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Lauren, Teen Contributor


 “Ahem! Pay attention as I explain how genetic mutation occurs and affects the carrier.” It’s only been three weeks and already school is proving to be the worst part of my life next to the fact that I’m barely a normal human being. Mrs. Dumbleberg just goes on and on about genetics and other science stuff I already know, that she’s putting me to sleep. I wonder if she’d notice if I slipped off for a bit… “MR. RYUU, HOW MANY TIMES MUST I INFORM YOU THAT SLEEPING IS NOT LEARNING?!” Mrs. Dumbleberg slapped her hand on my desk so hard, the whole school could’ve heard it. Apparently she noticed.

       “Approximately six times ma’am, but I already know science and I feel that it’s insensible for me to endure this.” I never spared even a second to glance at others around me, but the burning gaze of being watched sizzled atop my skin. The new kid, with the sea foam hair stared blankly at me from the back corner of the classroom. 

       “Well if you think you’re so smart, then name three cases of genetic mutation or change, Okami.” The teacher spat out my nickname with legitimate hatred, something that never seemed to bother me. 

       “Ok, hereditary, somatic and polymorphisms.” I announced with pride. I remember reading an article on this before--the internet never lies. Mrs. Dumbleberg was about to explode into a million words, but class was over and she retired to her chair. I felt her snake eyes on the back of my neck as class filed out the door. It almost felt like stumbling across a sacred treasure just walking out of there, but I remembered that this is real life and, most likely, nobody cared. 

       “Come on Kai, we have lunch right after science!” Ross bolted towards the cafeteria chasing his stomach. “Hurry up!” He called from far ahead. 


    The lunchroom was huge, probably the largest room in the whole school. Everyone knew where to sit, who to sit with and what to eat. “Hey, have you seen the new kid?” Ross glanced around and smiled at me. We turned towards the Haunted Table. Nobody dared to even sit near it ever since little Gregory’s brother choked and almost died. Its surface hasn’t been eaten upon in years and now the new kid sits alone at the foreboding table. 

       “Something about him isn’t right.” I whispered with narrowed eyes. Ross looked like he was going to say something, but Ali quickly cut in. 

       “What are you guys talking about?” She searched our faces carefully. 

       “Nothing, just boring guy stuff.” I didn’t feel like talking about the sea foam-haired boy under the flickering light, but Ross decided to just blurt out our private conversation to the world. 

       “Oh, we were just talking about the new guy over there.” Ross even pointed at him and to my relief, he didn’t notice. 

       “Strange kid, eh?” Ali carefully examined him from a distance, something she picked up from living on the streets as a pickpocket. Somehow she managed to make slumping down next to Ross seem graceful in a way. I always wondered what she did before I fell out of the sky onto her little cobble backstreet. Did she get good grades at that Hogwarts place? Maybe she trained in magic? Does she prefer brains or brawn in a man? I got so caught up in my own thoughts, I didn’t realize I was staring into her sea blue eyes so dreamily. “Ahem, I would appreciate it if I could eat my lunch without any unnecessary attention.” Ali raised an eyebrow and tilted her head towards a shoulder. I hastily sat up in my seat and removed my hand from my cheek, turning bright red again. 

       “Oooooh, Kai’s love-struck!” Ross cracked up at his own words. 

       “Nrgh, no I’m not!” My voice sounded way too whiney for a fifteen-year-old and I glanced around in case anybody heard. I wanted to get up and push Ross over, but Ali beat me to it. Satisfied, she returned to poking around in some kind of soupy mush. 

      “You know, sometimes I feel like I’m the only one with any common sense around here. I mean, come on, does one really have to point out every flaw in their classmates?!” Ali flung her hands into the air for extra emphasis. “Oh Kai, my friends were checking you out today . . . again.” Ali seemed disappointed. 

       “Flattering.” I grumbled while turning my head to look over my shoulder. Jessica, McKenzie, Olivia and the Gemini sisters, Lia and Kaley, were already turned towards me and giggling like the little schoolgirls they were. All of them except McKenzie, but she’s a little quiet. I smiled at her, guessing that’s enough reward for not fantasizing over me. She gave me a shy smile back and I twisted around to face my friends again. “Remind me to lock the door at night.” Ross made a little note in his head, I could tell by his concentration face. Brr . . . The cafeteria was really cold today and I kept shivering, but, nonetheless, I still felt the flames that forever linger inside of me. 

