My Top Ten Favorite Books

Ever since I was in kindergarten, I’ve been an avid reader. I was one of only two students who could read long chapter books in my kindergarten class. I tested 22+ on the first grade reading test, meaning there was no level for how high I fell as a skilled reader. Comprehension is my skill, and enjoyment has always came along for the ride. I adore reading, and at any given time can find myself turning the pages of a new book and letting the story engulf me and let me discover something else about the world. I take  themes very deeply, so I usually enjoy classic novels most. Choosing my top ten favorite, out of the thousands I have read my entire life, was difficult. I can’t even begin to cover the amount of remarkable works I have let mold my mind and touch my heart, but I’ve tried my hardest. I’d just love to express my appreciation for the hardworking writers who have poured their heart and soul into these works for mine and many other readers’ enjoyment. One day I hope to join you in the act of letting my mind run rampant upon the pages of my own work of literature, published, and enjoyed. So here I go, in no particular order, my top ten novels for intellect and recreation. Enjoy.

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Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Vonnegut is one of my absolute favorite writers for his satirical wit and complicated trains of thought which seem to make sense for once at end. This novel is one of his most precious. A man named Jonah sets out to write a book about the day the atomic bomb was created, but instead finds himself on a small island named San Lorenzo, surrounded by poverty and devotion to an outlawed religion, Bokononism. A mysterious substance called ice-nine is discovered to have been created years ago and split up between the kooky children of its creator, who Jonah becomes tied to. The misusage of the substance has catastrophic affects for everyone, and in the end, Jonah realizes his purpose was completely different from what he thought it was. The more I talked and thought about this novel after finishing it, the more the thoughts and speech came. This book has loads and loads of messages and morals that I can fairly say I probably haven’t even touched on half of them. Fate, devotion, truth, love, and relationships are all brought into question with this smart book about the end of the world, and well, how to prevent the end for yourself. Through it all, Vonnegut loyally lets you discover how to be a strong individual that knows his or her way through even the toughest terrain. This book has many, many levels just waiting to be discovered. You’ll feel like you’ve learned a lot– about life and yourself.

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The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Must I even explain this one anymore after my book-long post before? 

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The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

This book I chose for a summer reading assignment, but it ended up turning into one of the most revolutionary, lifechanging, beautiful, and heartwrenching works of literature I would ever read. Now it’s a really long book, but it’s worth it. You’ll find yourself turning the pages so quickly with suspense that by the end, you’ll wish it wasn’t over. It’s the 1940’s in Brooklyn and Sammy’s cousin Joe uses his magician skills to escape the Holocaust in Europe to come live with Sammy. They become great friends and start a comic book together. They face great greed from their publishers and eventually their  work fails. Sammy falls in love with a handsome actor, and faces the obstacles of admitting his homosexuality. Joe falls in love with a mysterious young artist. Their relationships with their lovers, each other, their dreams, and the city grow more and more complicated. Then Joe decides to go off to war as his form of escapism. Back home, things crumble as Sam and Joe’s lover are left with broken, lonely hearts. I won’t spoil this ending for you, but wow. I’ll say this repeatedly, I’m not a crier. As I finished the last pages of this book, I cried. My. Eyes. Out. You’ll feel like you just traveled on the World’s Craziest Roller-coaster once the book ends and you’ll feel a great sadness in leaving behind the characters, who you’ve come to feel as your friends. Chabon weaves a beautifully tragic but fatefully  so story that all seems to work out (not flawlessly) but realistically right in the end. If you thought this was a simple little comic story, think again.

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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This novel transcends time. The classic story of Southern innocence shattered has torn at the heartstrings of readers for decades. In the Jim Crow South, a black man is accused of raping a white woman, an act he obviously did not commit. Adventurous little Scout’s father, Atticus Finch, is called in to defend him, and even though the case faces obstacles that simply cannot be gotten over for the time, the town and the participants will never be the same. Morality is shown for the truth, and to not abide by any racist or hateful beliefs. I will always be an advocate for equal rights and I find this book absolutely revolutionary for its time. In recent years, this novel was voted to actually beat out The Bible in most influential book of the twenty-first century. Atticus Finch is one of the most beloved fictional characters of all time and this story of right and wrong through the eyes of a purely honest child is simply precious.

