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Bennett, K.

Who in this book would you most like to meet? What would you ask—or say?

posted Jun 14, 2010, 9:12 PM by

 Who would I most like to meet, and what would I say? Well I could definitely take the safe way out and answer Madame Mao, however, I think that I am going to answer this completely honest. If I could meet someone from this book, I feel like I would want to meet Mao. He is a leader that is well known for destroying China, however that just makes it ten times better being able to meet him. I mean come on, don’t you have so many questions?! I think the first question I would ask him, when he was ruler, would be, Where  do you think China will be in thirty years? I would expect him to say that it will be aspiring, and flourishing, and that they have become a superpower of the world. He thinks so highly of his country, and that’s kind of a personality a dictator should have!

Another question that I might ask him, would be, what are your opinions on the way that the U.S. runs their country. I think it would be quite interesting to see just how he views our political standings. I think a whole new perspective would appear. If you think about it, all we can do is think of how terrible China’s rule is, but if the tables turned, and we were in their position, I can definitely see us hating the style of government that the U.S. has. Some people in China, I’m sure, have the view that the way we run our country is not working, but then again, there are the people in China that wish they had the freedoms we had.

Does the book remind you of someone—a friend, family member, co-worker, boss—or something—an event, problem—in your own life?

posted Jun 14, 2010, 5:13 PM by


The book “Becoming Madame Mao” actually has events that remind of things I deal with every day. So basically Mao is an extreme leader. He cares about power, and he wants to rule pretty much everything. Of course there is supposed to be equal benefits between the rich and the poor, however that doesn’t happen. Mao sets up this entire communist government, then expects people to rebel against it. He focuses on the military, and he wants to rule the world, basically.

On a much milder scale, his personality can somewhat remind me of myself. When I am working with a group of people, I tend to feel the need to take over the group. That is exactly why I always sign up for project manager! However, to relate what I am talking about to the book, I will focus on the semester projects. In my opinion, group work always ends up where the work isn’t distributed equally. For me, I like to take the lead and usually my ideas get used in the end. I feel like for the History Project, it kind of compares to the Great Leap attempt. Since he failed at what he tried to accomplish, it reminds me of how I took the lead and we did worse than we have ever done on a semester project before.

This book deals with issues that happened in history, however the overall perspective of this book deal with problems that even us teenagers can relate to.

Do you find the characters convincing? Are they believable? Compelling? Are they fully developed as complex, emotional human beings?

posted Jun 13, 2010, 8:38 PM by   [ updated Jun 13, 2010, 8:59 PM ]


In Becoming Madame Mao, the characters are extremely developed. I was just referring to this in my last blog post, because Madame Mao seems so believable. In my opinion, the characters lives are so complex that you can definitely see the history behind it, because making up to the extent of their lives, would just be extremely hard.

The book is historical fiction, so that can definitely explain the complexity. The relationships that Madame Mao are in, are so authentic. The way that she interacts and connects to people shows just that. Madame Mao explains the way she feels on stage singing opera, and acting, and you really feel her love for that.

In this story, I can definitely make the argument that the characters are within a comparison to emotional human beings because they are based on real people. Most of everything they do is something depicted from real life, so I think that the author does a great job of showing what really happened with Mao and Madame Mao.

Also, another reason that these characters are extremely compelling is Mao for example, the way that he runs his country. He takes advantage of China, and they even show his embarrassment when The Great Leap failed. Since it is obvious anyone would be upset if their proposal doesn’t work out, you feel like this could just be a generic character development by the author. However, before you realize it, you see “Madame Mao Jiang Ching is in control of china with Mao behind her every move” and that’s when you know that his character really means business.


Overall—how did you experience the book while reading it? Were you immediately drawn into the story—or did it take a while? Did the book intrigue, amuse, disturb, alienate, or irritate, you?

posted Jun 13, 2010, 6:07 PM by

So I recently used this question for a Q & A blog post, but I have a completely different answer for "Becoming Madame Mao". My overall experience with this book wasn’t the best. I like the idea of the history behind this story, and since the author worked with the facts presented to create a story like this also caught my interest. Personally, I am usually not a fan of historical fiction, however this story has its moments. There are definitely times when I am reading this book and I feel forced, so I feel the NEED to read it, but then there really are times when I am captured.