       “I can’t wait to get back home, I love talking to the villagers!” Ali had been looking forward to this weekend forever. 

       “It’s kind of strange sleeping at school during the week, don’t you think?” Ross questioned Ali and me. “Well, maybe not for you two. You guys finally get a chance to sneak out at night. Mrs. Ryuu would be all over you guys if you did that back in the castle.” Ross pretended to kiss his hand. “That never happened!” Ali smacked him in the back of the head. I wish I could agree, but there was that one incident two years ago . . . it doesn’t count if I never agreed to it right? I shook the memory from my head, despite arguing with myself that I never declined her offer and didn’t fight back when she leaned in . . . The loud bellow of the lunch lady thundered threw the room and interrupted every conversation. 

       “Get outta here, worms!” She held her ladle in the air and wagged it at everyone like a machete. Students immediately ran out the doors, fearing that they might get turned into next week’s mystery meat. 

       “Suppose we should head out ourselves.” Ross got up from the table with a grunt and walked outside with Ali trailing behind him. I was busy washing the mess off the seating areas, when the sea foam-haired kid walked up to me. He was shorter than I expected, but he took each step with rising elegance. 

       “You, tall Asian one, are you ever intrigued by the fantastical dragons of myth?” I was shocked by his question, but what shocked me the most was that I was the only person he has at least attempted to communicate with ever since the morning bell rung. Before I could answer, he jerked his head to his left. “Your friends are waiting, I’m Gehl by the way. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” I shook his hand and, rather quickly, walked out the door. 

       “Hey, what was that all about?” Ross instantly stuck to my side. I’m positive there’s a magnet in us somewhere. 

       “Nothing, just small talk.” I kept pondering Gehl’s question. He looked at me with narrowed eyes and slight hostility, but his voice was calm, sort of like deep velvet. Like a pool of blood.


      I didn’t sleep that night. My golden eyes stared into the ceiling as if I could see the stars above. I don’t know what’s worse, sleeping in a cold castle or in a room with Ross and his disgusting feet. The hard mat I slept on felt like the rock underneath. Sighing, probably, the deepest sigh in history, I got up and brushed pass the punching bag that hung from a steel stand. The darkness felt good on my bare skin, like a comforting hug from somebody you’ve known your whole life. I decided to relax a bit, just breathe and enjoy the still black corridors. A small gust blew through my black hair as I stepped onto the deck of the northernmost tower. The stars shone bright tonight, complementing the lunar lighting. I could see the whole town beneath me, the barren wastelands that surround our establishment and the windy peaks of mountains that I scaled with my bare hands a few years ago. Dark. Lonely. Quiet. Perfect. I’d love to just close my eyes and fall for eternity in these conditions, but I can’t cut myself off from the world yet. No, there’s a few things I have to do first. I turned and silently returned to the depths of the castle, stopping at both Ali and Ross’s rooms. You can never be so sure of your friend’s safety these days. I’d take a bullet for them, but then we’d all die because they’d take a bullet for me as well. With the night drawing to a close, I hauled myself back to my room. Nudging the decayed wooden door open with the sharp edges of my shoulder blades, I mindlessly wandered into my acrid dwelling.


      “Nrgh, uh.” I woke up stiff and aching, rubbing my head and back inefficiently. The pale dawn created the illusion of a glistening castle, but look closely and you can still see the blood stains on the floor, the wall, even the tapestries. 

       “Hey Kai, Ali and I were going to go down to the stables and help the serfs and farmhands. Want to come?” 

       “No, I-I have some . . . training to do, and stuff.” My friends seemed a little heartbroken, but they quickly recovered.

       “Hah, I’ll tell you all about how Ross cried like a babe over manual labor.” Ali shot Ross a smirk and he came back with:

       “Hey now, no need for rivalry. Competition isn’t the best motive for this situation.” Pained, I watched my friends walk off playfully shoving each other into the stone corridors. I sighed and positioned myself in front of a training dummy, raising my fists. The dummy wobbled violently to the left and the right. 

       “Hrrraah!” A swift kick to the rib area missed and hit a rack of weapons I primarily use as decoration. The whole thing came crashing down and it resonated throughout the castle. 