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The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Sadly, I saw the movie before reading the book, which totally goes against my Code, but I didn’t know there was a book before. This story is very near and dear to my heart, and I absolutely adore Skeeter to this day! It’s the 1960’s in the South and young, white Skeeter moves back home to try her hand at writing. She gets a job writing a housekeeping article and uses her black maid’s advice to help. But she soon starts to notice the kind of treatment her and her friends’ black maids receive, even being the ones who wholly raise the white families’ children. Skeeter doesn’t agree with this, and so comes up with the idea to have each maid in the area write their side of working life in one large book, and then send that to a publishing company for approval. The task proves tougher than she thought when one of her most cruel friends smells a conspiracy, and Skeeter has to start meeting with the maids secretly. Their hesitation grows and the stakes grow higher, as Skeeter’s boyfriend, mom, and friends all count on her to do one thing, while her heart begs for another. The maids encounter their own personal struggles and show their various personalities and wonderful hearts in the face of immoral treatment. The novel ends with each character finally being loyal to what their soul wanted, and indeed, needed. I beamed with soul at the ending, despite some tragic events throughout. Stockett does amazingly well at remaining historically accurate and lovingly artistic for both the black and white side of a part of the nation’s toughest history. I only wish I could jump right in to support Skeeter and encourage the hardworking maids. 

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Dr. Franklin’s Island by Ann Halam

Before reading this, I had never heard of such a plot. After, the case is still the same. This is one book that will have your eyes jumping out of your head! Three young friends,Miranda, Semi, and Arnie are on their way to a lovely tropical vacation, when their plane tragically crashes. They are the only survivors, and shocked, scared, and alone, end up on an isolated island, which seems to not be so bad. They meet a man, who they are first wary around, but soon grow to trust. It turns out, though, that he is exactly the opposite. He turns out to be a crazy doctor who has been waiting for patients to test his pills and concoctions on. His goal is to turn humans into animals. He succeeds, and each friend is turned into a different animal. This sounds really disturbing and it is. I felt the characters’ physical and emotional pain as one by one, they lost each trait that made them proudly human. They discover there is an antidote, and set out to find it. I won’t reveal if they succeed or not, but ,wow, this story is a mind-blower. It proves riveting from beginning to end and tears at your heartstrings. You’ll never again take for granted the simple abilities of being human, I can assure that.

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The Wild Girls by Pat Murphy

I read this book several years ago, so the plot is foggy, but I do remember how touching the story was. Two young friends meet after one moves in to town and quickly befriends her and her father, who live in a pretty dumpy house, but are happy enough without a care. The friends start writing together, and place highly in a statewide contest. They discover that giving something up isn’t as easy as it sounds and greatly express their attachment and admiration for their own work, and for each other. Sticking together in the face of doubt is such a precious thing. While others may doubt the power of a union, it’s empowering effects are undeniable. Murphy tells a sweet, cherishable, and relatable story that’ll make you love your best friend just a little more.

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Turnabout by Margaret Haddix

This book tests human limits, physically and emotionally. It is a futuristic story of a group of women dying in a nursing home who agree unknowingly to take part in an experimental drug trial, to reverse the process of aging. Sounds better than death, right? The situation proves quite the opposite, as the women start to forget what happened in their older years, and grow more and more dependent on others as they become younger and younger. This book will frighten you and cause you to think about what you desire in life, truly.

