Author: Kelly @ Dancing Through the Pages

Hey guys! I'm Kelly and owner of this blog. I hope you'll find my reviews helpful and enjoy your time here. :) *This blog is currently on hiatus until my AP tests have concluded. I will occasionally comment or review, but otherwise, I'll be inactive.

the future draws near & guilt

hello all

tomorrow is may 1st, a date that seems almost innocuous to everybody besides seniors. it’s college decision day.

i have already committed to a college (i’m gonna be a bruin!) but as may 1st draws nearer and i hear more and more about my friends and where they are going, college is starting to feel so much like a privilege that i feel like i don’t deserve.

i mean, hear me out.

this year was the first time that i really learned about my family’s financial standing. and well, contrary to what my mom jokes about, i don’t come from a poor family. honestly, it would be even a stretch to say that i come from a middle-class family. but we have always lived fairly humbly. it’s not like i wear designer clothes or drive fancy sports cars or spend excessively. but it’s nothing that my family has ever really worried about. it’s not even something that my parents seem to worry about in paying my college tuition these next four years.

so i guess, what makes me feel so guilty is that i come from a family with such standing. i have friends whose families make much less and i hear them stress about saving personal spending money for college and choosing a school for its financial aid package over other qualities. of course, i did the same and was really concerned with the financial aspects of attending a school with a really big price tag. but it felt disingenuous when i did so, even if i WAS concerned with draining my family’s entire savings accounts. it wasn’t fake but it felt fake to worry about it when my situation wasn’t as severe. like i’m saying that affording the school of my choice wasn’t really a huge issue. it even ended up being the school that gave me the worst financial aid package.

and that made me feel guilty. guilty that i was accepting my family’s support and that i wasn’t trying to be more self-sufficient. it feels almost like the easy way out to say “yeah my parents paid my way through college” even though the majority of students are like that. but to ask the parentals to pay so much more for it… well it feels selfish even if they seem to mind paying for it.

because what have i done to deserve it? it might not even be an issue of if i deserve to go to such a pricey college or not. i think i’m just terrified that i’m going to out to la in the fall and totally blow it, wasting all of the effort my parents put into putting me through school.

i want to have a good time in college and join a ton of dance teams and everything but at the same time i feel like if i’m having too much fun, then i’m not focusing enough on my education. and that’s what the green pays for, not for me to go party it up in la.

but i guess that’s something to consider in five months, not now.

kelly ❤

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A Blast From the Past / A Review of Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier

The thing that kills me the most about this post is that i wrote this three years ago and… never posted it? I still think it’s a pretty solid review minus any grammatical errors that I’m just not gonna fix. In the spirit of nostalgia (because I’m about to be a high school graduate yippee), I figured posting this relic of a review would be fun. Have fun with 15-year-old Kelly!


Born Confused

Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier
Series: Born Confused #1
Publication: July 1st, 2003 by Scholastic Paperbacks
Number of Pages: 512
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: Public library
Rating: ★★★1/2

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Summary

Tanuja Desai Hidier’s fantastically acclaimed cross-cultural debut comes to PUSH!
Dimple Lala doesn’t know what to think. Her parents are from India, and she’s spent her whole life resisting their traditions. Then suddenly she gets to high school and everything Indian is trendy. To make matters worse, her parents arrange for her to meet a “suitable boy.” Of course it doesn’t go well — until Dimple goes to a club and finds him spinning a magical web . Suddenly the suitable boy is suitable because of his sheer unsuitability. Complications ensue. This is a funny, thoughtful story about finding your heart, finding your culture, and finding your place in America.

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a coming out post, to thank diverse books

I have always questioned my own sexuality and yeah I know, I’m not special because everybody does that. But hey I thought I was straight for like all of high school until now. I figured I’d graduate without anything really changing all that much. That seems to be a trend though, thinking that I have it all figured out and then whoopdeedoo I learn and change again.

In retrospect, it’s probably more accurate to say that I had been questioning, even if I didn’t realize it. I’ve had crushes on both guys and girls, although I always excused the latter as being a “girl crush” or that I “really, really wanted to be her friend.” I admired girls in a totally “platonic” way.

Cue the eyeroll, please.

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[Review] Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

AutoboyographyAutoboyography by Christina Lauren
Publication:  September 12th, 2017 by Simon & Schuster  
Number of Pages: 
407
Genre: 
Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: Public Library
Rating: ★★★★★


Summary

Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.

But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.

It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.

