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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

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‘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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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’

 

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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.

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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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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.

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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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Extremely loud and incredibly close

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Jonathan Safran Foer´s novel Extremely loud and incredibly close tells a story of an extraordinary nine year old boy named Oskar who tries to deal with his father’s death by looking for a lock that fits the key he found in his father’s closet. Four lets us look through Oskar´s eyes into the world around him and lets us feel the sadness and experience the confusion that he has to deal with.

Extremely loud and incredibly close is the second novel of Four. He is mostly known for his debut novel Everything is illuminated. Both of his books have been adapted into films by the same name.

Jonathan Safran Four was born in Washington D.C. as the middle child of a Jewish family. He had a nervous breakdown for three years as a result of a chemical accident in class when he was 8. The moment he decided to try writing in a serious way was after he took writing course with author Joyce Carol Oates. She inspired him to start writing.

Although Oskar -inventor, letter-writer and amateur detective- has had a fear for meeting new people all his life, he more and more conquers that fear during his search for the lock. He travels all over New York to speak to every person that carries the name Black because that is the only clue he found on the envelope with the key.

The book is full of funny, beautiful and heartbreaking quotes. For instance Oskar tells women of his mother’s age they are beautiful and asks them to kiss him or he constantly invents things like long ambulances that could connect every building to a hospital or machines that would play your heartbeat through a speaker. Oskars favourite expression for feeling depressed is wearing heavy boots.

Throughout the book there are letters from his grandparents written to their son or grandson. From the content of these letters you learn their stories and you see how they are trying to live with the things they went through. They were in the bombings of Dresden during World War two which damaged them for the rest of their lives. Just like 9/11 left a scar on Oskar.

This book brought up many emotions when I read it. Sometimes I was hardly able to hold my tears and other times I couldn’t stop smiling. A definite smiling moment was this:

What if the water that came out of the shower was treated with a chemical that responded to a combination of things, like your heartbeat and your body temperature, and your brain waves, so that your skin changed colour according to your mood. That way if you were extremely excited your skin would turn green, and if you were angry you’d turn red, obviously, and if you felt like shiitake you’d turn brown, if you were blue you’d turn blue.

He explains that if your skin would change colour, you would know how to treat people which would solve many problems caused by unshared emotions.

Foer was able to pull me into the story in a way that made it hard for me to put the book aside to focus on other things. It is well written in a simple way and therefor makes it easier to lose yourself in the story. And because the book contains all sorts of things to make the story come to life, like photos and pages of his grandfather’s daybook, it becomes an experience to read this story and I would recommend it to everyone.

yes no

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The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Normally, I don’t like reading books, but some books have a rare beauty. Those books create an almost indelible impression and leave a lasting memory in my head. Books like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Books which you will never forget and you want all your friends and family to read too. Books that remain a precious possession forever , like an old and faithful friend , and of which you are sure that you will enjoy reading it again. Books that you sometimes think that they have influenced your life in some way and that they might have made a better person of you. Because of the beauty of it, you have been moved in a way that you thought up to that point was not really possible. Such a book is the beautiful The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne. An almost overwhelming literary work with a very strong emotional charge. Touching, frightening, disturbing and most definitely memorable. A masterpiece.

ImageThe story begins in 1943 as the nine-year-old Bruno comes home from school and hears that his father has been promoted. His family has to move from Berlin to a new and distant environment. Near to the new house is a huge fence that stretches as far as the eye can see. Behind that fence there are a lot of people walking around in strange clothing, which Bruno mistakes for striped pyjamas . The boy doesn’t understand any of this and also doesn’t understand at all why they had to move out here. In Berlin friends were in abundance, while in his new hometown there seem to live no children at all. At least… not on his side of that huge fence.

The book by John Boyne is written completely from the perspective of the young Bruno and the whole world looks quite different. In fact, the world that we know, and which we think we understand, is made totally incomprehensible by his way of telling. Just as the world for a boy of that age is a real mystery. Bruno wants to discover this strange world. One day he decides to explore the area around his new home and makes long walks along the strange and unexplained fence. In this way he eventually makes a new friend with whom he can not play, but with whom he can talk . Even so it is unclear for Bruno why his new friend is sitting on the other side of the fence and why he is always hungry. The story captivates and troubles almost from the beginning and continues swaying in different directions . By the end of the book, you’d think it ‘s going to get a kind of open end, maybe something with a message for the future with a great moral. Instead, Boyne considers an almost genius denouement, which will definitely grab you by the throat and is almost incomprehensible at the time of reading. Absolutely brilliant and very moving. A shuddering end of a very, very memorable book.

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