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The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

I’ll admit I was hesitant to include this in the list..It doesn’t exactly sound right to name one of your favorite books the last account of a young girl who was eventually found and killed in one of the world’s most horrifying events in history, the Holocaust. But I include it to honor her and to support the fact that this is really an eye-opening book. First of all, I find the history surrounding this time very fascinating, despite being so tragic. I think it’s important to not remain hush about any part of history, and to honor and acknowledge the horrors these brave people went through, for both the survivors and the unfortunate not. Anne Frank was truly a remarkable young girl, with wit, intelligence, optimism, and a heart of gold well beyond her years. While I did not enjoy knowing how the story ends, I did enjoy having a glimpse into what was her world for those intense months and being able to salute her for her brave outlook on the grave situation. Her diary is a must-read for all ages and ethnicities, because Anne’s thoughts and feelings apply well beyond her life, and can be used as inspiration and adoration even today. May I say Rest in Peace to one spectacular young girl, whose life was taken far, far too soon.

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My Story by Marilyn Monroe

Let me say, I love Marilyn Monroe. Adore her, am obsessed with her, one hundred and ten percent appreciative of the life and the legacy. The fact of the matter is it was not until I read her autobiography that I felt so strongly. Wow. She tells the story of her life from sad beginnings, with a mom who wasn’t right in the head, ending up an orphan, and being taken advantage of by older men at a very young age. She soon received tremendous attention by powerful people in the business, but who only saw her as an attractive piece of meat. She struggled in the business with feeling welcomed, appreciated, and valuable. She had troubles with her marriages, and didn’t ever really learn to love herself like she should have. Her words in this book prove just how smart, scholarly, weathered, knowledgeable, and strong of a woman she was. Sadly, the book was not finished before her tragic death at only 36 years old. I cried at the end, and wished with everything in me the icon would still be alive to finish her tale. The truth is, most people still don’t understand her. They don’t get that she was handed very little in life, wasn’t valued as anything really, and that all she ever truly wanted was to be loved for her heart. I will always defend her as an American legend and a woman who was the true example of beauty inside and out. Another one gone too soon. Rest in peace, precious.

Honorable Mentions: Because I Ran Out of Spots

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

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Paper to Theatre: The Great Gatsby

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Book Review

A little party never killed nobody. So they say.. This is the thread that runs through the entire dreamscape of the spectacular classic novel The Great Gatsby. I didn’t even honestly know what the book was about before I started reading it, and I had no idea I was going to fall headfirst into a dazzling love story that would take me back in time and in sight of the future all in the same story. It all begins in the roaring ’20s ,with Nick Carraway, who moves near a millionaire who throws extravagant parties, where all of New York attends, but who he doesn’t quite know yet. The man, who Nick comes to know as Mr. Jay Gatsby, takes an unusual liking to Nick, actually inviting him to a party, taking him on his hydroplane, lunching with him, and acknowledging him as nothing other than “old sport”. Here’s where I fall in love with Gatsby. Thousands of people in his house atleast once a week, and he doesn’t even seem to think a thing about it. .. Another party.. But he does seem to truly want, need, Nick, and we don’t know why. Nick learns that Gatsby still loves a woman, across the bay, who he has been in love with yet hasn’t seen for over five years, since he was in war and she got married to a richer man. Daisy, the woman in question, is Nick’s cousin, so he is able to easily bring them back together. They try to make up for lost time, but it proves tougher than imagined. Eventually, they work their way back to serious lovers, but one thing stands in their way: Tom, Daisy’s abrasive husband, who even has his own mistress, Myrtle. One day, Gatsby has had enough of the pretending, and  he tells Tom that Daisy never loved him. This causes a huge, violent conflict, and they both drive angrily away, Gatsby being the one with Daisy. Myrtle has just run away from her abusive husband and ran into the road, as upset Daisy drives by, hitting and killing Myrtle on impact. Everything happens so quickly, that they don’t stop, and instead, Gatsby takes the blame for killing her, although the police haven’t gotten to him yet. Instead, while he is swimming one day, Myrtle’s husband, who got word from Tom that Gatsby is guilty, shows up at the mansion and shoots and kills Gatsby, followed by himself. Nick tries his hardest to pull together some sort of a funeral, but literally no one shows. Nick is forever heartbroken by the loss of the one man in his entire life who seemed to bring the brightness back into life, always, and what would have been forever. At a simple call, anyone in the state would show for a huge bash, but when it came to honoring death, not a soul could be reached. Not even Daisy showed, and she was well aware of his death. I understand why she couldn’t though; life was already painful enough. This book blew me away. For being such a short novel, it packs a ton of heart. I found myself looking up from the pages and thinking for a few frequently throughout this book. In the end, it all comes full circle and I feel like I completely get it. Get it and adore it. So it seemed that Gatsby had it all. But remember, ” No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.” It. Was. All. For. Daisy. The extravagant parties were only thrown hoping that she would show. Gatsby spent his entire life, after meeting Daisy, thinking and praying for the day to come where they would reunite. This to me is absolutely beautiful. The love between the two of them was so pure and true, yet in the end, Gatsby was the only one who remained loyal to it. He could have ran off after the accident, he could have exposed the truth that Daisy was driving, he could have kept their affair a secret from Tom– but he saw his actions as remaining wholly true to their love. Anything was worth the truth: that she was all he wanted. One of my absolute favorite parts is when Gatsby yells at Nick that you can, indeed, repeat the past. It is obviously proven in the end that this is easier said than done. In refusing to acknowledge that Daisy was tied to someone else, and that a secure footing in life would be necessary in his future years, Gatsby screwed himself. But this doesn’t seem to matter anymore once he fatefully is murdered in protection of his lifelong love. He may have committed some immoral acts in his past, and the complete devotion to the relationship may not have been mirrored to both lovers, but the story finally concludes that Gatsby had heart. A Great heart, fit for a Great man. Long live Gatsby.

