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The Westing Game The Westing Game

Muntha Maqsood | Class VIII-Green | Beaconhouse Palm Tree Campus Gujranwala

"I try to say one thing with my work: A book is a wonderful place to be. A book is a package, a gift package, a surprise package -- and within the wrappings is a whole new world and beyond." -- Ellen Raskin

The Westing Game is about a multi-millionaire, Sam Westing, who sets up an elaborate game to determine who will inherit his wealth. Through the book, the reader will meet Westing heirs and their families, all of whom mysteriously end up living in the same apartment building, Sunset Towers. Two months after moving in, Sam Westing is found dead and his will dictates the rules of the game. The heirs are paired off and then pitted against one another in attempt to find Westing's killer and win the $200 million reward.

Though the subject of The Westing Game is the murder mystery, the book is ultimately about the characters. Raskin gives us 16 heirs who make up a rather unsympathetic bunch. The opening makes clear that the heirs include a "bookie, a burglar, a bomber, and a mistake". Each character borders cliché, with details like "Barney Northrup lying through his buckteeth”, “Turtle Wexler's kite tail of a braid flying behind her", or "rigid and righteously severe Crow" dominating our perception. Yet Raskin gives each of the heirs a human touch, making them more than just caricatures. Each character blossoms through the challenges of the story, growing in identity and emotional depth. The dynamic changes in each character are one of the most endearing aspects of the book. Though the book defines the time period, the emphasis on these human stories gives The Westing Game a sense of timelessness.

Raskin’s straightforward tone is simple enough for young students to follow the plot, yet cynical, biting word play continues to entertain adult readers. The ending may be a little transparent to adult readers. Also, the focus on resolving each character’s story 20 years in the future is possibly unnecessary closure. However, the somewhat predictable nature supports young adults’ desire for closure and is a rewarding finish for all readers who have come to love Raskin’s characters. Raskin's writing is smart; it is never "dumbed down" to cater to children. She said she writes for the child in herself, but as Ann Durell argues in the foreword that Raskin actually writes to the adults in children. The Westing Game lends itself to the kind of demanding, intriguing and pleasure driven reading that makes life-long readers.
Kabul Beauty School Kabul Beauty School

Nimra Adnan | Class X-C | Beaconhouse Defence Campus Karachi

A jaw-dropping true story, alternately hilarious and moving. This book has it all – humour, emotions and most of all the revival of feminism. Kabul Beauty School is an autobiography of the author, Deborah Rodriguez, who goes to Afghanistan with the desire to help. She is a hairdresser who looks like the odd one out in a group of doctors. As Deborah opens a school known as Kabul Beauty School, she enrolls students but they soon became her friends. She teaches her students to become their own heroes of life. This story reveals the women behind the burqa and presents the extraordinary community of women who come together for their own greater good and to learn friendship, art and freedom.