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Posted in Books, review

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

**Warning, the following blog contains spoilers and what could be seen as sensitive content**

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We all hate to love Opportunity High and love to hate it. We can’t wait to graduate, but we don’t want to leave.

I started the book This Is Where It Ends yesterday at 11:50am. I finished the book this morning at 12:26am. It was so good, so intriguing, that I couldn’t make myself stop. I thought about how to talk about the book because it contains so many different stories that come about because of one incident. It’s told from the perspective of four different characters; Clair, Autumn, Sylv, and Tomás. The plot of the book? A school shooting that takes place in the school auditorium after the usual welcome back to school assembly.

The story takes place in Opportunity Alabama. You know how when you’re reading your instantly get an image of characters and what things look like? Once I read that this story took place in a small town in Alabama, my brain automatically set the scene as my old high school gymnasium. I’ve attended so many assemblies in that gym, and I never felt unsafe. But, I was instantly placed into the scenario with the other characters. I became one of the other hundred students that stayed in the background. It’s the power of books. They tend to suck you in and throw you in the plot as well.

It all starts at 10:01 am. Nijkamp introduces us to the characters in the following order: Claire, Tomás, Autumn, and then Sylv.

Claire is a track star who happens to be running with her varsity teammates during the time of the assembly. Her family has a legacy of serving in the military. In fact, her older sister is deployed during the time of the event and Clair herself is a part of the JROTC drill team. We learn that Claire has an younger brother who has Lupus and struggles to walk. His name is Matt, and he has to use crutches but he is finally back at school and attending the assembly on this day of all days.

Next is Tomás. Tomás is Sylv’s twin brother and also sort of a bad boy. We are introduced to him as he breaks into the principal’s office during the assembly to look for a former students file. The one he is looking for belongs to Tyler, Autumn’s older brother who dropped out and did something to hurt Tomás’ sister. Sylv won’t tell Tomás what Tyler did, so he is trying to see if there’s anything in Tyler’s file that will give him a hint. His accomplice during this break in is his best friend Fareed, better known as Far.

Autumn’s story is a bit more tragic. The day the shooting takes place is on the second anniversary of her mothers death. Her mother was a dancer, she traveled the world and Autumn wanted be just like her. She had dreams of going to Juilliard, but her alcoholic/abusive father refuses to support her since he believes dancing is what killed his wife (it was actually a car accident, but I won’t go too into detail about that because it plays a large role in the story later).

Sylv, Tomás’ twin sister, is Autumn’s best friend. We also learn she is dating Autumn, but they keep that a secret because, well, Autumn’s father wouldn’t approve, and they live in a small town in Alabama where gossip spreads like wildfire. Sylv’s family is also in turmoil. Her mother is increasingly getting ill, although the real diagnoses is never stated, I formed the opinion it was a type of dementia or alzheimer’s. She is described as having very few “lucid” days.

So those are the four characters we experience this journey with. All have problems of their own, all struggle with their own personal battles, and now all but two are trapped in an auditorium with a mad gunman who they all know and have in common. This brings me to introducing a fifth and vital character, Tyler.

Tyler, as I mentioned before, is Autumn’s older brother and a person who hurt Sylv in a way that stays a mystery until the last few pages. He is also Claire’s ex-boyfriend, often the receiving end of Tomás’ bullying, and the shooter. He was a smart, caring boy until his mother passed away. For awhile he protected Autumn from their father’s abuse and pushed her to pursue her dancing dreams. Then, he becomes angry, sad, and all of the things you would except a young man to be after he loses his mother. But then he drops out of school, and as the characters experience this horrific event, they all have flashbacks to moments with Tyler. He continually says something along the lines of…

One day, I’ll show the world. And they’ll never forget me.

Not so out of the ordinary right? How many of us want to make a difference in this world? How many of us have dreamed about going out and accomplishing something. When someone says, “I’ll show the world” we don’t necessarily think that they’re going to do something bad. Claire says to the police,

He told me he’d show the world. He told me we’d never forget him. But I only thought he meant he wouldn’t let anyone get to him

Claire broke up with Tomás after two years of dating. Does that make her to blame? Autumn begins to push Tyler away because he isn’t himself anymore. Is she to blame? Tomás beats on Tyler because Tyler did something awful to Sylvia. Does that make Tomás to blame? Tyler accuses Sylv of stealing Autumn from him. Does that make Sylv to blame? The answer to all of these questions, for me, is I don’t think so.

What I realized while reading this book was that it’s not just one thing that sets someone off sometimes (I’m not saying that’s the case every time). It’s a bunch of little things that add up and keep piling on someone’s shoulders before they just completely disconnect. That’s what seems to happen to Tyler. It doesn’t make what he did okay, not by any means, but it did make me think.

We never know what’s going on with other people’s life. We can never understand how someone else feels because we all feel so differently. I personally feel everything so deeply, but I know people who can take hit after hit and still put a smile on their face. Positivity can be a game changer. Some people have it, and some people don’t.

