DISCLAIMER: I am a MA in Writing Student at Rowan University who has recently had the opportunity to study under Professor Atwood. The following review may be biased.
When I saw that I would be required to read MC Atwood’s debut young adult novel, The Devils You Know for my Seminar II class this semester as part of my MA in Writing program at Rowan University, I was very excited. Last fall I had a wonderful experience studying under Professor Atwood by taking her Writing Genre Fiction course. Atwood is hilarious and one of the kindest individuals I’ve ever met. She is also seriously talented as both a writer and an editor.
The Devils You Know was a real pleasure to read. I love that while the book is Atwood’s favorite genre – horror – it is also still young adult. While terrifying, it was also extremely relatable. This novel is about more than a creepy haunted house with scary clowns and dolls (seriously…so many dolls…). It’s a story about friendship and finding yourself in the midst of the terror known as high school.
In the beginning of the novel, Paul, Violet, Dylan, Ashley, and Gretchen don’t know each other very well for the most part. Paul is seen as being the cool black guy that everyone loves. Violet is the quiet “nice” girl that no one knows very well, but Paul has a crush on, and she is beginning to develop feelings for as well. Dylan tries a little too hard to be a bad ass and I can really see him as being a bit of a punk rocker/skater kid. Ashley is the stuck up, rich, right-winged Republican princess that owns the school and absolutely HATES Gretchen (the feeling appears to be mutual), and Gretchen is Dylan’s partner whom is every bit as weird and tough as he is.
The quintent rarely ever crosses paths and most certainly wouldn’t call each other friends. However, when the opportunity to visit the legendary Boulder House on a class field trip presents itself, all five members of the group sign up and find themselves forced to not only share in the same space and experiences, but to also work together as a team and get to REALLY know the truth about each other. Sometimes the truth can be completely alarming and sometimes you think you know someone (as is the case of Dylan and Gretchen), but later realize you don’t know that person at all.
For instance – who would’ve guessed that Paul likes to wear tights and role play during medieval events? Nice girls finish last…and get taken advantage of as seen by the way Mr. Rhinehart takes advantage of Violet by having an affair with her the day she turns 18. Dylan is not actually Dylan at all…he’s John Michael…and despite his foul mouth and constant use of the word “yo”, he’s not as tough as he wants people to think he is. He’s actually a very conservative Christian who attends church every week with his rich parents. On the other end of the spectrum, Ashley isn’t the conservative Christian she wants everyone to believe she is. In fact, she’s gay and she’s trying everything to hide her true identity from everyone, especially her Republican parents. After all, her father IS a well-known senator who HATES anyone that’s not straight. If he knew the truth about her it would destroy him and the rest of her family. What’s worst – she doesn’t hate Gretchen at all. In fact, she’s in love with her. As for Gretchen? She’s tough because she has to be, not because she wants to be. Her family is on food stamps and she makes her own clothes because she has no choice. Her mother is ill and the family constantly struggles with money.
In order to survive the house and everything in it – from demonic angels to creepy evil dolls to scary clowns to even whales and everything in between, the quintent must work together. However, when the quintent’s secrets are revealed to one another, they all feel such a strong sense of shame that they want to go through the house alone. However, they later learn that while they each have their own secrets, it doesn’t make them less and if anything, knowing the truth about who they are is what will not only bring them closer together, but also force them to want to stick together to support each other and to make it out of the house alive and beyond the house, to make it through high school alive, too.
Some of the novel’s strengths lie in the extreme attention to details, particularly with the imagery and descriptions of the house. It’s a very unique and clever book that while sticking to the main conventions of the horror genre, doesn’t fall into the trap of cliches. For example: there’s an entire room dedicated to whales and aquatic lives. I’ve never been afraid of whales and squids/octapuses, but I am now! I also really appreciated the way the novel took the very successful risk of having multiple narrators/points of views. Each chapter was told by a different character – Ashley, Gretchen, Dylan, Violet, and/or Paul. This allowed the reader to get up close and personal with all of the characters. Atwood did a great job of breaking them all down and creating an equal balance between each character’s voice so it never felt like you had too much of one character and not enough of another character. It also never got too confusing or overwhelming; five seemed like the perfect number.
