Category Archives: Twin Blogging

The Help by Kathryn Stockett



Since so many people have reviewed the book, I can’t really add many comments to it other than my opinion.  I found the characters to be quite believable for the time period—1960s Jackson, Mississippi, right during the middle of the Civil Rights Movement.  The dialogue seemed authentic, which added to the validity of the novel.

I couldn’t help but be completely engrossed in the plot.  Like many others, I was hooked right at the first page when Aibileen, one of the black maids in the book, is talking about raising white babies.  I found myself getting angry at some points, and cheering in others.

What I really enjoyed about the book was seeing the tension between the black maids and their white employers.  The black maids had been raised to serve the nice southern white women dutifully (and without complaint), but we still saw the dissent of the help throughout the whole book, particularly after extreme events such as the outside bathroom.  This eventually led to creating Help with Skeeter.

One of my favorite characters from the book was Hilly, not because I liked her, but because I found her to be fascinating.  She was so determined to be a socialite that she didn’t even see how she was acting to her own daughter and the black maids.  Racism was so ingrained in her that she forgot everything else.  Quite fascinating.

I also found the interactions between Skeeter and her mother intriguing.  Skeeter isn’t interested in getting married, and of course her mother disapproves of that.  She goes so far as to call Skeeter a lesbian.  That’s quite different from today’s age where it can be acceptable in society for women not to get married, or getting married at an older age.  Again, that reflects the time period.

Of course I have to give the book five stars because it was so compelling.  Yes, it was worth the hype.  Yes, you should read it as fast as possible.  You won’t regret it.

My mom read this book with me.  Here’s a link to her review.


The Bell Jar


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While reading the first half of The Bell Jar, I couldn’t help but draw connections between Sophie’s feelings and the dilemma facing many college students today.  In The Bell Jar, Sophie is almost out of college.  She is an English major living the high life with other students, but she is not quite comfortable with her situation.  She feels that the road she is on is ending, and that she doesn’t have a viable option for where to go in life.  She didn’t get into an advanced writing course, and she doesn’t want to marry her childhood sweetheart.  She is imagining a fig tree where she has many possibilities in life, but she doesn’t know which path to take.  As she spends more and more time considering her options, she feels the figs of the fig tree falling, and fewer and fewer options in her life.

Today, many students are running the race of college scholarships, high GPA, volunteerism, etc…, only to find out that the race they are winning at is now ending.  They are graduating from college with high scholastic merit, only to find out that they now need to run the race of life, and that their prospects in that race are grim.  Many students who graduate from college cannot find a job out of college, or that job isn’t what they were expecting and they don’t earn enough to pay off their college debt (which can total in the 30-40,000 range for undergraduate students.  Graduate students are, of course, more).  They feel like they are facing the fig tree of the novel, where they see so many possibilities in front of them.  They may get married, move to another state (or even another country), go on for more education to *hopefully* better their chances of career achievement, or get a job that they are totally overqualified for and really don’t want.  Many college students feel the sense that there is a ceiling over their heads, or that they feel squeezed from pressure.  In other words, they feel that they are in the bell jar.

With that context, I can completely understand the depression this young woman feels, even though this book was written in the 1960s.  It was written forty years ago, yet it can still be applied to the condition of college students today.  That is why it is a modern classic.  It transcends the time that it was written and is applicable to the world of today.  I would not expect every college student to go further down this path, but that is her story.

Because of her mental state, Sophie feels trapped in major depressive disorder.  She thinks about the many ways she can kill herself, and eventually ends up in asylums.  One of the more notable (and disgusting) moments is her stirring a raw egg into raw hamburger and eating it.  In this way, the book serves as a case study in abnormal psychology.  We see a young woman who feels trapped in the life she is living, and her tragic venture into the depths of the human psyche.  We see glimpses of how psychiatric patients were treated during the 1960s, including severe shock therapy.

Sophie is eventually let out of the asylum because her doctors feel that she is ready to go out into the world again.  She feels as though she was reborn from the experience.  Is she mentally able to face the world?  Will she find her new path in life?  We do not get the answer to this question in the book because it doesn’t show what happens to her later.

The Bell Jar is a fascinating case study of depression and mental disorders.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone interesting in learning how a person at the height of their college career can end up in a mental asylum.

This book easily deserves five stars.

For another review from Jill’s Cabana Stories, click here.

The Wizard of Oz

Wizard of Oz Book Cover

Wizard of Oz Book Cover

L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz was published in 1900.  At the time, this was probably a landmark book because it probably would have been one of the few books that was written for children and incorporated fantasy elements.  At the same time, it probably garnered a lot of controversy because of these fantasy elements.

In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and her dog, Toto, are transported to the land of Oz in their house by a cyclone.  Dorothy’s house lands on the Wicked Witch of the East.  In order to get back home to Kansas, she must journey to the Emerald City.  Dorothy gets the late Wicked Witch’s silver slippers, and the Witch of the North kisses Dorothy upon her forehead.  Dorothy then begins the journey to Emerald City.

