Durant High School Journalism

Sabina Khan increases diversity in teen literature

Khan modeled the story after her own culture.

Khan modeled the story after her own culture.

Literature over the last decade has become more diverse as the world becomes accepting. An increasing number of LGBTQ+ books have been published in the last decade; in a study by Marinda Lo, the number of LGBTQ+ young adult novels rose from 54 novels published in 2015, to 79 novels in 2016. While the increase may seem insignificant, but when compared to 2010 when less than 20 LGBTQ+ young adult novels were published, progress is evident.

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan is about teenage girl who is a Bengali lesbian. She struggles to gain the acceptance of her family as a result of their cultural beliefs. This book is more unique than others as the main character is a minority, as well as LGBTQ+, which is even rarer. Despite an interesting concept, there were also some things that made the book hard to get through.

There are unique aspects of this book that really serve to further the central ideas. In addition to having an LGBTQ+ focus, the novel is centered around a Bengali family. There are about 250 million Bengali citizens, but there are very few novels about Bengali people and their culture. The majority of books that portray Bengal’s culture are written in Bangla, the language of Bengal, limiting Western civilization’s exposure to these people.

In addition to portraying Bengali culture, the novel explains and shows the differences between Bengali, Urdu and Hindi. Bengali is a nationality, and is used to describe the language spoken and the culture in West Bengal. Hindi is a description of people and the culture  surrounding the religion Hinduism. Urdu is a language. It is the official language spoken in Pakistan but is also widely spoken in India.

These concepts are often times confused and interchanged within Western societies, as American students learn very little about geography and foreign governments so Pakistan, India and West Bengal are not clear and distinct. In addition to that, the majority of students in the U.S. are not taught in depth about Asian countries and their cultures, besides China, India and Japan. Thus Khan ensuring that readers understand the difference between the three concepts makes the book more powerful in regards to religious and ethnic representation as the main character is Hindi and Bengali.

Also making this book unique were all the real world scenarios that exist. Having a teenager who struggles with her family’s beliefs, some problems with the arranged marriage system often seen in Indian culture and interracial relationships. While arranged marriages impact less people, the other problems this book faces are universal, making it easier for more people beyond the LGBTQ+ and Eastern and South Asian audiences.

One of the things Khan does well is not overloading the novel with side-plots. While a lot of people are introduced, the majority of them are insignificant. There are three storylines which is a perfect number, one to deal with each problem the novel faces.

By organizing the plot structure this way, Khan ensures that the audience comprehends the purpose of the story. Plus the side-plots are not all happening simultaneously, making the story easy to follow and allows people to remain engaged with each side-plot.

Despite adoring what this book represents, there are some elements that if written differently would have made the plot more realistic, therefore more enjoyable. For example, throughout the book characters who have been best friends for years suddenly do not understand the situation she’s in with her family.

Truly good friends that have been around since elementary school would never suddenly think strict parents are going to change. These friends would be understanding and sympathetic. It is clear that Khan uses the characters’ shift to judgemental of her situation is to drive Rukhsana’s loneliness but this really does nothing for the novel, therefore making it seem unnecessary.

The novel also promotes unhealthy romantic behaviors. For example, Rukhsana and Ariana, her girlfriend, base their college plans off of their current relationship. This is not an idea Khan should portray to teenagers. Choosing a college should be for reasons beyond a current partner, the school has to be truly great because according to Brandon Gaille Marketing, only two percent of marriages are from a high school relationship, and the divorce rate during the first ten years for these couples is 54 percent.

The last major thing was that running from problems was a tragic flaw of Rukhsana’s. Khan established Rukhsana as a strong willed and passionate person who fights for what she believes in, but when it comes to dealing with familial issues, she runs away at the first sign of trouble.

There are other little things that are slightly irksome. I don’t regret reading the book, but I don’t think I would reread the book given the opportunity. I do think others should read this even if just to learn about another culture. The book is 326 pages, so it is not too long.

About the Writer
Photo of Angelique Robinson
Angelique Robinson, Web Editor

Angelique Robinson is a senior at Durant and is Web Editor for the PawPrint newspaper. She loves writing creative pieces, as well as more serious articles...