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senioritis feels like wandering through a blank world

i don’t know if you guys will know what i’m talking about but in a lot of fantasy novels and tv shows, there have been scenes where a character will just be in a world that is devoid of any buildings, people, or anything. just like a big, blank, endless world where they will be surrounded by vast nothingness.

that’s what my senioritis feels like right now. there’s a feeling of laziness but it doesn’t feel like the traditional lack of desire to do anything. because i do want to do something, anything, everything. i want to go to college, explore philosophy, read more, dance more, meet people, and all of that. but for some reason, i feel as if i’m standing at a crossroad that resembles that blank white world where i could go anywhere and do anything, if i had any idea what it is i want to do. things that previously mattered before matter less than before and the only thing i can see is the endless possibility that extends in front of me.

this is probably the product of my accepting uncertainty almost too much, to the point where i no longer can see any of the potential paths of life i may take.

this is all word vomit, haha. this is what i get for taking a break from drafting scholarship essays.

til next time?
Kelly ❤

[Review] Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Beartown by Fredrik Backman 
Series: 
Björnstad #1
Publication:  April 25th 2017 by Simon & Schuster  
Number of Pages: 
415
Genre: 
Fiction, Contemporary, Sports & Games
Source: Public Library
Rating: ★★★★1/2


Summary

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Overeturns with a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream—and the price required to make it come true.

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

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New Year, New Blog?

Hello all and Happy New Year!

In the past, my family has never really celebrated New Year’s with a lot of glory. Actually, we don’t tend to celebrate the majority of holidays. But this year, I went to a friend’s house to ring in the new year. And more than that, it felt different from the celebrations I’ve had in the past. When the clock struck twelve, I felt like I wasn’t just putting 2017 behind me, but every single regret and reservation I’ve had. It felt like a fresh start (cheesy, I know). But what does that have to do with this blog?

It’s been a while (like over a year) but I have emerged, victorious from the challenge that is high school. I haven’t graduated yet (please come soon, graduation), but I’ve finished applying to colleges, standardized testing, my first semester finals and all of that stuff.

In the last few months, I have come back my blog numerous times, sometimes to consider writing a book review, other times to write a discussion post, but every time, I hesitated to break the hiatus, knowing that if I tried to start blogging again, I’d have to go back on hiatus for another month.

When 2018 hit, it felt like a fresh start. And I thought about Dancing Through the Pages again. I’m back, hopefully to be a bit more active than I have been in the past and exercise my book reviewer mind again. But instead of only talking about books, like I have in the past, I want to embrace the metaphorical reason I named my blog Dancing Through the Pages, which is how it describes my approach to life. Aka I dance through every part of it. *Cues cringing from the readers* Yeah I know it’s cheesy.

I want to make this more of a life-style/personal blog smushed together with a book blog, allowing me to write about whatever I want. I’m thinking some college admissions tips because that was my entire life for the past few months (and still not done), more breadth in my book reviews, more discussion posts… stuff like that.

So! What’s changed since my last post? Well, I’m technically an adult now, which seems unreal because I feel the same as I did before. Age is such a social construct. I still don’t know what I’m doing 99% of the time, I still live with my parents, and I’m clueless when it comes to cooking.

I have applied to college! I don’t know where I’ll go yet, but I can kiss the Common Application good bye because I am DONE! For now at least.

I started ballet again. I missed having a dance class to go to every week; ballet quickly became one of the highlights of my week. Funnily enough, I wasn’t nearly as rusty as I expected to be, but I have definitely lost a good portion of my flexibility and strength. But I’m working to get it all back!

And because I can’t let go of my roots as a book blogger, this is what I’m currently juggling in my to-be-read.

  • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara – This one is so long (but so good right now) and I have already renewed the E-book for this twice. I might just have to get my own copy because this is gonna take me a while
  • Daring to Drive by Manal Al-Sharif – Relevant, interesting read. Also I’m mad at their government now.
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – MAGICAL REALISM YES

But ’til next time!

