An Open Book

In The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande, her life and experiences as an immigrant in America, the importance of her family and not losing hope were persistent themes within the memoir. Unfortunately, Grande’s childhood was far from peaceful and loving, instead being one full of traumatizing experiences and events. Still, as of now, it is my favorite non-fiction book. Yet because I misplaced my copy of this book, I cannot cite direct evidence to support some of my ideas, however, I will be trying to give an honest impression of this book as it had a very lasting impact on me, which means all quotes are taken from articles that Reyna Grande has written or posted on her website. Finally, there are some minor to major spoilers to the book in this blog post.

A controversial subject that is very relevant in the theme of the book is the problem of illegal immigration. Children from Central and South America are often separated from their parents when they leave their homes for work in the United States, often through illegal means. In The Distance Between Us, Reyna suffered from her family being split apart by immigration. As young kids, she and her siblings didn’t understand why her parents are leaving them and feels abandoned when they learned that their mother was pregnant with their baby sister Betty. This was caused mainly by the time and distance that separated her and her parents, a problem that Grande really tried to emphasize, instead of the more global issues that immigration pose to a country.

But an immigration to America meant she would face many forms of discrimination. At the start of the story, Reyna was strictly punished because she used her left hand, or the “devil’s” hand. She was not able to afford lunch like much of the other kids, and when one of the students dropped a mango on a stick, she and her sister argue about who would pick it up, both embarrassed and afraid that their classmates would judge them for it. This is further shown when in America, she faced further discrimination from her teachers. For example, when she got into the writing competition in fifth grade, Reyna noticed that her teacher put her story which she wrote in Spanish directly into the pile of rejected works. This continued into her college life. ““You have a wild imagination,” my teacher would say of my autobiographical stories of Mexican poverty, immigration, and broken homes. I wanted to tell her that her job was to critique my craft, not my cultural experiences—but my shame kept me silent.”(Grande, Article)

Even through all the tough times and events that she has endured, Reyna continues to strive to be her best for her family. Growing up, she never really had her family as her father immigrated to America when she was very young. After her mother left, Reyna felt truly alone, even if she stayed optimistic, she was still unsure if her parents would ever come back to Mexico. Therefore, when she was told that her mother had given birth to her little sister Betty, she was very distressed, thinking that her parents were finally abandoning her. But the ray of hope came from her sister, Mago, when she told Reyna that “It doesn’t matter that there’s a distance between us now. That cord is there forever.” Yet when her family is reunited, it is not quite the same as it was before, despite how much they wanted it to be. “The man behind the glass” was not the father she had wanted. He had divorced her mother and married a new woman named Mila. Furthermore, he was abusive towards his children and later his wife.

Tough family circumstances lead her own sister to abandon her in a time where she needed someone the most. Her father constantly tried to put her down, trying to discourage her from going to university. Yet Grande never gave up hope for a better future. Her turning point was when her college professor Diana Savas gave her a purpose. Under Diana’s tutoring, she turned out to be an excellent writer and in turn, Diana let Reyna know about authors who had similar experiences as her, giving her lives and characters she could finally relate to. But, because of her father’s deteriorating health, she still chose to stay by his side. In the end however, her father must have realized his fault, and at least tried to make it up to Reyna by letting her go and allowing her to follow her dreams.

Reyna Grande made it very clear in the story that she was not promoting illegal immigration in any way. She showed the trauma and neglect she faced as a kid due to her family immigrating to the United States. But she also made it clear, that even in the hellish conditions she was in before and after she immigrated, she did not stop striving for a better future, no matter the struggles she faces along the way. At the very end of the epilogue, Reyna described her last moments with her dying father, how she tried to forget about all the pain he has caused her, instead focused on the moments where she was truly happy, and she realized that without her father, she would never have had the courage to move to the United States, nor the encouragement needed to stay in school and become who she is today. Her point in writing this memoir was to prove that, not matter where you come from, with whatever family background, equal opportunities should be given.

 

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Begonia

Although I knew I wouldn’t finish my project in embroidery, I still chose to do one that I knew will be at least a bit challenging to embroider. It was very difficult to keep the stitches neat. Another problem I faced was that the whole piece was really time consuming. I spent around 3 hours just to finish the branches and the flowers took up the rest of One Day. It was very challenging, especially by the end of day, to sit still and focus on my work. By the end of the day, I started using a thicker piece of yarn so it took less time to finish the flowers without color variations. It made the petals rougher, but it is barely noticeable. I think that One Day is an important day because it lets students try something for a day, while challenging themselves to stick with the thing they chose to do.