So why four stars and not five? While I really enjoyed this book and struggled to put it down, it wasn’t perfect. There were still some things that bothered me with this book. One of the main things I didn’t like was Dylan’s character. He really annoyed me. I didn’t like his dialogue and I had trouble believing that’s how he would actually talk. I think there was an instance in the beginning where he said something along the lines of “I remembered to turn my swag on” which made me cringe. Do people even use the term “swag” anymore? I thought that died around 2008. “Fuck-a-doodle-doo” also sounded really awkward to me. I could believe him saying it once or twice, but constantly throughout the book? And no one ever comments on how weird it sounds? I had trouble buying it. Lastly, by the end of the book I was really annoyed by his constant use of the word “yo”. I think he said it but I feel like that would be something he’d say in the beginning of a sentence, not the end and reading it vs. hearing it – it reads kind of awkwardly and annoyed me as a reader. Lastly – his name is something completely different than what everyone calls him and no one knew this? I feel like the school would at least have his legal name down and probably call him by it on the first day of class. I just didn’t buy that as being his secret.
Also, reading this as a conservative Christian, I realize I’m a little biased but I did take some issues with the content of the novel. At times I felt like I was being attacked based on my views and like I was supposed to apologize or feel bad about being a conservative, Republican, Christian. I go to church every week the way Dylan/John Michael did – I don’t think that’s a “bad” thing in itself.
Lastly, demonic/fallen angels? The angels which are typically symbols for good, were made into symbols for evil. I wasn’t really okay with that imagery. I felt like the idea of Christianity throughout the novel was being shown in a negative light. Some of the jabs against Christianity/Republicans (such as the subtle George Bush reference…) felt a little over-done/cheap. I also thought of the impact/influence they may have on the novel’s target teenage audience which made me a little uncomfortable.
But overall I did really like this novel. It was very well researched, well written, and engaging. 4 out of 5 stars.
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.
Hey guys! Happy Monday! I don’t usually use those two words together, but I’m really loving my new job and I look forward to the start of a new work week, so it is indeed a happy monday (even though I’m incredibly tired…)
I left off on day 25 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge. This is a fun one: Write About 4 Weird Traits You Possess. So here it goes:
1. I frequently mispronounce words. This is weird when you take in consideration how much I love words. I read all the time and I am a writer by nature. I’m very good with writing words…just not actually saying them. I think this is because I was born with profound hearing loss…approximately 97% deaf.For the first 24 years of my life I really couldn’t hear most words. I learned words primarily from reading them and took a guess at how they were pronounced or how they were suppose to sound. Apparently I’m not very good at guessing…
2. I can’t read anything if there’s music playing or people talking. This trait I really developed after getting my cochlear implants. Now that I can hear sounds and understand them, I cannot focus on a task at hand especially if it requires reading while people or talking or music is playing. I can either listen to a conversation/the radio or read, but I cannot do both at the same time. I’m great at multitasking, which makes this weird. I guess that reading and listening require so much of my energy that it makes it impossible for me to do both at once. This is when I feel the most fortunate to have the ability to turn off all sounds in life. Whenever I want to read and people are talking or music is playing, I take my magnets off and tune out the world. Rude? Usually lol. But oh well, people will get over it. 🙂
3. I love hoagies…but only if I make them. Even though I’ve lived in South Jersey my entire life, I never quite “got” what the big deal with WaWa was. I hate their hoagies. In all honestly though, it’s not just WaWa. I hate just about any pre-made hoagie from any given place. I hate American hoagies. I hate Italian hoagies. Roast beef hoagies freak me out because the meat is never cooked enough. I can tolerate turkey or tuna hoagies…but I hate the cheese they put on them which annoys me. I’d much prefer to make my own hoagies. I love them when I make them. My hoagies usually contain combinations you’d never find on a menu. Here are two of my “signature” hoagies: Olive and munster cheese (this one is pretty simple) and the one that everyone laughs at me for when I order it from Carmen’s deli? An extra spicy one. And by extra spicy I mean this is what it contains: hot capicola, buffalo chicken, pepper ham, and pepperjack cheese. What can I say? Some like it hot!
4. I only wear eyeshadow if it matches my clothes. I really love makeup, but I’m not very good at applying it. I’m also not very good at understanding it. I think you’re supposed to use eyeshadow that matches your eyes and your skin tone. I never understood that. How the heck am I supposed to know how to match my eyes/skin tone? What fun is that? I much prefer to match my eyeshadow with my clothes. If I’m wearing blue, I have on blue eyeshadow. Today I wore a tan skirt so I had on brown eyeshadow. Tomorrow I’m probably wearing black and white, so I’ll wear neutral eyeshadow (only because I don’t have white and that’s the next best thing). I think it’s more fun that way. Everyone tells me I’m weird for doing that though. Oh well. Like I care.
