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Monday, June 12

  1. page Nicola Yoon edited Nicola Yoon
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Friday, June 2

  1. page James Dashner edited James Dashner
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Thursday, June 9

  1. page Tahereh Mafi edited Internal Growth in Shatter Me, Unravel Me & Ignite Me [In this essay L.S. will examine the gr…
    Internal Growth in Shatter Me, Unravel Me & Ignite Me
    [In this essay L.S. will examine the growth and development of Juliette Ferrars, the main character in Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me series, through her experiences, relationships and Mafi’s writing style.]
    Juliette Ferrars is plagued by a sort of ‘super power’ she has; her touch is lethal. She is forever haunted by the one event that put her in the asylum she is locked up in, the death of a little boy. Her parents never showed her any love and gave her up to The Reestablishment to be tested on after she killed the boy. She has been locked in an asylum for 264 days and hasn’t touched another human being in 6,336 hours. All of these events have left her as the weak, pathetic girl that she is at the beginning of the series. She hates who she is, has no confidence and has convinced herself she will never know happiness or receive kindness from anyone. Throughout the series Juliette grows from being fragile and pitiful into a strong and self-reliant girl through her experiences and relationships with the other characters.
    The most apparent sign of Juliette’s lack of confidence can be seen in Tahereh Mafi’s use of strikethroughs. The entire first book is riddled with them on every few pages, even whole pages completely crossed out. One example of this is a full page of “I am not insane,” repeated over and over again. This is not just a stylistic approach that Mafi took, it is meant to represent Juliette’s lack of voice and confidence in herself. The strikethroughs appear over thoughts or phrases that Juliette wants to say but decides against because she doesn’t feel she can or that she feels she shouldn’t. By saying things out loud or writing them down she is making them a reality, one she doesn’t want to accept so she crosses them out. Throughout Unravel Me the strikethroughs become less frequent as Juliette realizes that the only way to change her situation is to accept herself and her past and put her powers towards something good.
    “Don’t you think it kills me to know that it was my own unwillingness to recognize myself as a human being that kept me trapped for so long? For two hundred and sixty-four days, Kenji,” I say, swallowing hard. “Two hundred and sixty-four days I was in there and the whole time, I had the power to break myself out and I didn’t, because I had no idea I could. Because I never even tried. Because I let the world teach me to hate myself. I was a coward,” I say, “who needed someone else to tell me I was worth something before I took any steps to save myself,” (Mafi 245).
    By Ignite Me, there are no strikethroughs at all because Juliette has found her voice and is no longer the trepid unconfident girl that was stuck in the asylum. She becomes a very strong person who embraces who she is and no longer fears herself.
    Juliette’s growth can also be seen in her perception and judgement of other characters, specifically Aaron Warner who is the commander and regent of Sector 45. The story is told through Juliette’s point of view and in the beginning of the series she sees Warner as a heartless murderer and a despicable monster. She only allows herself to see the horrible things he does, such as holding her captive, shooting a man in the head or throwing her into a simulation where she is forced to torture a toddler. In reality Warner saved her from the asylum, killed the man because he was beating his children and abusing his pregnant wife to the point where she lost the baby, and the simulation was all in Juliette’s head, he didn’t actually force her to torture a child. Juliette begins to see Warner in another light when she stumbles upon him feeding a stray dog. This scene is extremely important because it opens Juliette up to the possibility of Warner actually being human. She then sees his interactions with his father and spends some one on one time with him while he is captured and sees a person who is only a product of his upbringing. She is still filled to the brim with denial and tries as hard as she can to keep the image of him as a monster because in the back of her mind she knows they are very similar to one another. It isn’t until Ignite Me that she sees him as he truly is and accepts that he is more like herself than she ever could have imagined.
    “He’s like a terrified, tortured animal. A creature who spent his whole life being beaten, abused, and caged away. He was forced into a life he never asked for, and was never given an opportunity to choose anything else. And though he’s been given all the tools to kill a person, he’s too emotionally tortured to be able to use those skills against his own father—the very man who taught him to be a murderer. Because somehow, in some strange, inexplicable way, he still wants his father to love him,” (186).
