Yes, I'll be reviewing two--count 'em--TWO more books today! Let's start with
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
You may know that outliers are the points of data on a graph that seem to stray away from the rest of data. While everyone else is chillin' on an invisible line, your outlier will be all alone way over yonder. Malcolm Gladwell refers to successful people as outliers because they differ greatly from everyone else. What Gladwell tries to emphasize, however, is the fact that success does not always come from talent and merit. Someone can be the most brilliant person in the world, but unless the conditions are right, chances are that person won't reach their full potential.
There are a lot of interesting stories to back up this thinking. Personally, I wasn't a fan of the lawyer one because I know nothing about lawyers. With the amount of topics, from hockey teams to computer programming to children's education, you're gonna find something to relate to. It's always nice when you can connect with something you're reading, especially if it's nonfiction. Plus, it's clear a lot of research and science was incorporated throughout the book and I appreciate that.
There was this one chapter about how Asians are better at math for a reason. With research and data, one can see that it's not just a stereotype. Where and when someone is born does affect someone's chances of succeeding in life. The way he went through this information sort of irked me. Maybe I'm just riling myself up, but it sounded like he was some scientist observing an animal in the wild?? I felt he was doing research and saying to himself, "Ah, yes. The Asians. They've got amazing endurance, waking up before dawn every day to maintain their rice paddies. Because rice paddies are everywhere in Asia, and the Asians have their great Asian powers to maintain those rice fields." Like, basically his reasoning was that people with the strength to work nonstop in rice paddies apply that determination to school, leading to better grades. But what about the Asians that didn't have to mess around with rice fields and are still bomb at math? I'm Asian, I'm good at math, and I wasn't born in Asia nor have I ever been near a rice field. There were no great struggles that I faced and my parents honestly didn't pound into my head to try my best. Trying my best came naturally. So you're telling me this unique breed of mathematicians consists of Asians, all of which happened to persevere through some life struggle? You're telling me because some Asians are simply known for planting rice that that's a big reason why Asians around the world, many of which have never planted rice or gone through any similar struggle, are better at math? I don't want to blame Gladwell for innocently displaying the facts and making conclusions based off of them, but I guess I partly disagree with his reasoning.
My apologies, rant over. Anyway, I'll give it a solid ★ ★ ★ ★ 4 stars out of 5. There's some curse words and mature subjects if you're planning to read it.
The Secret Tree by Natalie Standiford
While reading Outliers, I saw a lot of books on my shelf that I haven't read yet. A few of them looked like they were for middle schoolers, and to be honest, this high schooler wouldn't be caught dead reading some kiddie book. I wasn't just gonna let it go unread though! I picked it up and figured I would read a few pages before going to sleep. I figured wrong; I finished the entire book in one sitting.
Minty and Paz have big plans this summer before they start middle school. They're planning to be roller derby stars when they're grown up, and they're gonna start by skating in the Fourth of July parade. They enjoy their days in their strange neighborhood full off mysteries. For example, the infamous Witch Lady of the woods seemingly never leaves her house. Man-Bat, a human and bat hybrid (who would've guessed?) is rumored to be sneaking in the shadows at night. Minty discovers a tree in the woods that holds paper slips with people's secrets on them. Turns out she's not the only one who knows about the tree, though; a boy named Raymond has been collecting the strips and matching the secrets to people in the neighborhood. While solving mysteries, the two secret friends find themselves running into problems of their own.
I'm a "best for last" type of gal. I admittedly started to read this book so I could get it over with and then move on to cool teenage/YA stuff. It was clear to see that this book was just supposed to be a lighthearted read for children. The first few chapters totally rang true to my thinking. At first there seemed to be nothing of importance. Writing seemed choppy with dialogue and I could barely keep up with the number of characters being introduced. Everything was predictable. I believed from the start that this book wouldn't be something I really liked. I am glad to say that I was proved wrong.
(Sort of spoilers below?)
Though sometimes I'd be halfway through the book and wonder, "Wait, who is this character again?" that didn't make me love them any less. I connected with these characters and learned to love them, especially Minty! Minty was a kid at heart yet she wasn't the annoying, unintelligent kind. I found her pretty mature for her age! She prioritized her problems, set aside personal struggles, and helped those around her. My best friend seems to be leaving me behind for people who are nothing like me? I'll still help solve her problems. That's literally what Minty was doing, and while I'm here in my bed hating everyone else that mistreats her, she accepted there would be mean people in life. And she was kind enough to help those people for nothing in return. AND HER CHARACTER WAS REALISTIC.
I would say the story only ended with one bad thing, and that thing wasn't even all too bad. So I think this book shows that happy endings aren't always predictable and boring. Everyone was happy in one way or another and for once, I'm glad for exactly that.
(End of possible spoilers?)
This book was suspenseful. This book was entertaining. It made me silently cheer in my bedroom. It made me tear up. It made me feel like I was just at home in this strange, little neighborhood. It showed the strength of love and friendship. It showcased female characters that were girly and flirty, but could still handle themselves. I was content with absolutely everything past the first few chapters. And for that, I give it a ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ 4.5 stars out of 5! It's definitely leaning towards the high end of the rating system, so I recommend this book to everyone! People of any age are sure to find it charming.
Well, happy Fourth of July fellow Americans! This was actually a good time to read The Secret Tree considering it's set during summer. Stay safe and as always, small round green vegetables.