IRJE #4 – Opposing Femme Fatal

I have just started reading the classic novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I love it so far. When I asked my mom if she had ever read it she paused, looked me dead in the eyes, and said she wanted to jump off a bridge when she was reading it in high school. It was too olden day for her. Personally, I love the olden day ambiance. If I could live in any time period I’d love to live in the 1800s. I also believe that the old English style will help my writing skills.

On page 23, Elizabeth, who is a Bennet daughter, is at a ball when a Mr. Darcy asks her to dance. She responds with,

Indeed, sir, I have not the least intention of dancing. – I entreat you not to suppose that I moved this way in order to beg for a partner.

This comment from Miss Elizabeth was beyond surprising to not only the reader but also Mr. Darcy. This rejection is unexpected considering it is a social norm for a women to leap at the attention of a possible suitor. But she did not. The author also mentioned that Elizabeth scrutinized Mr. Darcy for only asking for her hand because of the way she was moving. I perceived this in the sense that she was dancing in a more intimate way than women usually do at balls. Moving forward, the author has made it clear that Elizabeth, the eldest of the Bennet children, is not looking for a suitor and has a strong sense of independence.

PW #4 – In A Few Years…

“Write about a time you failed, and learned”, my father said. I have been pondering what to write about for my application to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology university (MIT). As I sit at my desk with Auggie (my dog), the Personal Project I did in grade 10 two years ago, comes to my mind. I think to myself, “Damn you Laura, why’d you have to pick neuroscience? I mean, it’s fascinating, but now I have to write this 10,000 word report on why I want to be accepted”. I’ve written a few paragraphs so far, but still have a long way to go. I decide to take a break. As I slump to the kitchen for the left-over salmon pasta, my sister Simona, who is 14, gives me a glare. I remark with a, “What?”, “You promised to drive me to Olivia’s but you’re still in your pajamas.” she says with a sad tone. “Oh, shoot, sorry. Let me get dressed and we’ll go”, “Thank you Laura! You are the best sister in the whole wide world!” she states with enthusiasm. We drive to Olivia’s.

IRJE#3 – The Chrysalids

I have just started the Sci-Fi novel The Chrysalids by John Wyndham. It was bought and recommended to me by my father. He was in grade 10 when he read it and still stands that it is the best book he has ever read. Coming from a boy who was not academically inclined as he was, this means a lot. So, I have also decided to read it.

David, the protagonist, is sliding along a sandhill when he sees some rustling in the bushes beside him. He looks closer and sees a small girl with her head peaking out from the branches. As soon as she asses the situation  with the sliding and all, she asks him if it’s fun what he is doing. He says yes and so she tries it. The fearful look in her eyes immediately turn to wistful. A few moments later David finds her laying at the bottom of the hill with her foot stuck and tears in her eyes. He thinks to himself,

For almost the first time in my life I found myself in charge of a situation which needed a decision. I made it.

The first thing I thought of when I read this is how I feel when I babysit. For all my life I have been the one being taken care of and without responsibility. If ever something was to go wrong someone older, stronger and more mature would deal with it. Now, while babysitting I am taking care of children and the responsibility falls on me. It is a scary feeling when you realize this. It is like an automatic “grown-up” moment. In the end, I relate to how David feels and while I read the book I will take into consideration that he has a mature mind.



