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Bibliographic Info:

Title: The Other Boleyn Girl

Author: Phillipa Gregory

ISBN:  0739427113

Publisher:  Scribner

Copyright date: 2001

Plot Summary

The Other Boleyn Girl focuses on the less famous of the Boleyn sisters, Mary who as a young teen is married to one of Henry VIII’s courtiers when he notices her and takes her as his mistress, despite the fact that she is married.  Mary gives Henry both a son and a daughter, but as Henry’s affection wans, her sister Anne is right there to pick up the pieces.

Mary feels that it is Anne’s doing that Henry no longer looks at her and as Anne’s place at court grows she becomes more and more cruel to Mary.  Anne and Henry make plans for him to divorce his Queen, Katherine of Aragon in order for him to marry Anne.  Mary retreats from court and lives a simple life with her second husband, but as things begin to go wrong for Anne, she is summoned back to court to be by her sister’s side.

As Anne is accused of horrendous acts, including incest with her brother George, the Boleyn family does nothing for her and she dies with no one truly on her side as Mary lives her simple country life.

Critical Evaluation

The Other Boleyn Girl is easy to read and entertaining, but I hope no one mistakes this for an accurate account of Mary and Anne’s lives.  With a background in English history I can tell you that there are many inaccuracies throughout the book, but was most bothersome was the black and white nature of Mary and Anne’s personalities.  I found it Anne’s cruelty to be a real concern while Mary, the first to bed the king was the innocent bystander in the who story.

Reader’s Annotation

Two sisters competing for the heart of a king.  One will live out a happy existence, and one will lose their head.

Who Should Read It

Those who are interested in the dramatic, gossipy bits of history and love a little romance will adore The Other Boleyn Girl.

Why I Read It

A lot of my friends were reading this book in our senior year of high school and I came across it recently.

Author Biography

Philippa Gregory is a British author known best for her historical novels set in England.  Gregory has written a number of books about the Tudor era including The Queen’s Fool, The Virgin’s Lover, The Constant Princess, and The Boleyn Inheritance.

Genre

*Historical Fiction

*Romance

Curriculum Ties

*History

Booktalking Ideas

*Many historians contest the fact that Anne committed adultery, why do you think Gregory ignored this?

Reading Level/Interest Age

16+

Challenge Issues

*Sex

 

The Other Boleyn Girl

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Movie Info:

Title:  Clueless

Director: Amy Heckerling

Stars: Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd

Release Date: 1995

Movie Summary

As an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, Clueless is the coming of age story of Cher Horowitz, a rich, well-meaning, but quite naïve Beverly Hills high school student who is desperate to play match-maker for her friends, while waiting for true love herself.

When a new girl, Tai, is enrolled at school, Cher and her best friend Dionne feel that she is in desperate need of a makeover, which they happily give her.  The next step is for Tai to find a suitable boyfriend, one which Cher and Dionne approve of, though Tai has already met a boy she likes, a “slacker” named Travis.

While helping Tai fit into her new life, Cher butts heads with her ex-stepbrother Josh, a college student who is much less materialistic than Cher and her friends.  When Josh calls Cher out on her selfishness she vows to prove him wrong by helping two awkward teachers fall in love.  As Cher attempts to match Tai up with one of her more “suitable” friends, she is shocked when he confesses her love for her rather than Tai.

As the movie goes on a new boy comes into the picture and Cher falls for him immediately, not realizing that he’s not quite into girls.  The movie continues with more instances of Cher realizing that she might not be as qualified to match up people as she previously believed, and as she steps back, Tai and Travis begin to fall for each other, as do Cher and Josh.  The movie ends with all parties happy and Cher’s vow to never try to set up people again.

Critical Evaluation

Though Clueless seems to be a story about self-obsessed, materialistic teenage girls, behind their shiny exterior are characters that truly care about the happiness of the friends around them.

Heckerling’s direction is phenomenal, the back drop of Clueless is ritzy Beverly Hills and the scenery does not disappoint, from Rodeo Drive to the lavish parties set in back yards of the rich and famous, you instantly feel like you’re in these girls’ world.

The script for the film added to the story, with made up words and phrases that showed just how materialistic the Beverly Hills world can be, but despite the gap between them and the viewers, you feel as if you’re a part of the crowd rather than watching from afar.

Reader’s Annotation

Cher is determined to set new girl Tai up with the most eligible teenage bachelor in Beverly Hills, but if she can’t even see what’s in front of her, how can she find the right man for Tai?

Who Should Watch

Clueless is a movie that could be enjoyed by the whole family, but I suspect it’s the teenage girls that will be most interested.

Why I Watched

Clueless has entertained the last couple generations of teenagers and should be an important part of any YA movie collection.

Genre

*Comedy

*Romance

Interest Age

12+

Challenge Issues

N/A

Clueless

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Bibliographic Info:

Title:  The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Author:  Stephen Chbosky

ISBN: 1451696191

Publisher: MTV Books

Copyright date: 2010

 

Plot Summary

Charlie is an awkward freshman with a handful of friends when he comes into contact with Sam and Patrick, two seniors with an eclectic group of friends.  Charlie is shy and prone to depression, but his new friends help him find a way to express himself and give him an outlet for his emotions, one of which is through finding music that speaks to him.  Another of Charlie’s allies is his English teacher who sees his quiet brilliance and gives him extra attention.  When Charlie’s emotions in dealing with the death of his Aunt Helen as well as the ending of the school year, and therefor his friends’ graduations get the better of him he backs into himself and once again finds he can’t quite cope and he finds himself once again in a mental hospital.

 

As Charlie gets a it better and he re-emerges into his social group, he finds that he can continue on.

