Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Horrors In The Hallways

Welcome back friends! For the past few weeks I have been reading the book Missoula, which is an issue based book that focuses on rape in a college town and contains very detailed descriptions of rape and how it can dramatically change someones life. Missoula by: Jon Krakauer takes place in Missoula Montana at Missoula college; home of the proud Grizzlies and their devoted fanbase which they call "Griz nation". Missoula is like any other college town in our country, everyone worships the football team, everyone party's, and way to many people are getting raped. Krakauer is a journalist who investigated a series of rapes that occurred in this specific college town over a four year period. In this book Krakauer documents the experiences five victims and how little the justice system did for them. Personally I found this book very hard to read because of content and the use of law and medical jargon.

 A huge part of the book is about a girl named Allison Huguet who was raped by Beau Donaldson, her childhood best friend who was also a fullback and a linebacker for the "Griz".  On September 24, 2010 Huguet was on a break from college and was staying at her mothers home in Missoula, later that night Allison was invited to a party with a bunch of her childhood friends including Donaldson. After drinking a little to much she decided she would spend the night on her friends couch rather then driving home. About two hours later she was awoken to find  Beau Donaldson raping her. After, Huguet was changed forever. Allison confided in a friend named Keely Williams who encouraged Allison to help herself heal and find justice but Allison said  "' I didn't feel like I was strong enough to go to the police"' ( Krakauer 24). Unfortunately this became a reoccurring event through each girls story in the book. The girls were afraid to go to to the police because they were scared that they wouldn't believe their accusations or worse, believe that it was their fault. On January 11, 2013 unlike many similar cases Allison's went to court to sentence Beau Donaldson. During the hearing Donaldson's lawyer Milton Datsopoulos urged the court to give Donaldson a shorter and "easier" sentence on account of Beau's "good character". This upset Allison's family because they believed the torture their daughter endured during and after the assault should be inflicted on Donaldson so he could see what he really did to Allison and her family. Allison's mom explained the pain Donaldson put Allison through in the court room "Allison 'Wasn't the same person anymore,' Beth continued. 'There was no more smiles. There was no more laughs'" ( Krakauer 219). Unfortunately this wasn't the only survivor who felt they weren't the same anymore. The survivors all felt different and more anxious and fearful of everyone and everything. Krakauer does a great job of telling this girls stories in a way that brings light to the issues our world faces when it comes to sexual assault.

Sadly in this day in age its hard to ignore the devastating statistics of sexual assault. On average, there are 321,500 victims (age 12 and older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the united states. Sadly if that number isn't shocking enough that doesn't even count the children below age 12 experiencing the same horrors. Fortunately we have people in this world who look at these numbers and do something about it. Alyssa Milano an actress and activist, has decided to take as stand and encourage victims of sexual assault to speak out. On October 21 Milano tweeted to her 3.2 million followers saying "if you have been sexually harassed or assaulted write 'me too' as a reply to this tweet". Although the movement was originally created 10 years ago when activist Tarana Burke wanted to give a voice to the the victims, Milano definitely put it in the spotlight. The reason I became interested in the book Missoula is because I came across a video I saw on the popular YouTube page and media group, BuzzFeed where women were telling their #Metoo stories Buzzfeed video. It was gut wrenching to listen to these women tell their stories and see their faces and the emotions that were evoked from sharing their experiences which are similar the ones in the book. From the video and the book I learned that all women who have experienced sexual assault have a unique story and their own way of coping, and that the excuse that they were "dressed to revealing" is not only wrong but incredibly insulting to all women.

Krakauer, Jon. Missoula: Rape And The Justice System In A College Town. Anchor Books, 2015. Print.

"rape Statistics." RAINN. Accessed: 15 Nov 2017

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Dream That Can't Be Shot Down

   After choosing my "safe genre" of Young Adult Fiction for my last book I decided it was time        to start my journey of stepping out of my "comfort zone" and read a book that challenged me. I looked at a few books that I'm interested in reading like Missoula by Jon Krakauer and Look me in the eye by John Elder Robison ( Both were recommended by classmates) but I was drawn to the book I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. I had already known a Little bit about the accident and her story but I was interested to learn more. So I Chose it as my nonfiction memoir. The book itself wasn't as challenging as I had expected, but I found reading about the struggle this little girl had to go through just to receive a basic right such as education was hard to do.

