[Review] Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Publisher and Publication Date: Penguin Books. 1993. First published in 1937.
Genre: Fiction. American literature. Classic literature.
Pages: 112 printed pages.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Library.
Audience: Readers of young adult through adult. Readers of American literature.
Rating: Excellent.

Link for the book @ Amazon.

Further links on John Steinbeck.

  1. The 15 Best John Steinbeck Books Everyone Should Read, from Reedsy Discovery.
  2. The Steinbeck Institute.
  3. Nobel Prize.
  4. Book Analysis. This site is heavy with pop-ups and ads.


The time period is the Great Depression, the 1930s.

Two men are traveling together to work at a new job as laborers on a farm. They are in California, on the valley side of the Salinas River.

The men are George and Lennie. George is a small man. Lennie is a large man.

They stop beside a green pool to take a drink. They are hot from the walk. They’d rode a bus to a certain point and must walk the rest of the way.

While beside the green pool they have a conversation that they have had other times. So many times, George is tired of it.

George reminds Lennie often of staying quiet at the jobs. Don’t say anything. Stay out of trouble. If he gets in trouble, George will find Lennie.

Trouble seems to find Lennie.

It is never fully explained, but Lennie has an intellectual disability (I think.) George, at some point in the past, became a caregiver of Lennie. This caregiving role is stressful.

George feels responsible for Lennie. He looks after him.

At the new job, trouble erupts.

My Thoughts:

I first read Of Mice and Men in the 10th grade. When I began reading it yesterday, I remembered a little about the storyline.

It is a novella. A short story. A sad story. A story that makes an impact. It is a story that I had to remind myself that these people don’t think like me, and they don’t live in the society and culture I live in. For example, animal abuse is never okay. To abuse another person because of their skin tone or intellectual ability or income level is never okay.

And a big question that is gnawing at me. What can be done in response to a person (the daughter-in-law of the boss) who is sexually suggestive, lonely, and will not stop bothering the working men in the bunkhouse? My first thought is “Run Forest, Run!” However, these men need the job. They need to work. The situation is precarious.

As an adult, I understand so much more about this story. I picked up on things (aha moments.) For example, Curley is the adult son of the boss of the farm. However, throughout the story his main task is looking for his wife. He walks into the bunkhouse, “have you seen my wife?” The situation is pitiful. Is his wife bored? Lonely? Does she have unmet needs or expectations? Why did she marry Curley? Doesn’t she have farm wife things to do? Taking care of a farm is hard work. Being a farm wife is hard work.

Another question I have: George knows Lennie is strong and can hurt someone or kill them. Why did he command Lennie to respond with violence? Did George regret this action? Is this why the book ended as it did?

Lennie at some point, knows good from bad. What is going on with him that he knows the bad only after it happens?

Of Mice and Men is a book that encourages discussion. But as a kid, I don’t remember conversation in class about the story except from the teacher.

I love, love, love, the setting of scenes which includes more than just descriptions for the reader’s sake, it is the setting of the tone and mood or a pulling away from the dire situation to a place of calmness (for example pages 92-93.) Steinbeck’s descriptions, even of a barn is brilliant.

It is a story with strong inward and outward conflicts.

Some themes in the story: dreams, self-control, grief, justice, injustice, hope, tolerance, deception, shame, sacrifice, suffering, and judgment.


[Review] Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Publisher and Publication Date: Penguin Classic. 2013. Originally written in two parts, 1868 and 1869.
Genre: Fiction. Classic literature. American literature. Young adult.
Pages: 534 printed pages.
Format: Hardcover.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: American literature readers. Readers of Louisa May Alcott who are drawn to young women’s stories.
Rating: Very good.

Link for the book @ Amazon.

I can’t believe my copy is $59.95 on Amazon. I paid a fraction of that amount at the discount store, Marshalls.

The text of this book is from the original in 1868,1869.

Goodreads page for Louisa May Alcott.

Further links of interest:

Women’s History.

Brittanica (with pop up ads.)


Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888.)


Little Women is the story of the four March sisters. Their names are Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy.

When the story begins, their father is away as a soldier in the Civil War. The family home is in Massachusetts. Their mother is Marmee.

Little Women is a sentimental and charming story of four different in temperament and personality sisters.

The story shares their lives over a period of several years beginning at Christmas time 1863.

My Thoughts:

This review has possible spoilers if you’ve not read or seen Little Women.

I did not fall crazy in love with the story; however, I did enjoy reading Little Women. This is a first time to read it.

What I love about Little Women:

  1. The genre for this story is not just one but several. Some examples are American literature, classic literature, coming of age story, and young adult.
  2. I love the variety of personalities shown in the four sisters. Jo is independent, an individual, outspoken, a writer. Jo makes a choice to do something different than most young women of her era do. She relocates to another city to learn the craft of writing. Meg is the most maternal figure with the exception of Marmee. Meg wants to get married and have children. She is the domestic sister of the bunch. It is through her story that I see represented a young married couple with young children. Beth is the peacemaker. She is meek and mild. She has inner strength and fortitude. She is a pianist. Amy is prim. She is an artist; oil painting is her media. Her role as the youngest of the sisters is presented as the spoiled one, the baby of the sisters who is a bit meddling and annoying.
  3. The story shows stereotypes in the characters. For example, Marmee is patient, nurturing, wise, and loving. Jo is a strong exception. She chooses a different path. I love her gutsy personality. I love her outspokenness. I love Jo’s individualism. And, I love seeing the imperfections in the sisters. However, I do not believe Alcott shows imperfections in Marmee. Marmee seems like an angel-above it all-hovering over the family like a Madonna.
  4. I love Laurie. He is an asset to the story in more than one way. He is an important part of how I see the family. Through his eyes and feelings and behavior, I see the sisters too.
  5. I love the descriptions of nature. Alcott writes of crickets and squirrel, and other creatures of nature. One of my favorite sentences in the book is referring to the sun and horizon. “The sun was low, and the heavens glowed with the splendor of an autumn sunset. Gold and purple clouds lay on the hill-tops; and rising high into the ruddy light were silvery white peaks, that shone like the airy spires of some Celestial City.” Page 141.
  6. There are references to the book The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyon in this story. I love The Pilgrim’s Progress and I’m thinking of rereading it soon.
  7. I love knowing what happens to the family after they are settled in life. This gives the book a solid closure.

