“Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be” by Frank Bruni

Where You Go

New York Times best-selling author Frank Bruni shows why rejection from an Ivy League college does not spell disaster but may even be a blessing in disguise. In his book, Where You’ll Go Is Not Who You’ll Be, Bruni takes on the myth that getting an Ivy League education is not only necessary for success as an adult, but also a stepping stone to wealth and prosperity. He examines the chaos of the college admissions process in the US, looking at college rankings, SAT scores, and acceptance rates of elite colleges.

Bruni connects the mayhem of admissions to the emphasis on privilege and branding, which ends up categorizing people by their race or their family’s income. Too often, admission into a top college becomes the number one priority, while trying to go to a school where you get the best education takes a backseat. Crafting a student’s resume begins as early as in preschool, as community service, sports abilities, and other extra-curriculars all contribute to where the student ends up attending. Students can only relax when they are finally accepted somewhere.

Bruni writes, “The sale is more important than the product,” as he uses his own personal experiences to show that being rejected from Ivy League colleges may, in fact, be a blessing. Bruni uses Arizona University as an example of a great school that is not in the Ivy League. Arizona offers high quality education, with a faculty that includes two Nobel and five Pulitzer Prize winners. Getting an education from your top choice, even if it is not in the Ivy League, is still the best option, but rejection can lead you off the path, where you have to learn to be self-reliant and more flexible, increasing your chances of success.

Where You’ll Go Is Not Who You’ll Be is a must-read for students heading into colleges, as it reminds them that just because a college may be higher ranked or has more prestige does not mean it’s a better place for their education. Written in a dynamic style but containing a lot of valuable information, this is a book that families and students cannot overlook as they get into the bedlam of college admissions.

Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania
Author: Frank Bruni
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: March 2015

Reviewer: Sahil Kurup is a high-school student at St. Francis High School in Mountain View, California.

“The Martian” by Andy Weir

The Martain

Mark Watney, who is an astronaut on spaceship Ares 3, is sent on a mission to Mars and left stranded following a storm. His crew thought he was dead after seeing his suit lose pressure, and they made the tough choice to abandon him. He somehow survives, but has to find a way to stay alive until he can be rescued. He has no idea how to contact NASA back on Earth. His food, water, and oxygen will only last so long, so he needs to devise a plan that will keep his alive until help arrives. There’s little room for error, though, and Watney comes dangerously close to disaster on numerous occasions, using “Sols,” or days, to recount his stunning story.

The Martian is a different kind of book, a true science thriller in which math and science play the main role in the plot. Many pages are just Watney’s thoughts, filled with dissecting complex calculations about the planet’s orbit or his calorie consumption.

That doesn’t mean the book was long-winded or boring. It was interesting to see what a person on Mars thinks, as none of us has ever experienced it. Author Andy Weir creates a hilarious character in Mark Watney, who cracks jokes at random times, which keeps the readers entertained. Watney is also easy to empathize with. While no one can relate to his Mars experience, we can all relate to his emotions, and Watney makes it easier to take in the scientific part of the book without becoming overwhelmed.

I would recommend this book to all readers, as it would appeal not only to space travel enthusiasts but also regular people looking for a gripping plot. Although there may be a lot of description, Watney’s wittiness and his Mars adventures keep readers interested and captivated.

The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Publisher: Broadway Books
Publication Date: October 2014

Reviewer: Sahil Kurup is a high-school student at St. Francis High School in Mountain View, California.

“Return of the King: LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Greatest Comeback in NBA History” by Brian Windhorst and Dave McMenamin

Return of the King

This history of the greatest comeback in NBA history starts and ends with LeBron James, who rallied the Cleveland Cavaliers back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors. The Return of the King, written by Brian Windhorst, an ESPN analyst who has been covering LeBron since his high school days, and Dave McMenamin, another ESPN analyst who covers the Lakers and the Cavs, takes you all the way back to 2014, when LeBron made his decision to come back to his hometown Cleveland. It goes in depth into Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert’s process of finding a new general manager to make the Cavs a playoff team in 2014. David Griffin then had to find a new coach, as the former coach, Mike Brown, was not helping the team win games, going into the fourth straight season of not making the playoffs. They then hired Russia’s national team coach David Blatt, who won a lot of titles in the Euroleague. Gilbert, Griffin, and Blatt, after many talks with LeBron’s agent Rich Paul about his contract, eventually lured LeBron back to Cleveland. Return of the King takes you deep into this process, showing you the players they got to entice LeBron, the talks between LeBron and Griffin, as well as the writing of the Coming Home letter written by James, which was published in Sports Illustrated to inform everyone of his final decision to return to Cleveland.

The book also explains how the Cavaliers ended up getting Kevin Love from Minnesota as a trade for their number one draft pick that year, Andrew Wiggins. Love made the decision after talking with LeBron on the phone, and having a sitdown with Gilbert and Griffin at Vegas. LeBron also is a free agent magnet, and he attracted many veterans like Mike Miller, James Jones, and Shawn Marion. McMenamin and Windhorst then explain the many frustrations during the first season for LeBron James. First, there were the growing issues with Dion Waiters, who was eventually traded for JR Smith and Iman Shumpert, and then there was David Blatt. Return of the King goes in depth into David Blatt’s problem, which were that he had trouble calling plays during timeouts, and he didn’t show authority well. This led to a frustrating season for the team, who ended up losing to the Warriors in the Finals after Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving got injured. LeBron James posted unbelievable numbers, but ran out of gas, as he was the only one doing much on the team.

Onto the next season, and a fresh start. Blatt was still coaching, but despite the good words LeBron said to the media about the coach, there was still unrest between the players about Blatt. The book goes in depth into the season, talking about almost every regular season game. They also bring in interesting facts, such as how LeBron James loved watching other NBA teams on offnights, and was a huge fan of the NBA app, when he once even complained to the league about its functionailty. Return of the King dives into the firing of David Blatt in the middle of the season, and the hiring of the assistant coach Tyronn Lue. The book takes us through all the playoff games, where the Cavaliers got to an amazing 10-0 start. It goes in depth into the celebration after the Eastern Conference Final win, and the preparation for a rematch with the Warriors. It recaps every game, and talks about the most memorable moments from Game 7:  “The Block. The Shot. The Stop.” The book tells us what happened after, during the celebrations in the locker room in Oracle Arena.

I absolutely recommend this book, as it is extremely indepth and told me things I did not know about the Cavaliers, even after watching almost every game. If you are a Cavs fan, this is a must-buy. This book will also tell you what an NBA front office is like, and all the things that goes on behind the scenes of an NBA championship team. Return of the King is an extremely interesting book, one that you can read over and over again to relive the Cleveland Cavaliers 2016 title run.

Return of the King: LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Greatest Comeback in NBA History
Authors: Brian Windhorst and Dave McMenamin
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: April 2017

Reviewer: Sahil Kurup is a freshman at St. Francis High School in Mountain View, CA.