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The Book Thief: by Markus Zusak

Journal Entry #1:

In the early stages of The Book Thief we are exposed to young Liesel Meminger who has met
recent struggles in her life, growing up in war torn Nazi Germany. These struggles exemplified
by her brothers death and her mother's abandonment. In the early chapters of the novel, Liesel is
handed over to a foster family who will take care of her basic needs and housing. My favorite
quote from the beginning of The Book Thief is It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is
holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. Through the early
stages of the novel, undoubtedly my favorite character is Liesel Memingers Papa, who is a
symbolism of love and care, even during harsh times in life.

Journal Entry #2

Throughout the novel I have noticed that the premise of story revolves around the power words
have on society. Examples of the varying ways that words connect to people exist in the story. In
the early stages of the novel, Hans Hubermann and Liesel develop a strong connection through
learning the alphabet and learning to read. The narrator states, In the left corner of an upturned
piece of sandpaper, he drew a square of perhaps an inch and shoved a capital A inside it. In the
other corner, he placed a lowercase one. So far, so good.(pg.67) Here we see that the
relationship between Liesel and Hans ultimately strengthens through the enlightenment of words.
Later in the story, Liesel and Max Vandenburg develop their strong relationship through Liesel
just merely describing the weather outside. Liesel states, The sky is blue today, Max, and there
is a big long cloud, and its stretched out like a rope. At the end of it, the sun is yellow hole.(pg.
248) This little act of care for Max further establishes the bond between the two. In fact, the
greatest gift that Max gives to Liesel is words, in The Word Shaker. In his story, Max indicates
that the most powerful force in the universe is words. He shows how Hitler used words rather
than guns and violence to achieve his power as a dictator.

Journal Entry #3

Continuing on with the theme of the power of words in The Book Thief, Liesel shows how
words have an untouchable power when she and many of her friends and family are in the
basement amid bomb warnings. In this moving section of the book, Liesel uses the words from
The Whistler to calm the chaos in the shelter. Death states, For at least twenty minutes, she
handed out the story. The youngest kids were soothed by her voice, and everyone else saw
visions of the whistler running from the crime scene. Liesel did not. The book thief saw only the
mechanics of words-their bodies stranded on the paper, beaten down for her to walk on.(pg.381)
After this scene was concluded, Frau Holtzapfel even asked Liesel to read to her every Monday
and Friday at four oclock. This shows how Liesel and her words create a connection to the
characters of the story, even when all seems lost.

Journal Entry #4:

After finishing The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, I have noticed that the author focuses on
characters who learn to love one another even when faced with great hatred and tragedy. In my
opinion, the novel embraces the fact that love can exist in many varying forms. These forms of
love can vary from brotherly love, to romantic love, to family love, and to even sympathetic
love. In fact, the most emphatic moment of love in the The Book Thief for me was when Hans
Hubermann in public offers a Jewish man bread as he marches through the streets of Molching,
Germany. The narrator states, The Jew stood before him,expecting another handful of derision,
but he watched with everyone else as Hans Hubermann held his hand out and presented a piece
of bread, like magic(pg. 394). Following this scene both men were whipped publicly in front of
the onlookers in the street. This example proves that love does not have to be necessarily love in
a relationship, but can be an act of kindness or compassion. This scene shows how Hans not only
cares about the wellbeing of others, but puts others above himself.

Friday Night Lights: By Buzz Bissinger

Journal Entry #1

In the early moments of the novel, Bissinger explores the divide of race and football in the Texas
region. The narrator explains to the reader that Odessa High School was largely white, and
contained most members of the wealthier portion of Odessa (downtown). Meanwhile, Ector
county, on the other side of the tracks, incorporated most of the African-American and Latino
population. These students attended Ector High School, whose population was ultimately
dominated by Latinos and African populations. Ector High, however, claimed to not have enough
students for a football team. This absence paved way for Odessa High School to dominate the
local region. Then, in the 1960s, Permian High School was created, which was attended by
students who lived in a wealthier region then the downtown area of Odessa. The new high
school ultimately drew many white families away from Odessa. Permian later became the new
high school powerhouse, while Odessa High essentially gained most of the Latino population
after Ector High closed down. The play of Odessa High plummeted, while Permian Highs play
skyrocketed. In actuality Odessa High accused Permian of redrawing the football boundaries to
guarantee that, if black students were attending Permian, they would be athletic students who had
the capability of improving the football team. Throughout the novel, Bissinger compares
ethnicity and football. For example, Bissinger states, It wasnt necessary to live in Odessa for
long to realize that the Permian football team wasnt just a high school team but sacrosanct white
institution. Mojo seemed to have a mystical charm to it, Hurd said. White players are often
praised for their big heart, and hard work. Latinos, on the other hand, were often said to not
have what is takes to play and succeed in big time football. Meanwhile, African-Americans
were important because whites believed they were athletically inclined, and able to win Permian
a state title.

Journal Entry #2

In the novel, Bissinger shows us, the reader, how and why Odessa thrives on oil. The wealth of
Odessa obtains from oil-drilling, to pipe building, construction, and distribution. Bissinger points
out that the oil industry in Odessa is highly dependent on other countries, especially the Middle
East, where oil is supplied. Early in the 1980s, oil is expensive per barrel, known as the boom,
but later that decade, oil was just over five dollars a barrel (the bust). Aaron Giebel, a
businessman from Odessa, thrived on during the boom in the early 1980s. Giebel began
investing in oil prospecting, and as the price of oil rose, he gambled more and more on the
industry. Giebel saw his profits continually rise in the early 1980s, buying himself and his wife a
13,000 square foot home, equipped with the most extravagant of items. However, the bust in the
oil industry was inevitable. Giebel has already spent millions of dollars on his beautiful house,
and his own private jet. Geibel's mistake was that he thought the boom would last forever,
resulting in making risky loans, and buying luxurious items. With the constant boom-bust cycle
in Odessa, divisions between the wealthy and the poor became more distinguished. Commonly,
white-collared families attempted to make money during the book, but ultimately spent it all.
This resulted in the Permian part of Odessa being richer than the downtown area, and the
downtown area being richer than the Southside.

