Down to read?

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The Song of Achilles

“The Song of Achilles”, by Madeline Miller, is a classical retelling of the epic of The Trojan War. It is told from Patroclus’ point of view. Patroclus is an awkward, shy exiled prince who falls into kahoots with the legendary hero Achilles. The story begins with Patroclus’ upbringing in a household in which he tries his hardest to gain his father’s approval. Patroclus is described as weak and smaller than most of the other royal boys in the court. Before Patroclus realizes what is happening, blood is spilled and he is sent on his way to another kingdom. There he meets King Peleus of Phthia and his son Achilles. Soon Patroclus and Achilles are inseparable and together they train with Chiron, a centaur that shows them the art of war and medicine. The tale continues as they both venture to Troy to get the lovely Helen of Sparta back. 

Miller’s linguistic style shines through this debut novel. She manages to weave and blend together her characters emotions and thoughts in such a way that it makes the reader want to devour the book in one sitting. Achilles is portrayed in a more innocent light, a Greek Golden Boy who just wants to have fun. The relationship between Achilles and Patroclus is one that is relatable to anyone who read this book. It goes more than just a friendship, those small intimate moments between the two characters really makes the reader feel as if they are understanding these figures better. In a way, this book humanizes the great Greek hero and his faithful companion. One this book was picked up, it was very difficult to put down. If you are a person who enjoys Greek mythology and reading, this novel is a perfect choice for you. 

In their March 2012 issue, Vogue.com stated that “the resulting novel is cinematic—one might say epic—in scope, but refreshingly, compellingly human in detail.” “The Song of Achilles” has won numerous awards and honors. These include being a New York Times Bestseller, Stonewall Honor Book (American Library Association), and Winner of the 2021 Orange Prize (now known as The Women’s Prize for Fiction.) 

The Hate U Give

“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, follows the tale of a 16-year old African-American female named Starr Carter. Starr attends a predominantly white preparatory school and feels as if she is caught in the middle of two different worlds. One night, she is at a party happening in her neighborhood, Garden Heights,  and bumps into an old childhood friend, Khalil. Gunshots from a rival gang break the party up and Khalil offers to drive her home. On the way back, Khalil gets pulled over by a white police officer with the badge number One-Fifteen. One-Fifteen starts questioning Khalil and orders him to get out of the car to search him. Once the officer is done searching him, he orders Khalil to stay put and not move as the officer returns to his car. However, Khalil opens his car door to check on Starr and  is fatally shot by One-Fifteen. The rest of the novel follows Starr’s journey as this shooting goes to trial. Themes of grief, racial injustice, trauma and hope are expressed throughout. 

Given all that has happened over the past summer due to the Black Lives Matter movement, this novel is just one example of the racial injustice that is present in America. Some critics have gone to say that this novel reads like a present day biography. It’s an eye-opening book that depicts the struggles of being a minority in America. Everyone who gets the chance should read this. Furthermore, “The Hate U Give” has been adapted into a movie starring Amandla Stenberg, Algee Smith and Regina Hall.

By Faith Macwana
fpmacwana@vwu.edu