Journey to Nowhere

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This is one of those books from childhood that stays with you even as you become an adult. I first read Journey to Nowhere when I was eight, but would still read it today, even in my early 20s.

Written by American author Mary Jane Auch, this historical novel is set in 1815. Remembrance “Mem” Nye and her family leave Connecticut to begin a new life in the Genesee Country in Western New York State. Along the way, Mem becomes separated from her family and must find her way back to them through unfamiliar territory. The story is told in first person from eleven-year-old Mem’s perspectives.

One of the unique aspects of this book is the time period it is set in. There are plenty of novels set during the Revolutionary War, as well as novels set during the late nineteenth century, such as Laura Ingalls Wilder series. But Mem’s story takes place at a time when people were setting in Western New York, before the Erie Canal was built and turned the region into a bustling commercial center. There was no electricity and the way of transportation were wagons pulled by oxen or horses. Families settled on land and built themselves cabins from the woods nearby, and children weren’t required to attend school in order to help their families plant crop.

This is easily one of my favorite books from when I was younger. One reason is because it is set in my home region of Western New York, only 200 years ago. My hometown is even mentioned in the story. I also like it because Auch is as brilliant writer. She somehow makes every word mean something in the story, with no filler or unnecessary description. It’s not only a narrative masterpiece, but a great way to learn about history and the lifestyle of the settlers. I definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about frontier life in Western New York.




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Room was an excellent movie that was released in 2015, and garnered a huge amount of attention after lead actress Brie Larson won the Best Actress Oscar for her role. The movie is based upon the novel of the same name by Irish author Emma Donoghue, who also wrote the screenplay. I had actually first heard about the novel when it first came out during my freshmen year of college in late 2010, but finally got around to reading it some time ago.

Room tells the story of Ma and her five-year-old son Jack. The two of them live in a small space called “Room.” In reality, Ma has been a captive in the garden shed of a man, called “Old Nick,” for the past seven years. Jack is the result of him raping her. To Jack, though, Room is all he has ever known, and therefore thinks it is the whole world. He calls each object by proper name, including “Lamp,” “Skylight,” and “Sink.” Ma makes sure Jack has proper care, setting an exercise and hygiene regimen and engaging him in educational activities.

Since the story is told from the perspective of Jack, the writing uses an unusual structure and grammatical style. For example, “She gets out of bed and goes to Thermostat to hot the air.” Jack describes each thing exactly how he sees it, using simpler words. While the writing style is a bit different, I was able to follow the story and admire Donoghue for being able to write in such a unique style.


This book is definitely worth reading. It’s a bit of a challenge to read, but offers a different perspective of an otherwise serious scenario.


None of the Above

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Nowadays, I’m always open to discovering fiction that feature plots that aren’t typical. This novel is definitely one with a unique premise that I hadn’t seen before. The debut novel of I.W. Gregorio, None of the Above is about a teenage girl named Kristin Lattimer who finds out that she is intersex- or a person who has chromosomes of both female and male. As she struggles to find out more, her life gets more complicated when her classmates discover her condition.

What fascinated me about this novel is that the author is also a practicing surgeon. Gregorio’s medical background definitely helped her translate some of the doctor jargon into English, but it was also interesting knowing she knew what she was talking about.

I like Kristin’s character because of the realistic experience she had. Initially terrified about her condition, Kristin takes initiative by learning more about it and reaching out for support online. There’s the important message of knowing she is not the only person who exists who has the condition.

I also applaud Gregorio for writing a novel on a topic that hasn’t been done before. I feel like there’s more of a need for books on topics that are considered new or even a little taboo. I’m looking forward to reading more of Gregorio’s writing in the future.