Wednesday, November 8, 2017

What goes through your mind when you see a homeless person?

       Welcome back readers! To follow up on my previous reading goals in my last blog, I'm happy to say that I finished Night by Elie Wiesel and I ended up truly loving the novel for how eye-opening and detailed it was, despite disagreeing with such a vast majority of the events that took place and what the innocent people had to go through, oh and the thing that is Hitler. I also went back to reading an AP non-fiction memoir, The Girl's Guide to Homelessness by Brianna Karp, that I had started around the same time I started Night, but realized I should stop trying to challenge myself by reading two books at once. Instead, I have tried to constantly challenge myself by trying to read faster while still comprehending the information presented and not getting distracted while reading. I have the attention span of a 2 year old when it comes to reading, especially when it's a book I'm not very intrigued by, so it has been hard but I know it will be super beneficial, especially for college. In contrast to the first couple weeks of school, I have gotten much better about routinely reading outside of school, particularly when I approach the end of a book, because I love the feeling of accomplishment when I turn the last page over. I am currently on page 148 of The Girl's Guide to Homelessness and I've enjoyed the book so far. I have heard many different opinions of the book so I am curious to see what I think of the book once I have finished it.
       The Girl's Guide to Homelessness is about a woman, Brianna Karp, who had a very abusive childhood. Karp finally got a job she loved and a home, but when the Great Recession hit, she lost everything and became homeless. When Karp found out that her father had passed away, she struggled to find a few, if any, good things about him. He would tell Karp that he hurt her because he loved her. Karp thought of her father as a "persistent, lingering stench you just can't get rid of no matter how hard you scrub"(Karp 22). Karp comparing her father to a bad smell that won't go away shows how awful of a father he must have been. I thought this comparison was very interesting and creative and it definitely caught my eye and made me reread the paragraph. Karp also addressed the stereotype that if homeless people have one or two expensive items in their possession, then they aren't really homeless. Karp clearly shut down the argument by stating that "nobody chooses to be homeless" (Karp 119). This eye-opening idea really helps one realize that one shouldn't assume that a homeless person doesn't really need money if they have a phone or a laptop. Especially "in today's society, a phone and internet access are no longer "luxury" items. They're practically necessities" (Karp 119). One shouldn't judge how anyone chooses to spend their money, so why would a homeless person be any different? A homeless person should be able to spend their money on whatever they consider to be the most important and necessary without receiving judgmental looks. Simply looking at someone does not provide enough evidence for one to know what someone is going through or how much money they have.
       I came across a very interesting and motivating article ( https://news.usc.edu/124978/once-a-homeless-kid-then-in-foster-care-up-next-a-usc-doctoral-program/ ) that reminded me of a situation similar to Karp's. The article described a young man whose childhood consisted of living on the streets of Southern California, having parents with problems of substance abuse, and being put into foster care when his mom passed away. Despite all of these unfavorable events, Hamlin got involved in track and field in high school, greatly improved his grades, and got accepted into Cal Poly Pomona, planning on being a physical therapist; he is now a future USC Trojan. The undeniably unfortunate circumstances that Karp and Hamlin had in their lifetime are unimaginable to most Americans and address several serious issues in the United States, including homelessness, unemployment, and substance abuse. Karp's determination to start a blog to make people more aware of homelessness and break the stereotypes can be compared to Hamlin's determination to do well in school and not let his unfortunate childhood affect his bright future. Both of this situations make them great role models for anyone going through a similar situation. The blog and article are also increasing awareness of homelessness and hopefully breaking stereotypes.

Sidenote: The page citations might be off by a few pages due to the iBook version being a slightly different format compared to the hardcopy book. 
Works Cited
Karp, Brianna. The Girl's Guide to Homelessness: a Memoir. Mira Books, 2012.

