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Image Credits: Amazon

I know I shouldn’t have expected much from this book and honestly being someone who is completely obsessed with J.D. Salinger’s classic, The Catcher and the Rye I shouldn’t have picked up this piece of trash (it does not deserve to be called a book) in the first place, but curiosity got the best of me. Actually, that’s not entirely true. The thing is I just really love Holden Caulfield and I’ve missed him and was excited about the possibility of seeing him brought back to life again, even if it was 60 years later, with a new story. However, this isn’t the aged version of Holden Caulfield that I thought it would be.

This piece of trash starts off with Holden Caulfield in a retirement home. He seems to be surprised by the fact that he’s old and I’m left wondering if he has dementia or Alzheimer’s or another degenerative disease. He is really confused which seems out of character for Holden. However, I tried to put that past me and give the book a chance. But the thing is California makes it hard to give this piece of trash a chance because the more you read, the worst it gets.

This piece of trash didn’t really have a plot or a point or a purpose or any kind of organized structure. I guess that explains why the book was self-published (I mean absolutely no offense to those who are actual credible writers that self-publish…I just mean for this guy clearly there were no other options – who would want to publish this garbage under than him?). Most of this piece of trash is just about Holden wandering around aimlessly. He escapes his retirement home and then just goes to New York and Boston and randomly comes across people from his childhood like Stradlater. Phoebe’s there too and Holden’s obsession with her is downright creepy and leaves the reader feeling uncomfortable. I can understand how Holden would still see his sister 60 years later, but Stradlater? Really? And I mean it’s 60 years later – there’s a chance he could’ve even been dead to be honest. The chances of Holden staying in touch are slim to none and the book even seems to acknowledge that in a way; Holden seems surprised to find Stradlater. It doesn’t make much sense; it just feels like the author’s lame attempt to re-write The Catcher in the Rye and you don’t mess with a classic.

There’s some new characters in this piece of trash, too and they come off as well, trashy. Charlie is one of the main characters and I’m totally confused on who she is and why she’s in this sad excuse of a book. I think she was one of Holden’s students? But when was he ever a teacher? Did he ever even go to or finish college? California never addresses those questions – he just randomly places her in the book and the next thing you know she’s having a threesome with her boyfriend and the elderly Holden Caulfield. It’s sick and there’s no reason why it needs to be in the story at all.

Another noteworthy character in this piece of trash is J.D. Salinger himself. Yes, because it’s totally normal to write a spinoff of a book and to throw the original author in their randomly. Sure. Salinger has no purpose in being in this book, but then again neither does anyone else. I have no idea what was even going on in this part of the book. I know Holden found a notebook and he went to return it to his son but his son was J.D. Salinger? Or did I misread it? Does California even know which is which? Sometimes I don’t think he even knows what he’s doing. It made no sense. If Salinger was his son then everything would be backwards. Salinger is older than Holden? I don’t even know…

But I haven’t even gotten to the best part of this trash. Have I told you about Holden’s bladder yet? Now I know it might sound weird for me to talk about Holden’s bladder and you might think it’s something you really don’t need to know about, but trust me when I say that John David California wants you to know about Holden Caulfield’s bladder. In fact, California went so far as to make sure he wrote about Holden’s bladder no less than every 2-3 pages throughout the entire novel. I don’t think this piece of trash has a point at all, but if it did I bet it would probably have something to do with Holden’s bladder.

What do I mean by “Holden’s bladder?” I mean just that. I know every single time Holden has a full bladder, when he think he might have a full bladder, when his bladder is so full it causes him pain, and when he doesn’t realize he has a full bladder until it’s too late. I already mentioned that most of the novel involves Holden aimlessly wandering around. I lied. He’s not “just” aimlessly walking around – he’s also urinating on everything in sight because his bladder is always overflowing and there’s never a bathroom around but if there is one Holden would rather not use it. Why does the reader need to know this? We really don’t, trust me, California. The only reason I can think of as to why the sad excuse of an author decided this was important was because it was a sad attempt to show that Holden is 60 years older and obviously developed urinary incontinence.