  The book I Am Malala follows Malala Yousafzai, a young girl from a remote valley in northern Pakistan that became overrun by the a terrorist group known as the Taliban. When the Taliban started threatening and bombing schools, Malala felt her right for education slipping from her grasp. In 2008 Malala's school which her father Ziauddin Yousafzai, had founded, held an assembly giving its students a chance to speak about their feelings towards the Taliban's threats against education. Malala who was 11 at the time, gave her first of many speeches about the importance of education and stood up to the terrorist group " we are afraid of no one, and we will continue our education. This is our dream" (Yousafzai 71). As a girl who's only a few years older then Malala was when she gave this speech its crazy to think that she had enough courage and strength to take a stand in such a public way. She knew the danger that she was putting herself in by standing up to a group that not only hated girls education but also forbid them the right to speak freely. As Malala got older she continued to speak out against the Taliban. In 2012 Malala and her family discovered that the Taliban had issued a death threat against her because of her activism, although Malala was frighten she believed that her cause was bigger then just her own life. On October 12, 2012 this threat became reality when a masked gunman boarded her school bus asking "who is Malala" and shot her from point-blank range in the head. Miraculously Malala survived and even continued to speak for the right of education. "Yes, the Taliban have shot me, but they can only shoot a body. They cannot shoot my dreams, they cannot kill my beliefs, and they cannot stop my campaign to see every girl and boy in school"(Yousafzai 188). Malala continues her role as an activist for education and became the youngest person to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. Malala is an inspiration to everyone who feels like they don't have a voice by proving no matter your age you can make a difference.

 In Many countries its still very hard for women to receive an education. In 2015 it was found that 496 million of the 781 million illiterate people above the age of 15 in the world were females. In most countries girls around the age of 14 become "women" and are forced into marriages and expected to have children. This not only takes away the individuals rights but also takes away the opportunity for them to make a difference in the word. In a blog post by  they talk about the importance of educating girls and the impact it can make on a nation. This blog post also shared the story of a girl who saw the importance of education and used it to change her life.
I believe that giving a girl an education is giving a women the right to control her OWN life and everyone should at least get that.


Malala, Yousafzai, and Patricia McCormick, I Am Malala How One Girl Stood Up For Education And Changed The World. Little, Brown and Company,  2014. print.

Inspired Adventures. Accessed 17 October 2017.

The Guardian. Accessed 17 October 2017.

Sunday, September 17, 2017


Well I'm back and... trying to be better! Last year I got super into reading but as summer passed I kept busy with friends rather than books. At the moment I'm reading about 100 pages a week, I'm trying to increase this by reading at home and in my free time. This year my goal is to read a book about every 2 1/2 weeks. I also really want to challenge myself this year in the types of books I read. I want to adventure out of the young adult box a little bit and hopefully find other genres I can get into. To ease myself back into the regular flow of reading regularly I wanted to start with a Young Adult novel because they tend to be some of the more simple reads, because of this I picked the book All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. The book Itself isn't hard to read but because it talks about sensitive content such as suicide it makes it an emotional read.

 The book All The Bright Places follows two teens Finch, and Violet as they both struggle with depression. The Characters are complete opposites but when they meet on the top of the bell tower both contemplating jumping they end up saving each other. The book follows the teenagers as they try and push themselves out of depression and in doing so develop a special bond. As the story goes on Violet starts to get better finding her purpose in life again after her sister died in a car accident a year before. Since the accident Violet has been counting down the days until her graduation which for her meant being done with responsibilities but after spending so much time with Finch she begins to find happiness again and becomes grateful that she gets what her sister didn't which is a future. For the first time Violet acknowledges her future rather then believing she didn't have one. "I look at all the days laid out until graduation and freedom and I feel a strange clutching in my chest. There are only a collection of days, less than half a year, then who knows where I will go and what I will do" (Niven 191). As a reader you want to be happy that the character is starting to get better and life is getting easier for her but its also sad because as Violet gets better Finch gets worse. Finch has become consumed with his thoughts on suicide. One night Finch decides to hold himself underwater just to see how long it would take for his brain to panic, to see if it would wake up and save him. He holds himself under as he thinks "how long has it been? Four minutes? Five? longer? My lungs are starting to burn. Stay Calm, I tell myself. Stay relaxed. The worst thing you can do is panic" (Niven 106). This part was super sad to read because you can see how much control these thoughts have over his life how they are being to take over and control all of his actions making death seem tangible and in his grasp.