“Once a Homeless Kid, Then in Foster Care. Up next: a USC Doctoral Program.” USC News, news.usc.edu/124978/once-a-homeless-kid-then-in-foster-care-up-next-a-usc-doctoral-program/.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

You Should Embrace Diversity

Hi readers! My name is Angeline Berryman and I’m excited for this fresh start to my reading goals. This year, I would like to exceed my previous goals and read 7-8 books. I am currently challenging myself by reading a book about the Nazi concentration camps and reading someone go through something he shouldn’t have to go through. It is also very challenging because my heart fills with rage when the Nazi’s discriminate against the jews and it’s difficult to not get angry while reading about it. Regrettably, I haven’t read outside of class since the first day of school, so I am only on page 58, but that is definitely going to change! It is crucial that I get back into my habit of reading for 30 minutes every night before bed in order to reach my quantitative book goal. The book I am currently reading, Night by Elie Wiesel, is a memoir. I am typically a pretty slow reader, but reading passages slowly helps me comprehend what is taking place instantly, rather than having to re-read sentences. 
The author discusses how the SS officer enunciated the fact that the jews are in a concentration camp in Auschwitz and “looked at ... [them] as one would a pack of leprous dogs clinging to life” (Night 38). The author used this simile because of the illustration that it provides for the reader and describes how the Jews were treated. Wiesel used the example of dogs because it further shows how the Jews had to dehumanize themselves in order to survive in the concentration camps. The word “leprous” also describes how the dogs, or Jews, will soon die due to a disease. As the author approaches the pit and flames, he thinks to himself, “Never shall I forget that night, … Never shall I forget that smoke. …. Never.” (Night 34). The author repeats the phrase “Never shall I forget” to emphasize the cruelty of the camps and how he will never leave this awful experience behind him.
The major issue in this novel, or what I have read so far, is how the Nazi’s treated the jews like they weren’t humans. The Nazi’s didn’t embrace diversity, and no one is less than someone else for any physical appearance. I am a strong believer in at least accepting the differences between humans and extremely against racism, of course, or bringing someone down to feel better about yourself. In this blog, http://www.refinethemind.com/embracing-diversity/ , the author, Jordan, emphasizes how beautiful uniqueness is and gives relevant examples of how discrimination happens all the time around us. He discusses how throughout history people didn’t have the basic understanding that a different skin or eye or hair color does not make one human better than another. As a society, I believe we have improved on this understanding, but there is still more work to be done.

Works Cited
Bates, Jordan. "Embracing Diversity: The Key to a Peaceful World." Refine The Mind. 04 Dec. 2016. Web. 20 Sept. 2017.
Wiesel, Elie, and Marion Wiesel. Night. New York: Hill and Wang, a Division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017. Print.

Monday, January 9, 2017

"Words can be like X-rays"

       Hey there! In my last post (December 16th, 2016), I told you that I was reading I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, which was true until over the break I realized that the completion of an AP book was due soon. As a result, I sadly had to stop reading I'll Give You the Sun, which started off wonderfully, and start my selected AP novel, Brave New World  by Aldous Huxley. I chose this particular book because after I simply read the title (I know I shouldn't base a book off of it's title but I needed a way to filter through the long AP book list), I was immediately intrigued by what sounded like a sci-fi novel and after reading a summary of the book, I was correct. I rarely choose sci-fi books over young adult fiction, so I definitely surprised myself, but I'm very glad I did because I am finally starting to branch out and try new genres! Since I have already completed one challenge, why not further it? I would really like to finish this novel in 1-1.5 weeks maximum. The novel is just 268 pages, but considering the higher level of vocabulary incorporated within this novel, it will take me longer to fully understand, process, and search up unfamiliar words. For my last book of the semester, I would also like to challenge myself by reading a book classified in a genre that I have never read from. For example, I have never read a full book only containing Poetry and I think I would really like it. Including the poetry book, I will have reached my goal for the 1st semester of sophomore year (7 books).
       Brave New World is a very interesting novel to say the least. Within at least the first thirty pages, I noticed many similarities to Fahrenheit 451, a novel I read last year. In both Fahrenheit 451 and Brave New World, the setting is in the future and there are lots of restrictions on the freedom of the citizens including most books, any form of isolation, and any questioning of their way of life. Although, there is one big difference between the two novels and that is that in Brave New World, the citizens are chemically changed to dislike these things, whereas in Fahrenheit 451, they simply burn anyone who owns books and distract the citizens with tv, radio, and fast driving. In Brave New World, Helmholtz Watson, an Alpha Plus who works in propaganda, is an extremely intelligent individual who can't help but think that his writing talent could be used for something more than writing hypnopaedic phrases. As Helmholtz and his companion are talking, the narrator states, "words can be like X-rays, if you use them properly--they'll go through anything. You read and you're pierced"(92). Writing is such an important skill in life and a wonderful outlet in life. Expressing your words is a crucial skill, because if you keep everything bundled up all the time, then it might result in expressing yourself poorly.

