Flight to the Stars (Samantha Mae Coyiuto)

I’ve been hearing many things about this book because it was written by one of my school’s alumnae. It holds three short stories that, according to the praise at the back, are about “the travails and triumphs of youth, the joys and sorrows that families live through, and the bittersweet springtime of love.”

When I read those words, I believed them to be real. But I was mistaken. Honestly, my expectations for this book were high but perhaps they shouldn’t have been – the author wrote this book when she was sixteen years old. On that note, I didn’t and still don’t understand why it said at the bottom of the back cover, “Anvil Young Adult Fiction.” YA? This is YA? You’ve got to be kidding me. Right?

Apparently, it wasn’t a joke. Flight to the Stars is Young Adult fiction. Well, apparently, in this case, YA fiction and realism don’t come hand in hand. The stories are just plain idealistic. We all want them to happen because they should. I mean, why not? These are good stories. They should happen, but at the same time, I know they won’t.

The first story, Flight to the Stars, and the third story, The Purple Box, were actually fine. They were nice, actually. The plots were good but the characters sounded so odd. I don’t know if it’s just me, but they sounded so fake, like someone was telling them what to say instead of them just saying what they wanted to. The narratives were all in the first person POV, but they also sounded fake, like someone was giving them cues on what to think at what moment.

Now, the second story. Almost all my problems with idealism in this book stem from the second story, Sapphire. It was about this girl named Sapphire who had body image issues. Really bad issues, I can conclude, especially as it was narrated by Sapphire herself: “My face looked like a red tomato punctured by needles. It’d be okay if I got one of those thin, model type bodies, but no, I had to get the body of a whale. I’m basically a real-life version of Mr. Potato Head, with hams for legs and arms. Most days, I wish I would wake up in some other person’s body. But that just happens in my dreams, and I’d wake up to see that nothing has changed.” So, Sapphire herself conceded that she had the body of a whale. Not to spoil and stuff but basically, just like nearly everyone else like that in the fictional character world, she got bullied by people with those thin, model type bodies. Now, because of this, she started becoming anorexic, starving herself, insisting she wasn’t starving herself, the like. Then because she fainted during P.E., her mom got called by the school. She then found out that due to her anorexia, her sister started becoming bulimic. Sapphire then started eating again. Hooray. Then she, with the help of the school principal, gave a speech to the student body, who stopped treating her like dirt after that. They even elected her prom queen. How awfully convenient!

Now, my issues with that plot are quite a lot, but the root is the same: that just doesn’t happen in reality. Firstly, I doubt it’s that easy to stop being anorexic. Anorexia is an eating disorder. It takes long to stop, unless you are very very very lucky. Maybe Sapphire is one of those very very very lucky people, but I wouldn’t know. Secondly, I think I can actually believe the part where they stopped bullying her… but the part where they elected her prom queen? I don’t think I can believe that. I suppose it’s true that teenagers are easy to influence but I don’t think they’re that easy to influence, especially if the person trying to influence them is someone they didn’t think much of before. But really. Prom queen? It seems more likely that the votes were out of sympathy. It’s actually difficult to win people over to your side, unless you are naturally charismatic and/or popular… or you are someone they feel sorry for…

Overall, though, I can only say this: if you’re looking for stories that have great potential in the field of idealism, this book is the one to read. Often I catch myself thinking things about this book that may be too harsh. Then I remember that the author wrote it when she was only sixteen. She has a lot to learn, I think, but you know what, I wouldn’t miss out on whatever she’ll write in the future.

Advertisements

Every Day (David Levithan)

I’ve heard quite a lot about Every Day and I’ll get right down to it: it was actually pretty good. The cover was a great plus and was really appealing to me, as I’m sure it was to other readers.

Every Day is about A, a person – who is not really a person, but you’ll see – who wakes up in a different body, in a different life every single day. But after A wakes up in the body of Justin, the boyfriend of a girl named Rhiannon, his whole “life” turns upside-down. In the course of a single day, he finds himself falling more and more in love with Rhiannon. But here’s the thing: he knows that tomorrow, he won’t be Justin. And that’s true. The next day, he wakes up in the body of someone else – but nothing’s changed. He soon realizes that no matter which person he wakes up as, he’s still in love with her.

Poor A.

I really liked Every Day because it was an easy read: it didn’t have words and sentences that made me trip over them (unlike Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, but that’s a book for another day, isn’t it?) I found the plot intriguing, yet Levithan told the story in a way that made the story seem simple but at the same time so complicated.

I applaud him for that. Clap, clap, clap. Okay, moving on.

There were a few things that bothered me, though. The first one doesn’t need much saying: A’s stalkerish, disruptive, selfish behavior. He borrows the lives of others, and what does he do with them? A small hint: he skips. Class, tests, important family trips. Things that would actually be really important to the people whom he borrows a day from. When you look at it though, he doesn’t even borrow anymore: he steals. He uses those “borrowed” 24 hours for his own… interest: namely, Rhiannon. That sounds more like being selfish than being in love.

How strange it must have been for Rhiannon, to have some guy who isn’t even really a guy following her around, arranging meet-ups with her, et cetera. And here’s one more thing I don’t understand: she’s in love with A when he’s a he. But when he’s a she, that’s a whole different story. So it’s completely okay for Rhiannon to love A when he’s in a dude’s body, but when he’s in a girl’s body, Rhiannon can’t love him. What I don’t get about this is why A expects Rhiannon to always adjust, to always love him despite what’s on the surface. As much as I love the message this sends out, it seems really… unrealistic. Rhiannon is human, with her own preferences, and for her, all of that (hey-the-guy-I-love-is-sometimes-a-guy-but-also-sometimes-a-girl) must have been very confusing. Goodness knows I’m pretty confused too.

Poor Rhiannon.

Despite those things, I loved Every Day. This is the first time I’ve ever read Levithan (oh, where have I been living? Under a rock?) but I don’t imagine that this will be the last.

Ang Medalya (Arturo Dominguez Jr.)

I really, really needed to like this book. Not because I wanted to, but because I needed to. It was a requirement for class in the fourth quarter.

Ang Medalya tells the tale of a thirteen-year-old boy named Rodel who visits San Luis, the home of his cousin Nardo. There, he makes friends with Rowena, as well as other people. But somehow, he gets on the wrong side of Dado, who gets green with envy at the mere thought of Rowena developing an… interest in Rodel. Dado is basically the town bully: together with his friends, Bubot and Andy, Dado forms a plan to “befriend” Rodel and persuades him into coming with Dado and his friends to climb the mountain, Tigmawag. They eventually get there and when they get the chance, Dado and his friends abandoned Rodel. Rodel gets lucky though because an old hermit named Tandang Kandor finds him. Things go wrong, however, when Dado, Bubot, and Andy get kidnapped by a rebel group.

Honestly, I think the writing was overdone a bit. The words were huge and although the story was in Filipino, there were some strange bursts of English in between some parts.

Also, the plot was quite… I don’t know. Odd? Peculiar? Dado is thirteen years old. Why would he waste his time bringing Rodel to the mountain and letting him get lost there on purpose? Even though he is practically the biggest jerk around, I doubt even the biggest thirteen-year-old jerk would wish such things on someone like that. But no. Dado had to get revenge on Rodel, who didn’t even do anything to him.

What?

So even after all these weeks, I still can’t bring myself to like this book. Sorry, Mr. Dominguez.