At the start of the day

After 90 minutes

 

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My multimedia blog post

In my multimedia post, I created a map of all of the places that were mention or is important in The Rose Society by Marie Lu. This shows the setting of the story through the descriptions of locations in the story. I also tried to incorporate some bias on some of the places on the map, showing that it was probably wrote by the Kennetrans. I did this to show that the setting of this story is based off Renaissance Europe.

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Give and Take

As a part of one of my favorite series, it is basically impossible for me to not try to analyze the theme for The Rose Society written by Marie Lu. Adelina’s story is one of many chaos and dark moments, yet it is also filled with determination or a certain amount of bullheadedness. Therefore, it is not surprising that there are multiple themes throughout the second book of the Young Elites series. Betrayal, kindness and the idea of an identity are amongst the most important lessons that is taught in The Rose Society.

The worst betrayal in the second book is surprisingly similar to the one the the first book. In both scenarios, Adelina was the one to first hurt the people around her. This creates an uncomfortable barrier between her and the people who cares for her and her doubt of their intentions always lead to her downfall. In this story, your actions and inactions lead to your downfall. She refused Violetta’s advice to not feed her powers by killing again and again, making her sister feel disrespected, hurt and fearful, and when Violetta forcefully takes away her powers, she lashes out at her sister, causing her to flee. She leads to her own downfall in 2 different versions of events, except this time, she doesn’t have her sister. as she betrayed her, and not matter how much comfort Magiano will give to her, her own actions will lead to her downfall again and again until she learns that not everyone has evil intentions behind their actions.

Which lead me to another important theme, to trust people who are giving you kindness. But given her past history with betrayal, I doubt that she will trust anyone anytime soon. As well as the whispers in her head that increases in volume every time she kills someone, an effect of her powers rebounding onto herself.  “None of it was your fault, the whispers in my head argue. You didn’t kill him, after all — it was not your blade that ended his life. So why are you the one cast out? You didn’t have to return to the Daggers — you didn’t need to help them rescue Raffaele. And still they turned on you. Why does everyone forget your good intentions, Adelina?” (Lu, p4). In this case, Raffaele is also making wrong choices as all of the kindness that he gives comes with a price. If he is not willing to give kindness without any strings attached, then she will never trust him enough to help him to try to find a cure for the elite powers that are affecting everyone. So if Adelina wants kindness, she needs to trust and if Raffaele wants trust from Adelina or anyone else, he needs to give true kindness.

The third and final theme that revolves around all of the characters is discovering an identity that is beneficial to yourself as much as others. “The irony of life is that those who wear masks often tell us more truths than those with open faces.” (p19) This quote often confuses me as it never made sense in the context of the story. Throughout the book, Raffaele is forced to carry the heavy burden of becoming the leader of the malfettos and sharing their personal pains. Then, queen Maeve forced a new “mask” onto him and he was once again burdened with a duty, this time to seduce Giulietta and hopefully separate her and Teren. He is essentially a painted dummy, each person painting their ideas and hopes onto him. And he lets them get away with it, not because he is willing, but because he feels as if he has not purpose other than to sacrifice his own happiness and peace for another’s. He learns this twisted lesson at a young age, when he sacrificed himself just to get his family enough food so they would not starve. He wasn’t even allowed time to grieve for the person he loved, and ultimately his plans failed when Adelina replicated what was left of his person and became bonded to Enzo, securing her place on the throne. “Hiding it makes you more beautiful,” Magiano says. Then he takes his hand away, exposing my scar again. “But revealing it makes you you.” He nods at me. “So wear it proudly.”  But Adelina does not need to know that. She is very well defined and her boundaries are set and will not budge for just anyone. But unfortunately for her, because of her rigid ideals, she ultimately refused help and closed in onto herself.

As I’ve said before, there are many other themes throughout the series. But the one that resonated with me the most are all listed here. Firstly, every action has a consequence and if you have broken your trust with a person, don’t blame them for your betrayal. Second, kindness and trust are two sides of the same coin and both needs to be built over a period of time and sacrifice. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, don’t let what everyone else thinks you should be define you. Set up some boundaries, but don’t be unnecessarily stubborn about it. Everything is connected like a scale. To not hit the ground, or be raised up too high, there should be a balance of give and take.

 

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My Boxers Rebellion Documentary

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My Protein Project- mRNA

To Be Continued……….

(Or not)

Ok so I made some changes to the actual facts as well…. there aren’t actually tiny people living inside a human body. Also, mutations were only briefly mentioned as it isn’t that important for mRNA.