California’s portrayal of an elderly Holden is disgraceful at best. He seems to play on the stereotype that all elderly men live in retirement homes, can’t control their bladders, and are confused. This isn’t just stereotyping, it feels like blatant ageism. Holden deserves better than this.

After reading 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye I’m left feeling disgusted and ashamed to even admit I’ve read this. It also makes me want to go rushing back to the original classic The Catcher in the Rye. I bet I’ll love it and appreciate it now more than ever.

I’m also left with two words to say:

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry to Mr. Salinger who never wanted this book released and who went so far as to have it banned from the US (I had to order it online specially to obtain a copy). I’m sorry for not respecting his wishes. I’m sorry that the book was ever written. I’m sorry the book was published. I’m sorry the book is banned from all parts of the world and that more people are still reading this piece of trash.

Holden deserved better and so did Salinger.

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Image Credits: House to House 

For those of you who don’t already know, I am currently enrolled in my first semester of graduate school in the MA in Writing program at Rowan University. One of the classes I am enrolled in this semester is Core I: Theories and Techniques of Writing. This is a required class for my program where we study many other writers and how they write. We have just been assigned to write a paper that is either an imitation or parody of another writer. For this assignment I have chosen to write a parody of Henry David Thoreau’s “Why I Went to the Woods”. My parody is listed below. As you read it I ask that you keep in mind that part of the assignment requires me to adopt Thoreau’s writing style. This is why the sentences are so long and detailed with many commas and semi colons and very long paragraphs. It is also why some parts of it may feel very repetitive and the language is kind of old-fashioned and not the way people talk today. I am attempting to write in Thoreau’s voice here, not my own. Also, please keep in mind that this is a first draft. While I am very proud of this draft (hence why I am choosing to publish it to my blog), it is just that, a first draft. This is far from perfect and will be undergoing significant revision as my semester goes on. I do however welcome any comments or feedback. 

Why I Went to Church

I went to church because I wished to live for Christ, and to live my life in a way that is only pleasing to him, and to see if I could lead a life free of sin, so as to go on to heaven at the time of my death. I wished to follow the commandment of my Lord in Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1728). I wanted to surrender myself and my life to my Lord and savior Jesus Christ, to live so spiritually and free of materialism as to have no one question my faith, but for others to come to know Christ through me and my faith, and to show the world what it means to be a Christian. We do not live our lives for us, we live for Christ.

Did you ever consider how we might live for Christ? Living for Christ is a conscientious choice that we must make every day; a decision to live free of our material possessions and the worldly sinful life. Some choose the pleasure of a life of Christ, others choose the ways of the world run by Satan. It is my hope that one day those who choose the world will wake up and break free of Satan’s hold on them, that they will suddenly choose the life of Christ and follow him and his ways, so that they too, may be saved. Why should we exercise the right of free will? We are determined to choose our own paths in life. Men constantly choose their own paths, thinking they know what’s best for their lives. But we constantly fall short of the glory of God. It all started with Adam and Eve, who chose their own free will, they took pleasure in their own hearts’ desires, so that now we must all suffer the misfortunes of their sin. And now when comes forth acts of temptation, we must all struggle with decision to sin or turn way and follow God, for this is a constant battle in an unbelievers heart, until the day comes that they may be saved.

There is but few men residing alongside Washington Township who considers himself not a sinner, but a saved man, yet has an excuse every which way for why he cannot attend church. The man claims to not have the time of day for such matters as church, yet the same man and his wife would ask the fine couple next door, “What’s the plans for the day?”, fearing that they may miss out on the town’s latest social event. Yet they fail to realize the day’s occurrences are but temporary, for they cannot match the days of heaven that would lie ahead of them, if they were to only get saved.