Wattpad provides alternative to traditional reading materials

The+library+page+on+the+website+and+app.+It+looks+identical+no+matter+which+format+is+being+used.+These+are+examples+of+polular+works.

Wattpad

The library page on the website and app. It looks identical no matter which format is being used. These are examples of polular works.

Wattpad is a free website and app that allows readers to add books to their libraries with no limit as to how long it can be there, similar to the concept of Netflix. Users can also create different reading lists, post messages on their profile, vote on book chapters and comment throughout stories. Users may also upload their own works to the platform in hopes of gaining an audience.

Wattpad was officially launched in October of 2006. The website and app were launched by the co-founders Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen. The idea was originally thought of by Lau but both believed that having an app where people had access to novels was key. The app is available for iOS devices as well as Androids.

The website began as a place for public domain novels like Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen but soon expanded to be much more. Users are allowed to publish almost anything in their books and this lead to a very popular genre: fanfiction.

Fanfiction caused Wattpad’s popularity to rise in teens and young adults because they could read romances about their favorite celebrities in a variety of circumstances. While fanfiction is still a popular genre on the site, other categories have risen to popularity. Most of the popular genres on Wattpad are a variations of romance. They range from high school romances to complex, middle age relationships.

The variety in the novels uploaded allows Wattpad to please a diverse of age groups and ethnicities. There are people as young as 10 years-old to about as old as 45 years-old on the website. Women are much more frequent users of the site but that does not mean there are no male users, they are just rare. When a male comments, the replies tend to emphasize how rare the occurance is.

The comments are truly what set Wattpad apart from some other reading services. The comments allow readers to become more engaged with a text because they can see how other people reacted or are reacting to the same passages. Readers can reply to comments to share their own opinion/experience or expand on what was stated. Comments allow readers to find people who are going through similar experiences in their real lives. They also allow people to make jokes or appreciate pop-culture references within stories.

Wattpad has a much wider impact on culture than many people realize. Many Wattpad books get published and put on bookstore shelves. Some books become so popular that even after publishing they can become movies. Popular examples are The Kissing Booth by Beth Reekles and After by Anna Todd. Wattpad provides a starting place for young and aspiring authors.

Many of the novels that get published from Wattpad are altered from their original version in order for them to stay free on Wattpad. For example, Todd’s After series originated on Wattpad as a One Direction fanfiction in which the main love interest was Harry Styles. Once published the male main character’s name was changed to Hardin Scott. The additional members of the band, featured in the stories also received rewritten names, as well as a slightly altered text.

Stories on Wattpad may support serious issues or may be parts of sponsored contests to promote specific products. Specific tags and categories are attached to these stories. There are many novels that support the anti-bullying campaigns popularized during the Obama administration. One of the most popular books for this issue is The Good Girl’s Bad Boys: The Good, The Bad and The Bullied by user RibixCube89201. There are also suicide awareness as well as an entire genre for LGBTQ+ books.

While Wattpad did introduce paid stories in early 2019, users do not pay to create an account and many novels are still free. Some stories do contain ads about every 20 minutes after a chapter was completed.

Wattpad has expanded beyond the single app and website. In February of 2017 Wattpad sponsored their new app Tap. This app allows readers to read stories as though they were reading text chains. Unlike Wattpad, Tap is only available as an app.

Overall Wattpad is an easy alternative for people who do not have the time or ability to access a public library. This also aids individuals who cannot afford to buy books to keep long-term.

About the Contributor
Photo of Angelique Robinson
Angelique Robinson, Web Editor

Angelique Robinson is a senior at Durant and is Web Editor for the PawPrint newspaper. She loves writing creative pieces, as well as more serious articles...

Caraval sounds just as fun as Carnival

A book review by Angelique Robinson.

Garber provides a map to the “arena” where Caraval is played. All important places are labeled.

Angelique Robinson

Garber provides a map to the “arena” where Caraval is played. All important places are labeled.

Caraval is a novel by Stephanie Garber, it is the first novel in the trilogy. The book is a combination of romance, fantasy and mystery fiction. The story follows Scarlett as she journeys through the game of Caraval to unravel the year’s mystery, so she can find her sister.