Do any of you guys share these same weird traits? Which one(s)? What are four weird traits of your own?
Hey guys! So first things first – I hope at least one of you noticed I’ve been doing some work on this blog! My goal is to make it look slightly less like a blog and more like a website. I think it’s (sort of) getting there? It should at least make it easier to find things on here and maybe over time help with my SEO, or so I’m hoping. Eventually I’ll work on purchasing a domain name and hosting, but in the past I’ve spent a fortune on web hosting for a website I didn’t do much with, so I want to make sure I know what I’m doing and have the time to invest in this blog to make the investment worthwhile first.
Today I’m on Day 17 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge. Today’s challenge is to write about a quote that I try to live by. Easy: none.
This probably surprises some of you. I used to be obsessed with quotes. I used to keep a “Quote Book” filled with my favorite quotes (all written in a variety of colored ink to make them stand out). It had hundreds and hundreds of quotes and at one point, I got pretty fanatical with updating that book. I even saw it as my prized possession that I wanted to give to my future husband or kids one day.
I have a little bit of a digital version of the “Quote Book” on my Facebook page right now, but I’m planning to take most of it down since it looks a bit obnoxious, but anyway, here’s a screen shot so you can get a glimpse of how it looks now:
That’s not even half of what is currently on my Facebook page. Most of them are quotes I cam across in my reading as an English major. Only one is a verse of scripture.
I still really like and enjoy all of these quotes. They inspire me, motivate me, encourage me, and do all of the things a good quote should do. But I stopped living my life based on them or based around them. Instead, I choose to live my life based around scripture, the real truth and way of life. The bible is the book of life. Emerson, Thoreau, Good Charlotte, Stephen Kings, and my friends have some great words of wisdom, but I shouldn’t base my life around anything in the world except scripture.
Here are some of the bible verses/passages that have had the most profound impact on my life. I am purposefully not going to include what the actual verse is because my hope is that I can encourage one or more of my readers to open the bible (in this case, Google also works) and find out for themselves.
- Proverbs 3:5 – I can be an anxious person. Sometimes life becomes really overwhelming and I don’t understand what God is doing in my life. This verse is a great reminder for me to not overanalyze situations, but instead, to trust in God.
2. Matthew 6:25-34. This goes along with some of the same principals with why I love Proverbs 3:5 so much. Not only am I am very anxious person, I’m also a worrier. This verse is like God’s way of saying “Knock it off!” This is probably one of my most shared bible verses. Whenever a friend tells me they are overly worried or anxious about an issue, I often tell them to read these verses.
3. Ecclesiastes 4:9: This is a really special verse to me. It is supposed to be talking about the value of friendship and companionship. However, I came across it for the first time at the end of last summer. During this time I was trying to decide whether or not I should go bilateral. My parents told me “Don’t decide, pray to God and he’ll give you the answer”. When I read this bible verse I knew God was telling me to go for it.
4.Proverbs 31: I won’t go into detail, but I made some really, really, really bad mistakes in some of my past relationships. I had major regrets and for several years thought I was unworthy of God’s love and forgiveness. I knew that he loved and forgave me for what I’ve done, but I was so ashamed by actions that I couldn’t love or forgive myself. When it first happened and I first opened up to a friend about it, they referred me to this verse. They told me that I’m a sinner just like every other woman on earth. I’m not perfect, but I don’t have to be. The best I can do is strive to be like a Proverbs 31 woman.
5. Psalm 91: This is a really important bible verse in my family. Back in 1992 or 1993 my dad was about to die from kidney disease. At this time we attended the Pitman Church of the Nazarene. At the time it was such a powerful, amazing church filled with the holiest people you could imagine and one incredible pastor. One woman we went to church with, Mrs. Helene Vail, would visit my dad in the hospital (she’d visit the family too, and sometimes would watch my sister and I as we were only 3 and 6 at the time) and she told him to read this verse. It always had a profound impact on his life and I think made a huge difference in the fact that he survived. God took care of him, just as this bible verse said he would.