Movie Review

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I had really high expectations going into seeing the movie version. The book mesmerized me, and any version of the story that didn’t follow would be close enough to sabotage of a classic. But I was soon to learn how much further and deeper my passion for this story could go. In the beginning, when the new twist is shown, where Nick is telling the story to his psychiatrist, at first, I was concerned. I started thinking of all of the ways they could destroy a classic, cause a catastrophic destruction of a story I was practically living in, so badly, that I might even end up walking out of the theatre. But soon enough, the screen filled my eyes with the most stunning array of colors, textiles, sounds, and voices, creating an image of the 1920’s so magnificent that I found myself begging to jump right in as Flapper #2. Right off the bat, the characterization adaptation is spot on. Nick is exactly the wishy washy man I expected him to be. Tom is a jerk, and Daisy lights up the screen with her breathy voice and snowy beauty. I enjoyed how the film drew out aspects of the novel that were only briefly mentioned, like the landscape of New York at the time. This added a historical feel,that felt so right to be thrown in next to these diversifying characters. We finally meet Gatsby, played by a flawless Leonardo DiCaprio (he can do it all), at one of his parties. I never thought there would be a time where the word “party” would seem so shamely. These bashes involved thousands, dancing until the morning, spitting confetti and glitter for miles, and seemingly enjoying life so much that you would imagine all of the state to follow in such a state of joy, and era disillusionment. Not the case. Nor was it the case that Gatsby would be soaking up all of this fervor. Leo exhibited his mental isolation so well that it seems Fitzgerald wrote the star part with him in mind, that if anybody else ever tried to bring his hero to life, the entire structure of an American classic would collapse. The emphasis on the Green Light at first caught me off guard. But when it supported Gatsby’s hopefulness without fail, I agreed with it all again. The clothing, mostly designed by legendary fashion company Prada, blew me away. I wholeheartedly enjoyed the music too, which was an infusion of modern hip hop and swinging beats and jazzy instruments. I   so badly wanted to be a part of the scene. But I took nothing in the entire film to heart as much as I did the interactions between Daisy and Gatsby. When they were reunited, in a partly awkward, partly comical, and partly heart-wrenching scene filled with cakes and flowers, I found myself smiling. Even in the uncomfort they found at first being reunited, I could see the chemistry between them that I felt perfectly reassured that their love would be artfully rekindled soon enough. I bascially forgot that the lovers on screen were truly known as Carey Mulligan and Leonardo DiCaprio. It all felt too real. The scene where they play around on a boat, and then return home, and she is shown his mansion, I can loyally say, is the most beautiful scene that I have ever watched in any movie, ever, in my entire life. “Such beautiful shirts,” tears at your heartstrings as you watch, knowing that Tom is close enough. Nick doesn’t serve as any sort of bother to these two, even when invited on their trips, because he recognizes the beauty and purity of their love too. It seems that he would rather have nothing else in life than for his cousin and his comrade and neighbor to be satisfied. This all begins the fatal downward spiral when Gatsby flips out around Tom one day. This scene is so intense, as we can see one by one, each thread of the relationship start to unravel. We know that there’s no way that Tom can just be cut out of the picture, as Gatsby foolishly