Three book reviews by Zoé, one of my OIB students.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a semi-autobiographical 1943 novel written by Betty Smith. The story focuses on an impoverished but aspirational adolescent girl and her family living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York City, during the first two decades of the 20th century.
The main metaphor of the book is the Tree of Heaven, whose persistent ability to grow and flourish even in the inner city mirrors the protagonist's desire to better herself.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is an American classic. When it first appeared in 1943 it was an immediate success and has since become an icon of our cultural consciousness, a symbol of the American Dream. Even now echoes of the title are heard in newspaper headlines across the the USA; many people remember the story of Francie, who grew, like the tree, in the tenements of Williamsburg.
The reason that it was such an astounding success was, in part, because it was the first American novel about the lives of ordinary working-class people that was written in a style that ordinary working-class people could understand.
Originally published in 1884, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a satirical novel by Mark Twain.
Commonly part of the Great American Novels, the work is among the first major American novels to have been written in slang. It is told in the first person by Huckleberry "Huck" Finn, Tom Sawyer's friend, and narrator of two other Twain novels (Tom Sawyer Abroad and Tom Sawyer, Detective). It is a sequel of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
The novel's success derives from its wonderfully imaginative re-creation of boyhood adventures along the Mississippi River, its inspired characterization, the author's remarkable talent for dialogue, and the book's brilliantly developed serious fundamental themes: "natural" man versus "civilized" society, the evils of slavery, the innate value and dignity of human beings, and other topics. Most of all, Huckleberry Finn is a great story, filled with high adventure and unforgettable characters.
Atlas Shrugged is an enigmatic dystopian novel that includes elements of science fiction, mystery, and romance, and it contains Rand's most extensive statement of Objectivism in any of her works of fiction.
Opening with the enigmatic question 'Who is John Galt?', Atlas Shrugged is a world where the 'men of talent' - the great innovators, producers and creators - have mysteriously disappeared. With the US economy now defecting, businesswoman Dagny Taggart is struggling to get the transcontinental railroad up and running. For her John Galt is the enemy, but as she learns further in the novel, nothing in this situation is quite as it seems. Colossally influential, this story of a man who stopped the motor of the world expounds the controversial philosophy of Objectivism, which idealizes competition, creativity and human greatness.