Social media also plays a role in this story. Not in a bad way. At the end of every chapter some students tweets are shown. Here are a few:

CJ Johnson
@CadetCJJ
GUN. HELP. #OHS
10:06am

Alex Saxon
@AlexDoesTwitter
@CadetCJJ For real? There’s nothing on the news… #OHS
10:06am

CJ Johnson
@CadetCJJ
I always thought I’d be braver but I’m so afraid. I’m so afraid. #OHS
10:17 am

Jim Tomason
@JTomasonSTAR
@CadetCJJ Can we ask you some questions about the situation at #OHS? Our reporters would like to get in touch.
10:18am

Jay Eyck
@JEyck32
I skipped school today. I’m not at #OHS. Pls stop asking me questions. I don’t know what’s going on.
10:19am

Jay Eyck
@JEyck32
I can’t believe it. Never thought this would happen at our school.
10:19am

Anonymous
@BoredOpportunist
@JEyck32 You’re so naive. Don’t believe everything people tell you. There’s always more to the story.
10:19am

That’s the society we live in. Do you notice the times? How quickly something can spread with a push of a button? I feel like every time I check Twitter or Facebook there’s a new trend. Sometimes it’s a meme, sometimes it’s some kind of challenge, but most of the time it’s a tragedy. A hashtag starts, people send support over the internet, we get outraged and demand change, but it never happens.

I won’t spoil the details that Nijkamp pours into her book. I know it seems like I have given a lot of information, but I haven’t even scratched the surface. Every chapter brings a new story and more clarity on the situation at hand. Ultimately, what amazed me, was that this whole book starts at 10:01am, and it all ends at 10:55am. Within the span of fifty-four minutes, destruction tears apart the lives of students at Opportunity High. The name is a bit ironic, don’t you think?

So please, read this book if you have the chance. Understand that EVERYTHING can change in a second. I did not post this blog to start any arguments or political discussions. I simply posted it because it’s a great book that includes some present day situations we all should be aware of.

This Is Where It Ends is a good read, it’s thrilling, action packed, and just beautifully written. It’s a good book. Definitely one of my top 10 now. I hope you enjoy.

xoxo,

Macie.

Posted in Books, review

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keys

flowers-for-algernon-book

One beautiful day, not too long ago, I was browsing around my local Books-A-Million and stumbled across the book Flowers for Algernon. In the back of my mind I vaguely remembered reading a snippet in a Literature textbook in high school, but I had no idea it was actually an entire book! I remember loving it for some reason. At the time I couldn’t put my finger on why I was so attracted to it, but now I do. It’s so (hang with me through this cliche) beautifully tragic.

The story starts simple. Now, when I say simple, I mean SIMPLE. The narrator, Charlie Gordon, has an I.Q. around 70 and struggles to read and write. For me, it was a little difficult to understand at first. Seeing such simple words spelled so incorrectly confused my brain. It was as if I knew exactly what he was trying to say, yet (as an English major obsessed with grammar) my brain couldn’t compute it.

Charlie undergoes a surgery to make him smarter. He grows quickly and all at once afterwards it seems like. Even though his intelligence has surpassed that of the ones who performed his surgery, he struggles emotionally. He falls in love, but that little piece of abused child still lives within him. He makes friends, but is so skeptical if they are genuine or not that he ruins it. I don’t want to spoil anything about the growth/journey Charlie takes, but I would like to go over some of the lessons I picked up from it.

To me, Flowers for Algernon taught me that intelligence is not everything. It’s definitely a plus, but it’s not everything. Human contact is important. It’s important to have family that loves you and friends that support you, especially when you’re going through so much change. It made me thankful to have a family that supports my ambitious dreams and friends that give me confidence when I need it the most.

The biggest realization for me came when I read the following sentence:

How strange it is that people of honest feelings and sensibility, who would not take advantage of a man born without arms or legs or eyes — how such people think nothing of abusing a man born with low intelligence.

Boom! Knowledge..

How many of us have made fun of someone (not to their face) that said/did something that didn’t sound too intelligent? Or maybe you just make assumptions about people without knowing anything about them. I try my hardest to have an open mind and not assume things about someone based on how they appear, but it can sometimes be hard. I am only human after all.

It is in our nature to instinctively judge, but it’s a decision to think openly and consider other people. Did someone cut you off in traffic? Maybe they are in an emergency situation or just didn’t see you. Does someone not agree with your opinion? That doesn’t make them wrong or idiotic. Maybe they have different experiences than you. How boring would it be if everyone thought that same way? There would be no competition, no intellectual thought, no… well… fun.

So next time someone does something that you don’t really understand, take a step back and put yourself in their shoes. Don’t automatically assume something about someone else. Get to know them, or just let it go. Life is too short to judge others (that’s not our job anyway). Love others. Everyone is human and has feelings. Flowers for Algernon just reminded me of that.

