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Posts Tagged ‘coming-of-age

Book Review: Blackanese Boy by Ramon Calhoun

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Blackanese Boy, Ramon Calhoun

Source: Amazon

Plot Summary (Taken from Amazon): BLACKANESE BOY, set primarily in San Francisco in the 1970s and early 1980s, follows the trials and tribulations, the ups and downs, of Rafael Halifax, as he negotiates the complex dance of being mixed-race in a race conscious society. A coming of age novel, BLACKANESE BOY explores the issues and complexities, the pain and joy, of being both black and Japanese-American, for one American boy. 

My Review: One of the best things about this book is how realistic the experience of being bi-racial is. Since the author is black and Japanese himself, certain experiences like being mistaken for a Mexican because of his skin tone and being stared at by other Japanese people rang sincere.

In addition, there are certain events that are universal for anyone who has a personality that doesn’t fit the stereotype of their skin color. For instance, some Asian people in the book expected Rafael to know everything about hip-hop because he was black.

Besides the experience of being bi-racial, the cultural setting of the book was very interesting. There are certain events like the atomic bomb scare and the birth of hip-hop culture that make the book seem like historical fiction rather than a typical coming-of-age story.

Also, the way the author included Japanese,  black, Hispanic, Arabic, Muslim, and white people was a good way for the reader to experience different cultures and encounters through Rafael’s eyes.

Furthermore, the author did a good job showing that no group is exempt from being prejudiced or racist, even if they are your own ethnic group.

When it comes to the book’s flaws, the only one was the story’s ending. For a coming-of-age story, it was too ambiguous. By the end, it felt like Rafael got older, but not wiser.

Overall, the book was good, but Rafael’s character could have been developed better. However, I still recommend this book because any mixed race black person and any blasian (black and asian) person will relate to it.





Written by Serena Zola

June 26, 2014 at 8:52 PM

Movie Review: The Breakfast Club (VHS/DVD)

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The Breakfast Club

Originally released in 1985, The Breakfast Club tells the story of five teens from different high school cliques reporting to a Saturday detention: Andrew Clark (played by Emilio Estevez), Claire Standish (Molly Ringwald), John Bender (Judd Nelson), Brian Johnson (Anthony Michael Hall), and Aly Sheedy (Alison Reynolds). To each other, Principal Vernon (Paul Gleason), and the school janitor Carl (John Kapelos), the teens are nothing more than an athlete, a princess, a criminal, a brain, and a basketcase. However, as the teens serve their time, they learn they are more than what their labels suggest.

One of the best things in the film is its timeless messages to teens and adults. For both groups, it seems to simply be the saying, “There’s more to people than meets the eye.” However, different things are addressed for each group. With adults, especially parents, the film is trying to get them to see the angst that can result from neglect or forcing an identity on a teen. As for the message to teens, the film is encouraging them to realize that while everyone may be in different cliques, they are all trying to figure out who they are.

Besides the messages themselves, the ways they were delivered were memorable. One way was through lines and quotes. For instance, at the very beginning of the film there is a quote from David Bowie that perfectly sums up the teens’ inner turmoil. Also, a line from Aly Sheedy that goes, “When you grow up, your heart dies.” poignantly expresses the teens’ fears of turning into their parents. Another creative way the messages were displayed was through music. A notable song from the film is the song “We Are Not Alone”, which was a good choice for the teens’ dancing celebration of their realizations.

In addition to the film’s messages, some of the acting was incredible. Out of all the actors playing the teens, Judd Nelson and Emilio Estevez shine the brightest. Their verbal and physical interaction scenes, such as when Andy sticks up for Claire, were well done. They shine by themselves too. With Nelson, it is the impressions scene of Brian and John’s home lives. With Estevez, it is the confession circle scene and the scene where Andy is really high on smoke. Besides the teens, Paul Gleason played a great principal. His best scene involves him trying to provoke John Bender.

Overall, the film was very entertaining. I recommend that teens and adults watch the film together so they can discuss its relevance to today’s generation.

Here is the Impressions scene with Judd Nelson (as John Bender, the guy in red)

Written by Serena Zola

August 6, 2012 at 10:44 AM

Book Review: The House on Mango Street

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In the Latino section of Chicago lies the House on Mango Street.

In the house lives a young girl named Esperanza.

This is the story of her world.

One of the most powerful things about the House on Mango Street is the storytelling. Instead of chapters, the story is told in a series of vignettes. Think of a vignette as a verbal snapshot of a specific moment in time. With rich sensory detail and the narration of Esperanza, it is like a story and poem rolled into one.

Another notable thing about this book is its universal themes of identity and empowerment. Even though the characters in the book are Latino, the feelings and experiences that they have can resonate with anyone. In fact, the rawness and honesty in this book is similar to another well-known coming-of-age novel: The Outsiders.

While this novel does have its strengths, it also has a weakness. Besides Esperanza, there are many other characters featured. Since you only see things through Esperanza’s eyes, it can be confusing to take in her and everyone else she sees all at once. Despite this, The House on Mango Street is still a fantastic read.

Written by Serena Zola

February 29, 2012 at 10:43 AM

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