Mansfield Park

Jane Austen

4 stars

I do not know why so many people seem to dislike Fanny Price. I actually really loved her, maybe because she reminded me a lot of myself. Like me, Fanny is shy, and is not really sure of her place at times. I like that even though she feels like she has a duty to her family for taking her in, she has a very strong moral compass and is not afraid to stand up for herself when she thinks that she would be doing wrong by not doing so. She is smart enough to see what is going on with regards to Mr. Crawford while it is actually happening, and therefore is the only one not dreadfully surprised when everything is revealed. I left this book for last because it is most definitely the longest Jane Austen novel, and took me much longer to read than most books. However, I felt like the length was necessary to fully bring out the nuances in all the characters as well as the plot. I feel like Mansfield Park, rather than being meant as a lighthearted novel, was actually more meant to be social commentary on the gothic system at the time, at how different classes were treated, particularly with the character of Mrs. Norris (Is it bad that every time I see that name I think of Filch’s cat?) who systematically degraded Fanny because of her birth, even though she was her own niece, and still was hardly ever called out on what she was doing. When I read this, I realize that even though many reviews I have read seem to regard Fanny as weak or feeble minded, I actually find her stronger for having to face this treatment of herself every day, and never once complaining. It may not be the kind of strength people are used to, but I think quiet strength is often the best kind.

Map to the Stars

Jen Malone

4.5 stars
This was so much fun! I was surprised to find this book on Kindle unlimited because most large publishers such as Harper Collins do not put their books up there. I love Jen Malone’s books, Wanderlost being one of my favorites, but I had not read this one because it was not available at my local library and I did not know it only came in ebook form. I loved Annie’s passion for architecture and Graham’s insecurities despite being a big star. This was not that long so it seemed a bit rushed at times, but that also added to the whirlwind aspect of it. Although the story might have been slightly unbelievable (I find it difficult to believe that Graham never had any other kids around who were his own age, and the first time he does, this happens), and Annie was the classic “different from all the other girls” main character I still found it an interesting read. I also appreciated how the books touched on its own unrealisticness and addressed how it would be very difficult for Annie and Graham, even if they did end up with a happy ending, as well as addressing how what Graham did was wrong even if it was empowering people. I also liked how Annie’s relationship with her father was portrayed as more complicated than what it was at first glance. Overall, I found this to be a short light read that is great for a little escape from reality.

Last Days of Summer

Steve Kluger

5 Stars

This is not a book about baseball. This is the most beautiful book about found family I have ever read. It is not beautiful in the usual sense of the word. There are no long flowery descriptions or carefully worded phrases. It is beautiful in its simplicity. The epistolary format of the novel makes it easy to think that it will be hard to connect to the characters, but instead it makes them the most important part of the story. This is definitely a character driven novel, which I don’t always love, but that was what made this book so special. It defies any and all expectations that anyone has for it. I do not know anything about baseball and generally do not like books which involve sports. I am not Jewish. One of my biggest pet peeves is where people spell “You’re” wrong. Nome of these things mattered when it came to this book. This book was about what family really means, and how there is more than one meaning of love. The relationship between Charlie the famous baseball player, and Joey the kid from Brooklyn might have not made sense to an outsider, but it worked. They lifted each other up and made each other better people. I found this book at a sale at my local library for $1, which meant that not enough people were checking it out of the library for them to keep it. I picked it up on a whim then, but after reading it I honestly cannot understand how it ended up there. Books normally never make me actually laugh or cry out loud. This one did. (My parents had to ask me if I was all right least five times).The truth is that it doesn’t really matter who you are or what kind of books you like to read. Read this book. You won’t regret it.

The Diary of a Young Girl

Anne Frank

5 Stars

In the midst of the current coronavirus crisis, I decided to read this book about someone who really was trapped inside, and it a much more serious way than me. 
This book is not an easy one to review. The largest reason is that this was not written to be published. This is a young teenager’s diary, and it brings to light some of the most horrible things about World War II that might have been so much harder to understand otherwise. Although there are countless accounts of WWII from both fiction to memoirs to novels in verse etc, I think the reason that this book resonates with people more is because it isn’t any of those things. It was a diary meant to be read by Anne and only Anne, as she mentions many times throughout. While she does begin rewriting some of the diary after hearing a radio announcement about preserving documents, most of what is published combines both the original and her rewrites, so it is still an authentic account. The story itself shows that even through all of the difficulties that she went through, Anne still had dreams and ambitions just like everyone else, which made it all the more sad that she never survived the war. It is clear that, had she survived, Anne would have been an amazing writer with her powerful command of words. This also makes the reader think about all the other children whose voices were never heard and never will be again. I am only a year older than Anne was at the time of her death, which I believe makes it more tangible to me just how much we don’t understand what it was like. While no one book can show a complete account of life during WWII, this real document from someone who did not survive shows just how much was lost. 

Daughter of Lies

4 Stars

This is the fourth book in the Andari Chronicles by Kenley Davidson. This is my favorite book of the series so far. I have always loved books about spies for some reason, and I loved Brenna from the Traitor’s masque so I was happy to see her get her own book. This was really fun and I enjoyed the return to Andar, which we hadn’t seen in the last few books. I enjoy the magic of the other worlds, but I’m finding that I enjoy more of Kenley Davidson’s books in which it is not as prevalent. I really enjoyed seeing Brenna in her element, and also seeing her realize that living as a noble was not staying true to herself and who she was as a person. I also thought the portrayal of Louise’s love for Kyril showed that sometimes there is a limit to how far a mother’s love should go. I just wish she hadn’t died. I feel like it would have been more powerful if she had had to face what she had done. The thing that bothered me the most about this book was that was that Rom was almost as much older to Brenna as her mother was to him, and since that was made out to be such a big gap, it didn’t make sense to me that it wouldn’t be addressed in the other case.

Northanger Abbey

This was my second favorite Jane Austen book so far, after Emma. Even though her other books are more popular, I felt like this was was more lighthearted and did not take itself so seriously. The main character, Catherine, is not always the smartest, and does not see the plotting that is going on around her, but she is good hearted (and loves novels!). The antics pulled by John and Isabella also create comical confusion and make it a quick, humorous read, as do the horrific things that Catherine imagines into the Abbey based on the story Henry tells her, as well as her own penchant for gothic novels. This reminds me a lot of the haunted woods scene in Anne of Green Gables. Jane Austen also talks to the reader a lot more, and defends the rights of the novel, which was often considered a waste of time and not worth talking about during the period in which she was writing. I thought this was interesting and gave a sense of perspective considering that anyone reading those words would be reading a novel themselves. Overall, I found this to be a very fun, lively read and one of my favorite Jane Austens so far.

About Me

I am a Sophomore in a private high school on Long Island, NY. I am Indian-American and I love to read, travel, and bake. I also love flamingos. Some of my favorite books include Anne of Green Gables, You Bring the Distant Near, the Gallagher Girls series, and many more. I will be writing book reviews, and letting you know what I think about the books I read. I hope you enjoy!