Kelly

[Review] Little Peach by Peggy Kern

little peach cover

Little Peach by Peggy Kern
Series: N/A
Publication: March 10th 2015 by Balzer + Bray  
Number of Pages:
208
Genre:
YA, Realistic Fiction, Urban Fiction
Source: School library (I think)
Rating: ★★★★1/2

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Summary

What do you do if you’re in trouble?
When Michelle runs away from her drug-addicted mother, she has just enough money to make it to New York City, where she hopes to move in with a friend. But once she arrives at the bustling Port Authority, she is confronted with the terrifying truth: she is alone and out of options.
Then she meets Devon, a good-looking, well-dressed guy who emerges from the crowd armed with a kind smile, a place for her to stay, and eyes that seem to understand exactly how she feels.
But Devon is not what he seems to be, and soon Michelle finds herself engulfed in the world of child prostitution where he becomes her “Daddy” and she his “Little Peach.” It is a world of impossible choices, where the line between love and abuse, captor and savior, is blurred beyond recognition.
This hauntingly vivid story illustrates the human spirit’s indomitable search for home, and one girl’s struggle to survive.

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Op-Ed: What It Really Means to Communicate

By: Kelly Chen / April 17th, 2016

When people hear the word “communication”, most of them will probably think of talking. But with the growth of the percentage of American adults that use social media from 18% to 75% in the United States within the last ten years, it is fair to say that communication is no longer limited merely to face-to-face conversation. Often seen as a positive addition to the modern-day lifestyle, social media has expanded to touch on nearly every aspect of American society. The current generation of teens has grown up using tablets, phones, the internet, and hundreds of other technological innovations that have essentially transformed the modern world. These changes have been both positive and negative and have affected everything from the professional workplace, pop culture, to personal life. But perhaps one of the most contested impacts has been the profound changes social media has had on our communication skills. It’s impossible to deny the effects it has had on our ability to connect. Social media has caused a decline in our ability to communicate well by increasing potential miscommunication, encouraging laziness, and causing a rise in narcissism.

What Does That Text Mean?

Miscommunication is single-handedly one of the biggest weaknesses of social media. Whether it is through misinterpretation of a message or emotion, or even just an ambiguous explanation, trying to connect in any way online presents the possibility for error simply because of how impersonal it can be. According to studies sourced by Forbes, online interaction eliminates 93% of the context used in a regular conversation, including body language, facial expressions, and vocal tone. Only 7% of communication is based upon verbal word, which is oftentimes, the only way to converse through social media. However, as humans, many of us depend upon those social cues to better analyze a situation and form a proper response. Without these signals, people are more likely to misinterpret a situation, turning an innocent text into a cause of guilt, anger, and uncertainty. For instance, as someone who frequently utilizes sarcasm, it’s hard to find a way to send texts that don’t convey the wrong tone. I can’t even begin to count the amount of times that I’ve sent a witty, sarcastic message only to have a friend completely miss the point, taking me literally.

But it’s easy to see where all of this confusion stems from. According to  “The Period is Pissed”, an article describing the difficulties of using punctuation to express emotion, the mechanics of writing, specifically punctuation, classically formed as a way to structure prose “according to its own unique hierarchy and logic”, not necessarily to convey emotion. In fact, Keith Houston, an author that writes about punctuation and typology cited within the aforementioned article, explains in his novel, Shady Characters, that “explicit representations of the emotional state of the person doing the writing” are uncommon.

It makes sense. Writing, historically, was developed to record important information for individual civilizations, not for conversation. But with the growth of social media, users have bent writing to fit their needs. They have made new uses for punctuation, have created emojis, and have utilized other newfangled methods to replace the handicaps presented with a keyboard. Though many may argue that these developments are sufficient substitutes for body language and facial expressions, the ambiguity of the symbols still cause confusion. “The Epidemic of Facelessness,” an article published by The New York Times details the importance of facial expression and how social media strips that ability from humans. The article describes how emojis are, at best, a weak, “faceless imitation of a true facial expression,” and thus, cannot replace one’s true countenance or body language. “The Period is Pissed” also explains how the period’s use, or lack of thereof, is often interpreted by receivers in a wide variety of ways, resulting in unclear communication. There is no “proper” way to use punctuation to express emotion, and as such, attempting to do so results in confusing online conversations.

Lazy Emotions

Social media is easy and convenient. Nearly every person owns some sort of mobile smartphone with the capability to connect to the internet. With platforms such as Instagram or Twitter releasing mobile apps, your friends are literally a click away. It is because of this that it is simple to see why the use of social media has grown so quickly. The percentage of users has risen over 50% in the last ten years, but has done so at the cost of our relationships.

https://i1.wp.com/www.smartinsights.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Screen-Shot-2015-10-12-at-15.48.00.png

There is nothing wrong with using social media. But when it begins to hinder real life relationships and personal experiences, significant issues can arise in how genuine communication may be. Humans are, by nature, unpredictable when it comes to emotions, resulting in messy conversations and situations. Social media, however, gives users a greater degree of control over their feelings. This has allowed people to avoid dealing with these emotions, causing greater miscommunication and poorer relationships. A 2013 survey conducted by VitalSmarts found that about 81% of people asked said that emotional conversations held on social media were often left unresolved. On top of this, the same survey found that 1 in 5 people reduced in-person contact with someone over an online argument. In many these conflicts, people decided to use technology as a means to discuss their issues. And when it ended badly, they simply may have avoided each other in real life.

