Category Archives: ShelbeeB

The Secret Year Shelbee Balentine

                       The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard.

Shelbee  Balentine         5th period.

Take Romeo and Juliet. Add The Outsiders. Mix thoroughly. Colt and Julia were secretly together for an entire year, and no one,not even Julia’s boyfriend, knew. They had nothing in common, with Julia in her country club world on Black Mountain and Colt from down on the flats, but it never mattered. Until Julia dies in a car accident, and Colt learns the price of secrecy. He can’t mourn Julia openly, and he’s tormented that he might have played a part in her death. When Julia’s journal ends up in his hands, Colt relives their year together at the same time that he’s desperately trying to forget her. But how do you get over someone who was never yours in the first place?

Who doesn’t want somebody to be close too, to share everything with. That’s every teenagers dream. Imagine though if the one person you cared about was forced to be a secret, then one day after a year of secrecy .. was gone. Love is a emotion that’s natural and uncontrollable. This is the challenge in the novel The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard. There is a series to this book which I plan to continue, although I think I will have to order them. Although I loved the whole book, the three things the popped out the most to me were characters, plot, and setting!

There were many charcters in this book, and of course the all played a role in the book somehow but the people who played the biggest role was of course the protagonist Colt and Julia, who fought with the antagonist Julia’s real boyfriend. I think I loved the characters so much because I personally felt a connection to them. Maybe it was because I had a relationship that was secret or just that it is based on teenagers. To me Colt was the character that stood out the most, although he didn’t say much I could picture him extremely well in my head. Although you aren’t suppose to judge a book by it’s cover the cover of this book made me get an extremely good picture of Colt. Then reading into the book I got to know his personality. The way he could keep a secret, was short, and extremely spontaneous made him even more attractive. I guess you could say he is my book boyfriend.


My second favorite thing was the plot. The main conflict was Julia dying, although throughout the whole novel there was more leading up to that. The first conflict I noticed was Julia’s boyfriend, who was very controlling, and had a drinking problem. This effected the whole story. This wasn’t the only thing that kept Colt and Julia apart though, it was like a modern day Romeo and Juliet. The fact that they had two different lifestyles effected them majorly. Then leading up to that was Julia dying this effected Colt tremendously because he didn’t want to believe it, then on top of that he had to pretend he didn’t care. Could you imagine somebody you had shared everything with for a year, being gone, and having to pretend nothing was there? Lastly, it was her brother finding out who he was and giving Colt Julia’s notebook. I’ve already said to much though. To see what’s inside you will have to read this fabulous novel.


Lastly, I feel in love with the setting. It was so creative, it was like modern day with a 1950’s twist. Colt’s life leaned more two the 1950’s and Julia’s was more modern day. The scenes of them meeting at the river for the first time captured the whole book. I just caught my attention. I just tried to imagine how thrilling that would be. Throughout some of the scenes you could defiantly tell it was meant to be young adult novel. It had some very detailed scenes, and journal entry’s from Julia! I also imagined myself in the scene of Julia dying, but I imagined myself as Colt. Then I felt the scene as being very cold, and confused which is a well known emotion to me.


Overall I enjoyed this book very much, and would recommend to anybody fourteen and u/ Although none of the vocabulary is extremely confusing some of the scenes are a little vulgar. This book will most defiantly have you hooked until the last page if you like anything with a young teenage thrill. I recommend it to anybody who can imagine themselves as a character in a book, and likes to question things. Colt is a great book boyfriend, and a strong minded individual. I loved the whole novel The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard but through it she creates interesting strong minded characters, extremely exciting plot, and very different setting!


The Outsiders by S.E Hinton. Shelbee Balenitne. 5th period.

The Outiders by S. E Hinton. Shelbee Balentine.
From :
According to ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. a soc (short for “social”) has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. a greaser on the other hand, always lives on the outside and has to watch his back. ponyboy is a greaser, and has always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers– until one terrible night when his friend johnny kills a soc. the murder gets under ponyboy’s skin, causing his bifurcated world starts to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same weather a soc or a greaser.

The Outsiders by S.E Hinton was a very moving book for me. Over the summer for my summer reading was the third time I had read it. I loved the novel over all. But, my three favorite things were setting, plot, and theme!

The setting in this book I think has a lot to do with the story, a setting can make a book. During the whole book the tone of it is very dull. It makes you feel the mood of sorrow and sadness. I would think the time period was like the1960’s because that’s when gangs and things were very big. The setting throughout the book is obviously in a town that isn’t very put together, and your amount of money determines what you can and can’t do. I think I liked the setting so much because it some what reminded me of my hometown Logan.