 Personally topics like suicide really effect me because I think its such a horrible thing that for so long went unnoticed. I feel as though people haven't talked about or understood mental heath until recent years. In 2015 it was discovered that suicide was the second leading cause of death among young adults age 15-24. Mental illness is such an important thing for people and especially teens to be aware about. When your young its harder to see how large life is and how things that can get you down today won't last forever. Even though its hard to read books with heavy topics like this it is so so important. Mental illness is such an important thing for people to be aware of, especially teens. Its important for everyone to know that there are ways to get help and ways to help prevent suicide incidents. Luckily there are people with major influence in the world striving to raise awareness for mental health. This summer a popular artist that goes by Logic wrote a song to raise awareness for suicide prevention called 1-800-273-8255 which is the number for the suicide hotline where people can call to receive help before they make the worst mistake of their life. The song quickly gained popularity and was performed live at the VMA's last month.

Niven, Jennifer. All The Bright Places. Alfred A. Knopf, 2015.

"Suicide Statistics." PRB. Accessed: 17 Sept 2017

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Strength In Purple

This is my last blog post in Ms. Mayo's 2nd period English class. This semester I completed my set goal of 7 books. I'm very proud of myself because walking into this class I wanted to reignite my passion for reading as well as finding the types of books I liked and the types I didn't, and I really think I accomplished both of those things. I feel like I a discovered a specific love and appreciation for reading that I didn't have before. This semester I have read books all across the board and pushed myself outside of my reading "boundaries". I hope to carry my love for reading with me outside of the doors of this classroom.

The last book I read was The Color Purple By Alice Walker, which was my chosen AP title. This story was bone chilling and to me very disturbing... and I mean that in the nicest way possible. The way Walker wrote the book and the writing style she used to resemble the characters uneducated language is what really set this book apart from any other and what I think put this book on the pedestal on which it has earned. The story is about a young, uneducated, black women, from the south named Celie. Celie's father began to beat and rape her from the time she was only 14 years old, which was only the beginning of the hard life Celie will lead. A few years later her bad situation goes to worse when she is forced into a marriage with an older man named Albert whom also has three children from a previous marriage. Albert treats Celie as his slave, beating and raping her. One day Albert's son asks why he beats Celie and he stoically responds by saying "because she's my wife"(walker 23). This reply creates a ripple effect causing Albert's son to bring violence into his own marriage. I thought the way walker wrote Celie as a pushover and a easily manipulated young girl made this novel unbelievably heartbreaking but throughout the book you see this young girl blossom from a naive child into a hopeful adult as she overcomes the odds that were so forcefully against her.

 Overall I liked this book but I wouldn't say I'm in love. I think this book deserves the praise it has received don't get me wrong but it just wasn't my thing, But I do think her silent strength was inspiring and reminds people that no matter how hard life can get, it can always get better.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Closer You Look The More You See

My reading goal is going pretty well; I set myself the goal of reading 7 books during the first semester and I just finished reading book number 6. The next book I will read will be my chosen AP title which is (drum roll please) The Color Purple  By Alice Walker. I chose this book because I think the content will be very different from what I normally read and I wanted to push myself a little (or a lot). The last book I read was What We Saw By Aaron Hartzler.

What We Saw is a exceptional story about the thin line between guilt and innocence and how blurry the subject of rape can become. The story follows a young girl named Kate, who's life seems as if everything is coming together with her perfect friends, a perfect boyfriend who happens to be the star basketball player, and a town where she knows everyone, but one wild party causes her to question everyone and everything she believes in. When four of her "friends" are charged for raping her old best friend Stacy, Kates life is immediately turned upside down. As everyone in town points the finger towards the girl questioning if her allegations are true Kate is left conflicted on what she believes to be the truth. Rape is something that seems so black and white. Consent can seem so obvious but often isn't so clear. In the book Kate finds her self in a conversation about what happened at the party with people who believe that Stacy is either lying about what happened that night or are suggesting that because of the clothes she was wearing she should have expected it, but one girl decides to speak up by asking that "just because she's wearing skimpy clothes means that she's lying about those guys forcing themselves on her" (Hartzler 114).