Final Thoughts:

I wonder why Marmee is depicted as perfect.

I wonder what her thoughts and voice would reveal.

I wonder if Laurie loves Jo because of “his” image of her (independence and outspoken nature.) But I don’t know if they would be happy together as a romantic couple.

Mr. March has a small role in the story. It is almost completely about the women with the exception of Laurie.

I’d read in the introduction that Alcott did not want to write a sentimental type of moral story. However, this kind of story paid the bills. Later, she made revisions to the original text. It must have pained her (to a degree) to change words in a text that she did not enjoy writing in the first place.

(Review) For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

Publisher and Publication Date: Simon and Schuster/Scribner. 2020. Originally published in 1940.
Genre: Fiction. Classic literature. War literature. American literature.
Format: Paperback.
Pages: 576.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of classic literature, Hemingway stories, and war literature.
Rating: Excellent.

This book is the Hemingway Library Edition. It includes a foreword by Patrick Hemingway and an introduction by Sean Hemingway.

Amazon link

Further links to explore:
Nobel Prize
American Literature
Book Analysis-this page helps the reader understand Hemingway’s writing style

Ernest Hemingway 1899-1961

This is “1” of the most fun reviews I’ve written.
I love how the book surprised me in a good way. I didn’t know I’d like it. I certainly didn’t expect to love it.
I am a lover of Charles Dickens’ stories. As you know, Dickens’ stories are long-winded with lengthy descriptions and sentences. Hemingway is not. He is at the opposite spectrum of the literary style of Dickens. And, still, I fell in love with, For Whom The Bell Tolls.

This edition includes other supplementary writings. It has 3 short stories Hemingway wrote. It has early drafts of For Whom The Bell Tolls. It includes a speech Hemingway gave titled, Fascism Is A Lie. And, Hemingway’s personal account of the Spanish Civil War.

For Whom The Bell Tolls is the story of an American volunteer serving in an anti-fascist guerilla unit during the Spanish Civil War. The war was defined as freedom versus fascism, 1936-1939.
Robert Jordan is the American who is fighting as a volunteer. He is the main character the story centers on.
He is with a small group of other fighters which include 2 women.
The setting is in the Mountains of Spain.
The structure of the story is dialogue between the men, the goal to blow up a bridge, the enemy who is the antagonist, a love interest, internal and external conflicts, and a climax.

My Thoughts:
For Whom The Bell Tolls is a story with a great background story. For example, Ernest Hemingway himself observed first hand the Spanish Civil War when he was a war correspondent. He found the name for the book from the poem written by John Donne. He consulted his son, Patrick, about a particular detail needed in the story. Patrick was 11 at the time this book was written.

Reasons why I love this story!
1. The sentences are crisp and to the point.
2. I was shown the careful patience, watching, judging, decision making, and the planning needed to implement an attack for a battle.
3. I love the dialogue between the men. They tease one another. They make cutting remarks. They provoke one another, especially if it is an enemy.
4. Major themes in the story: courage, power of love, bravery, revenge, honesty, perseverance, death and dying, passion, and honor.
5. The conflicts are external and internal. An external conflict is the war and the opposing enemy. An internal conflict is when a battle goes wrong and the person blames self.
6. I love the point in the story where Robert Jordan reflects on a memory he has about his childhood.
7. The material of the story is arranged chronological. With the exception of a childhood memory of Robert Jordan, it is the present situation where the story holds.
8. The pace of the story is steady. There is a sense of control-controlling the reader to hold and concentrate on each scene.
9. Sometimes an author is too manipulative with the pacing of characters and events. It is apparent. I believe Hemingway is understated. He is the person telling the story, but he tells the story in a way that allows events and people to unfold at the right time.
10. My favorite reason! The love story between Robert Jordan and Maria. If you are a man and have not figured a particular thing out about women, Robert Jordan holds a lesson. Females love tenderness. I don’t care how old a female is they respond to tenderness. I believe this is one of the reasons why females fall prey to sweet-talk. Robert Jordan is patient, tender, gentle, and loving to Maria who has been abused in her past. I love the language used to describe his thoughts and passion for Maria. They are real, precise, honest, and clear feelings. Their love is not one of fiery passion, but it is one defining a bond, a unity, a sweet intimacy, and a place of tranquility between them. When they are together the war is at a far distance. I’ve read many romance stories. Most of them it’s all heat and passion. Robert Jordan and Maria slow down in their love making. They take their time despite the war.

An honorable mention in the story is on page 61. It is night. The men are discussing killing a person they believe is an enemy. At that moment an owl passes overhead. The owl flew in silence. The owl is hunting. “‘Look at him,’ gypsy said in the dark. ‘Thus should men move.'” I love the use of the imagery of the owl with the problem in the group of men.