Still, we live for the world and not for Christ; though the Bible tells us in Matthew 6:24, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mam’-mon” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1462). Our lives are stained in sin. A saved man knows not to count on the things in the world for happiness, for as Psalm 23 states, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 915). Pray, pray, pray! I command, pray 10 or 20 times a day, and not once or twice; instead of television read your bible, and listen to 2 Corinthians 6:14 which demands, “Be yet not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1764). Pray, pray. Instead of arguing with your wife, pray for peace; instead of drinking at the bar, invite your friends over for a time of prayer; and pray for each other as often as you can. Our lives are each ridden with sin as the result of the fall of Adam and Eve, and we constantly fall short of the glory of God, with the only option to escape salvation through the grace Christ alone. Look at our nation, an icon of sin, which obviously hasn’t been doing so well in recent years, thrives on the motto, “Do what makes you happy, regardless of the consequences”, which explains why we have become obsessed with the sexualization of our culture and the constant need for self-gratification, and the only way to escape the ruins that we have fallen into as a nation is to turn away from ourselves and our own free will and instead surrender our lives to Christ and his will and his ways for ourselves as individuals and our nation as a whole. Repent, repent, repent! We must admit our shortcomings to the Lord and ask for his forgiveness as we accept the life he has laid out for us, and not merely the paths we think we know best for ourselves, for in all honesty, we know nothing. Men believe that they must engage in pre-marital sex, to put money before prayer, and to break each and every commandment in the bible for the stake of liberty and equality in our nation; whether they actually engage in these acts or support them as bystanders remains to be uncertain, but whether we shall live as moral Christians or sinful heathens these days is questionable.

As for me, I could easily do without the television. I believe there are very few Christ-pleasing shows on air these days. To be honest, I haven’t seen a television program but twice a year during the span of my lifetime that I believed worthwhile of my time. And I am confident that I’m not missing out much on this week’s latest tabloid stories. It’s just one Kardashian sex tape, Taylor Swift’s breakup, WikiLeaks breakthrough, celebrity drug overdose, Jennifer Aniston pregnancy, Kanye West feud, Kate Middelton hat, Oprah Winfrey failed diet, Jennifer Lopez wedding, and Angelina Jolie divorce after the other. Reading one tabloid story is more than enough to last me to my final days. Why do we care to read so much gossip about the misfortunes of the rich and famous? Does Ephesians 4:29 not state, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers”? (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1785). Rather than judging these celebrities and talking about the times when they fall short of the glory of God, shall we not pray for them instead? I hear women in the grocery store pick up these tabloids and chat about the celebrities all the time. “That Taylor Swift sure gets around these days,” they say, “What a whore!”. Some of these expressions come from women who wear a cross around their necks and claim to be a Christian, yet they can’t remember the last time they stepped foot in a church or made time for prayer. They may be better off if they threw the tabloids in the trash where they belong and open up their bible and fold their hands to pray instead. Gossiping about Taylor Swift and talking bad about the other celebrities in the tabloids will only fuel the success of the tabloids and bring about no change or betterment of the lives of those who these women mock; for the only real change can come within these celebrities due to an intervention from the holy one above. We as citizens and brothers and sisters in Christ can only do our part to pray for those in need, and not to gossip about the misfortunes and shortcomings of others, for we know ourselves to be stained with the same blood of sinners.

Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll seems like a life of luxury. Sure, these things will bring us gratification, but men must realize it is only temporary. For as John 14:6 tells us, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father; but by me” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1638). We can never be satisfied in the things of the world or our own personal gratification alone; we must depend on Christ for hope, salvation, and happiness to last all eternity.

Prayer is but the essence of my life. I come to the Lord as a sinner ready to repent, yet through his grace he redeems me. I struggle in the world ridden with sin as my eternity in paradise awaits. I would live more humbly, pray more often, and attend church to hear the word of my Lord and savior amongst a community of imperfect believers. I am perfectly flawed. I cannot count but one day of life without sin. I always regret the ways in which I let my savior down. I strive to live a life for Christ; but the devil often crosses my path and leads me down the road to sin. I do not wish to follow his ways, but rather to cleanse myself with the holy water to follow in the path of Christ. My heart is pure and for my Lord. I feel an overflowing love and adoration for my savior Christ. I hear the promises my Lord makes in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1212). I hear his calling and I follow him, to live a life of purity and the need for nothing more than my faith in my Lord and savior Jesus Christ; for I understand that this life in the present moment is but temporary, the starting point for a life of eternity in Christ that is yet to come.


