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Shreya, Herschel Grammar Literary Detectives

Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth

When I first saw this book I was very curious about it. Seeing the stars and its stunning cover design, I picked it up. The stars at Oktober bend was beautifully written by Glenda Millard. The story is about a girl called Alice who is a victim of violent assault and about Manny who is an ex child soldier and how they find peace in each other. Alice and Manny are both learning to live and trust again and are trying to move on from the guilt that they feel over the loss of their families. At first I got VERY confused because of the constant use of prose, poetry, lack of grammar, direct approach to the
present tense and the lack of information about Alice’s past but I read it anyway and about 30 pages later I understood what the main character Alice was talking about all this time. Despite their violent pasts, this is a story of redemption, forgiveness and passion which lights an everlasting light of hope in our hearts. Alice gets inspired by many things in her writing such as her bright and joyful personality, the beautiful and natural word, her brave family, her positive outlook on life and her love of pets. Alice is definitely a VERY brave person despite the fact that something so terrible had happened to her yet she remained optimistic and did not care about other people's harsh comments to her. The fact that her "soul is filled with songbirds" suggests that she is a person who is filled with happiness and is very energetic. I would recommend this book to ages that are 13 and over.

In the beginning of the story, Alice's past wasn’t clearly revealed to the reader which made me have a negative first impression about this book. However after reading the first few chapters Alice tells the reader about what happened to her. I like the fact that the author didn’t reveal it at first because she kept on making the reader feel worried for Alice about what kind of terrible thing that might have happened to her. This is a very effective choice by the author.

All the books I have read so far have had the correct use of spelling, punctuation and grammar but when I was reading this book I got a bit irritated because of the lack of SPaG in Alice’s writing but I liked Manny’s writing because it had the correct use of spelling, punctuation and grammar which revealed the fact that Manny is educated. After a while I liked Alice’s writing and the way she wrote her feelings and made the readers understand that she was uneducated and what was wrong with her via the use of incorrect SPaG which manipulated the reader into feeling sorry for her and seeing things the way she sees them. The author chose to write Alice's voice in this way because it conveyed her emotions effectively. Alice chose to write in poems because they do not have to always be grammatically accurate all the time and Alice isn't educated therefore it is easier to talk in poetry. The connection between her speech and her writing is that sometimes her writing is sometimes broken and slurred which is similar to her speech because sometimes it is broken because she can't talk a lot and her speech sounds slurred because of a brain injury. The fact that "heartwords fly from her pen" implies her vocabulary isn't conventional because "heartwords" suggests that she speaks what her heart tells her to write. This means that she writes her own viewpoints of the world.

Her grandmother sees Alice as an innocent person who was wronged whilst her brother sees her as a very accident prone person who needs to always be constantly protected. Manny sees Alice as a very unusual and unique individual but the people see her as a weird and irritating person due to her oddness. Alice's views on O’Leary changes over the course in the book because she finds peace in her life and forgives O’Leary because she considers O’Leary as an innocent person who cares about his brother. Bear has a very important role in life because he is a caring and protective dog who is like a guardian to Alice. Therefore, Alice didn’t leave Bear in the end even though her home was going to be flooded.
The author reveals Manny as a person who is traumatised after seeing terrible violent acts in his past. Manny feels disgusted by the army officials in the civil war but feels proud of his mother and sister for standing up to them bravely. The fact that in Sierra Leone “stories are not written on paper” shows the reader that the future is always uncertain and can always change at any time. Manny is grateful to his new family for providing him shelter and taking care of him. He has settled in but somewhere within him he feels empty and lonely. Manny runs in order to forget his painful and horrific past. In my opinion I think Alice’s and Manny’s name signify peace and stability. Alice and Manny both have horrific pasts in common which allows them to understand each other's pain clearly. They each gain a sense of homeliness from their relationship with each other. Manny learns how to open up his heart and be free from Alice. Alice learns how to come to terms with her past and get less affected by it . Their friendship gives them strength and teaches them by their sense of togetherness and it teaches them to deal with the world by ignoring rude comments about their friends, forgiving more people etc.
The episode of the flood was chosen to show how Alice’s viewpoints about O’Leary changed and led to her forgiving him and it worked for me because Alice found a sense of peace in her life. I think the author was correct when she described herself as a “mostly happy, hopeful and optimistic person” at the end of the book because the novel is finishes with an optimistic suspense indicating there is more happiness to come into Alice’s life. I would rate this book 4.5 stars. This book deserves to win the Carnegie award because Glenda Millard conveyed her emotions effortlessly through this book. We write to express ourselves and her emotions are omniscient in this novel.

Posted on: 13th June 2017 at 08:14 am

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