Journal Entry #3

Over the course of the novel, Bissinger examines the effect of a sport in a football-mad part of
the country, the small town of Odessa, Texas. Football ultimately dominates the culture of
Western Texas. Throughout the book, Bissinger interviews the players of Mojo focusing
mostly on seniors, including Boobie Miles, Brian Chavez, Jerrod McDougal, Don Billingsley,
Mike Winchell, and Ivory Christian. Bissinger also follows the life of Permian coach Gary
Gaines and other students, teachers, political figures, and workers who can somehow relate to
Permian Football. Football in the Permian community is a symbol of strength and renewance in
the everyday lives of the townspeople. Odessa, a desert town that thrives on oil, is often put
down by political figures, and other fellow Americans. Football is a sport that the townspeople
can turn to in times where everything seems lost. In Friday Night Lights, we hear countless
stories of Permian fans, who all agree that without football, their lives would be meaningless.
Football provides people in the town something to look forward to every Friday night when their
Permian Panthers take the field, representing their small town of Odessa. Bissinger states, The
fans clutched in their hands the 1988 Permian football yearbook, published annually by the
booster club...It ran 224 pages, had 513 individual advertisements, and raised 20,000 dollars.
(Chpt. 2) Bissinger explains to us the reader just how important football is in the community of
Odessa. Even when Permian loses in the State Semi-Finals to Carter High School, Permian fans
are still right there, ready for football next year. Symbolically speaking Permian Football to the
Odessa community is similar to Martin Luther King Jr. to the African-American community.
Both are a beacon of hope and reassurance when all seems to be lost and forgotten.

The World Today (Connections)

Journal Entry #1

In the news over the summer, I have noticed that the testing of North Korean missiles, has been a
common trend. Almost every week in the news, there is another report of North Korea testing
missiles and sending threats. Even recently, North Korea fired a missile over Japan, which
violated Japanese airspace. With the disturbing news that seems to be constantly involving North
Korea, I feel that many people around the world are believing that all North Koreans are corrupt
and twisted like Kim Jong Un and other Korean officials. The suffering that many of the
innocent people endure in North Korea must be unimaginable. These people are forced to vote
for the a dictator who is more concerned about himself than the community around him. These
innocents also must live in the fear that tomorrow they might not be here. This situation in North
Korea, I feel connects to Nazi, Germany in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Millions of innocent
Germans were forced to live in terror as harsh dictator Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party ruled over
Germany.

Journal Entry #2

After seeing the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey, I have noticed in the news of thousands
even millions of people helping and donating to help the victims who have lost almost
everything. This summer, Hurricane Harvey, a category 4 storm, ripped through Houston and
parts of Louisiana, leaving at least 45 people dead. Despite the constant news of the catastrophe
the hurricane has caused, I also have been noticing the amount of people donating and raising
money to help the recovery effort. For example, football star J.J. Watt, who plays for the Houston
Texans has raised up to 12 million dollars to help Houston regain its strength. Even on the streets
of Westerly I have seen people out asking for donations to help Houston. After hearing and
witnessing thousands of people lending a hand to help those in need has shown me that their is
good in humanity. Even though many people try to shut others out, even more are ready to give a
helping hand.

Journal Entry #3

This coming September, Save the Bay is once again helping to clean up the beaches and bays
around the world. Last year, almost 800,000 people worldwide, including 2,000 in Rhode Island
came out to remove trash from coastal shorelines. Each year, tens of thousands of discarded
items are removed from the shorelines. For example, according to the Westerly Sun, in 2016, in
South County, 237 volunteers picked up 1,073 pounds of trash. That is about two-thirds as heavy
as a regular sized cow. Just hearing that almost 1,100 pounds of trash is located on our coastlines
is unacceptable. Without these people that come out every year to help support our clean
beaches, that would be 1,100 pounds of trash polluting our world today. Think in the case from
50 years from now. That, assuming that is the amount of trash every year on one beach, would be
55,000 pounds of trash! I think that this program shows just how wasteful humans can be.
However, this situation also shows the good people in the world who are here to make the world
a better place one piece of trash at a time. I think we should be giving these people a thank you
for the work they are doing. Without them the beaches would be an unenjoyable experience filled
with garbage and filth. Without these people, are economy would suffer. An economy that thrives
on tourists visiting our beautiful beaches for a great summer experience.

Journal Entry #4

In many cases in todays news, it seems as if the depressing and tragic stories are the only reports
we hear about. Recently while I was looking at the news I saw that a 13 year old boy is running
for governor of Vermont. Ethan Sonneborn,13, of Bristol, Vermont, announced over the summer
that he is running for Vermont governor. No requirement exists to be governor of Vermont.
Sonneborn stated that he is running to win, not just as a joke. The 13 year old currently attends
Mount Abraham Union Middle/High School. Sonneborn says that he plans on running for U.S.
President in 2044, in which he will be 40 years old. I think that having younger politicians is
helpful for our news, as it gives us new approaches on how different people view certain topics
and ideas. Sonneborn, I think may have sparked a new generation of younger politicians. The
pros of having younger politicians is that they are free of association with ideas and excesses of
the past. This leaves them able to form their own opinions without contradicting past notions.
Sonneborn may not win, but I believe that the future is bright for younger politicians.