    The journey of Juliette’s realization starts with her immediate judgement of Warner and then her slow acceptance of him which represents her slow acceptance of herself.
    Her development is also apparent through her relationships. Juliette begins as an isolated girl without parents or even a friend so when she is introduced to Adam Kent she falls for him right away. Since no one has ever shown her kindness it is not hard to see why she is attracted to the only person who ever has. She feels even more connected to him when she finds out he is immune to her touch and relies on him heavily which keeps her weak and pitiful. Adam sees her as a fragile girl who couldn’t hurt a fly and feels he needs to protect her. As Juliette learns more about Warner she begins to develop feelings for him and realizes that Adam has only been holding her back and that Warner recognizes her true potential and strength.
    “I like the way I feel about myself when I'm with him." I say quietly. "Warner thinks I'm strong and smart and capable and he actually values my opinion. He makes me feel like his equal--like I can accomplish just as much as he can, and more. And if I do something incredible, he's not even surprised. He expects it. He doesn't treat me like I'm some fragile little girl who needs to be protected all the time,” (160).
    With her growth into a stronger person she sees that what she felt for Adam wasn’t love but gratitude for being kind to her. By allowing herself to grow she learns to harness her power and is able to touch anyone without harming them. This revelation is huge for her because she can now choose to be with whoever she wants and isn’t confined to the two people in the world who could touch her. She ends up choosing Warner because he understands her like no one else does and pushes her to be the best she can be. This choice shows that Juliette is no longer in need of protection from anyone else because she has found she can rely on herself.
    Overall, Juliette goes through an immense period of growth throughout Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me series. She begins as a frail and miserable girl who hates herself and wishes she wasn’t alive. As she meets people who show her kindness and believe in her potential she begins to see herself through their eyes and realizes she isn’t a horrible monster. Her interactions give her the reassurance she needs to appreciate and develop confidence in herself and her abilities allowing her to become the strongest character in the series.
    (L.S. 2016)

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  2. page Ava Dellaira edited Love Letters to the Dead- Ava Dellaira In this literary critique, S.C. analyzes the journey to f…
    Love Letters to the Dead- Ava Dellaira
    In this literary critique, S.C. analyzes the journey to find oneself in Love Letters to the Dead through using letters to famous people and seeing their own personal journeys to self discovery.
    “Love Letters to the Dead,” written by Ava Dellaira, is a coming-of-age novel that describes the ongoing struggle of a teenage girl, Laurel, who must accept the death of her sister. In accepting her sister May’s death, she must also understand that it was not her fault. In a life where Laurel has no one she feels she can truly open up to, she begins an English assignment of writing letters to the dead. In time, she accumulates her letters to dead musicians and writers. Her ability to speak of the night May died grows stronger, until she can finally release her demons to not only her closest friends, but her parents too. Almost a year late, Laurel hands in her English assignment as a changed person.
    Laurel says it from the start, she has no idea who she is meant to be as a person. She wants to be just like her older sister May. “On my first day, I went into her closet and found the outfit that I remember her wearing her first day-a pleated skirt with a pink cashmere sweater that she cut the neck off of a pinned a Nirvana patch to, the smiley face one with the x-shaped eyes. I put it on and stared at myself in front of her mirror, trying to feel like I belonged in any world, but on me it looked like I was wearing a costume” (Dellaira 1). Laurel did not like being herself, because she was a blank space, with no true identity. She wore what her sister wore, in hopes of slipping into her confidence and bravery.
    Laurel is able to release some of her emotions in writing to the dead. Preferably, the famous. With each person that she writes to, Laurel explains their past, and ultimately learns a lesson or two about it. Eventually, it helps her discover herself. For example, Laurel writes to Amelia Earhart. The woman who was capable of opening her wings and soaring. Laurel tried to take Amelia’s courage with her when she truly needed it. “I decided this morning that I really need even the tiniest bit of the courage that you had because I started high school almost three weeks ago, and I can’t keep sitting alone by the fence anymore” (Dellaira 11). Laurel was able to build up the courage by channeling her inner Amelia, and in doing so made two friends she would hold onto throughout the novel and onward. It was thanks to her inspiration from Amelia that helped Laurel grow as a person.