Secondly, I loved the plot of this story! There were many conflicts in this story, all starting because of the socs and greasers. Once Johnny killed the soc, things just went down hill for him, Ponyboy, and Dally. Although, Dally isn’t really in the middle of the story, I think he played a very big role. The climax in the story was also many things, I think. But I think when Johnny saved the little kids from the burning church, and died from the burns had to be the biggest climax of the story! That wasn’t at all what I expected, and it made me want to keep reading to the last page!

Lastly, I think the theme of the story could be the overall theme and social groups. The overall theme of this book to me spoke a lot, it taught me that your true friends will be there for you through thick and thin! I also believed it could’ve been social groups because that’s what was the center of the whole book! If it weren’t for the social groups nothing bad in the story, other than the greasers home life would’ve happen. I think it teaches you to never judge or classify people due to the outside because sometimes it can get took a lot farther. This was a wonderful novel, that taught me a lot of this, and that makes a good theme!

The novel The Outsiders spoke to me in many ways, as I think it would many other young adults! S.E Hilton was a very good author because she made many different things all occur in the book that all leaded up to one thing! I recommend this novel to anybody that likes a novel with passion, thrills, and meaning!

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. Shelbee Balentine 5th period.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

From:            Shelbee Balentine

Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four childern. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the moutains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his childeren’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn’t stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an “excitment addict”. Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.


Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town-and the family- Rex Walls had done everything to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents’ betrayals and finally, found the resources and will to leave home.


What is so astonishing about Jeanette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents in such deep affection and generosity. Hers is such a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.


For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story. A regular contributor to, she lives in New York and Long Island and is married to the writer John Taylor.

As a child, you’re never going to tell your parents they have problems, and that they’re ruinning your life. You love them too much, and you accepted the fact that that’s the way they want to live. Even if it hurts you. This is exactly what Jeannette Walls faces in her story, The Glass Castle. In this story you see how unconditional love and embarrassment clash together. You see the measures Jeanette and her sibilings will push to make sure they make their life’s for the better. I was really into this whole novel, the whole time I read it I didn’t want to put it down. Although, my three favorite things had to have been the characters, plot, and theme!


In this novel the characters really spoke to me. Ecspecially because it was a true story, the author went out of her way really making it to where you understood the characters personalites. The story is a first person narration, told by Jeanette herself. There were many secondary characters in this story. Those characters included: Lori, Brian, Maurenn, Rose Mary, and Rex. Basically, all of her family. To me, I seen a lot of change in the kids of the story. They went from being kids, accepting that’s the way that they lived, to young adults doing and trying to make better on their own and moving to New York. In the story,  I was very sad that Maurenn turned out the way she did, because everyone tried to help her and it seemed as though she was turning out like her parents. I don’t think Rex or Rose Mary ever really changed much. They were happy with the hard life they lived. Once Rex died though I think Jeannette seen that even though her parents caused her a lot of problems, she loved them unconditionally.


The plot of this story went throughout this whole story, there wasn’t really one certain problem. It was many problems all caused by her parents, so I would say that her parents were the conflict. It started out as a flashback of when she was three and got burnt trying to make herself hotdogs and was admitted and checked out of the hospital by her dad, Rex Wall. In the whole story, they constantly move, always moving into basically a pit hole. They move to Battle Moutain but not long after, she is ripped up from the only place she had ever felt like home. One day, her mom decides that they are going to move back to Welch, West Virginia where Rex had spent his whole life since he was seventeen trying to escape. Jeanette has nowhere else to go, until she comes up with a plan to move to New York. It works out, she gets down there with her sister Lori, and it seems like everything is going well. Until, one day she gets a call saying her parents had moved to New York. Her world starts spinning, she doesn’t know what to do, or how to tell or justify that her parents are homeless. She eventually just looses all contact with them once her sister is sent to jail, until her dad dies. At that point Jeanette realized, no matter the struggle, her parents made her the person she was. She realized what was unconditonal love.


To me, the theme is the lesson the book taught you. This book taught me many things. They went through heartache the whole time. I think both parents and kids had heartache. The parents ached because they knew they weren’t right by the way they did their kids, and hated themselves for not changing it. The childeren had heartache for the way they lived, not being able to change it, and also not being able to change their parents. I think I loved this book so much, because I could some what relate to it. This book taught me that things may not always be perfect, but sometimes you have to be strong for the weak. Jeanette and her siblings were very inspirational because I seen that no matter how hard your life may be, you’re the only person who can control your future!


Overall, I absolutely loved this novel, and hope to find more books written by Jeanette Walls. I would like to know how Maureen continued her life, and what Rose Mary did after Rex died. I recommend this book to anybody who can get your heart into a book, it will be one you don’t want to put down until the last page! I think this novel fits any young adult or older. Jeanette Walls is very inspirational and a strong woman, who can teach people that when it seems like you are at the end of your rope you must tie a knot and to never give up on your dreams and what you believe in!