       “Kai, no smashing holes in the walls!” My mom yelled from her studies. Ever since we took the kingdom from my Aunt, my mom has been studying the books she left behind. I barely ever see anybody these days. My friends are busy helping the townsfolk, school doesn’t do anything but pay sad excuses for qualified human beings, my mom always has her face buried in some dusty old book and I still have no idea where my crazy aunt or my deadbeat dad is. The weight of these words were starting to tire me. I let them push me to the ground, holding me there in the fetal position. My eyelids closed and for a brisk moment, the world was beautiful. I listened to the wind, the trees, the grass, solitary company they were. The earth tickled my feet and the leaves playfully drifted into my hair. For once, I felt connected to life. For once, my sorrows had bled away, but I suddenly jolted awake and was hit with a bleak reminder as I stared into the dim room around me: This world is cruel.


      Small murmurs rose from the table every now and then, thus rendering the dinner hall fairly quiet. We all pretended to eat our more-or-less decent dinner on one end of the large banquet table. The candles from the chandelier flickered high above. I could smell the citrus juice from Ali’s fish, her gaze staring into the breaded white meat. Ross had the worst table manners out of all of us, slurping his ramen like a madman, before spitting it out again. My mom tapped her furry, wolf-like feet against the floor, occasionally brushing my toes with her soft fur. Of course, it was only overgrown hair, but I loved it anyways. I grew up in it to be honest. 

       “Milady, a formal invitation has been issued to Your Majesty.” A man ran into the room. He was one of our messengers, intended for our peaceful kingdom only and not scouting out enemy activity. I believe his name was Hermathius, after the god Hermes and he was somewhere in his forties. “Please, no more formalities Herman, hand it over.” I watched my mother pluck the letter from the kneeling man’s hands. 

       “Well, what’s it say?” Ross yelled through a mouthful of noodles. 

       “Ahem, the letter reads:

                  Dearest Kingdom of Atrapax, we humbly invite you to partake in signing a treaty between our kingdoms. Afterwards, you are welcome to join us in a feast, honoring the peace the treaty shall bring forth.

                         Thank you for your valuable time,

                                             The Royal Vampiric Family.” 


       “A treaty?” I asked, skepticism curling my tongue.

       “Free food! I’m in!” Ross sat back in his chair, almost falling over. He quickly regained the little bit of regality he held in his possession.

       “Vampires? Heck yeah!” Ali through her fists into the air. I growled quietly under my breath. 

       “Ross go take a shower and comb your hair, the rest of us will dress our finest and ready ourselves for King Bloodharow.” I got up, watching my mom jot down a response to the invitation and hand it to Hermathius.


       It was dusk by the time we arrived. The great spiked city gates slowly creaked open and the four of us rode through them silently. The city was quite busy during this odd hour. Vampires of all different shapes and sizes ran through the market. A local band played by the giant fountain in the middle of the circuit. Children played among the rims, a few daring to splash inside. The water glowed an eerie orange from the setting sun. Our small troop paused briefly for a quick chat with the castle gate guard. 

       “Ah, you must be Atrapax royalty. I can see it in your eyes. You’re here for the great feast aren’t you? Right this way, if you please.” The guard bowed and gestured towards the opening gate. As I rode by, he stopped me behind Ross, Ali and my mom. “This whole thing was the king’s son’s idea. He’s quite fond of you, you know.” The gate guard gave me a sly look, which made me usher my horse into a canter to catch up with my friends and mother. Approaching the castle doors, we dismounted and tied the equestrians up in the stables. Taking the steps two at a time, we reached the door in under a minute. The doors swung open and there standing in the entrance, in all his regal glory, was Prince Bloodharow. Gehl Bloodharow.

       “Good evening, friends.” He bowed, “Ross, you look well.” 

       “Hah, you too!” Ross smiled from ear to ear. Dropping to his knee, the vampire took Ali by the hand. “Allison.” Gehl gingerly kissed her wrist and shot me a glowing purple glance as he rose.

       “Sup, Gehl. Nice to meet finally meet ‘ya” Ali seemed bursting with excitement, in spite of her cool exterior. 

