perspective.

Deathless is about Marya Morevn. She was a girl who lived in a house on Dzerzhinskaya Street until she one day saw a bird turn into a man. That was the day she discovered the magic in the world. Koshei the Deathless took her away from Leningrad, married her and brought her to Buyan, The land of the Tsar of Life, where everything lived. The buildings that were made out of living skin breathed, the fountains sprayed blood and everyone’s death was hidden so they couldn’t die. But it wasn’t really the fairytale Marya thought she was going to live. There was a war with the Tsar of Death and Koschei and Marya struggled with it every day. After realizing she’d had enough she left Koschei and his war. After meeting Ivan she goes back to live in Leningrad. Ivan was a warm and simple  young man. He was the exact opposite of Koschei. Unfortunately for Marya the situation they lived in was not much different from Buyan. There was also a war in Russia. This time the Germans were the enemy. Marya had to live through a war all over again and when Koschei showed up at her doorstep in the middle of the night she couldn’t say no. She still loved him. They were still married. It was not strange to love as much as you could if you only had death, loss and hunger in your life. Marya tried to live with both men, but eventually she had to choose. And she still loved Koschei. Even if he was sometimes cruel. Or mean. She loved him enough to forget all the other women who once warmed his bed. She even forgot about the women who still did, because Koschei enthralled her. Not with his magic, but with his words.

“Oh, I will be cruel to you, Marya Morevna. It will stop your breath, how cruel I can be. But you understand, don’t you? You are clever enough. I am a demanding creature. I am selfish and cruel and extremely unreasonable. But I am your servant. When you starve I will feed you; when you are sick I will tend you. I crawl at your feet; for before your love, your kisses, I am debased. For you alone I will be weak.” 

What I liked most about this book was the lack of rules, common decency and society problems, because those are just silly. I found a war, the problems of marriage, the difficulties of loving someone(s) and even philosophical questions in Deathless. Not bad for a fairy tale, huh?

Valente has a special talent with creating her characters. They were not just some names on a piece of paper. They were three-dimensional. They were alive. I admit that sometimes they were a bit odd. Mad even and hard to understand, but they were real and not unchanging types that were only there to fill up the holes. They made the story. In a lot of books the protagonist is often just one side of the coin, but in reality those people do not exist, do they? There is no black and white. Marya was a likeable character, but she was sometimes also difficult to understand. I didn’t always get why she loved Koschei so much, but sometimes I did.  I think Marya thought about this the same way. Marya was a strong woman who fought a war for her husband and who survived the loss of her friends. She always kept going. I admired that in her. Valente managed to take these characters out of very old stories and turn them into real people. She even managed to make me not only like the least amiable character in Russian Mythology, but also turn her into my favorite. I am of course talking about Baba Yaga.

The old witch who is famous for her children eating and chicken bone munching habits turned out to be just that, but also more. She did eat children and sometimes a husband or two, but she was also a good witch. She helped Marya, she gave her advice and she sometimes acted like she was Marya’s mean and very old grandmother. She was a wise and bitter woman who had her fair share of all the bad things in the world. I got that.

“Husbands lie, Masha. I should know; I’ve eaten my share. That’s lesson one. Lesson number two: among the topics about which a husband is most likely to lie are money, drink, black eyes, political affiliation, and women who squatted on his lap before and after your sweet self.”

I also found Baba Yaga hilarious.

‘’Anyway, I have no patience for innocent girls, unless they have apples in their mouths and are on speaking terms with my soup pot.’’

The beautiful thing about Deathless was the writing. The prose was always just right. Valente could describe everything in an astounding way. She could make her words dance on the pages. The whole story was also one smooth line. It was easy to read.

”And as we watched, the Tsar of Death lifted up his eyelids like skirts and began to dance in the streets of Leningrad.”

She also had her own way of describing the war in Russia in 1941. She didn’t tell you everything in detail. She didn’t need to.

“That night, she burned all the books in the attic for heat. She carried them down, one by one, because December ate up her strength. She lit them in the stove while they all huddled around and put out their hands. Last one in was the Pushkin, and she cried, but without tears, because you cannot have tears without bread.”