6. Romans 12:2 This verse reminds me not to care so much about stupid, superficial, materialistic things. It doesn’t matter. Not one bit. I can enjoy those things, but God should be my priority. Always.
7. Matthew 12:28: I get stressed, overwhelmed, burnt out, and exhausted at times. Sometimes, I feel like I’m going to have a complete melt down. This verse is my reminder to let go and give it God.
8. Psalm 24:4: This goes along with Psalm 91, and may have also been a verse recommended by Mrs. Helene Vail. Even when death is at your doorstep, you can still find hope in the Lord.
9. Psalm 23:1: This goes along with Romans 12:2. Anything I don’t already have, I really don’t need in life. The Lord always provides.
10. Romans 14:13: I, like every other person in the world, can be pretty judgemental at times. (If you say you’re not at all judgemental, you may have a bigger problems on your hands…because you’re a liar). This verse reminds me not to cast judgement on others, but rather, try to help them out and not further derail them from the path of righteousness.
These are just a few of my favorite bible verses that have impacted me greatly. The entire book of the bible is what I strive to live my life based around though. Every single verse is important and impactful. Scripture is far more powerful and valuable than any ol’ “quote” and much more worthy of basing your life around.
Image Credits: HD Wallpapers Inn
1. Get my driver’s license. This has been my New Year’s Resolution for over 5 years straight now. Maybe this will be the year I actually do it…
2. Get a car. Because what good is having a driver’s license if you don’t have a car? I’d love to get something cute like a Mini Cooper…
Image Credits: SportsCarsWP
Or maybe I can dream a little bigger and end up with my dream car a 2000 purple metallic BMW…
Image Credits: Auto Gespot
3. Get an ATM card Having plenty of money in the bank is cool and all but I have trouble getting to the bank before it closes especially with work. My life would be so much easier if I had an ATM card. I really don’t know why I don’t have one…
4. Read at least 32 books. I read about 23 in 2013. It’s just a few more. I really love to read. My goal was to read 100 last year, but I think that was a little too ambitious…
Image Credits: NewYorker.com
5. Read a textbook from cover-to-cover. Another resolution I’m borrowing from 2013. I am about 100 pages into one now actually. I plan on finishing it in 2014 and maybe starting another one.
6. Read the Bible from cover-to-cover. I bought a new Bible over the summer and have been working on this, but haven’t really gotten very far yet. I’d like to complete this in 2014 at least once.
Image Credits: Amazon
7. Stay single for the whole year. I vowed to do this in 2013 but then I kind of fell in love with Casey and realized maybe a long distance relationship wasn’t completely out of the question. We met in real life and he broke my heart three weeks later. In 2014 I’m going to work on getting completely over him (I promise to stop stalking…) and just enjoy being single.
8. Lose more weight. I lost around 40 or so in 2013. I’m about 40 away from my first big goal weight and would like to lose about a total of 88 pounds. I know that realistically I won’t drop all 88 in a year, but I’d be happy if I could just drop another 40 honestly.
Image Credits: WebMD.com
9. Donate at least $1,000 to charity. Why not put my money to good use? I like helping people and donating to good causes.
Image Credits: LovingMyNeighbor.org
10. Refrain from getting my hair cut. This one will be really hard since my hair’s already starting to get long and annoy the heck out of me. I’m trying my best to let it keep growing because I really want to donate it to locks of love. You have to donate a minimum of 10 inches. I hate short hair on me though.Shoulder length is about as short as I’ll go. I need the length of my hair to pretty much double. I might reach this goal in less than a year in which case cutting it will be acceptable, but I ONLY want to cut it if its long enough for locks of love.
Image Credits: SimplyGloria.com
11.Edit/Revise Escape And Submit to Publishers. I finished my young adult novel, Escape in September. Well, the first draft anyway. I know it still needs A LOT of work done to it. I haven’t even looked at it since I finished it lol. I do want to fix it up and send it to publishers though. I should probably get on that soon…
12. Write In My Journal Everyday. I really need to get back to doing this but realistically I’ll probably break this resolution within a week…I’m still working on detailing aspects of my life that happened like two years ago…
Image Credit: UND.edu
What do you guys think about my resolutions for 2014? Do you have any advice on how I can work towards keeping them? What are your resolutions for 2014?