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Image Credits: Amazon

Hey guys! I know you already know by now what I’m going to say; I SUCK at the 30 Day Writing Challenge. It’s May 14th and I’m only on Day 8. But in my defense, at least I’m writing on a regular basis, right? Also, some of my entries have been really long and detailed…one of them even had to be broken in 2 posts!

So anyway, Day 8 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge asks me to write about a book I love and one I don’t.

If you’ve been following my blog, it should come to no surprise that I LOVE The Catcher in the Rye. I mean, I did recently write about how I’m obsessed with J.D. Salinger and everything. If you’ve been following my blog for a longer time, you might even remember my rant on how awful I thought The Hunger Games to beit’s probably my #1 most hated book of all time.

These two novels are vastly different from one another. However, I can easily compare and contrast them to show why I loved one and hated the other. Here’s why I loved one and hated the other.

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Image Credits: Wikipedia

Expectations

I had very different expectations for these two novels. When I first read The Catcher in the Rye, I was a junior in high school. I never heard of the book before. I thought based on the title this book would be about baseball or something. I wasn’t really looking forward to reading it, but I had to for school. I never expected to love it as much as I did.

In contrast, my expectations for The Hunger Games were extremely high. I first read this book my senior year of college, when it was exploding with popularity and the first film was released. I was required to read this book for my Writing Children’s Stories class, but had every intention to read it on my own even if it wasn’t part of my required college reading. I heard so much buzz about this book that I had to see what the big deal was. I also loved the concept/idea around it. I knew it had to do with a dystopian society and it sounded fascinating. However, the book never came close to meeting my expectations. It was incredibly disappointing.

 

Dialogue

These two books vary greatly on their use of dialogue. Catcher in the Rye has a fair amount of dialogue. The reader gets to see how Holden interacts with several characters including his teachers, Phoebe, Sally, Jane, etc. The dialogue helps to keep the story moving and brings it to life. While the novel is told in first person by Holden and we primarily are exposed to Holden’s thoughts and views, we can still get up close to other characters from the dialogue.

On the other hand, The Hunger Games uses very little dialogue. Katniss tells us what is happening. We also get long chunks of text that describe the setting and scenery. After reading this book I still didn’t feel like I knew Peeta, even though he was one of the main characters. All of the characters were easy to forget and I didn’t connect or relate to any of them. It was a really boring, long-winded story.

 

Character Driven Vs. Plot Driven

The Catcher in the Rye is definitely a character driven story. There is no doubt about it. Without Holden Caulfield, you have no story. The story is about Holden’s state of mental health, his thoughts, his feelings, and his actions. It makes him easy to remember and connect with. I really love the character driven style.

In contrast, The Hunger Games was definitely plot driven. The story is about a society where food is scarce and there are too many people to feed. The characters really don’t matter that much in this story. You can get rid of Katniss (please do, she is so annoying) and/or Peeta, and still have your story. I felt that with the plot driven story, I could never really get to know the characters all that well. They weren’t memorable or easy to connect or relate to. They were just kind of there taking up space on the page.

 

Writing Style

I think that the writer’s histories and their own personalities and maybe even the time periods they grew up in had a lot to do with their writing style. It was very very different.

J. D. Salinger is a classic writer, and I have always loved classic novels. Classic writers took their writing VERY seriously, and it shows. Salinger was fanatical about his writing, even if he didn’t publish it all and often said he regretted ever writing Catcher in the Rye. He would lock himself up for hours on hours every single day to write. He didn’t want a life outside of his writing at all. He’d write, revise, edit, rewrite, rinse and repeat. The result? A well-planned, well researched, well-written novel.