 

Critical Evaluation

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is written in letter form and the reader doesn’t ever find out who Charlie is writing to.  What I found to be so lovely about the letters is that it feels as though he is speaking to you, you’re not finding out about a character through the narrator, but rather, Charlie is telling you how he feels about situations and certain people, which I found to be so intimate. 

 

Chbosky does a wonderful job of catching the inconsistency of teens as well as the rollercoaster of emotions that they go through on a daily basis.  The tone of the book is set by both how Charlie is feeling on that particular day, but also by the references to music, which Chbosky uses to express how, the characters are feeling.  For instance, whenever they mention the song “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac, I immediately heard the song in my head as I read along.

 

Reader’s Annotation

Charlie is a freshman learning how to deal with the trappings of high school cliques, girls, and family drama, if only he was a little less awkward.  When two seniors take him under their wing Charlie’s world opens up and he begins to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

 

Who Should Read It

Anyone who felt a bit out of place in social situations and can understand the awkwardness of high school.  I would recommend this book to both teens and adults for those who need a bit of a push and for those who remember what it felt like to be on the edges of the high school crowd.

 

Why I Read It

I had come across the book several times but never picked it up, it wasn’t until I started seeing it on multiple booklists did I realize it is a must read.

 

Author Biography

Stephen Chbosky was born and raised in Pennsylvania and graduated from USC’s screenwriting program.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower was Chbosky’s first novel, published in 1999, though he has written quite a few screenplays, including the movie version of the musical Rent. The movie The Perks of Being a Wallflower was both written and directed by Chbosky and it was released in 2007.

 

Genre

*Coming of age

 

Curriculum Ties

N/A

 

Booktalking Ideas

*Why was the purpose of music and literature in the book?

*How did you feel when Charlie let Patrick kiss him?  Was that being a good friend, why or why not?

 

Reading Level/Interest Age

14+

 

Challenge Issues

*Drugs

*Sex

The Fault In Our Stars

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Bibliographic Info:

Title:  Emma

Author: Jane Austen

ISBN: 9781482526769

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Copyright date: N/A

 

Plot Summary

Set in the small village of Highbury in England in the early nineteenth century, Emma is the story of Emma Woodhouse, the daughter of a wealthy widower who is the center of Highbury society.  Emma is a young, well-born, beautiful, if slightly vain girl, who believes herself to be an excellent matchmaker, attributing the recent wedding of her governess as her greatest accomplishment, and sets her sights on the local vicar as the next person she wishes to be married and settled. 

 

Harriet Smith is a newcomer to Highbury, educated at the local boarding house, whose parentage is unknown.  Emma takes it upon herself to show Harriet the ways of the world and begins to turn her head away from a previous suitor, a farmer, and to look towards the vicar, Mr. Elton, as a more appropriate match.

 

What ensues is the sometimes-comical misunderstandings of a girl who wants everyone to be in love, yet has no clue what is truly going on around her.  The supporting cast of Emma includes her neighbor, Mr. Knightly who at times is brotherly, while also being the object of everyone’s affection, Mrs. Weston, Emma’s ex governess who dotes on her, Frank Churchill, the charming, yet deceitful step son of Mrs. Weston, as well as members of Highbury society who get caught up in Emma’s antics.

 

Critical Evaluation

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that” Jane Austen’s writing is as witty as you’ve been told. It is easy to forget that this book was originally published in 1815 because the female characters are so well represented, Emma has a goodness in her heart but is still so young that she can’t see what is right in front of her. The tone of the story is light, with balls, dinner, and picnics being the majority of events, but the language shows that there is more going on than what appears to be seen. 

 

What Austen does best in Emma is to tell a story from the point of view from the most flawed character that we encounter and still gets the reader to love her. The main plot or conflict in Emma is that she herself is unaware of the mistakes she is making and through the course of the story there is the realization that she knows much less than she previously believed.  The evolution of the main character from “clueless” matchmaker to falling into her own love trap will delight the reader.

 

Though not the most complex writing or storyline, it is easy to see why Emma is a book that has been popular for almost two hundred years. Rich with characters and dialogue that never leaves the reader doubting what the character is thinking, Emma is one of Austen’s most entertaining reads while also highlighting the idea that as young people we think we might have all the answers, but perhaps we should stop and listen to what is really going on around us. 

 

Reader’s Annotation

Emma Woodhouse wants those around her to be happy and in love, and she will stop at nothing to push two people together, regardless of their own feelings, but what happens when she realizes she’s gone too far?

 

Who Should Read It

Mostly geared towards women, Emma has a little romance, but is more a story of a young woman finding her path.  Set in the early 1800’s you can’t help but picture the period costumes and the village of Highbury as you read.

 

Why I Read It

I had read both Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility and loved them and I wanted to expand my relationship with Jane Austen.

 

Author Biography

Jane Austen was a writer who was born in 1775 and who wrote until her death in 1817.  Born into a family whose patriarch was a reverend, Austen was one of seven children and her father was always supportive of Jane’s love of writing.  Though she was writing seriously well before her first novel Sense & Sensibility was published in 1811. Austen went on to publish Pride & Predjudice, Mansfield Park, Emma before she died with her sister Cassandra and brother Henry getting her final two works, Persuasion and Northhanger Abbey, published after her death.

 

Genre

*English literature

*Coming of Age

*Romance

 

Curriculum Ties

*Classics

 

Booktalking Ideas

*Frank Churchill: friend or foe?

*Discuss Emma’s treatment of Ms. Bates.

 

 

Reading Level/Interest Age

16+

 

Challenge Issues

N/A

Emma