Salem Falls review

 

“Salem Falls” is probably the last Jodi Picoult novel I plan on reading for a very long time. Of all three books that I have reviewed, I would have to give this one 2 out of 5 stars, and here is why.

First of all, I didn’t understand why she chose to switch back and forth by year. It was extremely difficult to follow, and so many of the flashbacks were unnecessary. Take the one back to 1969 when Jack was born as an example. That subplot had absolutely no bearing on the story. Picoult crammed too much into one story, and it made me wonder if the book was really worth finishing. I would recommend that readers skim the flashbacks, but pay close attention to story happening in Salem Falls, and prior to that when Jack was a teacher.

Secondly, teenage witches? It almost seemed as though she was inspired by an episode of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” The topic of false accusations and rape made such a good story, I wish she had more realistic teenage characters so the story could be more logical.

On the plus side, I give Picoult 5 stars for effective research on DNA testing. It was obvious she knew what she was writing about, with all those tables and complicated scientific explanations during the court case. Also, Jack, Addie, Roy, Catherine, Jordan, and Selena were so three dimensional, and so perfectly described, the reader almost feels like they know the characters personally.

Final verdict: Salem Falls is worth a read if you are patient enough and like a good thriller.

Books that are recommended that really shouldn’t be

We’ve all read that book with high expectations because everyone we’ve talked to has raved about it. Then we read it, and kick ourselves for not spending all that time more wisely. This list goes from the bad books, to the absolute worst. Please, feel free to disagree with me.

Ok fine, so I’m not a “true” literature fan, but only because I thought I would die before I finished this book. I remember falling asleep while reading it, and waking up not remembering what I had just read. I don’t even remember enough of the story to expound on it here. Let’s put it this way: if I was a teacher, I would not inflict pain on my students by making them read this book.

 

 

 

I loved the books at one point too, but that was before the TV series came out. In retrospect, the books were boring compared to all the drama that the upper east siders stir up on TV. Some complained when the TV series aired that the characters did not look anything like the way they were described in the book (Jenny’s boobs and Serena’s face to be specific). The point is though, Taylor Momsen made Jenny edgier, which added to the drama. As for Serena, it’s impossible to find a woman who literally looks like a goddess. Blake Lively’s long blonde hair and height does the trick…over time.

 

I thought I would break the rule, and save the worst for last. I realize this was a number one  New York Times bestseller, but if you read deeply into the subliminal messages she sends out, you will realize that she was just really pretentious and dramatic. In the beginning, when she is describing how she feels about her marriage, and creates this whole scene of her sitting on her bathroom floor and talking to God. I disagree with how she went about her entire trip, because I didn’t fully understand why she had to give up everything for it. It was supposed to be a tell all book, but then why didn’t she disclose why she was unhappy in her marriage?  Her story is pretty common; many women travel to get away from the insanity of married life. If the author of Eat, Pray, Love deserves to be titled as a “best selling author”, then so do all those other women. Seriously, watch the movie. Julia Roberts is as fabulous as ever, even when she’s scrubbing floors…

How to fit in in an all girls private school

I went to a private school for what seemed like 11 torturous years, only because for many of them, I didn’t fit in. It wasn’t until recently that I started figuring out why that was so.

I didn’t blend in because I spoke my mind and I expressed my opinions which clashed with those of the stereotypical private school girls. GIrls sort of like these:

Yes, they do exist, except they wear uniforms.

One of the keys to success is to blend in at any cost. If people see that you are different, or that your ideas may be better than theirs, they will start to see you as a threat. So if you tell one of the girls that the shirt she bought at Aritzia is not that exclusive and that you are, in fact, allowed to have the same one, you have basically bought yourself a one way ticket to isolation. Now don’t get me wrong, there were only very few times when I was completely isolated, but it was a rough couple years nonetheless.