 I don't know if a book has ever made me think in the way this book did and for that reason I strongly recommend this book to everyone especially teenage girls. Sadly we live in a world where society often dismisses rape by saying things like "her outfit was to revealing so she was kinda asking for it" and uses that "boys will be boys" as an excuse. I think rape is a topic that everyone needs to be aware of and not just by a video you saw in an assembly during school but by reading about it, and being knowledgeable about what rape really means and what you can do to stop it.  People need to understand that its not "no means no" but that its "yes means yes".  Just because the person isn't conscious enough to say no doesn't mean they're  saying yes.  The only consent you can get is by three small but important letters y-e-s.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Dancing around the truth

Over the past two weeks I have been very busy, leaving very little time to read but that didn't stop me!!(claps and cheers in the background). Just to explain my dedication... I even read on the bus back from a cheer event with 13 other girls screaming the lyrics of throwback Brittney Spears songs loud enough for south america to hear. Now if that isn't dedication I don't know what is because I will say not joining in when Toxic came on took some major will power people. But anyway thankfully even with a pact schedule I was able to squeeze some time to read (even if its a page in the middle of a chemistry lesson, but who needs chemistry anyway) So far I am still on track to my reading goal of 7 books by the end of the semester. On my to read next list I have a book called what we saw  By Aaron Hartzler and also a book of the AP reading list which I haven't decided on yet. This week I finished my fifth book of the semester. The book I read is tittled Pointe by Brandy Colbert.

Pointe is a fantastic novel about Theo, a young girl who four years ago spent all her time in ballet or with her best friend Donovan. But her life was turned upside down when he suddenly goes missing. Four years later, as she sits across the table at dinner with her two closest friends Sara-Kate and Phil she sees his face pop up on the TV screen like it has thousands of time before "but this time was different ... she tells us that he is alive. Donovan's been found" (Colbert 14). But along with him comes the memories and suffering that came with the past. Through out the story you follow Theo as she recollects on the day he went missing and her connection to his kidnapper.

This book is an emotional roller coaster from watching as Theo goes from her highest of highs to her lowest of lows. Colbert did an amazing job of painting the characters in such away where you can really see their personalities and the inner conflict they suffer themselves as teenagers. I think the author did a fabulous job leaving me on the edge of my seat with each flip of the page. So definitely 10/10 I highly recommend. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Where You Come From Is Not Who You Will Be

 This week I challenged myself. Over the past week I have been reading my non fiction title ( which lets be real, is a challenge in itself) I chose the book A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer. Which isn't exactly the dramatic boy girl drama I'm used to.

 A Child Called It  Is based on the true story of one of the most severe child abuse cases in California history. Dave Pelzer writes about his childhood as he retells his story. Dave Pelzer was brutally beaten and starved by his mother. His mother would "play games" with him that would leave him nearly dead. She would give him chores with impossible time limits and punish him for his failure to complete the task. She would suffocate him by forcing ammonia down his throat, burn him on the stove, punch and kick him, and try as many ways as she could to torture her own son. Also Dave was rarely allowed the "luxury" of food and would go days and even weeks without anything to eat. He was no longer a boy but an "it" he slept in the basement on an old army cot and wore raggedy torn clothes. He was forced into being his family's slave. This read was extremely difficult for me leaving me with tears in my eyes and my stomach in knots. One specific section that was truly gut wrenching  was in the chapter "The accident" when his mom was standing with a knife in front of Dave yelling viciously at him and Pelzer describes the incident where his mother stabs him "out of the corner of my eye I saw a blurred object fly from her hand. a sharp pain erupted from just above my stomach. I tried to remain standing, but my legs gave out, and the world turned black" (Pelzer 87). This for me was particularly hard to read because it was the turning point in which things went from bad to worse. It was the first event that to me really showed his mom didn't care if he lived or died. Even though before she had done things that left him close to dead she had always stopped or let up at some point but this was the first time of many times he was really at deaths door.

This is a topic I would say I tend to look away from and ignore, not because I don't care but because its such a harsh reality. This subject is tough enough to think about but when its a true story in front of your eyes it really come to the light. a lot of times we tend to think, how could someone harm an innocent child? How could anyone harm THEIR OWN child? But child abuse is very real and very relevant. Although this was an extremely painful read I thought it was a powerful story about a child's will to survive and shared a beautiful message explaining that where you come from is not who you will be. I would highly recommend this book to everyone because it really gives you the wake up call so many of us need.