She looked out the window because she was afraid that Leningrad was going to start dying, like Buyan did, and she was right, but she was also wrong. Like I told you, nothing had changed yet, except that we could all hear the guns, all the time—first sirens, then guns, and then no sirens anymore because there were so many guns the sirens could not keep up

After reading only a few chapters I quickly fell in love with her writing style. As she would say: ‘Like a throat being cut. Just that fast.’ Unfortunately for me, I did have some issues with the lack of an actual coherent story. Halfway through I started thinking she was just showing off her technique. Her knowledge of Russian mythology was impressive considering she isn’t even Russian, but the story itself was just too much. There are a lot of quotes to be found here, but last time I checked I was reading a book and not a poem.  A plot is very important when you’re writing a story and Valente did not include one. (Maybe she missed this tiny bit of information when she arrived late at her class ‘How to write about chickenhorses and mad wizards 101’?) A plot is the guideline of the author so he/she doesn’t get lost on all of the ideas and characters that start to come up whilst the book is written. Valente was lost. Too much was happening and because of this I could not follow all the spins and turns this novel took.

I read a lot of other books while reading Deathless. I even finished all the bad books on my to-read shelf. The ones where I roll my eyes and vomit incessantly. But why would I do that? Why  would I rather read a bad book than a beautiful one with lots of beautiful words and beautiful characters? I think (and this is just a theory) it’s because I got exhausted after reading more than one or two chapters. These chapters were like pieces of chocolate. A few pieces are amazing, but after your third piece you start to get sick.

Don’t get me wrong, I still liked it. I liked it, but it wasn’t enough for me to keep reading it. Sometimes I did not have a clue of what was happening. For example that part when Marya was living in Yaicka. Is the reader not supposed to know if her main character is pregnant? Or when she delivers a child? Or if the child is even alive? I know strange. I like strange. Strange wakes up the brain cells.  But a world that resides in an egg is a bit too farfetched, even for me. Especially when this abnormality is not explained. (Okay. There was an explanation, but it did not really help. Valente tried to convince me that the egg was the child of Koschei and the Tsar of Birds. Wow. Writing it down is even more weird that thinking it.) Some readers might find this sort of abnormalities interesting, but Valente could have tried to make this world a bit more real. You know, a few laws of nature would have been nice. Those where a man can not have a child with a manbird.

My point is: the fairytale theme was just too present. It leaked in everywhere. I know she based it on a fairytale, but did that necessarily mean it had to be everywhere?One example:

A red bird came for Marya’s red dress and Ivan gave it to the red bird. The next day another bird came for her rifle and Ivan gave it to the bird. The next day another bird came for her silver brush and eventually Ivan gave it to the brown bird.

Valente sometimes used an entire chapter for this. I can’t say I really enjoyed it. When you’re really into the story this kind of thing can pull you out.

In short: Deathless was an interesting story that was presented with very good writing. Maybe it wasn’t so smart of Valente to really go into the fairytale genre, but I did really fall in love with her writing and her characters. So much so that the egg could be forgiven. I do confess, I could not get around the fact that there was no plot. This doesn’t mean I don’t want to read Valente’s other work. Who knows what those books hide between their pages? Because maybe it was me. Maybe I am not the kind of girl who still likes her fairy tales.

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Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

This book, written by Harrieunclet Beecher Stowe in 1852, is probably one of the most important books in the history of literature.As it is the first book where the story is viewed from the slaves perspective and all the horrific events are described without censure. They say this very book contributed to the start of the american civil war.


Harriet Beecher Stowe(June 14, 1811 – July 1, 1896) was an american author and also a well known abolitionist. Her father was a religious leader and her mother was also very religious this probably helped her with her decision to become a abolitionist. At the age 21 she joined the Semi-Colon Club and there she met her future husband who was a professor. As the both were against slavery, they often housed runaways. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was her first book and is widely regarded as one of the best anti-slavery works of all time.

The story is about Tom who(due a bad financial situation) is sold to a slave trader. He first ends up on a farm which belongs to the family St. Claire where he is treated very good as the head of the family actually doesn’t like slavery. Later he is sold once more and ends up on a cruel plantation where hell begins and slaves are considered nothing more than things.

The book is of course written in old american and is sometimes hard to understand due its old language, but if you have google translate by your side, it shouldn’t be that hard to understand the words and sentences and you’ll definitely keep on reading.

I recommend this book to everyone because it is a important part of history that we mustn’t forget. The book will definitely pull some tears among some of its readers and provide some confused faces for people who don’t know that much about the horrific events that took place in that time and were considered normal.

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