Book Review: Wonder

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Title: Wonder
Author: Raquel J. Palacio
Genre: Children
Recommended Reading Age: Everyone
Pages: 315
Level of difficulty: 2/5 Dictionaries

 

 

 

 

Brief Introduction

Auggie wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things – eating ice cream, playing on his Xbox. He feels ordinary – inside. But ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids aren’t stared at wherever they go.

Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life. Now, for the first time, he’s being sent to a real school – and he’s dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted – but can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, underneath it all?

Favourite Quote

“Doctors have come from distant cities
Just to see me
Stand over my bed
Disbelieving what they’re seeing

They say I must be one of the wonders of god’s own creation
And as far as they can see they can offer no explanation”

~ Natalie Merchant, “Wonder”

Reasons for Recommendation

With the recent craze of social media, youngsters are highly focused on their facial features and have become more and more materialistic. The book gives insight to what truly is important in this fast-developing World – to be grateful and accept ourselves as who we are. Hence, the book is a great lesson for all.

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The book teaches us that the we should never judge a book by its cover, a person by his or her face. There is always more to meets the eye. The book shall make you more appreciative of the things you have, and resilient when hard times come. Wonder is one of the many books that has left a great impression on me, while changing my attitude towards society. I strongly recommend you read it!

Movie Trailer

The book has its own movie! Here’s its trailer!

 

photocredit: Google images

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Peace (My Royal Commonwealth Essay Competition Piece)

Today’s post is a little different. The result for The Royal Commonwealth Essay Competition were recently out so I decided to share with you guys my piece 🙂
P.s If you were wondering, I received a certificate of participation. 
P.s.s Thank you for supporting the poetryandproze.com and have a great week ahead! 🙂

In January 2015, my family and I had to leave Singapore, a country we had called home for 12 years. Although no official explanation was provided for refusing to renew our respective visas, the socio-political and economic atmosphere was telling. Not long after the 2008 financial crises, a significant number of locals started to complain about the worsening economic situations, from the depressed incomes to the decline in the availability of high-paying jobs, from the overcrowded public spaces to the perceived spike in crime rates. For all these, a growing number of people blamed the immigrants, and the government’s soft position on immigration. The results of subsequent elections were generally interpreted to be a rejection of relevant government policies. The government was quick to respond with corresponding change in policies.

While a government has the duty to listen and act on the wishes of its people, the ramifications of doing so, even though unintended, can be more than expected. The shift in government policies may be too sudden for families, especially the youth, such that they may experience psychological dislocation, including self-doubt and mental stress. With this essay, I speak for the numerous youths like myself who have been in similar situations and the many more who would, as governments across the world respond to the increasing denunciation of globalisation and the wave of populism. My take on Peace is that it is not just about the relation among the constituent parties within a Country, or among the individual Countries; but also about the emotional and mental calmness of the different peoples who call the country home.

Peace, in this sense, is often lacking if not ignored when individual governments enact their policies. In my experience, I faced the risk of overstaying and forceful deportation within the period of one month. I had to deal with the fact that I would not be able to complete my GCE ‘O’ level examinations. I felt that I was being abandoned by the country that I had called home all these years. She had expected me to suddenly undo all that I had been accustomed to in those 12 years, to untangle myself from our relationship, to bid farewell to the friends that I had made and to instantaneously separate the part of her culture that had become intertwined with mine. Most importantly, she had left me in a dark cloud of uncertainty for the future.

Unfortunately, my experience is one of many. In fact, I am considered one of the lucky ones as I have managed to move on given other opportunities elsewhere even though it still brings back tears whenever I think about it. The same however, may not be said about others. Some youths are undocumented in the countries that they call home, thereby facing the constant threat of dislocation. Some had ran away from their motherland with their parents in fear of prosecution. Others had to brave the high seas because home had become a battlefield. For those who fall under the above categories, the threat of or actual dislocation is a much larger and longer crisis.

