I’m taking an AP Literature class this year, and I had to read a book of literary merit over the summer and write an essay in preparation. I chose Jane Eyre because I was told that I would enjoy it immensely. I certainly did, and I am very glad that I read it.
   Going into it, I was scared because it was so long, but as I read, I realized that it wouldn’t be difficult to finish because it was such a good book. I was able to understand the story, even if it took a bit longer to get through than most books because it was written in an older dialect.
   I really enjoyed the characters in this book, as do most people, because they were three-dimensional and unpredictable. They didn’t act as they were expected to, based upon one aspect of their character. All of the characters acted as humans do, based on every component of their character, rather than simply the way they should behave in their circumstances.
   Of course, this book did include a lot of people acting as they should based on where they were, such as all of the ladies at Mr. Rochester’s house. However, despite the fact that none of them were acting honestly, it gave the book a little more truth because that was exactly what those women would’ve done in order to win the affections of a man, and to be seen as proper ladies in society.
   The other reason I wasn’t sure I wanted to read this book was that I’d heard it was a love story, and it seemed an awful lot of trouble to go through just to read a love story. It wasn’t just a love story, though. Throughout the book, Jane’s search for her own identity was stressed more than any of the situations she encountered, or her relationship with Mr. Rochester, the theme being more important than the story itself. The book felt very realistic in this sense because Jane didn’t start as a perfect person, and at no point in the story did she become one. Most of the time, she didn’t really know who she was. She didn’t stay true to her convictions and only do things her true self approved of, because she didn’t know who her true self really was.
   This was the aspect of the book that made it so much more realistic than other books, books whose main characters never abandon their ideas and always know how they should proceed in order to remain true to themselves. Jane didn’t have this issue, because she didn’t know who to remain true to; she didn’t know who she was. She found herself over the course of the story, and each place and person she encountered lent itself to her journey of self-discovery.
   Jane Eyre is widely regarded as a classic, and it’s easy to see why. It was written incredibly well, it featured honest characters, and it was about the main character’s search for self-discovery, rather than her search for love and happiness. Had I known it was going to be so much more than a four-hundred-and-something-page love story, I would’ve had much higher expectations, and probably wouldn’t have waited until the very last minute to read it.

   I was hesitant to read this book because it was sure to be sad, and was historical fiction, a genre I’ve never been all that into. It looked interesting, though, so I figured I’d give it a chance. 
   The story is about a girl named Amari whose life is wonderful until she is taken by slave traders. She meets an indentured servant named Polly in the U.S., and the two have the opportunity to escape the plantation they live. I may have been unsure because I thought it was going to be all about their journey. However, it was about their friendship on the plantation and on the run.
   As was to be expected, their friendship did not happen naturally. They spoke two different languages, and though both were unhappy with their situation, they were unhappy for different reasons. This put a strain on the interactions they had, but it seemed like a real relationship between two people brought together by circumstances like this. Of course, I’ve never been in a situation like this, but I can imagine that it would be difficult for them to get along and get things done. However, they overcame their differences by finding things in common and developing a way of communication.
   The book proved to be more than a story about two girls’ journey by providing insight into what their daily lives on the plantation might’ve looked like and why they might’ve looked that way. In my experience, it’s been hard to find books that portray slavery in a realistic yet palatable way, but this one certainly did that. I don’t claim to be any expert on slavery, but this book seemed to be a very realistic picture of how things would’ve been on a plantation. This is unsurprising because it won the prestigious Coretta Scott King Award, but I suppose I just didn’t expect it to be so sad and intense.
   Although it was sad, it also had a good story, and the characters didn’t seem at all forced, as one might expect from this type of novel. Many of them seemed to be upset, of course, but they all seemed to be able to grasp what they were upset about and handle it in their own way.
   I really enjoyed this book, which I did not expect, considering the genre and plot. The characters were well-developed, the story was interesting, and it seemed realistic on a whole. After reading it, I’m definitely considering reading more books in this genre.

On an unrelated note, I haven’t been able to read as much as I would like lately because I’ve had a lot of work to do for school. How do you make time to read in your busy schedule?

   About a year ago, I read Tina Fey’s book, Bossypants, for a school project, and I loved it. I knew she was friends with Amy Poehler, and mentioned her in the book, but I never knew just how awesome Amy Poehler actually is. Then, a few months ago, my family started watching Parks and Recreation, and I realized how awesome she really was. When I found out she’d written a book, I was all over it. (I got a used copy on Amazon, originally from a library in Illinois, which is also pretty awesome.)
   I expected this book to be a funny compilation of stories about her struggles with social issues and some deep insight about how to deal with life, which is what I found Fey’s book to be. This one was slightly different, but in a good way. It was not written to just be funny, but rather to actually be a memoir. It was funny, because Amy Poehler can’t write something and not be hilarious, but that wasn’t its main goal.
   It was more honest than I expected it to be. She admitted to many of her flaws, even though she didn’t go into too much depth with most of them. It wasn’t bothersome that these things aren’t discussed much, though, because that might have made the book too heavy, which it wasn’t supposed to be. Throughout the book, she shared her major experiences and how they’ve shaped her, especially the ones that made her a better person. It also included pictures, poetry, scripts, chapters written by guests, and a lot of random anecdotes that didn’t contribute to the overall story, but did make it even more interesting to read. In addition, there were full-page inspirational sayings throughout the book, which was nice to see as I read.
   My favorite thing about this book was how much she praised the people she loves. She spoke highly of all the people who helped her career, and professed her love for all of her close friends multiple times, something I love to see. I enjoy reading books like this by women because they show support for the women in their lives that lift them up and make them more amazing people. This is a concept Amy Poehler definitely gets, because she talked a lot about her friends and how great they are, not just her female friends, but everyone that makes her life better.
   I enjoyed this book because it’s about the ups and downs of life, and how to deal with the extremes and everything in between. It is honest and funny, and Amy Poehler really embraces the “haters gonna hate” mentality, being who she is unapologetically. I’m glad I read this book, and I believe my next order of business is to download the audiobook.

If you've read this, what did you think?

   I read three of Sarah Dessen’s books prior to reading this one, and I must say that it’s not my favorite of her books. This isn't to say I didn’t like it; I simply believe she’s written better books. I found this book at a library a few weeks ago, along with a couple of her other books, and of all the ones there, this one had the best review on Goodreads. It took me a little while to read it because I was starting school and reading a couple of other books at the time, but I finally finished it, and to put it simply, I enjoyed it.
    It was everything you’d expect from a Sarah Dessen book, or really most YA contemporary fiction these days. It was about a girl who had a problem having to do with who she was, and she went through a series of cute activities with friends (new for the most part) to figure out who she was and who she wanted to be.
    Even though it was expected, the story wasn't bad: it was set in a coastal town, there were plenty of teens enjoying themselves, and the main character’s family faced some problems, as most families do. Most of the plot points weren’t surprising, but one doesn’t usually read this type of book for the shocking twists.
    I really liked the characters in this book because most of them were three-dimensional and fairly realistic. However, I didn’t like how many of the characters were developed, because it felt like some of them developed only with the presentation of new facts about their history. The main character, Auden, at least, underwent subtle changes throughout the first half of the book, and then experienced more obvious ones as the story progressed, leaving her a very different person at the end of the book.
    This book wasn’t shockingly amazing for me, but it also didn’t disappoint me by failing to meet my expectations. It was a good book that I don’t feel the need to read again, but I’m glad I read it once. It’s a light, summer-y read, perfect if, like me, you want to preserve the season as long as you can.
P.S. Please excuse the poor lighting in the photo.

What other books are you reading to hold onto the sunshine?