Reviewer: Brittany Reynolds
Author: Ally Condie
Number of Pages: 366
Matched takes place in a Utopian like society where everyone’s life is monitored and controlled. Everyone gets married, has kids, and dies at the same age. Their jobs are determined by the Officials along with how much of what food they eat and where they live. The book begins with Cassia, the protagonist of the story, waiting for her Match Banquet. The Match Banquet is where seventeen year olds learn who they are matched with and will be married to someday. At the banquet, Cassia finds that her match is her best friend Xander, an event that only occurs on rare occasion. She feels much relief when she learns this until she takes his information microchip home and puts it into her computer. While expecting for Xander’s face to pop up on the screen, another boy’s does. This malfunction leads Cassia to a series of questions and a journey to find who she is really meant to be with.
I loved this book because it made me contemplate some of the rights and wrongs in our own society. Throughout the book, Cassia begins to doubt the perfection of the Society. It made me think about how horrible it would be to not be able to control my actions or my future. This book is ideal for upper middle school aged students, but anyone in middle school or high school could read the book. Even though it is a pretty quick read for older high school students, it still has a good theme and many questions to ponder. Matched is the first book of a trilogy!
Despite the fact that his family isn’t religious at all, several boys from school beat up fourteen-year-old Karl Stern because of his Jewish heritage. A positive note for Karl, his father has a painting that legendary boxer Max Schmeling wants. Max trades boxing lessons for Karl in exchange for the painting. First, Max tells Karl, he must complete the 300—a series of pushups, pull-ups, and other strength training exercises. Karl dedicates himself to the 300, working every day and slowly building up his strength in anticipation of Max’s training.
Things at school are getting worse—there’s a new principal who’s completely dedicated to Hitler’s regime and students are signing up for the Hitler Youth program in droves. Only a few of the Jewish students don’t, Karl included, and soon they are expelled from school.
Max finally frees up some training time and Karl is overjoyed. He’s a natural in the ring and devotes himself to this new sport. All is not well for the Sterns, though. Like many other families, they have lost their home and money is running out. Forced to move out of their apartment building, they hide in his father’s gallery where things get much, much worse. Karl has more than the ring to contend with.
Sometimes historical fiction carries a stigma of being dry and boring—this book was anything but! It was engaging from the get-go. The first chapter caught me like a right hook and the story was quick to knock out. I love that author Robert Sharenow wove Karl’s story with that of real-life legend Max Schmeling. This is the story of a young fighter during a volatile time in history. Pound for pound, this book packs plenty of punches. Just throw in the towel and read it already!
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
Everyone went home with a finished painting that looks good enough to eat!
Sara Noori from the Art Box guides painters through the process of creating their own personal cupcake painting in the style of Wayne Thiebaud.
A cupcake is a perfect painting subject--it doesn't move, it doesn't complain. It just sits there, lookin' delicious. :)