Garber does an amazing job of describing events and details of the setting. The details of the mystery are so detailed and the reader gets an idea of what the characters involved are seeing. By describing everything vividly, this makes it harder for the reader to figure out what is important to solving the mystery, which makes it more exciting to read.

Garber’s choice for the structure of the story helped it flow much easier. Each part is a time stamp of how far into the game Scarlet is. The first part gives the reader context, the audience is clued in on the details going on behind the scenes of the game.

Much of the story takes place within the game itself. Each part has an equal amount of action, there is no one part that is more boring than the one before or after it. the part of the story after the game wraps up some of the problems as well as introduces the conflict of the next book, leaving the reader with a small cliffhanger.

The one thing that I wish Garber had gone into more detail about was the lore behind the game and the person running it. There is a small part about how the game started but a chapter or even an entire prequel novel based on the beginning of the game.

It is possible for the reader to stop at the end of the first book given that the last pages do not cause them to be overly curious. Based on my experience reading it I would not stop. The book best suits those who like puzzles, even though all the other genres are prevalent, puzzles and mysteries are the overarching focuses of the novel. The book is a great read if you have down time, the book is 407 pages.

About the Contributor
Photo of Angelique Robinson
Angelique Robinson, Web Editor

Angelique Robinson is a senior at Durant and is Web Editor for the PawPrint newspaper. She loves writing creative pieces, as well as more serious articles...

Rachel Cohn’s Pop Princess makes super-stardom unappealing

The cover is slightly bland unlike the story.

Angelique Robinson

The cover is slightly bland unlike the story.

Rachel Cohn’s book Pop Princess is like no other book I have ever read. Sadly, I did not enjoy the book as much as I thought I would. The book follows the main character Wonder Blake and her journey to fame as a manufactured pop princess.

The sense of humor Cohn used appealed to me but might not to most people. She uses a mix of sarcasm, dark humor and a little sardonic humor. This humor doesn’t make people want to laugh out loud, but it does warrant a chuckle.

The structure of the book was also nice. The book is split into three parts, each part is based on her hair color symbolizing where she is on her pop princess journey. This was a nice touch, but it gets messy within each part. The worst past about this book is the sporadic bouts of information spread throughout. Even towards the end of the book new character information is gained. Some of this felt unnecessary, there were added character traits that felt forced.

One character’s development seemed to be added to include at least one member of a minority group. A lot of this had no warning, there were no hints throughout the book to even allude to the truths at the end.

The characters all also have few redeeming qualities. All of them were annoying, they make decisions that very few people in the real world would make. Her characterization makes me hope that this was a satire on the music industry.

This book was cringy but maybe it was me. Maybe aspiring artists may be able to relate to this or use this as an example of what they could do in their future. If there is still an interest in giving this book a try, it is 311 pages.

About the Contributor
Photo of Angelique Robinson
Angelique Robinson, Web Editor

Angelique Robinson is a senior at Durant and is Web Editor for the PawPrint newspaper. She loves writing creative pieces, as well as more serious articles...

Literature can polarize politics

A book review by Angelique Robinson.

This is one of  three covers for the popular teen novel.

Goodreads

This is one of three covers for the popular teen novel.

The Wrong Side of Right was written by Jenn Marie Thorne. This book is about Kate Quinn whose mother passed away and a year later she finally learns the identity of her father. Her father is a famous politician running as the Republican candidate for President. The book follows Kate Quinn’s journey as she goes along the campaign trails with her father and her new family.

The plot of the book is excellent. There were only two major plot lines running at the same time. The first was Kate Quinn on the campaign trail with her family. I think the detail of the politics were brilliant. Lots of political books mainly focus on how the campaigns affect the teenage focus. While this book does that too, it also gives actual politics focus and addresses controversial topics. Another great thing is that the family does not have a smooth transition but not for cliché reasons.

The second major plot line was how Quinn dealt with her friends and love life. Naturally her new life clashes with her old one. This book shows the ideal friendship based on the characters action. Even though the book is not a romance, the romantic elements were one of my favorite parts. There is a gradual increase in the levels. There also is no cliché trouble figuring out what boy she wants, there is one clear crush.

