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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Thousand Miles to Freedom

By: Eunsun Kim

At eleven years old, Eunsun Kim wrote her will.  She thought we was going to die and there was nothing she could do about it.  Her mother and older sister had left to find food and didn't come back for days.  When she was finally giving up her mother and sister returned -- without a single bite to eat.  The famine in North Korea had already claimed Eunsun's grandparents and father.  Despite the overwhelming belief in their eternal president, Kim Il-Sung, and dear leader, Kim Jong-il, Eunsun's mom decided there was nothing left for them in their North Korean town and they had no choice to but leave.  This started Eunsun's nine year journey to South Korea, despite the risks: imprisonment in a labor camp or death.  Throughout her journey Eunsun and her family live homeless, get caught by North Korean police, fall into the hands of Chinese human traffickers, and eventually make it to South Korea.  However, A Thousand Miles to Freedom, details more than just Eunsun's incredible journey.  It also explains her hopes and dreams for the fall of the Kim regime and a united Korea.  Her dreams for raising awareness of human rights violations come to life in this memoir.  Eunsun's passion and voice are astonishing and beautiful.  She doesn't hide from the truth -- she explains the good and bad of North Korea and South Korea.

This book is soup.  For me, this means a light soup with a touch of citrus and onion with some pork.  the savory words and clean flavor reflect the elegant writing style and beautiful hopes.  The gentle warmth of the soup is the hope, dreams, and honesty of Eunsun Kim that define the message of this book.  This book is a savory dish because it has sustenance and retention.  It provides energy and power without being overwhelming or too sweet.  This book is without a doubt a 5.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

When You Leave

By Monica Ropal

Cass is convinced that everyone will leave her. Her father is gone and now her mother is married to some random rich guy she doesn't like and she has to go to a random private school. Cass is determined to stay out of the spotlight and stay in the background. However there is a cute boy named Cooper whose locker is next to hers. Although Cass doesn't want anything to do with him, they just click. Then all of a sudden Cooper is murdered. When Cass' friend is accused of killing him, Cass has to be the detective and find out who really killed him, because obviously Gav is being framed.

Honestly I really did not like the book. It wasn't very well planned out and the only thing I was even remotely interested was Mattie, who of course is the love interest in the end. The book starts off when Cass goes to a new private school that has nuns and she just wants to blend in. Cass isn't your 'typical girl' she's a skater girl, and she has other skater friends so she's cool and better than all the other girls at her school. So she's in detention one day and this guy- Cooper- comes in looking for something in a desk. When one of the nuns walks into the classroom he panics and starts kissing Cass. For no reason. With no warning. Of course the nun is all like 'oh you just wanted to see your girlfriend ok you can both go now' and she leaves detention. Cooper is of course like that was nothing don't think of it but I'll wink at you cause you're cute. Some time later Cooper walks up to Cass when she's alone and says 'you're not like other girls, you actually have emotions.' What exactly is that supposed to mean? He's known her for about a day and says she is special because she can feel things. Wow. So special.

Basically the entire plot of the book hinges on Cooper finding Cass special and not like other girls and Cass thinks the same thing of herself. Cooper doesn't treat Cass all that well, he doesn't try to get to know her and she just thinks she is so special because the popular boy likes her. The book could have been a lot better if it didn't mention that Cooper died in the summary. If it hadn't said that then the book would have had a plot twist and more of a mystery component. But no.

Another thing I didn't like about the book is that Cooper and Cass were in a relationship for about two weeks before he died. Which of course gives you so much time to know someone. And I understand that she wanted to solve the murder for her friend Gav because he's being framed but it wasn't that well written. I personally don't really like the whole 'kid knows more about murder than police do and manages to solve it' trope, it's overused and super unrealistic. However this book took that to another level. The only reason Cass was able to solve the murder was because of a cell phone. In a log. Right next to the crime scene. Because obviously the cops wouldn't have checked in a log for the phone, and you know, the killer wouldn't have just deleted the text or destroyed the phone or anything. And of course Cass would just have a dream about it. Dreams don't work like that. She's not talking to dead people. The dream makes no sense at all. It also bothered me that the killer was so obvious. I won't say who it is, but from the moment the character entered I knew he killed Cooper.

One more thing I don't like about this book: Mattie and Cass' brother. Cass' brother was autistic, he didn't talk well and didn't communicate well, and while I have no problem with autistic people, the only reason her brother was autistic was to show how little Cass connects to other people. It showed how much she was like her brother- just a quiet person who doesn't work well with others and no one really understands. It bothered me to no end that her brother was autistic for the sole purpose of showing how hard she has it. And then there's Mattie. Honestly he was the only character I liked. He was mute, so he could never talk, but Cass could of course understand him. It was never explained if he wrote on a piece of paper or if he signed to her but she could understand him while others couldn't. Mattie ends up the love interest and saves her and it's like the brother again, Cass only connects with people who don't talk much or at all. The reason Mattie was mute was because the author needed to show how hard Cass had it and how she doesn't connect with 'normal' people.

I did not like this book. I give it a 1 out of 5 stars, it just was not interesting or engaging. It was like a piece of stale bread. Overused, old, not tasteful and hard to get into. I would not recommend this book to anyone.

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