Sadly I can't say "until next time" anymore,
Angeline Berryman

Friday, December 16, 2016

Are you a good friend? Or are you like Abby?

       Welcome back! To get you caught up, I'll tell you that I finished a book and am currently reading another called I'll Give You the Sun due to the tremendous amount of recommendations I have received about it over the past year. I have recently been very inspired to become a faster reader. I'm not exactly sure what my pace is right now, but I do know it could use improvement. My ultimate goal is to have the ability to read 2 pages per minute, but I have a little ways to go until I reach it. I would also like to challenge myself by reading a novel from the AP list that is not the easiest choice. Even though they are already on the challenging side, I think I can do it if I put my foot down this Christmas break and get reading! In my last post, http://angelineberryman.blogspot.com/2016/11/speak-or-blog-your-mind.html, I mentioned that I wanted to begin and complete a full book throughout the week long Thanksgiving break. The novel I chose was an amazing novel recommended by Ms. Mayo called 37 Things I Love by Kekla Magoon. I didn't COMPLETELY finish the novel during that one week, but I was extremely close, so I guess I could give myself a half pat on the back, but definitely not a full one. Either way, I adored the fiction novel and all of the plot twists. Don't worry, I won't give away any spoilers, but I will tell you everything I got out of the book and more!
       For starters, the novel is about a sophmore named Ellis who's father has been in a coma for a while, 4 years to be exact, and her mother wants to pull the plug due to financial costs and loss of hope. Ellis also has a "best friend" who is clueless that anything is wrong. This best friend is named Abby and towards the end of the novel, Ellis starts to realize that their friendship isn't what she thought it was and sees all the fakeness involved. This causes her to become even more frustrated when something that I will not spoil for you occurs. In the midst of annoyance, Ellis remembers that "Mrs. Scottie says the people you love best are the ones with the power to hurt you" (223). The people in your life that you adore the most are the ones whose opinions you value the greatest. Most people don't care about what a stranger thinks of them compared to their closest friend because real best friends know the real you. Most strangers simple judge a person by their outside appearance but if they are truly your best friend, they won't care if you didn't put on makeup today or if your tshirt is a bit wrinkly. True friends care if you will be loyal, kind, and honest to them because that's what truly matters.

Until next time,
keep reading!

Disclaimer: I read 37 Things I Love on iBooks rather than a hard copy so the page numbers might be slightly off.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Speak (Or Blog) Your Mind

       Welcome back! I wish I could type that I have been reading 30 minutes or more every night and completed 53 books or some outrageous amount since my last post, but I can't. I have read a little every night or a lot at once if I didn't have any or little homework, but the last couple weeks have been hectic, causing me to be less organized. I have recently become aware of the dissapearance of my usual organization and I plan on getting myself back on schedule in the next couple days. Since my last post, I have read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Thanksgiving break is right around the corner and I would like to start and complete atleast one book through out that week. I tend to pick out books with a shorter amount of page numbers, such as 200, rather than a book with 400 pages but this 9 weeks I would like to get longer books and hopefully suprise myself by finishing them in a timely manner. I would also really like to read outside of school for a total of 150 minutes every week.
(WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW!)
       Speak is a fiction novel about a teenager in high school, Melinda, who loses all of her friends right before 9th grade because she calls the cops at an end-of-summer party, causing a few people to get arrested. The reader finds out about midway throughout the novel that the reasoning behind her busting the party was that she was raped that night.
       As Melinda is in the car with Mr. Freeman, her art teacher, he mentions, "when people don't express themselves, they die one piece at a time"(122). When a human being does not show their emotions and doesn't cry when they feel like they want to cry, or smile when they are happy, they can become depressed. Human beings are meant to be social creatures and when they are alone with only their thoughts to keep them company, especially after a traumatic event, not many good things can come from staying silent. This quote really spoke to me because I used to be very shy and when I would stop myself from saying something, once again I felt like I was trapped in a box with duck tape over my mouth.
       If I had to pick one quote to convey the author's purpose, it would definitely be this one. Melinda doesn't tell anyone about what happened the night of the party, and her thoughts start to eat her alive. At the end of the novel, she finally starts to tell people about the event and she becomes stronger because of it. The author's purpose is to encourage others to speak up for themselves and get help when they have experienced a situation similar to Melinda's.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

What saps the spirit you need to soldier on?