This is furthermore supported by Sherry Turkle’s TEDTalk, “Connected, But Alone,” in which she talks of the detrimental effects of technology. She notes, “…We’re lonely, but we’re afraid of intimacy… We turn to technology to help us feel connected in ways we can comfortably control.” She goes on to explain how people are growing lazy, possibly scared of the greater immediate repercussions of emotional arguments. Because of this, people then use social media to distance themselves from each other to “comfortably control” the connection. The result is not only harming our relationships but also our own abilities to effectively communicate.

The Dawn of Oversharing

Social media has caused widespread superficiality within the general public, harming our ability to communicate. It’s the dawn of oversharing and its worst effect, selfishness. Social media’s constant call to connect, to inform, and to share, leads to a gush of personal posts. It’s all about me, myself, and I, not about others. While inherently an innocent action, this constant sharing can have judgmental and self-centered motives, leading to increasing narcissism. This personality disorder can have hugely negative impacts on social relationships.

Narcissists generally disregard the opinions of others, endlessly boasting of their own accomplishments, qualities, and traits. And while they appear cool and confident, the truth is that the root of the disorder is insecurity.  This insecurity causes a narcissist to be extremely jealous, sensitive of criticism, and unable to accept his or her own flaws. These personality traits are often seen as undesirable, leading to strained, often superficial relationships. But in the online world, social media only exists to worsen the disorder. A study conducted in 2014 and published in Computers in Human Behavior by Department of Social Psychology at the University of Duisberg-Essen found that online, narcissists tended to post about themselves frequently in order to attract likes and comments that would “fuel their beliefs about self-importance.” Social media, made to allow people to share information about themselves to a large audience, only encourages narcissistic behavior and may cause more cases of the disorder. By providing a platform for people to tout their accomplishments and best qualities, social media may cause people to develop higher amounts of narcissism. This is supported by a study conducted by York University over Facebook users ages 18-25, in which a correlation was found that determined that the most frequent users of Facebook tended to have more narcissistic or insecure personalities.

However, many may argue that social media can instead be used to raise positive self-image through documentation, positive response, and acceptance. Social media can indeed be used to help validate self-worth and improve confidence. In fact, in the Ideal to Real TODAY/AOL Body Image survey, they found that 65% of female teens surveyed felt that seeing their selfies online “boosts their confidence.” But even so, the same source found that 55% of surveyed girls said felt that social media made them more self-conscious while 58% said that seeing others’ glamorous lives caused low self-esteem. This shows that social media, when abused, can cause crippling effects to a person’s self-esteem, especially those that do not already have strong self-esteem. And with insecurity as the root of narcissism, using social media can trigger the disorder, resulting in a decline in one’s ability to communicate.

Conclusion

Social media isn’t inherently bad. It’s actually incredible what society has done to create these new platforms and technologies. But its effects on potential miscommunication, encouraging laziness, and narcissism have made it necessary that people learn to control the degree to which social media is utilized to form connections. If we allow technology to completely take over our lives, we will face the consequences, big and small, of our actions. It’s important that we begin to re-embrace our abilities to converse face-to-face so that we can nurse our communication skills to our full potential. If we don’t, the issues will extend far beyond what I have outlined.

Humans are social animals. We grow up teaching the young, loving each other, and speaking. But in the end, what are we if we can’t even talk?


Seventh Sense costume pose

Kelly Chen is currently a sophomore at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. Her favorite part of the writing process is editing. In her nonexistent free time, she reads a lot and attempts to learn how to do hip-hop from YouTube videos. She is only occasionally successful.

Disclaimer: This was written for my high school English class. We were required to publish our Op-Eds online. Unfortunately, this is not indicative of a return to regular blogging.

[Review] The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

strange and beautiful sorrows of ava lavendarThe Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Series: None
Publication: March 27th, 2014 by Candlewick Press
Number of Pages: 301
Genre: Magical Realism, Fantasy, YA, Romance, Historical
Source: Public library
Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Summary

Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga.
Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.
In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.
That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.
First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.

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