East of Eden | Book Review 3

And my love for Steinbeck grows! What a whirlwind of a book, vast and episodic yet focused and detailed. Set, mainly, in the ever changing hills of Salinas valley East of Eden is a novel that keeps your brain awake the entire time you read.  In East of Eden Steinbeck plays out the age old battle, good vs. evil, over and over through the life of Adam Trask starting from his birth. Steinbeck deals with the fight of good vs. evil in the world in general and also the fight between good and bad that is within each individual person.

The battle is best represented in Adams son Cal. He observes the battles between light and dark in the world around him but has a difficult time facing them within himself. He feels stuck in the shadow of his brothers purity and perfection. Cal struggles with the idea that if you are bad you are all the way bad and his love for his brother blinds him to Aron’s shortcomings. Though it is not till the end of the book that Cal has a revelation and realizes that no one is purely good and he must learn this.

I have two quotes from this book that I wanted to share with you the first being:

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect you can be good.”

I will let you all read the book to find out the context of this quote but I think standing alone this quote says a lot about pressure that can be put on people. How people deal with being held up to a standard of perfection when there is not a single person on this earth that is perfect. Reading this quote reminds me that once I stop pressuring myself to be perfect at every aspect of my life, I can be good.

The second quote is:

“We have only one story. All novels, all poetry, are built on the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal.”

I love this quote for its final line “virtue is immortal”. It makes one feel as though even with the constant battle of good and evil going on inside of ourselves and in the world virtue will always prevail because it is immortal.

I was so excited to read this book as I had read reviews and heard that it was one of Steinbeck’s best. And now I cannot wait to re-read it and fill the margins with notes and comments, and to highlight all of my favorite quotes. This book is amazing to read for fun but was for me a great learning experience. I feel that by focusing on how the book was written as I read I was able to learn more and more about Steinbeck’s writing style.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is willing to take it on. It’s definitely a commitment as it is quite long, but I think if you do read it you will not be disappointed.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn | Book Review 2

Lately  I had been dying for a good read, something to grab me, and pull me in. I needed a book that I missed when we were apart and couldn’t bear to put down for too long. Something that I could dive into and escape with. I wanted to remember my great love for reading and experience it again. Fate would have it that the book that would reignite my passion for reading would be none other than A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I feel that I had a stoke of luck in meeting this book,  I heard of it in a passing conversation and was intrigued, but it wasn’t until I saw it sitting on my great grandmothers bookshelf that I decided I really wanted to read it. I saw it there, a beautiful old copy, red, or maybe green with pretty swirling letters, worn and well loved like most old books are and it had an effect on me, I felt  strange pull towards it and  decided that I wanted to get a my own copy. I purchased it off of Barnes and Noble, which is rare for me because all of my books are thrifted or hand me downs, but I just couldn’t wait for this one.  It came in as a beautiful blue book that fit in my hands perfectly, with an untouched pristine look it was all mine. I am now  so happy with my decision to purchase this because with my own copy I can share this book with sisters and friends as I feel it is a book most woman can connect with and understand.

A Tree Grow in Brooklyn is an emotional chronicle of girlhood that reminds one of the beautiful and honest way a child views the world. The novel follows the Nolan family and their lives in early 1900s Brooklyn New York. Francie is the eldest Nolan child and the central character of this novel. The family is led by the hardworking and sacrificial Katie Nolan, whose perseverance is an unwavering constant display throughout the novel. Katie’s husband is Johnny Nolan, one of those unfortunate souls who is born with an horrid imbalance of romanticism and common sense, despite his short comings the lessons that Francie learn from him become invaluable to her in life. Cornelius, Neely, is the brazen younger brother who embarks on many adventures with Francie. Through the lives of the Nolan’s Betty Smiths delves into subject matter such as, poverty, alcoholism and literacy vs. illiteracy. We see the whole family crave an escape from their life of poverty and the social class they see themselves in. One by one we see each member find and follow the path that brings them each their freedom but all by different means.

One of the reasons I identified so strongly with Francie, and I think many others feel this way as well, is her great love for learning. A strong pull in Francie’s life is education, she craves learning, reading and discovery especially through books. Francie’s attitude towards knowledge is really what connected me so deeply to this book, she not only wants to know but understand and experience life around her. These attributes make her a vivid and well loved character who I have added to my list of literary best friends.

I would like to leave you with one of my favorite moments in this book. I think this quote really exemplifies Francie’s character and what her goals and desires in life are.

““Dear God,” she prayed, “let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry…have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere – be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.”

The Red Pony | Book Review 1


My friend told me that I should do a book review. And despite my lack of confidence in my ability to express my thoughts on a book I thought I’d give it the old college try, this ones for you Iris. So I read this Steinbeck novel(la) called The Red Pony, I really enjoyed it. The setting is a sweeping view of a California country side, a country side that is frequented by a young boy named Jody. Lonely, and only child, Jody finds companionship in his animal friends, these include his dogs and the chickens he feeds. His father is distant but Jody finds a role model in Billy Buck, the man who works on the farm with Jody’s father. Billy is good with horses and Jody puts his trust in him frequently, throughout the novella we see their relationship evolve. The story narrates four events that occur through Jody’s early life. Each story conveys the innocence and hopefulness of a child through Jody’s ignorance and curiosity. Steinbeck uses themes such as escape, loss, and trust then uses the character of Jody to show how these affect a child. Jody come to terms with things like death and sacrifice in this novella, and he seems to learn something new about life at each movement within the story. This book is a quick read as it is only 92 pages and it is packed full of really good brain food without being super dense. If you haven’t read a John Steinbeck novel I would recommend this one. And if you love John Steinbeck I would recommend this novel.

Okay. I’m not sure if this is how you review a book but bear with me. I’m sure practice makes perfect and I think I might get better.

—Hanna Caroline.