Across the world today, there is an increasing desire for stricter immigration regulations. Whatever adjective we may use to describe it or whatever name we call it, be it ‘Brexit’ or ‘Make America Great Again’, this country-first sentiments devalue globalisation and create tension in many parts of the world. Despite the numerous outcries against populism as a political rhetoric, there is still an increase in the immoral political campaigning and the religious discrimination it motivates. There has been a spike in the alleged cases of discrimination and targeted-attacks against people who are perceived to be different thereby creating a constant atmosphere of fear for personal safety.

Britain’s apparent exit from the European Union, a decision made primarily because of her desire to take back full control of her borders, is creating a cloud of uncertainty for the youths of European citizenship living in Britain. They are in a complex situation because they aren’t sure what exactly the outcome of Britain’s negotiations with the European Union shall be. However, the possibility of not having their student visas renewed and of having to pack up and leave Britain is very real.

Recently, in the United States, with the excuse of keeping borders safe and with just the stroke of a pen, youths, who had been hoping and praying that their grandparents from war-torn countries could join them safely in America, were overwhelmed by the fear that it would not be so. Even as, youths from some Muslim-majority countries under the travel ban were filled with the nerve-racking fear of having to return to their war torn or politically unstable countries.

In conclusion, governments need to understand that their policies could have serious ramifications such as psychological dislocation, self-doubt, constant fear and mental stress on youths especially, foreigners who call the country home. Hence, it is crucial that individual governments ensure that a voice is given to the youths that their policies could affect before they consider a policy change. In turn, we as youths have a part to play by making the effort to have our voices heard. By a collective effort of not only the commonwealth, but the rest of the world, we can bring about lasting peace!

Deeper Than A Lifetime

In response to “The Knife” by Keith Douglas

Keith Douglas describes his poems as “extrospective” meaning that they are focused on external impressions rather than inner emotions. I believe, “The Knife” does not fall into that category and thus intrigues me the most out of all his poems. I would describe “The Knife” as a love poem; a love poem written in the midst of war at the point where dead was most evident. Hence, I believe it is one of the most sincere love poems that could be written. Although it is a love poem, its title is a word associated with danger, hurt and death for which I believe the poem was written for Ying Cheng. Ying Cheng also known as Betty Sze was an elegant Chinese lady who dated Keith during his university days. Unfortunately, her love for Keith was not as deep as his and thus the refusal of his proposal which lead to her being the unrequited love in Keith’s life. “Deeper than a Lifetime” aims to give Keith a second chance at a love that seemed so pure, to tell Betty all the things he wished he did and how differently he would have done things.

 

Dear Betty,

To turn back time and make my choices again,

I wish I could say that I would do everything exactly the same,

But unrequited love is only less painful when compared to once-requited love.

I wouldn’t have loved you as hard.

I wouldn’t have dived into the deep end of the pool just like that.

I would have tried much harder, with more suave to make you fall at your knees for me and my love.

I would have made you shed the sophisticated coat you wore whenever you met me,

The one I knew you wore to mask your true form.

I would not have hid the romantic that I was.

I would not have pretended not to be the simple guy who just wanted you to love him, who took this to be more than just a fling.

I would have took you to feel the breeze in your hair more often, and to take long walks in the parks arm in arm, so that you understood the small yet important things in life.

I would have brought you to rooftops to watch the sunsets and sunrises that although were beautiful, weren’t as beautiful as you.

I would have brought you to water bodies to swim so that you could wash away all the uncertainties that you carried on your shoulders, so that you stopped calculating every move before you made them.

I would have ensured that you knew that time stopped when I looked at you, when I was with you.

I would have made sure that my ‘I love you’  s were loud and seductive, but could only be heard in the wind as your long black waterfalls danced to its melody.

I would have made sure you thought of me every day without fail, the same way that not thinking of you each day felt like a bad day.

I would have made sure you understood that such selfless, aching love only came once in a lifetime, to make you more courageous to follow the tune of your beating heart.

I would have made sure that you cried when I had gone to the army, that you sent letters – a short remedy, and a reminder that you hadn’t forgotten me.

I would have made sure that the next time I saw you, would be as I, with you boldly held in my arms.

I would have made sure that I hadn’t die in a war when I had much more I wanted to say to you, to scream at you, to show you as Keith Douglas.

