The End of the World

Did you hear the news? The world will be destoryed in…(checks watch)…24 hours.

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Theories are going around. Most people I know don’t believe it. They bring up a good point. The Mayan calander DID end in 2012, but what the calander did NOT have…was leap year. Do the math, and the world should have ended last year on 12.21.11. But we’re still here. Yet people still predict that it will end, as predicted, on 12.21.12–the day the Mayan calendar ends.

I found this article and video below very interesting. NASA is even in on it, proving that the world won’t end with the help of doctors and scientists.

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/video/nasa-mayan-apocalypse-world-end-yesterday-sciencecast-youtube-17967187

I always thought the apocalypse was a good story–an action/adventure topic. Books are written and movies are created about it all the time. It’s a facsinating topic. Hope you enjoy the link!

~J.L. Cordova

“My Antonia”

Do you like Little House on the Prairie? I’m not reviewing it. I’d just thought I’d ask.

Reason I brought up that classic is because my recent read is so similar. Great plains, kids growing up, hardships of the farm…de ja vu.

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My Antonia is a book by well-known novelist Willa Cather (1873-1947). The reason her books are loved so much is because she herself grew up on the wild frontier, so everything in her books, most likely, she experienced. You can rely on her historical facts. My Antonia is one of her most famous works. It follows the life of a young boy who moves to the Great Plains, and it talks about all of his experiences. I learned a lot about the frontier by reading this book.

The story covers the life of Jim Burden and life at his grandparents’ house on the Nebraska frontier. After his parents’ death, Jim leaves his old home and moves to the Great Plains with Jake Marpole, a farm hand at his old place. Soon after he settles, a Bohemian family, the Shimerdas, become the Burdens’ new neighbors. The story really tells the life of Antonia, one of their daughters. It tells of her triumphs and struggles through the eyes of Jim. Jim and Antonia become good friends, and Mr. Shimerda asks Jim to teach Antonia better English and more about America. As time goes on, Jim falls in love with Antonia. Later, it turns into a filial love rather than romantic love. Jim leaves for college in the last half of the book, leaving Antonia, the frontier, and everything behind for the big city. It is a long time before Jim returns home. After all his travels and schooling, he visits beautiful Antonia. (I won’t tell you what he finds.) I think the book ends on a positive note, implying that the frontier life never changes, but it changes the people who grow with it.

Hope I didn’t spoil it too much for you…

First, I love the description that Cather writes for every little thing. I have a whole new understanding of frontier life. It was difficult. Sure, there’s rolling plains, lots of space…but there’s much more to it. . Plowing the fields, caring for the animals, making food from scratch, going to town to stock up on supplies—everyone on the farm was working. Also, there was a lack of social life. Even neighbors’ houses were so far apart in distance, they couldn’t visit them very often. There was always work to be done for heaven’s sake! During the winter, neighbors rarely saw each other. Also, out West, they didn’t have high-tech, easy equipment to use around the house. Everything had to be washed, made, cleaned, and worked by hand. This made work harder for everyone on the farm, especially the women and the girls. Yet, despite all these hardships, there was still opprotunity for some farm kids to go off to college in the city. Not everyone did, and those who did were in for a great awakening. Let’s face it: city life is not the same as frontier living.

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I mentioned that this book reminded me of Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It does. Because neighbors lived so far apart, and only the men and boys went to town, farm families really bonded together. You can definitely see the strong bond between Jim and his grandparents and even the farm hands. Friendship and family ties add to any story you write. The fact that Jim was close to both of his grandparents and Jake Marpole (a farm hand) really added to the plot and seemed to lighten up the hard frontier life that he had.

Lastly, I will commend Cather on a wonderful storyline. In the middle, it did drag a little bit. But it followed the life of Jim and Antonia. From thier elementary age to post-college, it tells thier story and experiences, whether together or apart from each other. If I dove into any details, you’d be reading this all day. But the bond between them is always there. It’s a theme throughout the book.

All in all, a wonderful work of historical fiction. Willa Cather really brings out frontier life as it really was. The story was intriguing and it kept me reading. I would definitely reccomend this as a must-read for fans of the classics.

All due respect,

~J.L. Cordova

Review: The Color of Water

Hi everyone! Busy busy life. But I still find time to read.

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I recently finished this book about a woman and her son growing up in the 1960s: The Color of Water by James McBride. McBride, an African-American journalist, wanted to write a book about growing up during the Civil Rights era. But he didn’t feel confident about it. Why? He didn’t have the whole story. He did this by interviewing his white, Jewish mother about her life growing up, which is devestating to read about. The struggle between Black Power vs. racial equality was themed throughout the book.

Rachel Shilsky (Ruth) grew up in a Jewish family, with a racist rabbi father and a crippled, abused mother. Ruth’s father was not well liked. And he was as immoral as they come–going to Ruth for sexual satifaction instead of his own wife, since she was crippled. He forced Ruth and her sister, Dee-Dee, to work his story from the second they walked out of school to the moment he told them they could stop. Since her father was a racist, of course Ruth has to fall in love with a black man. She leaves home completely after her mother dies. She marries a black man and she is completely shunned by her family. Pregnant with her seventh child (James), her husband dies, and she has seven kids to raise.

Another section of the book is the story through the eyes of James, her seventh child. Growing up black with a white mother, it was hard for him to understand why they were different, and why people thought of them as different. His mother never told him directly. “Brown”, she’d say.

“I asked, ‘What color is God’s spirit?’

‘God doesn’t have a spirit,’ she replied. ‘God is the color of water…’ ”

Growing up was difficult in those times, since people still didn’t want to accept color equality. Most of the kids that James befriended were black, and he grew ashamed of him mom. But that changed over time, when he began to see her point of view. When he knew of her past. Her pain. Her suffering.

I won’t spoil the storyline too much. My definition of a good read is me not wanting to put it down because I want to know what happens. The Color of Water was definitely a good read.

The way the book is written is really creative. Every other chapter is italicized, which tells the reader that Ruth is sharing her childhood. The regular text is James sharing his. Two different generations, yet they coincide so much. This is the main thing I love about the book: the same feelings, the same struggles, and arguably the same problems, in two different lives. So it’s kind of like one big story, just not exactly in chronological order. This is a good writing technique. It keeps you intrigued.

In addition, there was a lot of symbolism in the book. For example, the second chapter is in James’s point of view, and he complains about his strange white mother riding her ancient bicycle, letting every black kid on the street see her and laugh at her. The bicycle, we find later, was Ruth’s way of grieving–biking away from all her problems and not caring about what the world around her thinks. Throughout the book, everytime someone mentions a bicycle, we think of Ruth.

Also, “the Bird Who Flies” represents Ruth’s mother, who passes away while Ruth is still young. Her mother loved birds. Ruth sings a song at her funeral that her mother sang to her in Yiddish, “Birdie, birdie, fly away.” So “the Bird Who Flies” is Ruth’s crippled, abused, misunderstood…but loving and loyal mother.

Emotion is expressed throughout the book. I guess girls are more avid fans of emotion than guys are, so I can’t speak for everyone. But I will speak for myself: Emotion adds so much to the story. It helps you relate to the characters 10 times more than you would any other way. Because racial equality was a controversial subject for so long in this country, so much emotion is put into it. I think that’s another reason why this book was so powerful.

So. In conclusion. From the story style, to the symbolism, to the emotional aspects, The Color of Water was a powerful novel. I definitely recommend it for anyone interested in that time period. Even someone who just loves a good story. I can guarantee you won’t be disapointed.

Anyone else read the book? What are your thoughts?

Inspired,

~J.L. Cordova