Also, don’t be afraid to be a bitch. One of the girls might say that you’re one, but remember, they are no different. Girls are like dogs – they smell fear. Try to avoid doing the following in front of them:

1. Walking with your head down
2. Crying
3. Sitting alone too often

You should also try to always make friends with the right people, which in high school lingo, means the popular people. If they don’t accept you, don’t force them to. It will only display desperation on your part, and they will take advantage of you. Take Cady in Mean Girls as an example – she tried way to hard to be a Plastic, and she only got melted in the end.  Having said all this, don’t be mean or possessive. There was a girl in my class who was on this crazy roll where she was way too possessive and controlling over her friends, and she ended up graduating with half the amount of friends than she started off with. It was a super sad story, but she brought it upon herself. This is one of the most important rules: NEVER  dig yourself a hole. Because in private school, that hole slowly, but surely becomes a very deep grave.

In any case, high school is an awkward, hormonal time in everyones lives. Unfortunately, in an all girls school, the hormones are amplified and playing your cards right becomes crucial in the the dirty game of high school politics.

Be smart girls, good luck!

Women are from Venus, some university students are from Mars

There was a time when a university degree was a one way ticket to a great job and a fulfilling life. Now, thanks to the state of America’s economy, university graduates are finding it increasingly difficult to find well paying jobs. The article I read in the Globe & Mail not only sums up how tough the job market is, but how misled students in certain majors are.

We all know those people who believe that the world will be a better place without corporate greed. Apparently, they exist more in Quebec than anywhere else in Canada, sending the Quebec university students to an entirely different planet. While corporate greed effects the middle class, and governments are taxing heavily, and doctors are charging high amounts for private healthcare, these three sectors provide high paying jobs!  By encouraging students to take classes such as philosophy and ancient roman history, professors are actually disabling them because degrees in these subjects don’t have as much value as science or finance degrees. (I admit, considering the financial crisis, a science degree might be more promising right now)

I am all for doing whatever you are passionate about, but it’s still crucial to think of the future. Philosophy gives you some valuable life lessons, and art history is fascinating but when will you be able to use that knowledge for a successful living? I understand that success has a different meaning to everyone, but I think making enough money to pay for a comfortable living is a common goal for society. Professors can preach their ideas on how students can change the world by learning about “life” and “history”, but it’s also up to the students to think about their future. Is the purpose of university not to get a higher education, broaden your prospects, and eventually find a better life? This article made me think twice.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/opinion/quebecs-university-students-are-in-for-a-shock/article2418431/

One major lesson I have learned about stereotypes in society

Over time, I have been able to better understand people, and why they act the way they do. I did not grow up with people who were vastly different – some might have been slightly wealthier than others, but ultimately we were exactly the same. We went to a fancy school and took expensive vacations, and basically everyone I knew was very generic. Living in this bubble for almost 11 years gave me the impression that everyone in the world were exactly like the people I grew up with. Wow, was I in for a reality check.

This is partially why I am so grateful to have gone to Switzerland and met all these people from different cultures – they gave me the reality check that I needed. Here is the thing though: there were a series of events in my life before I left for Switzerland that made me realize how wrong our stereotypes in society are. The main one being that wealthier people are classier and better people. We have this idea drilled into us by movies, books, and TV which emphasize the cross sections in society. Wealthier people are not necessarily better or worse people. People who are less wealthy are not necessarily better or worse people either.

It’s a fact that money changes people. They stop caring about others who are not on their “level”, and they don’t care about what happens to you, even if they are at fault. Having said that, some of them really do care and put their money to good use. Some people might not have a multi-million dollar mansion, but they are honest and simple. What you have is not important to them, it is the person you are that is. On the other hand, some people who are less wealthy have a chip on their shoulder, and feel threatened by others who have more. They then make themselves feel better by being mean to people who do have more, but never brag about it. Just because someone puts a smile on their face and is nice to you does not mean they are sincere. People’s true colours always show when the going gets rough.

What I’m getting at is that there are all sorts of people in the world. The arrogant ones, the simple ones, the insecure ones, and millions more. We cling to stereotypes to a certain degree because it makes life simpler to deal with – you know who you have something in common with, and who you should avoid. Take a chance! Try getting to know someone who is different from your friends or people in your school. Yes it can be stressful to encounter people who are not nice to you, but this is what makes life exciting! Can you imagine how boring life would be if it was predictable?