       “And of course, Mistress Faoiltiama.” My mother curtseyed, her false tail swaying slowly. I watched as the Vampiric prince led the way into his fancy, snooty rich-kid domain, with a glare right into me. I pushed back with my own intimidating glare and he turned sharply on his skinny heels. The whole castle was dimly lit, like ours, but the entire place was decorated completely. Statues, busts, chandeliers, candelabras, expensive fabrics--everywhere I look I was surrounded by décor just screaming ‘I’m better than you’. “Welcome to the throne room.” Halfheartedly explaining each room, Gehl finally stopped us in a long room with a huge throne in the back. King Bloodharow took a small bell from the folds of his regal cape and rang it. Gehl instantly popped up beside the giant bedazzled chair. 

       “Recite the thing, boy.” The disgusting, ragged voice of the Vampiric king whispered to his tiny son. 

       “Yes father, ahem, The Royal King of all that the Night Touches wishes to propose a treaty to the Kingdom of Atrapax, allying our nations for millennia. If you will be so kind to join the Vampiric Family for a late dinner to discuss the details, we shall welcome you with open arms.” Gehl finished by carefully rolling the scroll he was reading. 

       “I believe my forgetful, no-good son has yet to mention an engagement ceremony involving your female Syren.” The king looked down his nose at Gehl. 

      “Err, F-father, that wasn’t part of the treaty!”

      “Hush boy, it will unite our kingdoms even more.” The king barked at his son and rang the glistening silver bell. 

      “That won’t be necessary, Dark Lord of All.” I rolled my eyes. “Our ‘female Syren’ isn’t interested and surely can find a better match.” I growled out my Rs. Ali was surprised by my aggressive reaction. What’s gotten into him? She thought. No, it can’t possibly be that!

      “It’s quite late, and the kids have school tomorrow. I’ve decided to stay and discuss the treaty over dinner and send the children home.” My mother announced, already pushing us out of the room rather quickly. We began making our way back to the stables, but night had fallen and it was difficult to see. I groped around in the darkness, until I felt wood and heard horses bickering with each other. “Hey girl, how’ve you been?” I ran my hand down the pinto mare’s flank and rubbed her neck. She jolted back, almost rearing. Strange, did I spook her? Can’t she smell me? I steadied her, untied the rope that keeps the mare from running off, and mounted, gently prodding her sides to leave for Castle Atrapax. The entire ride I wondered what my pinto was afraid of. She never gets spooked, not by predators, not by fire, nothing. In fact, she responded to my touch, my presence, it was haunting. I shook the thoughts from my mind, but they’d soon return. Very soon. 


Lauren, Teen Contributor

躁鬱 (Soutsu)

The loud bell rang through my ears. I looked up at the school, its flag waving in the soft breeze. It felt weird to be in a school uniform, but at least it wasn’t anything special. Just the normal black, white, blue, plaid, blazer, tie, skirt and optional low cut leggings for the girls, basically the normal prep school outfit. I was content with it anyways, I looked like a character from an anime which was and always will be an undeniable life goal of mine. I stumbled forward, my foot instinctively reinforcing my balance. I completely zoned out and didn’t see the students running to class behind my stone-still body.

“Hey Ryuu, see anything interesting?” An eighth grader sneered at me. 

“Maybe he saw a unicorn or a fairy.” A girl I recognized from P.E. narrowed her eyes with a smirk.

 “Older kids are so weird!” A sixth grader, the lowest grade in the school, glared at the group of kids around me. She walked off with her friends.

 “How about some magic? Can you do magic, Okami?” The student used one of the nicknames I earned in earlier years. The ring of taunts grew larger and louder. The space between me and all the other students grew smaller and smaller with every passing second. Claustrophobia closing in, all too eager to get its claws on me. Suddenly, the crowd split into two and fell into an eerie silence.

 “Well, well, well, look who decided to show his face for once.” Tommy Fredricks, a largely built boy with a face like an elephant with butt warts, blocked any means of escape. I could probably beat him up, but I promised myself two years ago that I’d never use the powers that came with being the monster I am. A movement in the distance caught my eye. I wrenched my head away from the foul breath of Tommy. A short, skinny boy with sea foam hair and space purple eyes stared at me with a blank expression. He hid it well, but I could tell he took interest in me.