Image Credits: Yale
In the mid 1900’s, Virginia Woolf published a collection of essays. Among these essays was “The Angel in The House”, an essay where Woolf describes her life as a female writer. During this time period, women were beginning to gain more freedom than what they had in the 19th century, but they were still often viewed as inferior to their male counterparts. Woolf discusses this by using the angel in the house as a metaphor for female purity and wholesomeness. Women during this time period were expected to be modest, innocent, pure, or simply angelic.
In “The Angel In The House”, Woolf describes how she fought hard to kill the Angel in the House. This represents the author’s struggle to break free of society’s expectations of women. She doesn’t want to play the role of the pure, angelic, innocent woman anymore. Woolf also mentions how playing the role of the angel in the house can hinder a woman’s writing. She explains this by stating:
For, as I found, directly I put pen to paper, you cannot review even a novel without having a mind of your own, without expressing what you think to be the truth about human relations, morality, sex. And all these questions, according to the Angel in the House, cannot be dealt with freely and openly by women; they must charm, they must conciliate, they must – to put it bluntly – tell lies if they are to succeed. Thus, whenever I felt the shadow of her wing or the radiance of her halo upon my page, I took up the inkpot and flung it at her. She died hard (Woolf 46).
From this quote we can infer that Woolf wished to speak honestly in her writing about such taboo topics as sex, morality, and human relations and that her honest opinions went against what the majority of women were expected to think or feel. Perhaps Woolf wasn’t the picture portrait of an angelic woman she was supposed to be. However, breaking free of this stereotypical role was no easy task for Woolf as she further elaborated:
She was always creeping back when I thought I had dispatched her. Though I flatter myself that I killed her in the end, the struggle was severe (Woolf 46).
Here I think it is important to remember Woolf’s struggle with mental illnesses such as depression (which ultimately lead her to commit suicide years later). I think that Woolf’s struggle to break free of society’s norms and the roles she was expected to play took a toll on her mental health and helped to aid in her depression. It is sad to think that a women just simply couldn’t be free to live her life on her own terms during this time period.
In addition to the expectation of living a pure, modest, angelic lifestyle, women were also viewed as being inferior to men. Men had so much more freedom in their life and especially in their writing than woman had. They could speak or write freely without having to worry about what society would say. On the other hand, there were some topics that were simply off limits for women to speak and to write about. Woolf once again hints at her desire to write about human sexuality, a topic that seems to get squashed by fear of what society, or men in particular, would think reading such work written by a women. Woolf elaborates on this point by saying:
To speak without figure he had thought of something, something about the body, about the passions which it was unfitting for her as a woman to say. Men, her reason told her, would be shocked. The consciousness of what men will say of a woman who speaks the truth about her passions had roused her from her artist’s state of unconsciousness. She could write no more.
Woolf seems to be hinting that she has strong sexual urges or experiences that she wishes to release in her writing. Perhaps she is using her writing as an outlet to not only tell about her desire, but further explore and examine her own personal sexual feelings. However, the fear of what society and men specifically would say and think about her keep her from writing her true feelings and opinions. Women during this time were viewed with utmost innocent and were not supposed to have any sexual desires. It was a double standard for men, who were free to feel lust, passion, and exhibit sexual longings and desires.
Although Woolf brags about defeating the Angel in the House, she admits that she couldn’t bring herself to overcome the inferiority brought upon her by the opposite sex. No matter how strong her yearning to write about her true feelings were, they were always repealed by the stigmas. She could never truly be her true, open and honest self. The work we read by Woolf offered only small parts of who she really was inside.
Sexuality is something that Woolf struggled with throughout her life. A basic Google mentions that Woolf was sexually abused by her family and was also bisexual and struggling to hide lesbian affairs and her true feelings regarding sexuality. Others suggest that Woolf was actually a lesbian, but felt that she had to pretend to be straight for society’s sake. Woolf was also known to repress her sexual desires, which is something I can see in “The Angel in the House”.
I wonder how Woolf’s writings would have differed if they had been written today. Now we live in a time period where feminists are still fighting for equality, but women have many more rights and are much closer to achieving equality than they were in the mid 1900’s. Also, gay marriage is a hot topic that is becoming more and more accepted within our society. I think that if Woolf was alive today her writing would be much less censored because she wouldn’t feel the need to refrain from speaking her mind as much. I also think Woolf would be less of a feminist and more of a gay rights activist fully embracing her rumored lesbianism and I don’t believe she would have ever gotten married to any men.