    The letters don’t just stop at Amelia Earhart. They range from Kurt Cobain, to Janis Joplin all the way to Judy Garland. Judy Garland led the example to Laurel that someone could rise from the ashes towards happiness. “Your parents used to fight so much it scared you, but you kept singing. Your mom put all of her energy into trying to make you a star. You traveled on the vaudeville circuit with your two older sisters-first then Gumm Sisters, then the Garland Sister, and then it was you who got signed by MGM. Laurel took Judy Garland’s hopefulness and tried applying it to her own life, which faced the shadows.
    The letters that Laurel writes become a symbol throughout the novel, representing the thoughts that she wishes she could tell to the alive and breathing world. But that was the lure Laurel had in writing to these stars. While they were all dead, they weren’t forgotten. Their names were recognizable and their legacies stronger than ever.
    Laurel finds who she truly is by adopting the good qualities of her inspirations. She learns about herself writing to the dead, which helps her speak to the present. “So I decided that I’m going to turn all of my letters into Mrs. Buster. School is still open for a few days for teachers to finish their grades, so tomorrow or the next day, I’ll go and leave them in her teacher’s mailbox. For some reason, maybe because she gave me the assignment in the first place, I want her to read what I wrote” (Dellaira 310). To think that when Laurel wrote her first letter, she had no intent on handing in the book. But by summer time, she was ready to share her story with the world, thanks to the wisdom of those before her who helped Laurel find who she was meant to be.
    (S.C. 2016)

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  3. page Margaret Peterson Haddix edited This is an analysis of how the woods and fake I.d’s are being used as symbolism to contribute to i…
    This is an analysis of how the woods and fake I.d’s are being used as symbolism to contribute to identity being effected by the government in Among The Hidden by Margarett Peterson Haddix.
    In the novel Among The Hidden, author Margret Peterson Haddix shows how identity can be effected by a tyranical government through symbolism. The author uses the woods to represent the little bit of freedom that Luke had that was taken away, making him realize how painful hiding actually is. Later on in the work Fake I.D’s are used to represent the goverments power to control who is allowed to be included in the society they deem fit. Margret Peterson Haddix conveys the start of Lukes journy in identifying himself and his part in this world.
    “ I will never be allowed outside again. Maybe never as long as I live.” with this dramatic start to the novel you find out that Luke Garner, an illegal third child in hiding and has to say goodbye to the only thing he has ever known, the woods. To set the stage Luke is a third son along with his two older brothers Mathew and Mark. In this futuristic society citizens are only allowed to have two children, making Luke the odd man out. While Luke grew up it was okay to hide because he lives on a farm, but now the government bought their land and are building baron homes. Barons are rich inercity government officials and workers, they are the high class in the society presented in the work. With the new development of these homes this means that Luke will no longer be allowed outside which very well might be his livelyhood.
    Following the loss of the woods Luke is imprisoned in his own home, not literally of course, but he has to hide even more cautiously now that the Garner’s have Baron neighbors so close. “"You can't look out at all," Dad said. "I mean it From now on, just stay away from the windows. And don't go into a room unless we've got the shades or curtains pulled."” This pushes Luke to find other ways to see out into the world, he finds a vent in the attic (his room) that he can see out of and no one else can see in. The plot thickens. One day he catches a glimpse of another third child and risks it all by storming her house. He meets Jen. Jen is another third child but has a more normal life because the things money can buy. Luke asks jen why she doesn’t just get a fake I.D. “But getting one of those I.D.'s—that's just a different way of hiding. I want to be me and go about like anybody else. There's no compromise.” A fake I.D symbolizes thegovernments hold on their identities. The only difference between Luke and his brothers is that he was born third and is forced into hiding by the government.