Don’t say that I am full of regret, because I am not.

It would be easier to forget you entirely,

But I guess I can’t.

My love for you runs deeper than just a lifetime, and I can’t

Say goodbye until I have achieved what I truly believe is

Worth living for.

Book Review: Book vs. Movie Edition – The Great Gatsby

Book

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The Great Gatsby

Name: The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
ISBN: 978-0-00-736865-5
Genre: Romance, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 140
Difficulty: 4/5 Dictionaries

 

 

 

 

Plot Summary:

From the eyes of Nick Carraway, who we eventually find out is the only true friend of Jay Gatsby’s, we learn what Gatsby has sacrificed and done for Daisy Buchanan’s love.

In short, the story is about love, and how unreliable love can be especially when it is built on lies and misguided principles.

Favourite Quote:

“Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

Reasons Why You Too Should Read It:

1. It’s a great book to boost your vocabulary.

Basically, for half of the book, I was stumbling on two or three new words on every page. Words such as hilarity, echolalia, caterwauling. It’s also a recommended book for those who shall be taking the SAT.

2. You learn a number of moral lessons.

You learn the ugly trait of greed and carelessness. You learn the hard truth that life isn’t always fair. You also learn that eventually the ones that we can truly depend on when all things fail is family. There are some friends that might become family, but not if the relationship was built on lies.

3. It’s a classic.

The book tells a story of the bygone age of US history. In the 20s, the parties were bigger, the morals were looser and by 1933, prohibition ended because it was clear, it had backfired. People were making their own moonshine or getting alcohol through other illegal means. The Great Gatsby is a window to the world that most Americans wanted to learn from as America became a wealthy superpower in the years after.

 

Movie

The Great Gatsby (2013 Edition)

 

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If I had three words to describe the movie, they would be: wild, jazz and elaborate.

In my opinion, the book trumps the movie because there is more sincerity and emotion in and between the characters. Such as that seen through Daisy and Gatsby’s love, Wilson’s pain and Nick’s disappointment at the end of the novel. I believe this is because the movie was produced for the big screen and is thus flamboyant. The audience is distracted by all the glam, and the focus on the moral lessons are minimized.

In addition, although I understand it is natural for there to be some slight differences between the movie and the book, I am pretty surprised by one. In the movie, I think Gatsby is portrayed to be a villain. One example would be when he takes Nick out to lunch and decides to tell him his story while speeding across town. It was clear that he was scheming – trying to confuse Nick and get him to believe his lies. Also, there were strange phone calls and expressions that supported such an impression.

In the book on the other hand, upon my first reading, Gatsby is portrayed to be a man who is foolishly in love. Even though he isn’t a saint, his mistakes and evil doings all seem to be the fault of Daisy’s or have Daisy as the reason.

When it comes to a book with a movie, I always read the book before watching the movie (which ever was published first, books/plays based on a movie are not as common). I would recommend doing so because you get the most accurate version of the story. What about you? What’s your habit? 

P.s I would love to hear your take on which was better, the movie or the book?

P.s.s The review was also uploaded to Goodreads, do have a look!

Nail Polish

credit @googleimages

For the first time in 18 years,
You dared to paint your nails.
Your selected colours, pastel purple and light gold.
You don’t know why you never dared to before, or do you?

Girls half your age doll themselves up with more gusto
Than you could ever dream of.
Yet, you have always been conscious of getting too mixed up in
All those stuff.
I think I know why.

I am proud though.
Proud that you are no longer afraid.
Proud that you are learning to do what makes you happy.
Proud that you are saying goodbyes to what ifs and embracing ‘how about now’s.

Simple thing have always made you happy.
You must have been over the moon these past few days.
I am glad you have realised that
You’ve been the needle in your foot.
It’s time to let go.
It’s time you start being yourself for yourself.

Your worth or lack of worth
Is not determined by how well you doll nor don’t doll up.
Though you shall never actively wear make-up
Because you think it destroys ones skin, I wonder what shall happen in the years to come.
I hope that whatever the case, you never succumb to societal norms just because.

At least promise me that.