“Hey, look at me when I’m talking!” Tommy shoved me down on to the unforgiving pavement, scraping my right elbow. Rage immediately jolted awake and chomped on the bit. Just breathe, I told myself. Calm down and everything will be fine, use your words, not your fists. I sat up, eyes half closed in a trance and accepted the daily beatings. I deserve this for what I’ve done, the pain and suffering I caused over the past two years and before. Eventually the crowd dispersed, whipping away Tommy and his followers. I slowly pushed myself up and limped towards my dorm that for some reason we need. Fumbling for my copy of the key, I stood in front of the secretive door. I could just barely hear a few faint sounds from within. My roommate must have arrived already. The door quietly clicked and I couldn’t believe who was bouncing on the bed to the left. 

“Hey Kai! How ‘ya doing buddy!” Ross smiled at me with his giant smile that just recently began to make my insides shrivel in pain. His large green eyes shone like emeralds in contrast to his brown hair. I’m still not used to seeing his hair in the morning. It takes Ross from half an hour to all morning to gel up his hair into that signature dull spike of his, but without all the grimy substance, his hair lays flat and normal. Maybe it was a change of mind, maybe he finally hit puberty, but he defiantly seemed more mature than when I met him (give-or-take) 8 years ago. “Isn’t it exciting? We’re roommates!” Ross laughed and fell off his bed. A deep sigh flowed from my jaws, eyes fixed on the floor.

 “Yay. I get to spend 200 days locked in a room with my best friend. I’m super ecstatic.” My gaze fell upon Ross frowning at me. 

 “UGH, why’re you so boring now? All you ever do is sit alone in a dark corner and cry!” Ross wailed, followed by his famous moan that I’m all to use to hearing. “Seriously, you used to beat up everybody! You were soooo cool! I remember you dying your hair, applying scary eyeshadow, wearing black and dark colors, colored contacts.” I hid myself in a face palm as Ross continued on with the list. “You pierced one of your ears too. Not to mention that stupid choker-collar-necklace-thing.” Ross suddenly seemed still, but after a small silence, quickly burst into laughter. Another, annoyingly perky, side effect of being Ross Wretchedson. 

“So piercings and dyed hair Ryuu, was your childhood really that horrible?” I suddenly realized why Ross was laughing so hard. Hastily, I twisted around to see a teasing face. My cheeks reddened with embarrassment and maybe a little bit of something else. Ali Aquatica--an angel with a bite--stood behind me with her hand on her hip. She chuckled and sat down on the other, Ross-free bed. “Well I’m settled in so I guess I’ll just hang out around here with you guys.” Ali pulled out her iPod and lie down listening to music. The room was plunged into silence as everyone did their own thing, yet as I unpack my bags, I can’t help thinking about the new kid. He’s already rubbing me the wrong way.

Image credit: Lino Gambella on Flickr

Rhys, Teen Contributor

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was written in play script form so it would say, for example:

Harry: I miss Hogwarts. 

Ron: I do too.

This was tricky to read because I never knew at the beginning of a sentence if it was the person who was saying the sentence or if it was just the person who was being talked to in the sentence. Instead of chapters, each section was labeled as an act and scene. I did not realize it was written in this format so it was a surprise to me.

The story tells of Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione 19 years after the battle of Hogwarts. They're all still friends and their children are friends too. The story follows mainly the characters' travels and adventures at and around Hogwarts. Another one of the characters in the story is Professor McGonagall. She is a Headmistress of Hogwarts!

You'll never believe where Hermione and Harry ended up. I really like how they made mistakes and then they had to go face the consequences of those mistakes. James, Albus and Lily all make an appearance in this book. 

I would definitely recommend this book to my friends. I give it 7 out of 10 Time Turners. Sit back with a cup of butter beer and enjoy this new Tale in the Harry Potter story.

Kayla, Teen Contributor

We are the Ants is the first book I've read by Shaun David Hutchinson and it did not disappoint. Henry has a lot going on in his life: his mom is struggling, his grandmother is sick, his brother got his girlfriend pregnant, his boyfriend committed suicide and he was abducted by aliens. Could it get much worse for Henry? Short answer, yes. Long answer, no. He has been informed by the aliens that the world is coming to an end, but he has the option to stop it from happening. Henry is seriously debating whether or not to prevent the end of all mankind or to just to let it all end. You'll have to read the book yourself to find out what decision Henry made. You can expect a dark read with moments of humor and over the top situations. But somehow it all was down to earth. I rate the book 5/5. Read it. 