Image Credits: Media Matters @ LCSS
I didn’t initially have the intention of reading Lisa Jahn Clough’s novel, Me, Penelope. I was attending a book singing for her new young adult novel, Nothing But Blue at the Rowan University Barnes and Noble. Professor Jahn-Clough was my Writing Children’s Stories professor at Rowan. I haven’t really read any of her work before but she was one of my favorite professors during my time at Rowan. I actually began writing my current work-in-progress young adult novel about teenage depression and suicide in her class.
Image Credits: Amazon.com
I heard nothing but good things about her latest novel and was eager to read it. I couldn’t hear to well at the book reading/singing (I’m hearing impaired so these things are always a bit of a challenge for me), but it was nice to see her once again and I was excited to finally read some of her published work.
Unfortunately her latest novel, Nothing But Blue, sold out quickly and I wasn’t able to get a copy. She brought several other novels/published works with her for sale, so I picked up a copy of her other young adult novel, “Me, Penelope” and had her sign that for me. It seemed to be written in the young adult style that I was always a big fan of and I thought it may even help me with writing my own young adult novel.
Image Credits: Blogger’s Own
I had very high expectations for this novel since I view Professor Jahn-Clough so highly as a professor. She has taught me so many valuable lessons when it comes to writing young adult novels and she always seemed to have such a strong grasp on the art. However, I found myself extremely disappointed in this novel.
Image Credits: ThePhoenix.com
I debated on whether or not I should review this novel. I feel GUILTY for not liking it very much since my professor wrote it. But then I remember I went to school to learn how to critique literature an discuss what I like and don’t like and why and ways to make it better. I’ve done this with my classmate’s work several times, so why should I go and do it to a former professor now?
First off, I like most of the characters. Penelope is your typical teenager, I guess. She feels a bit lost and confused in the sea of high school. She just wants to be loved and she is ready to experiment with sex. This is one of the biggest things I don’t like with the novel. Penelope seems way too sex-crazed for me. I know 16 year olds are bound to think about sex and possibly experiment with it, but I have trouble believing people go through the same measures as Penelope with it. She tried to have sex with like three different guys one after the other. This seems really odd for a 16 year old girl.
Image Credits: Sociable Susan
Toad might be one of my favorite characters. He is the classic best friend of the opposite sex that is in love with Penelope. Penelope doesn’t see it until the end when she ultimately loses her virginity to him. I liked this part, really I did, but at the same time it seemed incredibly cliched to me. I wish Toad would’ve spoken out more about Penelope and her affairs with the other men or that Toad and Penelope would’ve gotten together in a more-than-friends way earlier on.
I hated Penelope’s mom and I hate Josh. That whole part seemed so unbelievable to me. I understand there are moms out there that go for younger men and maybe aren’t the greatest moms to their daughters. But she freely smoked pot in front of her daughter? She flirts with her daughter’s boyfriend right in front of her? She is way too apathetic for me to believe. It seems weird to me that Josh loves her so much, too. Josh seems a lot different from her. I just have trouble believing their relationship.
Tina was an okay character but I think Professor Jahn-Clough could’ve easily cut her out and it wouldn’t have made a difference. She just seemed like an extra character.
I was probably the most interested in hearing about Penelope’s deceased brother, Adam. It is obvious that she feels an immense amount of guilt over his death. She thinks that she is to blame for not stopping him from getting out of the car or telling her parents he was gone. I wish this played a stronger role in the story. I wish the desire to have sex was a small part of the story and this the main focus. I wanted to see more of Penelope’s depression and hear more about how the family dealt with Adam’s death or maybe a bit more about what life was like before. Professor Jahn-Clough just barely touches on these subjects,but I think if she pushed more she’d see that’s where the real story lies.
I don’t think I understood this novel very well. It kind of felt like “Yeah Penelope wants to lose her virginity” and then, “Okay Penelope lost her virginity to Toad…so what?”. I didn’t see what the big deal was. I didn’t feel like Penelope have met a big milestone in her life or that she was a whole new person or much of anything in the end. It felt more like the book just ended.
I didn’t HATE this book. I couldn’t put it down. I kept thinking it would get better. I was just incredibly disappointed. I think a sequel or even a rewrite could make this book a lot better. That is why I gave it 3 stars instead of just 1 or 2. I still look forward to reading more of Professor Jahn-Clough’s works, especially Nothing But Blue.