Salinger also had one sole purpose for his writing: for his own personal use and enjoyment. I don’t think Salinger’s intention was ever to make a lot of money off of it. I know it probably influenced him (why else would he submit to The New Yorker?), but he hated the fame that came with it. Also, much of his writing is based on personal experience, especially in The Catcher in the Rye. I think his writing was in many ways his way to collect his thoughts and ideas for his own peace of mind/mental health.

Suzanne Collins is a very different kind of writer. She is much less experienced and was likely just writing for fame and money. I don’t see her novel as leaving a lasting impact on people the way Catcher in the Rye did. I also don’t think much of her life was influenced by this novel. The Hunger Games didn’t give me the impression that Collins spent a lot of time doing research or revising her work. Actually, it was just the opposite. The Hunger Games read like a first draft to me. It was very messy and sloppy and as a writer, I was very disappointed in the sloppy writing from this “famous” author.

 

These are just a few of the differences between The Catcher in the Rye and The Hunger Games that explain why I loved one and hated the other. Have you ever read either (or both) of these novels? What was your opinion of them?


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Image Credits: Wikipedia

Hey guys! So I still suck at playing catch up with the 30-day writing challenge. But I had a really good birthday! My sister came over just as I was wrapping up yesterday’s post. By the time she left I was pretty tired and it was a “watch Netflix in bed with leftover ice cream birthday cake” kind of night lol.

But anyway, I left off on day 6 of the challenge.Day 6 is to write about someone who fascinates me and why. This is another easy one: J.D. Salinger.

For those of you who don’t know, J.D. Salinger is the famous author of the classic novel from the 1960’s, Catcher in the Rye. He also wrote several famous short stories and Franny and Zooey.

I’ve written about my love/obsession for The Catcher in the Rye in the past when I discussed how I’ve read the book over 4 different times and each time I pick up on something I missed the first time. However, I never touched much on my obsession with Salinger as a whole and why I’m so fascinated by him.

I’ve read just about every biography of Salinger there is to read. I’ve watched the movie that was released and available on Netflix. I was extremely upset when Salinger died in 2010. I’ve been trying to track down a copy of his Valley Forge yearbook for years. But why? What is it that makes Salinger so interesting to me?

There’s really two things about Salinger that fascinate me the most: 1. The man is a total and complete legend, and 2. He is incredibly mysterious.

There is no denying the fact that Salinger was an incredibly talented writer. All of his writings were fantastic, but especially Catcher in the Rye. Holden Caulfield was such a relatable character to pretty much everyone for a variety of reasons. I don’t think there is any literary character quite like Holden. He is a bit of a jerk, yet likable all at once and I think everyone can see a little bit of themselves in Holden. And so many people have gotten in trouble because of Holden…who isn’t even a real person. He’s left quite the impact on many individuals for better or for worst, like John Lennon’s now-famous killer.

There’s no denying the fact that Catcher in the Rye made Salinger famous. How could it not? It was banned from many high schools, it was used as a testimony in John Lennon’s killer’s case, and despite the controversy, it was a classic that to this day STILL  frequently tops the charts for the best novels written of all time.

But Salinger didn’t want any of that at all. He always said he regretted writing Catcher in the Rye. He hated being famous. He didn’t release hardly any of his writings after the success of Catcher. He didn’t do many (if any) media appearances. He hardly left his house. When people tried to visit him, he was rude and nasty to them. Why? Why is that? What left Salinger so troubled?

Maybe it was something directly connected to Holden Caulfield. Maybe Salinger WAS Holden Caulfield. Many historians and literary scholars seemed to believe so. But even if that was the case, it didn’t trouble Salinger enough to quit writing about Holden. After his death, it has been confirmed that while he stopped publishing his work, Salinger still had many many works in progress, some of which were complete and ready for print, stored away in his vault. Some of these include more stories featuring the character America loves to hate…the one and only Holden Caulfield.

His unpublished works are supposed to be published on a schedule that I believe runs until 2020. The first ones should’ve been released a year ago I believe, but I haven’t yet heard of anything new being released. I’ve been keeping careful watch on it though. I can’t wait to see what kinds of new adventures Holden will go on. I also can’t wait to see what new things I may end up discovering about Holden’s dark, mysterious, troubled, quiet, and above all else, fascinating creator.