Caitlin, Teen Contributor

Book Basics: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken 

Published: January 2016, Disney- Hyperion 

Genre: YA, adventure, historical fiction

Page Count: 

Star Rating: ★★★★ 

Recommended For/If You Liked: PJO fans or fans of historical fiction and adventure

Favorite Quote: “...it matters not who you love, but only the quality of such a love… a flower is no less beautiful because it does not bloom in the expected form. Because it lasts an hour and not days.” 

 It’s been a long time since I’ve read an adventure novel. And Passenger is just that- a good, wholesome adventure story, with a healthy helping of romance and history on the side. Passenger follows the story of 17-year-old Etta Spencer,  a violin prodigy whose only concern is her upcoming debut and what to do with her future. But then a mysterious sound leads her to a passage that takes her to a ship headed towards 1776 New York City. There, Etta is thrown into a family of time travelers, ruled by a power-hungry old man named Cyrus Ironwood and discovers that she too possess the ability to time travel. Ironwood blackmails Etta into finding a special device called an astrolabe, which Etta must find using clues her mother left her and the help of Nicholas Carter, an 18th century privateer. 

It took a couple chapters for the book to get going, but once Etta woke up on the ship the plot picked up quickly. The pacing was a little off throughout the entire book, but it wasn’t a major problem. There were some parts that I had to power through because I knew that the story would get better. Other than the pacing, the plot was nicely developed, with a good balance between romance and adventure. (If you don’t like romance interfering with your adventure then this book isn’t for you. The romance wasn’t overpowering, but it did take up a fair chunk of the story.) 

Nicholas and Etta’s romance was very nicely written and I really liked the added complexity of race as an issue within their relationship (Nicholas is black, and Etta is white). It’s obviously a major issue during Nicholas’s time, but Etta does acknowledge that while people would be much more accepting of an interracial relationship in our time, the present day is still far from free of racism. Sexism was also an issue dealt with in the novel, but wasn’t as heavy as racism. I loved how these issues were repeated and dealt with across the various time periods that Nicholas and Etta traveled to. 

The character development was great and Etta was absolutely perfect as an independent, badass heroine. 

Aside from some minor issues, I really enjoyed this book. It was a fun, adventurous story with complex characters and relationships. And after the ending (spoiler alert: it’s a major cliffhanger) I’m definitely going to read the next book. Anyone who’s a fan of adventure, historical fiction, or both will enjoy this story. 

Don't forget to check out my blog for more YA book reviews and recommendations and follow me on Instagram (@thebookishbookworm) for bookish photography and updates every time I post! 

Lydia, Teen Contributor

Curley’s Wife and Mayella Ewell from the books Of Mice and Men and To Kill a Mockingbird may seem like different characters at first, but share more commonalities than meets the eye. While one speaks at the trial of a black man and the other dies at the hands of a mentally handicapped man, these characters play essential roles in bringing about the authors’ purposes in addressing social standpoints. Both young ladies portray the objectifying and stereotyping of women through their physical appearances, isolation, and interactions with other characters.

Curley’s Wife plays the role of a woman who focuses almost entirely on her physical appearance, how unfair it is that she must remain cooped up all day, and how everybody simply views her as a tart. First off, the appearance of this character displays her as very child-like, as shown with “She had full, rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes, heavily made up. Her fingernails were red. Her hair hung in little rolled clusters, like sausages. She wore a cotton dress and red mules, on the insteps of which were little bouquets of red ostrich feathers” (Steinbeck, pg 31). Wearing excessive amounts of makeup certainly reminds the reader of how little girls often play with their mother’s makeup, covering themselves with it. As well as this, the clothing choices of Curley’s Wife also reflect her child-like qualities, making her appear to be much like a child’s doll toy. Her curled sausages of hair also seem reminiscent of the locks of an innocent little girl. Moving on to the position of isolation that Curley’s Wife finds herself in, “‘I get lonely,’ she said. ‘You can talk to people, but I can’t talk to nobody but Curley. Else he gets mad. How’d you like not to talk to anybody?’” (Steinbeck, pg 87) paints a scene of Curley’s Wife showing some emotion to another character, Lennie. Due to being a married woman, Curley’s Wife, as per the standards of society, has limitations on what she can do with her time. Speaking with men other than her husband certainly does not abide with the rules laid out for her to follow. However, as she said, loneliness often overtakes Curley’s Wife, which explains her reasoning for visiting the bunkhouses to speak with other men. The basis of this dilemma can simply be accounted for by the isolation of becoming the wife of a working man. As such, Curley’s Wife can no longer have a good time with her life without being looked down upon. Lastly, discrimination of gender and self presentation also plays a role when “But Candy said excitedly, ‘We oughtta let ‘im get away. You don’t know that Curley. Curley gon’ta wanta get ‘im lynched. Curley’ll get ‘im killed.’” (Steinbeck, pg 94) takes place after Lennie accidentally ends the life of Curley’s Wife. Thanks to her flirtatious ways, Curley’s Wife became known as a tart. Needless to say, her value didn’t match that of any of the other characters. However, Lennie’s murder of her brings up the idea that, even though she had the flirty qualities of a tart and nobody liked her much, the blame for her murder still landed on Lennie. This incident shows that her position as the wife of Curley accounted for Lennie’s conviction of her murder. Henceforth, despite being a woman and a tart, Curley’s Wife stands superior to Lennie, entirely thanks to her position as the wife of Curley. A child-like appearance, the quality of being isolated, and only an aspect of marriage account for the entirety of Curley’s Wife, yet this character still brings forth social issues of discrimination from gender and behavior.