believes. Even knowing the ending, I was clenching my fists as Gatsby ignored Nick’s insistence that he go in hiding. When  a call was promised to Nick later, after a late swim, my heart hurt and my stomach twisted. When Gatsby was shot, and he fell into the pool dead, in dramatic slow motion, I felt like I had just lost my best friend, my lover, and my neighbor. The funeral rolled around and I was to the brim in despair, as Daisy left her home with Tom and their child, choosing to not show up to her true lover’s funeral. In the end, Nick finishes his memoir, which is extraordinary in itself. The fact that he chose the single-handed most important aspect of his entire life as a man he only knew for one summer gets me every time. By the end of the film, I felt like I now knew the story from every side, and because I had lived it as well. And well, anyone who truly understands and believes in the idea behind something, honestly is living that story in their beautiful mind. I see this so deeply, and I find it an ever-enchanting classic case of loyalty gone wrong, but heart gone right. Never let a soul tell you your heart is in the right place, if that is where it feels at home. Don’t betray yourself by denying that a romance exists, no matter if it has been validated or not. The world may seem like a sickening place and you may feel at the end of your rope, but there is always one last man, or woman, or aspect, that you have to commit to. And if that fails, honesty is still the best policy, and loyalty is your decision whether to abide or not. This film was much more of a dramatic and drawn-out version of the story, but it was done so well in compliance with the book’s every detail, that the added fervor only helped. Yes, some scenes were changed in how they occurred, but the execution of them makes it no question how the story went down. This adaptation hypnotized me so well that I can now say I have a Great Gatsby obsession. There’s nothing wrong with that, I suppose. When two people choose each other as their world, you can either feel disgust in your envy of their devotion, or you can brighten up in joy that two more people in the world have found the best way to live and die in each other’s arms. Daisy didn’t bid a farewell to her lover at his funeral, because that wouldn’t make sense. There was no farewell for them. Love truly is, and magically so, forever.

Resort 2014 Roundup

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Alexander Wang’s cool architectural femininity.

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Chloe’s laidback luxe soars in fabrics like satin and add-ons like gold plating.

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Christian Dior displays a retro feel, with a modern twist. Tee shirt with palazzo pants, anyone?

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Per usual, Diane vonFurstenberg keeps things young, fresh, eclectic, and to the point.

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Jason Wu proves that revealing and elegant are, indeed, compatible.

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At Michael Kors, we decided to play in the rain- looking tres chic, mind you.

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Peter Pilloto boggled our minds with new collaborations of prints, textiles, and colors. He makes it look so easy.

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Philip Lim went a little Pilgrim, but all chic, proving that the beloved romper is, in fact, not child’s play.

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Stella McCartney filled up our wish list, with fabulous separates, centering on leopard print and pink and gold hues.

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Versace opened up a box of crayons with its color coded collection. Donatella brings us nostalgia with spring-y shades in familiar shapes.