The way that the author chose to right this book really annoys me. I get so extremely confused reading between first and third person. So it definitely took me awhile to get into the story. I found myself reading pages over and over again, which would only frustrate me. However, once I got used to the syntax, I was able to start focusing on the actually story.

The story is really amusing because its based on the real thing. I think it is interesting because most of the story seems real since Madame Mao’s character is so believable. The author really shows the development of her relationships, and how she interacts with people. That is definitely one of the up sides to this book, is that you can really see into her life. The first person feature also makes it easier to know how she is feeling about certain things.

Do you find the characters convincing? Are they believable? Compelling? Are they fully developed as complex, emotional human beings?

posted May 16, 2010, 8:33 PM by   [ updated May 16, 2010, 8:42 PM ]

            For me, the author of Q & A did a really good job of completing each and every one of the character’s lives in the story. He definitely made sure that even the least important characters, were noted, and possibly even visualized by the reader.

            I think each character is believable because the author explains events in which it’s like their turn to shine. Of course, Ram is the main character, but each even that comes up, the author switches the focus between Ram and the other character.

            Also, I think something that really helped to visualize was near the end of the book, when we saw the movie the book was based off of, Slumdog Millionaire. I mean, when you are reading the book, everyone has a different view or perspective on what the characters would look like, but it’s reassuring when you see a character on screen, and it depicts the actual character. You can tell that the author puts so much time into describing his characters, that when you see the actors for these characters, you just watch it completely line up.

            I can see these characters being real people, because their personalities shine through the author’s writing. For example, when the author explains Mamman, you just want to hate him, and we don’t even really know him. Just the few pages the author talks about him, you just gain all of this hate for him, which to me, is a good way to write the book.

Overall—how did you experience the book while reading it? Were you immediately drawn into the story—or did it take a while? Did the book intrigue, amuse, disturb, alienate, or irritate, you?

posted May 16, 2010, 8:22 PM by

In the book. Q & A by Vikas Swarup, I definitely was drawn in as soon as I started to read. The cover of the book, is something I most certainly wouldn't have picked up on our own, but since we were reading as part of the class, I ended up seeing just how good this book really is.

            I think the part that I liked the most about reading this book was that the layout pretty much remained the same. It started with an event in Ram’s life. You get really specific details, and normally the chapter names would be foreshadowing for the big idea of that chapter. The chapter titled, “X Gkrz Opknu (or A Love Story)”(page 238) is a really good example of the foreshadowing in that chapter. Ram gets his first true love in this chapter, and he makes a really good friend that speaks gibberish, but yet it turns out that everything he says mean something to him. And the title shows  both of those events happening. Also, at the end of each and every chapter, the question that the event relates back to is asked, and it shows him with his lawyer.

            The book is a good read since you actually want to keep reading, or at least that is how I felt when reading the book. Once you started reading the chapter, you literally HAVE to get to the end, because you want to see what question relates to it, and for me the author did a good job of keeping the reader engaged.

            Normally, books with the same sequence over and over again, start to get predictable, however the author makes you want to finish, rather than feel like you need to.

Which characters do you admire or dislike? What are their primary characteristics?

posted May 7, 2010, 2:37 PM by

    In the story  Q & A by Vikas Swarup, Ram and Salim were picked by  Maman to go and live with him. For me, he is the character that I dislike the most in the story. I think that the main reason that I dislike him the most from the story is because his first impressions aren't necessarily true.
    He comes across as this man that will give the orphans a better life. He is explained as having very high expectations to the kids that he does take in, however when he brings them in they are "slaves" for life. He takes them and when a new child comes in, they notice that all the other kids are crippled in some way. This fits in to the chapter titled "A Thought for the Crippled" because when Ram and Salim get to their new home, they soon realize that they have just gotten themselves into some terrible trouble. They think that Maman is just a really nice man, and takes in the kids that need the most help, but thats when his impressions change since they are actually living in his lie.
    Ram and Salim live their life, and have singing lessons, and seem to think their lives are great until they hear Maman talking about them. "'Salim, we have to escape this place. Now.' 'But why?' 'Because something very bad is going to happen to us, tonight, after dinner'(Page 97). This quote explains how Maman is planning to continue his tradition and cripple his two newest members, Ram and Salim. He wants to blind them, but luckily they are able to escape.
    And that is why, I DISLIKE him the most.