Mayella Ewell of  To Kill a Mockingbird plays a very similar role to Curley’s Wife in terms of objectifying women, such as having certain physical characteristics that change the way other view her, being isolated from the rest of society, and interacting with other characters in ways that determine how she appears to other members of the story. Starting off with physical appearance, “Mayella stared at him and burst into tears. She covered her mouth with her hands and sobbed,” (Lee, pg 205) shows Mayella as child-like and weak. Although it would be natural to be anxious or nervous when on stand, the act of out-right crying makes Mayella appear to be a weak child. Much like Curley’s Wife, Mayella portrays herself as sensitive or weak, making her seem much like a young child with emotional qualities. Moving on to Mayella’s own personal form of social isolation, “Mayella looked as if she tried to keep clean, and I was reminded of the row of red geraniums in the Ewell yard,” (Lee, pg 204) refers to how Mayella tries to grow geraniums in order to seem more cleanly than her family. Throughout this novel, the fact that the Ewell family represents social outcasts sings out loud and clear. However, since Scout states that Mayella attempted to make herself look good, it can be inferred that although she may be isolated from the rest of society due to family and economic status, Mayella Ewell still tries very hard to fit in. Geraniums, a pretty red flower that grow fairly easily, fit in well with the same red tone of the lips and shoes of Curley’s Wife. Bringing up the ideas of social discrimination, “‘Guilty… guilty… guilty… guilty…’” (Lee, pg 241) refers to how Tom Robinson, a black man, “lost” in his trial. Despite being a dirty, child-like, and generally disliked social outcast, Mayella Ewell’s value outweighed that of Tom for the sole reasoning of her being white and him being black. This incident goes to show that, at the root of it all, Harper Lee managed to cram it into her masterpiece that racial discrimination will always outweigh social segregation. Much like how John Steinbeck imposed that Curley’s Wife’s position as the wife of the boss’s son held her above Lennie. A run-down, unliked white woman who behaves more like a child than not, Mayella Ewell certainly brings out the segregation and discrimination found within society.

Both of these ladies come from the masterpieces of John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men and Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird. Although these characters may have some subtle differences, it cannot be denied that each show their child-like habits and isolation from the rest of their community, yet play vital roles in laying out social implications of female objectifying and the stereotyping of women.

Caitlin, Teen Contributor

Real talk: it’s Valentine’s Day, and I still like books more than people. I have unrealistically high expectations because I’ve read so many romance novels. I’m waiting for my Park Sheridan, Augustus Waters, Étienne St. Clair… *sighs* Anyway, in honor of Single Awareness Day (a.k.a. Valentine’s Day), I’ve compiled a list of my favorite romance novels. Don't forget to check out my blog for more YA book reviews and recommendations and follow me on Instagram for updates every time I post! 