    The story conlcudes with the death of Jen while fighting for her freedom and for all third childrens freedom. Luke understands now who he needs to be for himself and for Jen. He needs to be fearless and take down the government from the inside at a slow steady pace. “I want to do something with my life. Figure out ways to help other third kids. Make—" All the things he'd thought of sounded too childish to explain, in the face of Mother's sobbing”. This is the first step to him discovering who he is and who he aims to be in the face of all the hiding and heartache he has had to bear. The Symbols help lead Luke to the person he will eventually be. His true Identity.
    (A.B. 2016)

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  4. page Markus Zusak edited ... Throughout the novel the importance of literature is explored through the many works mentioned…
    Throughout the novel the importance of literature is explored through the many works mentioned. Each story has its own meaning even if the message taken from it is not what the author intended. Through every book read, the characters grow in wisdom and in character and in turn develop theme of the importance of literature.
    E.G. 2014
    The Book Thief
    In this essay, O.D explains the effect of The Book Thief being narrated by “Death”, and how Liesel Meminger influences and changes the narrator's perspective. Additionally this essay will analyze Markus Zusak’s use of foreshadowing.
    Markus Zusak opens the novel with a pessimistic narrator who expresses a heavy sorrow burdened upon him. At first Zusak does not clarify who the narrator truly is, fundamentally developing a riddle and questioning the true identity of the narrator. However, the true identity of the narrator is never openly revealed, the hints and foreshadowing displayed being as much assistance and evidence given to understand who the narrator is. Although it is never specifically stated, the narrator is after all “death”, and this develops a wider and detailed perspective to the novel. The narrator switches from first person and third person perspective, introducing Liesel Meminger, a young girl who dared to read and capture the attention of death, who so often overlooks human lives as dull and ugly. Furthermore, Markus Zusak depicts death with an indifferent and mundane personality, and introduces a deeper view of the lives of Liesel Meminger, Max Vandenburg, and Hans Hubermann through the careful eyes of death. Death enriches the novel with a separated perspective of the life of Liesel Meminger and those she has influenced around her.
    Death is unexpectedly characterized as a mundane character. A narrator, such as death, known as the opposite of life, birth, and light, would be expected to possess a heartless, cruel, or dark outlook. However, that is not the case, death displays many characteristics, such as “amiable, agreeable, and affable”, and even mentions “I am nothing if not fair” (1). However, as the story progresses we see a change in the narrator. His tone changes from stagnant and sarcastic to more lively and expressive. Zusak establishes death does have a personality, and proves even death can change how he feels and views people, even himself. Throughout the novel there is an insight of emotions, such as sadness and joy, expressed every so often. In low regards death mentions he feels sadness and dread by stating, “He does something to me, that boy. Every time. It’s his only detriment. He steps on my heart. He makes me cry,” and “Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day” (84,211). It is apparent death is affected by people’s lives and deaths, especially Rudy’s death. Even when he takes their souls death feels a pang of regret or sadness himself. Zusak gives death more than a vague personality, he entwines human characteristics and interests into death, providing a relatable character.
    Reading the story in death’s perspective provides more evidence of how each of the characters influence others, and there is more insight and importance to a person’s actions than might be displayed. Furthermore, seeing death gradually change his view throughout the story provides an influential tone. Liesel unknowingly influenced death and how he sees humans, changing his discouraging view on the human race to a hopeful tone. Even in the end, death admits he has emotions like humans do. He feels sadness, joy, worriment, and guilt. “In the darkness of my dark-beating heart, I know. He’d have loved it, all right. You see? Even death has a heart” (242).