What is/are the author(s) trying to tell you in the book?

posted Apr 27, 2010, 4:21 PM by

In the story Q & A by Vikas Swarup, the author had a few inspirations for the book. One of the most obvious would be the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" gameshow. This is apparent because the game the whole entire book is based off of is the Indian "Who wants to be a billionaire".  Another inspiration was the "Hole in the wall project". These three things all contribute to the author's message and what he tries to get across to his reader.
    I think the main point or message the author really wants to stand out would be that people can overstep their boundaries no matter how many people don't believe it. I really like this message because it is completely true and it is also like a call to action for his readers. In the story, Ram is just a waitor, yet he goes onto this gameshow where the creators of the show think he will maybe get passed like question three. They think he is stupid, and that he would be good just to start growing their show, and getting the viewing rates up. But in the end, he wins, and gets all twelve questions right because they have to do with an aspect in his life. So basically, here's this normal man who is technically lower class, and he comes onto this show, and not only becomes famous, but becomes rich. This is definitely summed up with the motto, "rags to riches" because it is honestly what happens in the story.

Does the mood of the story change? How?

posted Apr 19, 2010, 8:12 PM by

The mood in the story Q & A does somewhat change a couple of times during the story. In the beggining you are faced with a scene. The scene is explaining how he is being arrested for winning a quiz show.
    During the first couple of pages the mood is quite distressed as he explains "They broke open my door, handcuffed me, and marched me off to the waiting jeep with a flashing light....Not a day goes by without some hapless resident being taken away to the police station" (page 1). This shows how he is nervous yet he knows that this goes on all the time.
    As the day goes on, it switches time periods, and now you are actually in the interrogation room where he is practically being beat to death and being tortured so that he will give up the information. They want him to say that he cheated on this game show, when in reality he didnt. So currently the mood is scared, and overwhelming.  When he gets a surprise visit from his lawyer, the mood definitely starts to light up because he sees hope.
    I think that the author switches up the mood because it keeps the reader entertained. The reader will begin to feel what the character is feeling if the right description and word choice is used. The mood also helps to extract those feelings from the reader. Another reason that the mood is important is because it not only shows what the character is feeling, but it is showing sort of how the author feels on the topic as well. The way that the  author describes him being tortured, he creates a mood that intends on scaring the reader potentially.


posted Apr 12, 2010, 5:42 PM by

In Enrique's Journey I think there were many themes intertwined within the reading. The author made a few very blunt and obvious themes while others were a lot more difficult to figure out.
    One of the more obvious themes, is that honestly you cannot achieve your goals unless you try and try again. In this story, Enrique gets deported many times, yet he is that strong of a person, that he keeps trying until he finally gets reunited with his mother. Another important theme/message would be that you need to be careful about who you can and cannot trust. This is apparent because there were many police and border patrol members that would dress up as migrants just to catch people in the wrong. Also there were many people that patrolled the area by asking common questions, and if they answered them wrong, they would be deported. Obviously those were the people that Enrique could not trust. In the story, he stumbles upon church members that really want to help him and support him, and those were people Enrique could confide in.
    This story really connects to this show that I have seen called "The Locator", which is about this man that connects people who are missing families back with their long lost relatives or friends. This show has a saying at the beginning of every episode and it is kid of a theme, "You can't find peace until you have found all the pieces." And to me, this quote is exactly what Enrique is going through. He knows that he was once connected with his mom, but when his mom left him for the US, he knew ever since he was little that one day he would be back with her, whether he was the one doing the searching or not.

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