       Yay! You came back to read yet another blog of my reading life! Without lying, I can proudly say that since my last post, I have finished not only Dumplin' and The Reason I Jump, but I have also started Lord of the Flies! I would like to go outside my comfort zone and read more nonfiction books this year. After reading my nonfiction book, The Reason I Jump, my perspective on that genre has changed and I was amazed by how much you can learn from them! I have been keeping up with my goal to read for at least 30 minutes or more every day.
       Because of The Reason I Jump, I was taught an abundance of new information that can't be found anywhere else. Not only does this book provide the capability to learn more than one new thing a day,  it also gives you a chance to understand people in society better which in the end will help you to be a better human overall. Who knew that all that could be found inside of one book? Another thing that stood out to me in this book was the way it was written. On every page, there will most likely be a question regarding why autistic people do certain things that was asked to Naoki, the author. Followed by that question will be a 1 to 2 page detailed response filled with personal experiences and examples. If there is not a question and answer on that page, then the only other type of page I noticed in this book was a story, often containing metaphors or examples that goes on for around 2-4 pages. I have never in my life read a book like this and it feels very refreshing to read a book that is different from the last few books you read. This also helped me to pay closer attention to the pages because it gave me a sense of curiosity and excitement because I had no idea to what could be on the next page until I actually flipped it over.
       Lots of quotes in this nonfiction book caught my attention and maybe even led to a thought or two, but none of them as great as the one follwed by this sentence. "But I ask you, those of you who are with us all day, not to stress yourselves out because of us. When you do this, it feels as if you're denying any value at all that our lives may have- and that saps the spirit we need to soldier on"(43). As I read this quote, I was stricken with a greater understanding of how they must feel every day just because of this disease. Not only do they often feel lonely and left out, but they also feel like they are a burden, rather than feeling like they bring happiness to their parents and everyone around them. I have learned that they truly want anything but to cause someone more trouble. My heart sank once I pictured someone feeling as if their life has no value. I just wanted to go up to someone with autism and give them the world's warmest hug and tell them how special they are and that they have a purpose. Not only did this quote bring out a feeling of deep sorrow, but the metaphor and diction in this quote just made it stick out that much more. Rather than using a simpler word such as "depend", the author used the idiom "soldier on." These powerful words help the reader imagine how it must feel when something is already so difficult to continue doing, and then one of the few motivations to pursue it is destroyed. Can you imagine?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Is This Really How Our Society Acts Towards People?

 Hello, again! Since my last post about my reading goals, I am happy to say that I have been following through with them. So far, I have been reading every night or sometime after school for a good 30 minutes (except for one night when I couldn't keep my eyes open long enough to even physically open the book, so I figured chances are I wouldn't get very far). I plan on finishing my fiction book, Dumplin' within 1.5- 2 weeks (September 25th at the latest). I also want to decide on which nonfiction book I am more interested in so that I can be prepared to start that after the 25th (if everything goes as planned). I am struggling to choose between We Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a True Story and The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism. Both of their descriptions seem very interesting and similar to something that I would enjoy, even though I have never read books like these and I rarely read nonfiction books.
       I have recently paid closer attention to the authors purpose, theme, and how it all relates to society in my current fiction novel, Dumplin'. I have noticed that the author's purpose involves wanting everyone to be more confident in their body and realize that they don't have to change who they are for others. Along with that, I have inferred that Julie Murphy, the author, felt very strongly towards the idea that any human being is capable of doing anything. For example, the author mentions, "Do you have a body? Put a swimsuit on it" on the back cover of the book. As I read this quote, I realized that a human should not feel the need to constantly cover themselves up with a towel when they are wearing a swimsuit, or a similar piece of clothing because of society. A person should be able to do whatever they wish. The only requirement is that you might need to be a human being with a physical body, but that's about it. The assumptions that the world has made need to come to an end.
       Through the perspective of Willowdean Jackson, the main character, I have gotten a closer insight into the types of looks that she gets when she does certain actions, such as walking into a room filled with skinny girls turning in their registration forms for a pageant. I have never before felt as passionately as I do now about how twisted our society is. I can't imagine how it must feel to want to do something, but have to think twice about pursuing it just because of what others might think of you. Although, one quality I admire about Willowdean is how almost 90% of the time she does not let other people's negative opinions stop her from pursuing what she wants in life.