Ahh, summer. As if it wasn’t great enough to enjoy picnics, pool parties, barbecues, the beach, and cool nights out, the warmer months definitely let the world of fashion heat up. Fashionistas are treated annually with a summer collection and resort collection from their favorite designers. Resort is otherwise known as vacation wear. With these collections, an array of wealthiness, age, and style is covered. This year, the biggest trends were white, loud prints, bold colors, strappy white, black, or metallic sandals, and minimal accessories. Be proud of whatever it is you choose to don, whether actual designer or just inspired. Remember it should be you that are wearing the clothes, not vice versa! After all, as you’re living it up in the sun all day, rocking your stunning ensemble and smile, isn’t it you that’s truly shining? Have a hell of a summer , lovely, and fill it with fun, flirtatiousness, ferocity, and fabulous fashion.

Aloha!

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Strapless dress from Sears, teal cardigan from Fashion Bug, black sparkly flats. 

Curled hair and purple eyeliner/ cobalt blue eyeshadow.

Today I performed the second half of my exam in Dance class, which was a Hawaiian dance. We did well and now all that’s on my mind is summer parties and laying by the beach. Three. more. days.

Just a Note

I’ve gotten a better idea of what you’ll find on my blog now:

  • Movie reviews
  • Book reviews
  • Fashion show reviews
  • Fashion photos
  • My daily outfits
  • Style advice and tips
  • Health and fitness advice and tips

But I would love to be known as a fashion blog! I’d appreciate if anyone could get the word out. 

Have a beautiful day,

Sarah.

My Take On: The Purge

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It’s the year 2020. Unemployment and crime are at an all time low. The country seems to finally be at peace, minus one annual night the “New Founding Fathers” call The Purge. This 12- hour period grants citizens the right to do anything otherwise illegal the rest of the year, and face no repercussions. Emergency services are disabled. It is attributed to be a “success” and helps “cleanse the souls” of Americans, while eliminating “problems” such as the homeless and bottled up rage. But have no fear, because Mr. Sandin (Ethan Hawke) is here with his home alarm systems to protect your family! If you’re rich, that is. This is the setup of the new thriller (shall I call it horror? Who knows?) directed by James DeMonaco. The Sandin family predicts peace as usual this year, but all is set on another path when their young son, attempting to flex his moral muscle, lets in a bloody homeless man screaming for help. It’s obvious this is going to be a bumpy night when a group of creepy, masked richies show up at their house demanding to see the homeless man (who they wish to kill -and now) or they’re coming in. I won’t go into full detail of the following events, but I must say, it’s a whirlwind. The trailer didn’t even show half of the violence and terror that ensues when the group busts in the place. I had heard pretty shoody reviews of this film, but I have to say, my expectations were exceeded, which doesn’t happen very often. First off, I’m a sucker for futuristic movies where the government has the country right in their fist, and all is said to be great, but is far from it. The idea isn’t new. But the idea of the entire country sitting down one night a year with a bag of popcorn to watch others vandalize, kill, and set aflame half the nation? Fresh, and brilliantly so. Indeed, the usage of cat and mouse type scenes is typical, but the killing of the protagonist is not. When he dies, you truly get it. The family is not exempt, and never was. The polarizing of society between rich and poor is great when the rich prove money isn’t morals. When the neighbors decide to participate too, it’s obvious that although the economic and financial aspects of society are flourishing, mental health is in a crisis. Finally, Mrs. Sandin (Lena Headey) lets the neighbors go and proves that atleast some people haven’t forgotten to act human. It is with this idea that the film excels: Just because you can get away with something, is it right? Does anyone ever deserve to die? Just because the Purge is successful in containing crime to a single day, doesn’t make it right to contain crime. Animalistic behavior has no place in human society, where one person’s aid or advice can make the difference between life or death for another. We are never exempt if someone else is suffering. A kill for revenge, a kill for protection, a kill for someone you may call a stranger, are all murder with a thin cover. Make an immoral decision sitting down, or scare the shit out of your monster neighbors so as they can never live with themselves again? I think you know what’s right. Just be glad you won’t be receiving an invitation for a “Commencement Party” anytime soon. Your government thanks you.

Wow

Wow guys! I’m floored by the attention my blog has received in less than 24 hours! I appreciate you all so much and I will continue to serve your interests.

Have a beautiful day.

Sarah.