Hope you enjoy!

xoxo

Posted in Books, Personal

World Book Day

GUYS! IT’S WORLD BOOK DAY. I won’t bore you with my detailed love for books (I could seriously go on and on and on and…), I’ll just post some pictures that accurately represent my reading addiction. I hope you all read plenty today and have a lovely night❤️

Posted in Books, review

The Bill Hodges’s Trilogy

As far as Stephen King goes, I have only read one of his books. 11/22/63  was the first book I read back a year or two ago. Now, I have embarked on my second Stephen Kind novel, and little did I know, it’s a trilogy!

Over spring break my family and I had to fly to get to our destination. So naturally, while waiting in the airport, I bought a book. The lucky winner was End of Watch by Stephan King. 

When I started reading the book (a couple of weeks later), it seemed like I was missing something. Everything made sense, but I felt like there were some details I lacked. I had NO clue I was reading the third book to a trilogy. I immediately bought the first two book on my Kindle and started to devour the first book, Mr. Mercedes

Mr. Mercedes immediately caught my attention. The psychological thriller was intriguing and the changing perspectives of the “perk” (HA. Inside joke for those that have read it) and the detective made it even better for me. I personally love books that do that. We flip flop between Brady Hartsfield and the heroic Bill Hodges. One a retired detective and the other the Mercedes Killer. I won’t spoil anything for you, except for the fact that Holly Gibney steals my heart and makes a place for herself in my Top 10 Favorite Characters list. I can’t tell you I didn’t expect the ending… mostly because I read about it in the first book before I realized it was the last of a trilogy.. yeah, I know. BUMMER. RIGHT?! Even though I knew what happened, I had no idea how. Needless to say I was THRILLED with the ending. Well, yeah.. yeah I’m gonna stick with that. 

NOW! Onto Finders Keepers, the second book of the trilogy. Although it really wasn’t connected to Mr. Mercedes (although towards the end there are some intertwined characters involved) the story was probably more intriguing to me than the first. Granted, I had no idea how this book was going to end. This book, however, was just as thrilling and satisfying. The main characters involved were completely different than the ones encountered earlier. Holley Gibney is still my fave, I mean COME ON. She’s just so weird and adorable! 

End Game brought some tears to my eyes as I read through the last few pages. Not because it’s so late at night and I’ve been reading for hours, but because the characters are so perfectly served and the ending is almost poetic. The book is even more psychological than the other two, and I mean that in all ways possible. The information displayed by Stephan King certaintly didn’t leave any holes. 

If you enjoy Stephan King, psychological thrillers, mysteries, or just a good, intense read in general I highly recommend the Bill Hodges trilogy. I, personally, devoured all three within two weeks (and that’s with finals coming up)! So please, do yourself a favor and get to know the characters in this trilogy. Especially Holly.. I may be obsessed..

I hope you enjoy! xoxo 

Posted in Uncategorized

Spring Break 2017: Grand Turks, Ambers Cove, and Nassau

Spring break 2017 was nothing less than amazing. As usual, my family and I went on a cruise with some close friends of ours. This cruise was a little different for me. Not only was I ecstatic to give up my phone for the 6 days we were gone, but I also decided to be a little more “adventurous” than I usually am. 

It all started in Ambers Cove when I decided to go zip lining. Now usually the thought of something like this would terrify me and I would come up with some excuse to get out of it. This time, however, I decided, “What the heck? Who can say they’ve zip lined in another country?” So, I did it. And it was slightly terrifying right before I was pushed off the platform, but as it was happening I could feel the excitement running through my veins. I looked down at my parents as my mother took pictures as she usually does. That’s right, I LOOKED DOWN. Probably not the best idea, but it wasn’t so bad. 

The next “adventurous” thing I did was try ox tongue for the very first time (and more than likely the last). There’s really no story there, it was not a bad taste, more of a texture issue. *BLEH* 

My final “adventurous” activity landed in Nassau as we visited Atlantis. The last time I went to Atlantis, I strictly stuck to the “lazy” river (which isn’t lazy at all. In fact, it involves rapids). On this go around I tried out a water slide called “The Falls” I believe. It was probably the least extreme of any waterslide there, but hey, that was a big deal for me. This waterslide involved riding an inflatable tube up a conveyor belt and then… well.. it goes a little something like, “AAAAAAAAAaaaaaahhhhhhhhh” as you plummet down the slide. There’s a tunnel involved that is pitch black. I’m not really sure what direction I was going or how I made it out unharmed, but after that I decided my “adventurous” side had been slightly tamed. 

You may noticed I continue to put “adventurous” in quotation marks. That is because I am fully aware my definition of “adventurous” is different from others. Some of you may read this and think, “Psh, that’s nothing.” Well, it was more than “nothing” for me. It was a change. It was different. It was adventurous

So, don’t let anyone tell you you’re not “adventurous” enough because they have a different idea of what that means. Be yourself. Have fun. Try new things, but only if you feel comfortable doing it. Life is an adventure, but everyone’s life is different. Don’t forget that.