Our VolunTEENs have been hard at work reading and writing a ton of awesome reviews for you this summer! Here are two more written by Isabelle R., age 16.
Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
This book details the thoughts of author Edward Abbey throughout his time working as a park ranger for the Arches National Park in eastern Utah. These “thoughts” might be better classified as opinionated philosophical ramblings, but they are engaging nonetheless. This book is really a memoir, but not in the format we are used to. Abbey is stationed in a rural post, leaving only once or twice a month. He spends his time checking on campsites and helping visitors, but mainly details his relationships with the desert animals, his long walks, and his sense of freedom created by such solitude. These rather reclusive tendencies prompt Abbey to reflect at length upon the perils of suburban life as well as persuade his readers with amazing stories of life in the desert. Reading this book is like talking to a very eclectic person- it’s fascinating so, out of respect, you hold your laughter until the end.
But, for those who find themselves agreeing with Abbey, you will discover a true depth and intellect to his meditations. Whether you detest the modern dependence on cars, the federal government, or our failure to conserve the environment, Abbey has an opinion for you. There is an element for every free-thinker to relate to in this book, a spirited inner-monologue of an American man who longs for the charms of the old world.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
The Catcher in the Rye is a book that everyone recognizes and for some reason that most people seem to hold in high regard. In my opinion, this is just a Young Adult book whose contents do not suggest anything more than the romanticism of an over-privileged slacker. The main character, Holden, spends the duration of the novel attempting to deal with the grief of losing his younger brother. He chooses the path of least resistance; failing out of many wonderful schools, rejecting opportunities, and dismissing any conversation that tries to understand his actions. A few teachers throughout the book see an intelligence in Holden, or at least wasted potential, and try to guide him. These attempts are futile, and even his little sister becomes angry with him for his lifestyle.
But, there are some more positive things to be taken from his story. The style of which this book is written and the skill of Salinger to so perfectly embody the voice of his character is to be truly appreciated by the reader. We find ourselves almost embarrassingly enthralled by a very depressing (and frankly boring) story thanks to the immersive style of Salinger’s voice. The impression left upon reaching the back cover is not really about Holden, but more an informative reminder on the healthy ways to process grief and move on from it. I would recommend this book to a reader who either enjoys the YA genre or is looking for an example of a well-executed narrative.
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