    Death has an interest in colors. He describes the color of a person’s death, the scene being dark or light, gray or black, or peaceful or harsh. Death is fascinated by humans especially, their ugly and beauty ways alike. He watches them, and collects a handful of stories that have influenced him in some way. He is fascinated by humans and colors, but struggles to understand how humans are capable of more than ugliness and greed. Death hopes to see a beauty to humans, and he takes an interest in Liesel and her story because it is one of a handful of beautiful stories he has witnessed in his tenuous existence. Death foreshadows that the story will not have a happy ending, and as long as he is present there will be always be death. However, he provides an influential tone, that even though Rudy, Hans, and Max do not live their full life, they have influenced others. Liesel, who was a significant part of Max, Hans, and Rudy’s lives was affected by them also, and in return influenced death to see her life as special in some ways. Liesel became friends with a stowaway Jew, learned how to read, stole books from book burnings, and learned to live without her loved ones. Liesel influenced others and changed death’s view on people and how they are beautiful in some matters, and even altered death’s view of himself.
    (O.D. 2016)

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  5. page Stephen Chbosky edited ... Coming of Age Motif in The Perks of Being a Wallflower (June 2014) In this literary criticism…
    Coming of Age Motif in The Perks of Being a Wallflower
    (June 2014) In this literary criticism, L.S. analyzes Charlie’s acceptance of his sexual assault and how the traumatic experience contributes to the character’s overall development and the coming of age motif in Stephen Chbosky’s novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
    passed away.
    The dream that Charlie had contributes to his acceptance of the sexual assault and the motif of coming of age because the dream is initiated when he and Sam are about to engage in sexual intercourse. The dream awakens Charlie to a new and disturbing view about the nights he spent watching TV with his aunt:
    “When I fell asleep, I had this dream. My brother and my sister and I were watching television with my Aunt Helen. Everything was in slow motion. The sound was thick. And she was doing what Sam was doing. That’s when I woke up. And I didn’t know what the hell was going on.” (Chbosky 204)
    traumatic experience.
    “I’ve been at the hospital for the past two months. They just released me yesterday. The doctor told me that my mother and father found me sitting on the couch in the family room. I was completely naked, just watching the television, which wasn’t on. I wouldn’t speak or snap out of it, they said. My father even slapped me to wake me up, and like I told you, he never hits. But it didn’t work. So, they brought me to the hospital where I stayed at when I was seven after my aunt Helen died.” (Chbosky 208)
    This traumatic experience not only impacted Charlie but they impacted other members of his family was well. “The hardest part was sitting in the doctor’s office when the doctor told my mom and dad what had happened. I have never seen my mother cry so much. Or my father look so angry. Because they didn’t know it was happening when it was.” (Chbosky 209) This scene exemplifies Charlie’s coming to terms with his aunt Helen. By recognizing his family’s pain in the situation Charlie is able to express his own emotions that allow him to overcome the awful memory.
    The coming of age motif is finalized when Charlie accepts his identity as a person, but also as a victim of sexual assault. Charlie concludes his story by acknowledging the importance of the situation but also not allowing it to hold him back. The assault is what he had to overcome in order to mature into adulthood, without acceptance he could not move forward.
    (L.S. 2014)
    Self-Discovery Theme in Perks of Being a Wallflower
    In this literary criticism, M.D analyzes a very common yet important theme explored in this book, something that is also very prevalent when connecting such works to life in general. Perks of Being a Wallflower discusses the discovering and acceptance of oneself, and realizing the significance of the privilege of simply being alive.
    The first page of this book reveals the complicated and complex mind of Charlie. “So this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be,” (Chbosky 2). A complicated mind such as Charlie’s can only lead to complicated everything, from relationships to emotions to family life, and so on. It is evident more and more as the book continues how special Charlie’s mind is; he over analyzes almost every aspect of life, he carefully studies the simplest details of those around him, and his emotions spiral from high to low constantly. Such a complex mind eventually leads to Charlie’s struggle with understanding who he is and his overall purpose in life.
