Thursday, April 5, 2012

Book Evaluation #2, Nonfiction

Jacob Weshalek
AP Lang and Comp, 6th Hour
April 5, 2012
Book Evaluation #2, Nonfiction
2.) I chose “Mother Teresa, A Complete Authorized Biography,” by Kathryn Spink, for no reason other than my mother insisted that I should. I strongly opposed the idea, but some battles cannot be won. However, as I ventured into the book, I found that it had a very inspiring story and was not as difficult of a book as I had thought.
3.) The author wrote this book to share the incredible and inspiring life story of Mother Teresa. To say this book was written simply to inform people of her life would be selling it short. It is more accurate to say this book was written to acknowledge one of the greatest humanitarians of all time, as well as to learn from her achievements and hardships (xii).
4.) Mother Teresa was bossy, serious, and probably the most giving person in history. The book thoroughly explained two things about Mother Teresa endlessly: She Loved God, and would serve him no matter what the cost. For example, the book describes how she would only eat what the poor eat, while still doing everything in her power to help them. She inspired, and uplifted people who were poor and sickly. She left nothing for herself and only wished to help others which glorifies what kind of person Mother Teresa was and the effect she had on seemingly helpless lives.
5.) The prevailing mood of the book was hopeful.  You can see that from the first page of the book that Mother Teresa believed if others followed the love of Jesus that the sadness and loneliness of the World would die.  This book also has a sense of sadness.  The struggles she went through are apparent in the way the author explained her story.  She believe that through her struggles and sacrifices, there was hope for the World.   Mother Teresa’s strict guidance could make the World a better place, as shown by these quotes:
            1. “She knew  the difficulty of acceptance and what it was she was really asking when she called upon the suffering to smile; but she had also a courage which far exceeded endurance, a joy which transcended  pain and the manner in which suffered could be the medicine which deepened people’s humanity” (143).
            2. “She told them she preferred them to make mistakes in kindness than to work miracles in unkindness, and she lived what she preached” (73).
            3. “Asked once why she did not rest more, Mother Teresa said simply:  “There will be plenty of time to rest in eternity.  Here there is so much to do ….” (218).
6.) Mother Teresa herself was the most important element to the book. This is because of the impact she has made by releasing her story. An essential part of this book is to learn from her story. Mother Teresa’s story was not fully known and by releasing this book, her story became well-known and honored.  Mother Teresa’s place in time was crucial to the development of programs to help the poor and sick in the twentieth century.
7.) Three major incidents:
                 1.  This is an incident of failure to triumph.  Mother Teresa had been nominated many times for the Nobel Peace Prize, but was unsuccessful because she did not have an achievement that could stand alone.  However, simply by following what she believed in Jesus, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and could stand alongside some of the greatest people who have ever lived.  Most importantly is that the success and fame given by the award was not celebrated nor did it have any effect on the way she lived.  In fact, she was so embarrassed by the publicity that she said she wanted to hide. 
                 2.  In 1981, Mother Teresa met with President Reagan and his wife shortly after the assassination attempt on President Reagan’s life.  She did not coddle him, but instead told him that “his suffering would bring him closer to Jesus and the poor.”  President Reagan later told reporters he just listened to her advice (184).
                 3.  Mother Teresa established a home for the desperately sick in India where persons of many faiths were cared for.  Mother Teresa never discriminated told persons of her Catholic faith and would even use a wheelbarrow to transport a dying person of any faith to the home.  There, they received the rituals of their faiths, not just Christian rites, so they could die like “angels” (55).
8.)  I last read “Life as We Knew It,” a dystopian novel.  Both books discuss food shortages, one caused by fictional natural causes and the other caused by human greed or lack of compassion of the less fortunate.  In both books, the mother in “Life as We Knew It”  and Mother of Teresa both used self-sacrifice to care for the ones they loved.   But, in contrast, the mother in “Life as We Knew It” had no support around her, while Mother Teresa had the support of her believers , and eventually most of the World.  The contrast continues with the mother in “Life as We knew It” focusing only on taking care of her family and close friends, while Mother Teresa focused on the needy people of the World.  One was local, the other was global.    
            “Life as We Knew It” was written as a personal narrative through the eyes of a teenage girl which made the book sometimes over dramatic and often annoying to read.  “Mother Teresa” was a biography and her story was told by another person, the author, who recollected and constructed the events of her life which made it sometimes dry and boring to read. 
9.) The main idea of the book is to relay the message of  loving Jesus, the power of prayer, and sacrificing oneself to a higher being and for others.
10.) Mother Teresa’s actions have changed the World.  But, those actions would not have been known if not for the diligence of the author, Kathryn Spink, who was relentless in her desire to grace the World with Mother Teresa’s story with her cooperation and permission.
11.)  The major shortcoming of the book was that it was poorly written, with long, difficult paragraphs and run-on sentences which often made it hard to read and boring

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