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Past Betrayals

“No one ever gives me their kindness without hoping for something in exchange.
Are they any different? Are they all the same? They all want to use you, use you, use you until they get what they want, and then they will toss you aside.”

From the beginning of the story, to the end, Adelina is constantly seeking company that will give her kindness with no strings attached. In my multimedia post, I showed how Adelina (In a modern alternate universe) wrote a letter in a description of a youtube video to her father, mentioning that she is with wonderful people (the Daggers). In the story, she tried to find happiness within the Daggers, but in the end, she realized that the only one to ever show her true kindness without ever wanting anything in return was her sister.

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I Used to be Able to Talk

Photo Citation: Voicu, Adina. “Free Stock Photo of Girl, Play, Shadows.” Free Stock Photos, 1 July 2017, www.pexels.com/photo/girl-play-shadows-sun-532354/.

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Thing Thing About Martyrs

 

(Current working title: Stop making drafts and publish already)

 

Warning: Spoilers for the ending of the first book of the The Young Elites series. Spoilers and references to the ending and middle of Tokyo Ghoul:Re which is a manga so… don’t like don’t read.

 

 

In modern young adult media, martyrs are seen as heroes and rarely do we see them ever do anything except for the “greater good”. Whether or not this is shown in their heroic acts of saving civilians ranging to sacrificing their own lives to save the world, martyrs are generally looked up to as role models. Yet in The Young Elites by Marie Lu, being a martyr clearly doesn’t make you a better person, yet not acting doesn’t either. Teren and Adelina presents this theme better than anyone else in this series. Both of them sank further into darkness by the end of the book, both being selfishly selfless, yet one still clings on by a sliver of hope.

 

Teren is introduced very early on as a character who is evil to no ends. “It doesn’t seem right or kind, I know-  it seems cruel, but it must be done” (Lu, 262) Yet later in the story, we are shown his point of view. We see how he was helplessly enraptured by Giulietta and his brainwashing into hurting himself. This is most likely due to the neglect he felt when he became a malfetto. So when Giulietta gave him a purpose- to eradicate all malfettos- Teren clung to her, worshipping her like a god. Essentially, Giulietta twisted his already messed up psyche to make him despise himself and everyone like him and be willing to do anything to achieve his goal, making him a martyr.

 

So far in the series, there is no other person that has an unhealthier lifestyle then Teren. Using his powers to heal himself, he would rip himself apart and then let his powers stitch himself back together. Which nicely segments to my connection. Kishou Arima is the grim reaper of the CCG. Everyone knows his name. He is almost treated as a noble by the general public, very much like Teren, who does hold a position of power as the lead Inquisitor. Yet during his battle with Ken, he was incapacitated by his own student. Having nothing left to loose, the grim reaper reveals a shocking secret, he isn’t human, at least not entirely. The Washuu clan bred certain individuals together to make a stronger human, yet the human, or half human, will have a shorter lifespan, if they do not consume human flesh. The “children of the garden” are generally neglected unless they showed extreme battle prowess. Therefore, when a young Eto met with Arima, he was easily manipulated into working with her, becoming the One Eyed King. Sound familiar? While Arima’s life did not go downhill from meeting Eto, his situation was already rock bottom so he focused on his goals to pass on his legacy. Yet ultimately, Kaneki was not fit for King as Arima acted too rashly and Kaneki’s indecisions made him a terrible leader so here is another example of a character who became a martyr for a cause they believed to be responsible for, and failed.

 

On the other hand, Adelina is quite the selfish character, lashing out at her sister for telling the authorities even though it was the only option for her at the time. Adelina’s selfishness lead to her own downfall. Most of the things she did for herself and her sister. This is exactly where Adelina’s flaw is stabilized. She had someone to believe in and she destroy her future for her sister. Adelina descended into madness. But she also learns by the end to rely on her sister.

 

I guess what I was trying to say is that for the most part, giving is an essential part of every relationship. But to give and give without taking or questioning if what you’re doing is right is definitely not the best choice. Adelina and Teren were polar opposites at the beginning of the story, yet Adelina, by the end, found a slight stability in her sister while Teren descended into darkness. “But tonight, we stay where we are, holding on, lost in the dark.”

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Picture source: Himanshugunarathna. Fashion Woman Portrait. 11 Sept. 2017. Pixabay, pixabay.com/en/fashion-woman-portrait-model-girl-3080644/. Accessed 17 Oct. 2018.

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