Most of the characterization is brilliantly done. Each of the characters have flaws like all humans. Thorne makes sure that each character has flaws that shine through but also that they learn to live with or learn from their flaws. The best characterization is that Quinn learns things about herself and her beliefs in the political world as the book continues.

One improvement that could have made the book perfect would have been the addition of a chapter that took place before Quinn finds her father. The audience is given a brief description of the actions around her mother’s death. Due to her mother’s death being a part of the summary, the first chapter or two could have been about the death and the events following. This way those events didn’t have to be added throughout the book. On the other hand, describing the elements throughout the novel created bonding moments between her and other characters, however adding the chapters before would make those bonding scenes mean more as the audience would know how emotionally triggering telling others would be.

The book was an easy read. There is no complicated jargon involved in the politics. The book is best on a Sunday, it only takes a few hours to read. There is a total of 390 pages. The book is for people who are not easily offended by beliefs that do not align with theirs. This book may inspire people to continue regardless of tough family situations.

About the Contributor
Photo of Angelique Robinson
Angelique Robinson, Web Editor

Angelique Robinson is a senior at Durant and is Web Editor for the PawPrint newspaper. She loves writing creative pieces, as well as more serious articles...

Teens in Politics Deserve Love Too

Tampa Bay, Fla–Red Girl, Blue Boy by Lauren Baratz-Logsted is a teen romance novel about two teens whose parents are the Democratic and Republican candidates for President and the two teens get close as they complete interviews for their parents’ campaign.

A good thing about this story I that there is a frame story[1], this way the romance is not coming out of nowhere. Without this element the romance feels forced because of the way their romance begins in the novel.

Alongside the beautiful romantic progression, the plot is very consistent by staying focused on the romance of the two central characters while leaving the political race in the background, coming into focus when adding to the romantic plot.

However, the story’s weakness is the character’s romantic conflict because it does not occur until the near end. The cliché is that something happens, one gets angry, then the other one gets upset and they give their relationship up only to get back together shortly after. This feels like lazy writing as both the main characters are determined fighters, so they never would let a small problem tear them completely apart.

This book is meant for people who like romance but do not want to become deeply emotionally invested. This also for people who may be experimenting with what genres they like, this is a calm romance novel, as opposed to something like John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. The book takes the time for developing romances and characters, therefore the book has 289 pages.

 

[1] Frame story: Context from a time before or a time after the story has taken place. Some others provide both.

About the Contributor
Photo of Angelique Robinson
Angelique Robinson, Web Editor

Angelique Robinson is a senior at Durant and is Web Editor for the PawPrint newspaper. She loves writing creative pieces, as well as more serious articles...

Author David Klass Makes Losing Interesting

PawPrint writer Angelique Robinson reviews David Klass' book "Losers Take All."

The+cover+of+the+book+makes+people+curious+due+to+the+sad+foam+finger.+What+tragedy+lies+within%3F

Angelique Robinson

The cover of the book makes people curious due to the sad foam finger. What tragedy lies within?

The book Losers Take All by David Klass is a great read for people who appreciate reading about a journey. The book is about a group of students who go to a school that has a new rule that says all seniors must join a sports team. This follows their journey while on their very bad soccer team.

Klass does a good job of not following cliché plot lines. For example, a predictable ending would be the team becoming state champions after being the underdogs. While this uplifts some people’s spirits, it does not represent reality. That is the best thing about this book, that the plot line could actually happen in the real world, even though a school forcing athletic participation seems crazy.

Another good thing that Klass does well is incorporating a few side stories without taking away from the central storyline. There are side plots about romance, family drama and deviance but despite them being very different, they all tie into the main idea.

One criticism I do have is that there is not much character development. None of the main characters go through something that changes who they are. If there are developments they were in side characters, whose changes have no major impact on the outcome of the story.

Overall, I think this book is very refreshing compared to most young adult fiction, which consists mostly of romance novels. This appeals to the non-athletic and the athletic alike. The book is slightly longer for those interested in reading the book, the page count is 306 pages.

 

About the Contributor
Photo of Angelique Robinson
Angelique Robinson, Web Editor

Angelique Robinson is a senior at Durant and is Web Editor for the PawPrint newspaper. She loves writing creative pieces, as well as more serious articles...

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