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The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

FHC’s required classics go from great to painful

Juliana Lieuwen
Reading classic books may seem boring but are essential for learning.

No matter what English classes you take in high school, you are bound to read some of the classics. 

Some may describe classic books as “boring” or “too hard to understand,” and while this may be true for some, there are many reasons that classics are a staple of many English teachers’ curriculums. Reading classic books helps to better student’s writing skills, thinking abilities, and problem-solving. 

Over the years I have read quite a few pieces of literature for school. These have ranged from reading whatever book I desired for “Book Love” in Honors English 10 to reading books that were assigned to the class by the teacher. 

Since reading books is such a crucial part of school—no matter what grade you are in—I have decided to review a few of the classics that are typically assigned in school. 

Of Mice and Men- (10/10)

This book took me on a rollercoaster. While reading it, I was transported to a whole new place. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck brought me through numerous twists and turns; I found myself laughing and crying and all of the in-between. This novel follows the lives of George and Lennie, who are two migrant ranch workers during the Great Depression in California. The story focuses on their dreams, friendship, and struggles as they try to make a better life for themselves. It delves into many themes including loneliness, friendship, aspirations for a better life, and the harsh realities of the American Dream.

It painted a vivid picture in my mind of the hardships that migrant workers faced during this time. One character that specifically touched my heart was Lennie. I could not help but be touched by his pure soul, innocence, childlike wonder, and genuine kindness. I could talk for days about how incredible this book is. It truly changed a piece of me, and I will be forever grateful that Mr. George had us read this book in Honors English 10. 

“Reading classic literature in school is more than just a requirement; it is a chance for profound personal and academic growth.”

To Kill a Mockingbird- (8/10)

While reading the novel, I experienced a wide range of emotions. There were moments that left me utterly astounded, my jaw dropping in disbelief. At times, my blood was boiling from anger, provoked by the injustices depicted. Yet, with everything going on, I felt myself deeply admiring some of the characters. To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic novel by Harper Lee set in the American South during the 1930’s. Narrated by Scout Finch, the novel vividly portrays the complexities of social justice, racism, and child innocence. Many crucial themes are presented: empathy, prejudice, and the struggle for justice. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and it presented many important issues that are still relevant today.

The Great Gatsby- (6/10)

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a tale set in the Roaring Twenties. It follows the life of Jay Gatsby, a mysterious millionaire, through the eyes of his neighbor, Nick Carraway. It explores themes of love, wealth, and the American Dream. Despite the fact that this novel is a literary classic, it lands in the middle for me. Fitzgerald’s story is undeniably well executed, as it evokes the materialistic ways of the 1920s.

However, as much as I appreciate the novel’s elegance, I could not help but find the characters to be somewhat elusive and unrelatable. Although Gatsby’s story is tragic, it left me feeling a bit disconnected. The symbolism—although beautifully composed—sometimes felt clumsy to read through, and in turn, made it harder for me to fully immerse myself in the tale. Despite these reservations, I am still glad I read this book as it is a classic that should be read by everyone. 

The Scarlet Letter- (2/10)

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne was an extreme disappointment for me. It looks into the life of Hester Prynn, who is a woman marked by society for her sin. She is surrounded by her community’s judgment. The novel explores judgment, guilt, and redemption. Although these themes are central to the story, in my opinion, they were not able to evoke any true emotion. The characters felt dull and hardly elicited sympathy from me. Hawthorne’s writing—while aiming for depth and character—felt dry and wordy, making it tedious to read. Although this book is a classic, it was a very difficult read, and I could not wait to be finished with the novel. Even though I did not enjoy this book, it did challenge me as a reader and overall helped me become more well-rounded. 

Reading classic literature in school is more than just a requirement; it is a chance for profound personal and academic growth. Though challenging, these books can offer many insights that may help to broaden our understanding of the world. Even when emotions don’t get evoked, or the book is not your favorite, it is important to understand these stories to grow as a person. School curriculums include these classics for a reason—they are openings for more exploration, growth, and learning.

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About the Contributor
Juliana Lieuwen
Juliana Lieuwen, Staff Writer
Juliana is a junior entering her first year on The Central Trend. She loves sunsets and spending time with her rabbit Snickers. When she isn't at school you can find her at 5 High Farms, the place where she rides horses. Juliana is also on the FHC Equestrian team and is busy with that in the fall. She loves to sing and dance to music by Taylor Swift. When she isn't busy with horses or school, she loves drawing, hanging out with friends, and shopping. She is so excited to be writing for The Central Trend this year. Favorite food: Sushi Favorite color: Hot Pink Her pets: Two chickens, one cat, one dog, one bunny Favorite song: "You Belong with Me" by Taylor Swift Favorite numbers: 3 and 7

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