Reviews by Julia Veik ’18
Originally printed in the May Network, page 7
Class of 2022
“The Go-Between” by Veronica Chambers is the incoming freshman summer read. It’s a coming-of-age story that features a Mexican teen named Camilla del Valle, or Cammi. Cammi’s mother is a famous telenovela actress in Mexico, her father is a famous voice actor and her brother is studying abroad.
When her mother is given the chance to play a minor role that will eventually become a main role in an American show, they move to Los Angeles, Calif. Cammi starts attending a private school where her new friends assume she is a scholarship student and treat her like she’s poor. She decides to keep up the ruse to see what they might say about her if she didn’t have money, but secrets can’t last forever.
Cammi has to face a choice of who she really is and if she’s any different than what people believe her to be. Through friendships and turmoil, Cammi must learn how to represent her culture positively while not straying from who she is.
“I think it’s a great choice for freshmen because they can relate to Cammi’s experience of entering a brand-new school where she doesn’t know anybody. Cammi has to navigate a new school, a new country and new friends. And while Marian students may not be involved in the same situation, they can certainly relate to some of those experiences,” English teacher Ms. Susie Sisson said.
The freshmen will not be able to Skype with the author. However, the freshmen will have the opportunity to listen to a speaker.
“The guest speaker we’ve lined up for the freshmen is really great and will be able to share a unique perspective on the immigrant experience right here in Omaha,” Sisson said.
Class of 2021
“Where’d you go, Bernadette?” written by Maria Semple, is a quirky novel about a woman named Bernadette, her family and the events leading up to her disappearance while on a cruise ship.
Bernadette, her husband Elgin and her daughter Balakrishna, or Bee, live in Seattle. Elgin works at Microsoft on a project called Samantha 2 and Bee attends a private school where the other moms don’t think very highly of Bernadette.
As a reward for keeping perfect grades, Bee requests to go to Antarctica on a family trip. At first, Bernadette is willing and even excited for her trip, but as it grows closer the worries of turbulent waters and seasickness begin to overwhelm her.
An intervention gone wrong and a run in with the FBI leads to Bernadette vanishing without a trace for several months and leaves Bee to pick up the pieces.
“‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette?’” is a perfect book for the soon-to-be sophomores. It’s quirky and insightful, just like they are. I’m so excited to share in Bee’s story with them,” English teacher Ms. Adie Magistro said.
The sophomores will have the opportunity to Skype with the author and ask her any questions they have about the book.
“It’s a tremendous privilege for our students to meet Maria Semple. So often, we find ourselves at the end of a novel with questions we wish we could ask the author. In this case, we can,” Magistro said.
Class of 2020
“Juliet” by Anne Fortier, is a re-telling of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” with its own twists that takes a step away from the classic to become its own unique tale.
The story begins when Julie Jacobs’ aunt dies and leaves her with a key to a safety deposit box in Italy and a clue to her past. Julie finds out that she, and her estranged twin Janice, are related to Giulietta, the real-life Juliet.
When she discovers that the curse placed on the two families, “A plague on both your houses,” may be coming after her next, she begins the search for her own Romeo to break the curse and save her life.
With help from the handsome Alessandro, she seeks her Romeo while discovering the real-life counterparts for each character in the original “Romeo and Juliet.”
As the novel progresses, readers see both the past and the present intertwine in an excellent story of a dangerous romance.
“I applaud Fortier and her writing plan. She clearly wanted to showcase a familiar story to her audience, but she rejuvenated the old tale so that readers were seeing it in a whole new way. Fortier’s expansion on the classic was organized and I greatly appreciated the fact that she didn’t drag readers deeply into Elizabethan England – in fact, she completely avoided it,” English teacher Ms. Megan Piernicky said.
The junior class will also have the chance to ask the author questions about their summer read via Skype.
“I think having the opportunity to hear the author and ask questions is extremely This is an amazing benefit for our young writers. The more insight students are given, the more confidence they have with their own writing,” Piernicky said.
Class of 2019
“The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein is the seniors’ summer read for next school year. The seniors will have the opportunity to ask Garth Stein questions about “The Art of Racing in the Rain” via Skype. This unique novel is written in the perspective of the family dog, Enzo, who is not all you might expect a dog to be.
Enzo deals with very human emotions and thinks just as complexly as people do. Stein’s portrayal of the inner thoughts of a dog are a brilliant mixture of comedy and serious lessons about life brought about through classic dog behavior and racing metaphors.
“It’s definitely a tear-jerker and I think there’s some really deep lessons that Enzo kind of comes across over the course of his life and shares with readers that can make for some great discussion to kick off the year,” English teacher Mrs. Aleecia Cotton said.
Throughout the book, you see Enzo grow with his owner Denny, who has always been interested in the challenge of racing cars. Enzo shares Denny’s love of racing. Enzo is there when Denny brings his future wife Eve home, and when their daughter Zoe is born.
Enzo is a wonderfully complex character who is always loyal to Denny and does his best to protect the people he loves. “If you’ve ever bonded with an animal at all, I think you’ll love this story,” Cotton said.