My Favorite YA Romance Novels (In No Particular Order): 

1. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell 

2. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green 

3. Anna and the French Kiss (series) by Stephanie Perkins 

4. If I Stay by Gayle Forman 

5. My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga 

6. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson 

7. The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough 

8. The Selection (series) by Kierra Cass 

9. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

10. Delirium (trilogy) by Lauren Oliver 


Caitlin, Teen Contributor

Book Basics: The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough  

Published: April 2015, Arthur A. Levine Books 

Genre: YA, romance, historical fiction  

Page Count: 336 (hardcover) 

Star Rating: ★★★★ 

Recommended For/If You Liked: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern or The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 

This review is basically going to be me freaking out about how much I loved this book. You’ve been warned. 

Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra… the fate of any pair of star-crossed lovers you can think of throughout history has been influenced by Love and Death as they play their Game, one that inevitably ends with Death taking both players. Now, in 1927 Seattle, the players are Henry, a white orphan with a talent for music and Flora, a black orphan, talented jazz singer, and pilot. Can Henry and Flora beat the odds and let Love claim a victory, or will Death win, as per usual? Only the strength of their love will determine the winner.

I loved how Martha Brockenbrough wrote the characters of Love and Death. There was this excellent mix of human emotions that they showed and their seemingly divine interventions in the Game that made them not quite human, but not quite gods either. (This element is what makes the book similar to The Book Thief or The Night Circus, but though the idea wasn’t original, the author took the idea in an entirely new direction).  Also, Love was written as male and Death as female, so their characters destroyed gender stereotypes, which made them even more awesome. The other characters were also stunningly written, but I enjoyed the development of Love and Death the most. 

The book’s setting (rainy Seattle, 1927) contributed beautifully to the plot and mood as the characters struggled with issues of racism, sexism, homophobia, and poverty. These external struggles further complicated the characters’ internal struggles of love and loyalty and staying true to oneself. Martha Brockenbrough did a fantastic job writing these tough issues in a way that made the reader thoughtful and reflective. The writing in the book was very good and it flowed nicely and was very suspenseful: I read the book in one weekend and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days on end. There were, however, some scenes that felt unnecessary and the romance wasn’t written quite as well as it could have been- I didn’t love Henry and Flora’s romance as much as I wanted to. (Honestly, I enjoyed the romance between two of the supporting characters ((no spoilers!)) more than that of Henry and Flora.)

In the end, this was a fantastic book- one that I would definitely reread and am absolutely going to buy at my next trip to the bookstore. Despite a few minor complaints, this book was heart-achingly written and I would absolutely recommend it. 

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Emily, Teen Contributor

Chris Crutcher's Staying Fat for Sarah Bynes was dedicated to "All those who finally stand up for themselves," and is an incredible story of pain, fear, trying to do your best, and friendship. 

Eric "Moby" Calhoune and Sarah Byrnes have been friends for a long time, and are bonded by their deformities: Sarah has horrible burn scars over her face, neck, arms, and hands from a childhood incident involving boiling water, and Moby is incredibly overweight. They are inseparable as friends, so when Moby joins the school's swim team and begins to shed some pounds, he frantically tries to eat more to maintain the friendship he treasures and Sarah's respect. However, as soon as Sarah gets wind of this, she demands he stop. 

When Sarah is hospitalized and stops speaking entirely, Moby stays by her side to help her recover and get back on her feet. When she reveals to him the horrible secrets of her past, he sticks with her. With the aide of his swim coach, he even manages to get her back to a safe place. 

This book is extremely suspenseful, and encompasses fierce religious debates, attempted suicide, buried secrets, shady characters, intense dialogue, and knife wounds. Though the language gets a bit confusing at times, this novel is a must read. Not only a touching story of friendship, it also addresses a lot of issues that teens wrestle with today, about their beliefs and trying to do what is right, when you don't know what that looks like. This book really makes you look at what you believe, what kind of person you are, and what you would do stuck in the character's shoes. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes should definitely be added to your reading list!

Sophia, Teen Contributor

Genre: Sci-Fi

Would I Recommend: Yes

Series Number: 3 books

A book whose post-apocalypse plot is not only detailed and descriptive, but a distinct twist on the end of the world as we know it, Partials, by Dan Wells, gives a hectic glimpse into our future. Well written with a unique plot, though slow and dry in portions, this novel passes the time and offers an alternate reality whose characteristics are not far from improbable. If patient, reading the novel pays off with unseen changes and an ending that leaves you asking unanswered questions and running to the sequel.

If your into an action-packed sci-fi novel with a hint of romance and mystery, try Partials.

Check out the Partials Series.


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