The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea

by Ernest Hemingway

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The Old Man and the Sea is one of Hemingway’s most enduring works. Told in language of great simplicity and power, it is the story of an old Cuban fisherman, down on his luck, and his supreme ordeal—a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream. Here Hemingway recasts, in strikingly contemporary style, the classic theme of courage in the face of defeat, of personal triumph won from loss. Written in 1952, this hugely successful novella confirmed his power and presence in the literary world and played a large part in his winning the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Have you ever made a decision knowing it was going to change your perspective?

I hated Ernest Hemingway. I decided that I hated him half way through A Farewell to Arms my junior year of high school. I didn’t care if he was considered a literary genius…A Farewell to Arms just plain sucked. And I didn’t like him.

And then I visited Key West and spent a day at the beautiful Hemingway home. And I took a writing course taught by a fabulous person who loved Hemingway’s works. And then I went back to Key West and feel even more in love with Hemingway’s home. And this tiny voice in the back of my head told me I was being pig-headed holding on so tightly to that hate. And as a strong-willed, intelligent woman….I completely dismissed that little voice. PSSSHHHHH I DON’T LIKE HEMINGWAY!

And yet…many times I found myself looking at his name on a shelf at Barnes and Noble. I always perused the used Hemingway texts at my local bookstore. I reached out to that friend/professor asking which story one should read if they were hypothetically interested in trying to not hate Hemingway. And then I found myself with a used copy of The Old Man and the Sea in my beach bag as I headed off to enjoy a ‘me day” at the beach.

I’m not going to talk about the story, as many of you have likely read it as a required text in some high school or college course. There are a bagillion reviews on The Old Man and the Sea that you can read if you want to know more about it. All I am going to say is that I love it! I adore Santiago and his love of baseball. I was surprised by his respect for the fish. I enjoy his relationship with the boy. And I burst into tears, sharing the sadness of the fishing community as Santiago slept and I turned the last page.

Just 2.5 hours of reading at the beach and The Old Man and the Sea changed everything.

I no longer hate Ernest Hemingway (no comment on A Farewell to Arms :D) I find myself often thinking of the Old Man. I wouldn’t say no to reading something else.

Let me know what you think and happy reading.

Lindsay

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Hatchet

Hatchet

by Gary Paulsen

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Brian is on his way to Canada to visit his estranged father when the pilot of his small prop plane suffers a heart attack. Brian is forced to crash-land the plane in a lake–and finds himself stranded in the remote Canadian wilderness with only his clothing and the hatchet his mother gave him as a present before his departure.

Brian had been distraught over his parents’ impending divorce and the secret he carries about his mother, but now he is truly desolate and alone. Exhausted, terrified, and hungry, Brian struggles to find food and make a shelter for himself. He has no special knowledge of the woods, and he must find a new kind of awareness and patience as he meets each day’s challenges. Is the water safe to drink? Are the berries he finds poisonous?

Slowly, Brian learns to turn adversity to his advantage–an invading porcupine unexpectedly shows him how to make fire, a devastating tornado shows him how to retrieve supplies from the submerged airplane. Most of all, Brian leaves behind the self-pity he has felt about his predicament as he summons the courage to stay alive.

A story of survival and of transformation, this riveting book has sparked many a reader’s interest in venturing into the wild.

I’m not going to provide a summary because the above synopsis does a pretty good job. Plus, I feel like Hatchet is an American classic; if you haven’t read it you’ve probably still heard of it.

Surprisingly, I had not read Hatchet before last year. This is odd as I adore Julie of the Wolves and read My Side of the Mountain as a pre-teen. And I’ve read pretty much every book written by Bill Wallace. I have no idea why I never read Hatchet, but my husband and I decided to remedy that and listened to the audiobook during our annual holiday road trip.

Hatchet was fantastic. For those who don’t know, my husband and I are both pilots and minimalist campers. I have been flying for most of my life and M is really good at survival style camping. Paulsen’s descriptions of the flight (and subsequent crash) are spot on, obviously written by someone with aviation experience. Brian’s successes, and failures, at survival are also quite realistic. Paulsen provides exquisitely detailed descriptions that pull the reader through the story, and Hatchet is a fantastic example of solid character development. It’s a ‘coming of age’ story that was actually enjoyable, without the pages upon pages of teenage angst that now represents the genre standard.

The only ‘negative’ point is there are some pretty gruesome moments as Brian survives the plane crash, multiple injuries, a moose attack, and a tornado. The book is not for the faint of heart and there are a number of people I wouldn’t recommend it to because the well written passages would leave them terrified of small aircraft and the great outdoors. This is not necessarily a fault against the book, just a point audiences need to be aware of.

Hatchet holds up as a classic survival story and I personally think it needs to remain as standard reading for preteens…especially as society forgets the skills of basic survival. I feel like its a book for any season, and look forward to picking it up again.

Does anyone else love Hatchet? What are your favorite survival stories? (I have so many on my list!)

Happy Reading!

Lindsay

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

by E.L. Konigsburg

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When suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn’t just want to run from somewhere, she wants to run to somewhere — to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and, preferably, elegant. She chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Knowing her younger brother Jamie has money and thus can help her with a serious cash-flow problem, she invites him along.

Once settled into the museum, Claudia and Jamie find themselves caught up in the mystery of an angel statue that the museum purchased at auction for a bargain price of $225. The statue is possibly an early work of the Renaissance master, Michelangelo, and therefore worth millions. Is it? Or isn’t it?

Claudia is determined to find out. Her quest leads her to Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the remarkable old woman who sold the statue, and to some equally remarkable discoveries about herself.

Today’s review is over what some may consider the solving of the most important mystery ever uncovered: From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

I actually do not remember reading From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in school. But I vaguely knew the story and would catch myself thinking of it during daydreams, so I must have read it. Thankfully, I was reintroduced to the mystery while birthday shopping for my godson. I stumbled across it on the ‘Back-To-School’ book table at Barnes and Noble and walked out that day with a copy for each of us!

I am not going to share a summary of From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. The synopsis does a great job and I wouldn’t want to spoil the fun for new readers. I am; however, going to start with the one negative thought I have (might as well just get the pesky bugger out of the way). I can understand why some parents would hesitate to share this story with their kids thanks to the whole running away from home thing. I don’t have any advice for parents. I’m sure there is a way to share the brilliance of this story while also ensuring kids understand that it’s not ok to runaway from home. I’ll just leave it at that. Phew…not that that’s out of the way.

I LOVE From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Love it. I love the interactions between Claudia and Jamie. I I adored Jamie’s penny pinching and sympathized with Claudia’s search for something more. I recognize so much of myself in Claudia Kincaid. We share the same need for a good plan, the want of something unique out of life, and a deep love for the mysterious! I found myself desperate to discover the truth about Angel, and was honestly sad when I had to put the book down and deal with life things.

But there is so much more to From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler than my connection to Claudia. Konigsburg’s brilliance is found in the details of the mundane tasks of bathing, eating regular meals, and washing clothes. She took a fanciful adventure and made it realistic as the children go about ordinary lives in an extraordinary local. And the setting makes you feel as is you are wondering the museum halls hand in hand with the Kincaids. Her story teaches readers that dealing with mundane chores does not mean one has to live a mundane life and that constantly seeking knowledge is essential for a good adventure.

Museums, mystery…what’s not to love?!? From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is a story worth revisiting year after year, for as Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler observed, you are never too young to experience and learn something new! And this story is the perfect way to remind yourself of that simple truth!

Please share your thoughts on From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler! I look forward to hearing them.

Lindsay