The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

★★★★★

Pages: 154

 

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is my all-time favorite book. I’m a teenage girl born in the 2000s but who longs to have lived in the 1900s. I’m an old fashioned person, and finding a book that appealed to my interests that also portrayed such literary excellence. I have read this book three times and have enjoyed it more with every reading. I look forward to reading it again in my sophomore English class, where we’re going to depict the book word for word. Although having The Great Gatsby as your favorite novel is fairly cliche, but it is truly my favorite book. The plotline is so engaging and the time period is intriguing.

My favorite part of the book is the character development. Fitzgerald does a great job creating a protagonist that fits in so well with all elements of the novel. The books is focused around the life of Jay Gatsby, as stated in the title, but the fact that the protagonist isn’t Gatsby is unique and allows you a whole different perspective on the goal of the novel. Nick Carraway, the protagonist, is thoroughly developed, although Fitzgerald makes his backstory seem insignificant compared to the lives of Daisy Buchanan and Gatsby. I would’ve enjoyed to hear stories from Carraway’s past in order to understand why he acts the way he does. The same goes for Buchanan and her husband, Tom. Through Carraway’s eyes, every aspect of Gatsby’s life is analyzed and shown; how he looks and dresses, his personality and the way he speaks, his business and love life and all the details of his past that made him “The Great” he is portrayed in this novel.

The plotline in this story is very unique and one I can’t relate to, but it’s still heavily enjoyed because I believe everyone wishes to live the life people in this book have. The characters live eccentric lives with money, huge, fancy house parties and you can do what you with with minimal consequence. Although I haven’t met anyone who’s able to relate to this book specifically with the plot, this novel is still widely adored for its literary excellence, especially for the time period. In the preface it mention that this novel was Fitzgerald’s first piece in which he thought was truly his because he had written what he wished. It continued to say that Fitzgerald was disappointed in the success of The Great Gatsby before he died because it earned little recognition until it was published again for a last attempt and it picked up significantly after he died, so he was never able to see how widely read his book is today.

The diction and word choice Fitzgerald uses illuminates the time period and allows you to live in the book with the character. The use of words and phrases such as “gay” – meaning joyous and happy in this time period – and “old sport,” which aren’t used today, add more layers to the development of this book. The use of “gay” is interesting to me because today, “gay” doesn’t mean happy anymore, but a word defining sexual orientation. Fitzgerald repeatedly uses these words and phrases and, deeper into the book, reminds you of the time period this book is written in and he doesn’t allow you to forget that.

In any given day to any given person, this is the first book I would recommend to read. It has such complexity for more advanced readers to analyze every sentence and read a whole different story. It also has such simple concepts that young adults and less advanced readers could easily understand. The first time I read this was when I was twelve years old, I have read it once since them, not including this year. I read it my third time for this class and I look forward to reading it in English later this school year so I can hear different ideas from many different students and can try and understand the book more than the first three times I read it.

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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald

★★★

Pages: 108

 

This book was not for me, whether it wasn’t the right timing or just the structure of the book, I’ll never be sure. Although reading this book was a choice assignment for school and my initial belief was that reading a children’s book would be the easy route to take. In the end, this book took a day max to read but I gained no pleasure reading it – it wasn’t worth it.

The structure and plot was very interesting and I thought the idea of being born old and growing younger could easily be made in a novel to appeal to adults. The language was confusing at times because it was based in the late 1800s. Although, I did love how the issues of the time presented theirselves from the first page of the book. It talks about how the “Confederacy” was populated by high class wealthy people. It also talks about how parents “hoped [their child] would be a boy so he could be sent off to [nice colleges]” (5) and used words such as “Cuff,” which I had to look up the meaning to.

The literature in this book was very simple, probably because it was written for children. The chapters were fairly short which was probably intended to keep the attention of the young kids reading it. Fitzgerald was very descriptive throughout the entire book, especially when describing newly introduced characters. Although the setting was barely touched on, it didn’t feel necessary since the book was already short enough to begin with and there were more important things to touch on. The organization and structure of the book was also very odd and hard to read in some parts. It would go into extreme detail and prolong a single scene for a couple too many pages. In other cases, significant events only received minor detail which was especially hard to read.

The illustrations were phenomenal and very beautiful from cover to cover and the illustrations were mysterious and confusing because they had more content to them other than the words you were reading. Of course the illustration were related to the text, but there was so much other elements to them which made the book all the more enjoyable. It also allowed room for the author and illustrator to show their point of view on what the details of the book are, which you don’t get to see as creatively or as obviously as in picture books.

In the end, I would only recommend reading this book if you’re reading it to your intelligent daughter or son.

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

★★★★

Pages: 335

I enjoyed this book because it was a tragedy love story, and it makes you truly rethink your life, and whether you’ve had you’ve had your “single tragic encounter after which everything that matters will happen.”

A beautiful love story about a popular boy who’s future is crushed in a car accident, who falls in love with a strange, wrecked girl. Their relationship always had me on the tips of my feet, reaching for the highest point that Ezra and Cassidy had felt. Original and creative, I felt as if I was being spoke to, and that I sat with them at their lunch table, in the park and on the swings and in the castle.

Although towards the end of the story with thirty pages left and still no resolution, I felt stressed, hectic, and rushed to finish the story and waited for a resolution I hadn’t expected or wished. I also thought it was hard to read the last thirty pages because there was a climax near the final pages, and once the book was finished, I was left waiting for more. The rest of my day revolved around the idea that the book ended, as well as Ezra, because it was one tragedy after another. It made me wonder what tragedy the book was written about or for.

Overall, I enjoyed the five day period it took me to read this story, I would recommend it to romantics and teenagers wishing for a feel good story, as well as a story with a moral: “that everyone’s life, no matter how unremarkable, has a singular tragic encounter after which everything that really matters will happen… knowing the first step will get you nowhere, – it’s what comes after that determines the result.”

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

★★★★★

Pages: 378

This book caught me by page twenty when Violet remarks “Since the summer before seventh grade, NYU’s creative writing program has been my dream.” When I read this page, I came to the conclusion that this is The Best Book of My Life, and have called it that since. I can relate to this book in unexplainable ways, it draws you in by the first chapter, no matter what kind of reader you are.  Reading the book in only three days, I felt breathless once I was done. In fact, I could have read it in a single night, but I thought I might as well space it out to “savor” it.

Not only did it draw me in because of the unreal connection I have with the characters, but because of the development of every single character and every scene and every moment. Every word is put in intentionally, chopped up piece by piece, forming this roller coaster of a story. Niven did a wonderful job creating a modern Young Adult novel unlike the rest. Although I made similar connections through other Young Adult novels, that’s expected. This book is so different from the others in such a great way. Often times I felt breathless reading, especially the day I faked an injury in PE in order to have an hour and a half alone with Theo and Violet.

By the end of the book, she had me in tears. I love the connections made throughout the course of the book, like no detail was left behind. A sob story for sure, but nothing not work bearing. Being a little under the weather for a day or two is worth this intense read, which is exactly what I felt. I felt a personal connection with every character, and I felt like I was letting go of something when I put the book back on my shelf. Overall a great story that swept me off my feet and into the world Theo and Violet live in. I would recommend this a thousand times.