Dear John: Book Review

If you are a Nicholas Sparks fan, you are sure to like Dear John also. Sparks captures the emotions of true love and heartache all in one story. John, who is enlisted in the Army, returns home one summer to visit his father. During his trip, he meets Savannah, a college girl who was in town working with a group of students to build houses. John and Savannah spend a great amount of time together and quickly fall in love. As John returns to the Army, they leave each other with the promise to write and keep their love strong. Things are going as planned until 9/11. John feels a strong desire to re-enlist and the distance begins to wear on their relationship. Eventually, Savannah sends John a letter informing him that she has fallen in love with another man. The relationship is over. After some time has passed, John must return home to bury his father. During this trip, he is compelled to visit Savannah, despite the fact that she is married and living a happy life. When he arrives, she is happy to see him, and they both quickly realize that the love they shared is still there. At the end of the story, John is faced with the most difficult decision of his life.

Personally, I found this book to be a great story. I like reading romantic love stories, and the desire of wanting to know how the relationship ended, kept me from putting the book down. The story of John and Savannah’s relationship kept me interseted; however, the ending left me slightly disappointed. Sparks makes it easy for the reader to identify with the characters and want the best for their relationship. The emotions that the characters experience are clearly related to the reader. I found myself ‘feeling’ the emotions as the characters were. Even though I enjoyed reading this story, I found that it lacked some substance. The plot was somewhat predictable and there were not many complex ideas involved. There were some parts of the story that I thought were dull. I found myself quickly skimming these sections to get to the more exciting and interesting parts. Despite a few downfalls, I would recommend this book. Those who enjoy simple love stories or those who like other Nicholas Sparks novels are sure to enjoy this book as well.

Nineteen Minutes: Book Review

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Jodi Picoult has written a fascinating novel about school shootings, a topic that has been on our minds and in the news too often these days. In this story, we learn about the life of Peter Houghton and his struggles through his years in public school. He was overwhelmed with being bullied and with the expectations of living up to his older brother’s standards. As a young boy, Peter was good friends with Josie Cormier and as the years passed, Josie fell temptation to becoming part of the popular crowd and left Peter behind. Peter quickly became the boy that all the popular kids picked on, day in and day out. Josie, unfortunately, was a part of that crowd. She never actually did the bullying, but she never stopped it either. She was happy being the popular girl and didn’t want to risk her reputation for Peter. Eventually, Peter’s anger filled him and he went to school with two loaded weapons and began shooting. As the story unfolds, Peter gets put on trial and the reader learns about his life and personal struggles. Picoult did an amazing job of connecting with Peter’s feelings and showing the reader the true, yet sad, effects bullying has on teenagers today.

I read this book because a fellow educator suggested it. As I began reading, I found myself struggling to remember characters and their relatives within the story. Picoult often jumps between characters and scenes, making it somewhat difficult for the reader to follow. However, as I got further into the book, the relationships were clarified and I couldn’t put it down. As one would expect, I thought I would feel compassion for the victims of the shooting. Of course, I did, but I was surprised at how much sympathy I felt for Peter. Before the results of his trial were revealed, I found myself wishing that he would not be sentenced to life in prison. After reading this story, I truly believe it is one that everyone should read. It teaches an important life lesson and has greatly impacted my life.