    Charlie’s early school experiences allow him to meet some very crucial people, people who notice his complex but special ways and also accept him. Entering high school for the first time, Charlie’s awkwardness made it difficult for him to find out where he belongs. Charlie’s English teacher, Bill, immediately recognizes his inquisitive mind. Bill supplied Charlie with more books to read and analyze to keep his curious mind occupied. By the end of the book, Bill even points out his motive for doing this was because Charlie was one of the most gifted people he has ever met, not just student wise but in general (181). Additionally, Charlie was able to find his place in school by discovering Patrick and Sam, two people who grew to be not only his best friends but two of the most important people in Charlie’s life. Patrick and Sam’s early recognition of Charlie’s special mind slowly contribute to Charlie accepting himself. As early as Charlie’s first party with his two friends, Patrick points out how Charlie is “a wallflower” and how he “see’s things, keeps quiet about them, and understands,” (37). Charlie’s relationships with Sam and Patrick allow his true caringness and love for his friends to show; he analyzes the simplest details of his friends as if they are the most special things in existence. He acquires sentimental gifts for his friends and will do anything necessary for their well being. These once positive traits of Charlie will later contribute to his downfall as all Charlie does is think of others and ponder their emotions and actions instead of worrying about what he wants and discovering his emotions. Overall, while Bill is able to bring out Charlie’s inquisitive mind, the relationships with Sam and Patrick allow Charlie’s social and emotional relationships to flourish.
    Romantic relationships are often connected to the theme of discovering oneself; one cannot truly be with someone else if they do not know who they are. Charlie’s close bond with his best friend Sam causes his true love for her to grow. Charlie’s complex mind allows him to think deeply about every detail of Sam, from her hair to her favorite music to how free she looks when she stands in the back of Patrick’s truck as they pass through the tunnel at night. Charlie is able to comprehend those details, but when it comes to the social aspect of a relationship, such as communication and balancing out each other’s wants, Charlie lacks greatly throughout the book. Charlie’s first somewhat of a girlfriend, Mary Elizabeth, is a self absorbed girl who truly meant well but needed someone to challenge her outspoken ways. Charlie never did what he wanted in that relationship, causing him to mess up many things as a result. When Patrick’s complicated and secret relationship with a student named Brad took a turn for the worse, Charlie did anything for Patrick to help him cope, even if it meant allowing Patrick to harmlessly kiss him. Although extremely thoughtful and selfless, Charlie did not discover till the end that in order to find himself, he needed to take control of his relationships with people and focus on his wants as well as the wants of others. At the end of the book, Sam allows Charlie to realize the true importance of this: “‘It’s great that you can listen and be a shoulder to someone, but what about when someone doesn’t need a shoulder. What if they need the arms or something like that? You can’t just sit there and put everybody's lives ahead of yours and think that counts as love. You just can’t. You have to do things,’” (200). Ultimately, when it comes to discovering oneself, the relationships one has with others plays a huge role. Charlie’s submissive behavior when it came to his emotions and relationships made it increasingly difficult for him to find his true self.
    Charlie’s journey of self-discovery truly comes down to his special mind. Charlie always would question “why”, and never could accept plain and simple things as they were. The final thoughts of Charlie involved him sitting in the back of Patrick’s truck, driving through the tunnel. At that very moment Charlie was able to accept the simple fact that he was there, he was alive, and that is all that mattered. “And I was really there. And that was enough to make me feel infinite,” (213). This final connection Charlie is able to make at the end emphasizes a crucial, and arguably one of the most important themes in the book which is self discovery and the significance of being alive. This, as well as developed theme, is able to contribute to Chbosky’s overall meaning of this work which is the acceptance of special minds like Charlie’s and how important it is that everyone is able to find themselves in this world and not always search for a deeper meaning for every aspect of life.
    One can simply read Perks of Being a Wallflower and find it be a cliché novel about a teenager struggling to fit in with the high school status quo. A deeper analyzation of this work reveals a much more powerful theme that unravels the meaning of the work as a whole while also connecting to real world struggles. This piece develops the inquisitive, special boy named Charlie and his long journey through self-discovery. By describing Charlie’s free-flowing yet complex mind, his relationships with those around him, and his rapid change in emotions, Chbosky is able to bring to light the significance of accepting oneself while also making prominent the importance of simply being alive.
    (M.D 2016)

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