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 Image Credits: Crowe’s Nest

 I first heard of Evan Roskos’s debut novel, Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets through my alta mater, Rowan University. I graduated from Rowan University in December and I am still deeply connected to it. As an undergrad I studied both English and Writing Arts. Evan Roskos was an English professor at Rowan University, but sadly, not one I ever had a class from. However, I was still notified of his book release and signing at Rowan University through a series of emails sent by my former professors.

                At the time, another one of my Writing Arts professors, Lisa Jahn-Clough was also celebrating the release of her new novel, Nothing But Blue. Professor Jahn-Clough was one of my favorite professors as an undergrad. Her writing children’s stories class taught me many valuable skills and helped to get me started writing my own young adult novel, Escape. When I found out that she would be having a book reading/signing at Barnes and Noble I knew I had to go. She was such a huge inspiration to me and I’d love to hear what she had to say about writing from the perspective of not a professor, but well, a writer. Rowan’s plans to combine Professor Jahn-Clough’s event with Professor Roskos’s just made me twice as excited. Two book readings/signings in one night from two different professors that both taught in my field? Count me in!

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Image Credits: Amazon.com

                So on the night of May 9, 2013 my boyfriend and I found ourselves at Rowan University for the two book signings and readings. I must admit that I was initially there primarily for Professor Jahn-Clough’s event since I didn’t even know Professor Roskos at the time, but once Professor Roskos mentioned the world “yawp”, I was glued. I consider myself to be a huge fan of Whitman and barbaric yawping. Any book that involves those two things is okay in my mind.

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Image Credits: YoungAdultMag.com

                Although I struggled to hear a bit at the readings (I’m hard of hearing, these things are frequently a challenge for me) I found myself purchasing Professor Rosko’s book and speaking to him and having him sign it anyway. I began reading it that night and quickly became hooked.

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               Image Credits: Blogger’s Own Photo

The cover of Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets is very catchy. It looks just like John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars”, a book that I have not yet read but have heard many good things about. The title along with the short inside cover descriptions make James Whitman out to be an awkward teen filled with angst and unfortunate experiences. The novel sounds like a comedy that touches on serious issues.

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             Image Credits: Alpha Reader

 After reading through the novel I feel that it was more serious than I initially expected it to be, but Roskos possesses the strong ability to add a hint of comedy in just the right places. This isn’t a novel about some psychotic teen that talks to birds as if they were human. This is a novel about human pain and suffering and feeling like a bird is the only one you have to converse with. It’s about truly believing that no one understands you or wants to help you.

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Image Credits: EvanRoskos.com

                This is a novel that shows the power of words. Walt Whitman is what keeps the ironically named James Whitman going. He analyzes passages of Leaves of Grass and always thinks to himself “What would Whitman Do?”. Roskos is able to take the 19th century words of Whitman and successfully apply it to his main character’s 21st century life in ways that are relevant, interesting, and show how we as individuals can stay connected to the words of our past ancestors.

                But it’s not only our past ancestors we are connected to, it’s each other. As James struggles to find the truth about his sister Jorie and her expulsion from school he learns that she shares much of the same pain that he does. They are both two teens suffering through the throws of depression, anxiety, and angst. They learn that they are not as alone as they may feel and they now have each other for moral support. Together they are on the road of recovery.

                Roskos does an excellent job painting a picture of what it is like to suffer through mental illness and to feel as if you are alone. Even in this 21st century world mental illness is often thought of as a “touchy” subject or not a “real” illness. Schools administrators are often too quick to dismiss those suffering as “problem” children and parents can even be un-supportive. Teens like Jorie may feel as though they are on the own to find peace, healing, and help. This is a novel that attempts to reach out to those teens to let them know that they can get through their fears, anxieties, and depression and make it through another day. This is a message to those teens that they are not as alone as they feel.

                Evan Roskos’s debut novel was excellent. 5 out of 5 stars. I will be anxiously awaiting his follow up novel.  



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