Along the way, she meets the scarecrow, the tin man, and the cowardly lion.  The Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion each have their own story to share, and they all wish for something that they are apparently lacking in their lives.  The Scarecrow wishes for brains, the Tin Man a heart, and the Cowardly Lion courage.  The trio has to battle many adversaries on their way to the City, including the Kalidahs and a field of poppies.

Golden Cap

Golden Cap

Once there, Dorothy asks the great Oz for a way home, and the others ask for what they wish.  However, their success is postponed because Oz wants them to kill the Wicked Witch of the West.  He will not give them anything until they do.  So off they go to kill the Wicked Witch of the West.  This witch obviously doesn’t want to be killed.  She sends lots of things for Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion to deal with.  The Wicked Witch is unsuccessful in killing any of them, so she sends the flying monkeys after them using the Golden Cap.  However, the monkeys cannot kill Dorothy.  She bears the silver slippers, and she was kissed by the Witch of the North.  Therefore, the monkeys carry her to the Wicked Witch of the West.  The Wicked Witch of the West holds them captive until Dorothy melts her with water.  Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion set off for the Emerald City after having killed the witch, but not until Dorothy takes the magical Golden Cap.

Flying Monkeys

Flying Monkeys

The Winged Monkeys carry them to Oz because of the Golden Cap.  There, they ask Oz for their reward.  However, they discover that the “great” Oz is nothing more than a humbug who pretends to be all powerful so everyone else will think that he is a wizard.

Oz still gives them something that symbolizes what they desire.  He gives the Scarecrow pins and needles in his head to represent brains.  The Tin Man gets a small metal heart in his chest.  Finally, the Cowardly Lion drinks a potion that “gives” him courage.

Oz happened to be from Kansas also, and he came to the land using a balloon, so he agreed to take Dorothy with him back to Kansas.  He was leaving the Scarecrow in charge.  However, a mishap led Dorothy stranded and unable to go home.

Will Dorothy find her way back to Kansas?  What new adventures will Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion have?  You’ll have to read it in the Wizard of Oz.

Wizard of Oz Movie Poster

Wizard of Oz Movie Poster

I would say that the movie seemed to add a lot of scenes that weren’t in the book, such as the thing with Mrs. Gulch.  The movie also deleted a lot of scenes that were in the book, such as China country and the Kalidahs.  I’m not sure why this was done because both the book and movie seem to have the same amount of content.  It’s just different.  The movie really changed part of the plot from the original Wizard of Oz.  My theory is that the book was changed to be more of Dorothy’s dream.  In the movie, the mean Mrs. Gulch changes into the Wicked Witch of the West, and Dorothy kills her.  In the book, Dorothy wondered if the land of Oz was all a dream.  Perhaps Mrs. Gulch was added in the movie to make the plot seem more good vs. evil, and to show that Dorothy was dreaming up the land to defeat the wicked old lady in Kansas.  That seems like a big stretch though.

Because of the huge differences in the book and movie, I would recommend reading the book.  You should also check out a book/movie comparison of the Wizard of Oz at Jill’s Cabana Stories.  This blog provides many more details in regards to the differences between the book and the movie.  I give it 4 stars.

Poison Book Review

Bridget Zinn

Bridget Zinn

Bridget Zinn always wanted to be a fantasy writer.  She got her wish, however, she never lived to see it.  Zinn died of colon cancer before her debut novel, Poison, was published.  Poison is quite the enjoyable young adult fantasy book.  This makes reading the book somewhat bittersweet as you both read the book and wish that she got to see it in print.  However, I did like this book because of the fantasy in it, and a “love triangle.”  There was more in the book than what I was expecting from the cover.  However, I do think the book could have been longer.  It was only around 275 pages long.  It was a very quick read.

Poison is a book of self-discovery, romance, mystery, and fantasy.  Kyra decided to kill her best friend, the princess, in fear that something dreadful would happen if she didn’t.  She didn’t want to kill her best friend.  She just didn’t think she had a choice.  However, her poisonous arrow missed the princess, making her a fugitive in her homeland.

To prove her innocence, she decides to track down the princess again, all the while being chased by an army.  She goes to the king of criminals and asks for his help.  He gives her a tracking pig that will lead her to the princess.  So she’s going around trying to find the princess, being led by a cute little pink pig called Rosie.

Poison Book Cover with Rosie the Pig

Poison Book Cover with Rosie the Pig

Along the way, she meets a handsome young man, Fred.  He seems to charm her despite her protestations.  Is there more to this young man than what meets the eye?

Kyra learns about some secret abilities she has through this journey.  She discovers a large secret, and learns of a mysterious creature that could rip apart the kingdom.

Will Kyra finally kill the princess?  What will happen between her and Fred?  Find out in Poison.

Click here to read my mom’s review of Poison.  I give it three stars.