PR #2 – All Quiet on the Western Front – A Change of Soul

The book All Quiet On The Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque is a World War I novel. It is narrated by a German soldier named Paul Baumer. The text expresses the experiences a soldier in WWl endured. In this Personal Response, I am going to reflect on the change of tone in Paul’s narration in the beginning compared to the end. I have noticed that the book starts in a playful and amateur manner, and by the end it displays a defeated, solemn and poetic one. These choices by the author allow the reader to at most fathom, the traumatizing exposures that the soldiers were thrusted into. During Paul’s training his experiences are recorded as blissful. Each day they get up, eat breakfast, shoot some bullets, exercise, smoke, then go to bed. Him and his comrades even play pranks on their non-commissioners. Paul has some idea of what the actual war will be like but not entirely. This is evident on page 26, when Paul says “We became hard, suspicious, pitiless, vicious, tough – and that was good; for these attributes were just what we lacked. Had we gone into the trenches without this period of training most of us would have gone mad. Only thus were we prepared for what awaited us”. He recognizes that the extensive training was not for nothing and had shaped them into strong men. Even so, Paul was not able to read forward in the book like we as readers have, and see that no amount of training could have prepared them for the war. This, is why Paul’s tone was amateurly blissful in the beginning of the book. Towards the end, Paul’s tone seems to sadden. The narration sounds more mature and confident. After weeks in the trenches he knows there is no positive outcome in his situation. The author has made clear of this. In the last paragraph of the book, Paul writes, “Let the months and years come, they can take nothing more from me, they can take nothing more” (pg. 295). This tone of emptiness and isolation brings the reader to at the minimum understand the perspective of how war has made these soldiers feel. It intrigues me how Paul says he “has nothing”. It is not true. He has clothes and food and his sister. He has people and things that could fulfil him superficially. But what the author means, is that the trauma this war has insidiously gifted to him, overcomes any tangible belongings. In the end, Paul’s soul and personality makes him who he is, and that was taken from him. Leaving him, and all the other fallen soldiers, with nothing.

PW #3 – If Only I Would Have Listened…

If only I would have listened

to my mother, when she told me not to go.

I wouldn’t have had to feel the sand

slipping through my fingers below.

My father would not have had to come running

to save me from the undertow.

If only I would have listened

to the manager of the shoe store

my shoes could have glistened

before they became christened.

If only I would have listened

to myself when I said stop.

Was that eighteenth piece of chocolate worth the future blood clot?

I think not.

IRJE #2 – Laura – Interpretation Makes All the Difference

On page 23 of the Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, the protagonist Holden Caufield, describes how he interpreted an interaction he had with his “friend”, Stradlater.

” ‘Hi’, he said. He always said it like he was terrifically bored or terrifically tiered. He didn’t want you to think he was trying to visit you or anything. He wanted you to think he’d come in by mistake, for God’s sake.”

I have chosen this excerpt because of the realizations I made about the character while reading it. A formulation of ideas about Holden’s character have dawned on me at this point. The first is that he is someone who has a heightened awareness regarding his surroundings. He calculates and judges every little detail of the actions of the people around him. He is constantly making conclusions for why people act the way they do, and these conclusions are mostly negative. Holden Caulfield is an overthinker. He even goes as far as making justifications up. In order to give himself an explanation for why people did things he does not agree with. It is near impossible for Holden to think, ‘he simply said ‘hi” because he wanted to say hi’, because there must be a reason.

The last thing I realized about Holden is that he doesn’t really like people. I do not relate to the character in this way, but I understand why he does not prefer to be around people, sometimes. While reading, one can see that he always has something to say about someone. There is always something he doesn’t agree with or thinks is annoying. Knowing this, I must read this book with the understanding that it might not be the other characters that are irritating and arrogant, but instead it is Holden’s interpretation of the other characters that makes them appear this way.

PW #2 – Read this if you have travelled before

This past long weekend my dad, sister and I hopped on a plane, and flew to Toronto. We went because it was my grandfather’s, brother’s 60th wedding anniversary. Personally, flying on planes and travelling is a love/hate relationship, let’s go through a few prominent moments one might experience. Starting from the beginning, the very beginning. You wake up, giddy with excitement to wear a specially picked-out airport outfit, fitted to the “travel aesthetic” you once saw on TikTok. You put it on, and may I add, you look gorgeous. You walk downstairs to meet your dad making breakfast, the smell of fresh eggs paired with the still-dark morning sky gives you a warm but refreshing feeling, that feeling you get when you have a big journey ahead. You eat breakfast, brush your teeth, do your final packing of toiletries and chargers and then you and your family are in the car driving to the airport. Not suddenly or surprisingly, you get the feeling you’ve forgotten something. Oh goodness what could it be? Underwear? No… Face wash? No… Book you packed to read for Mr. MacKnight? No… definitely have that. Ahah! It’s that “cute” shirt your parents would never let you wear anyways! Ok perfect, its fine, not too big of a deal. Now we are at the airport. Bags unloaded and walking to security. This part gets your nerves up for some reason. Knowing that these people are trained to find dangerous goods makes you question your own innocence! And plus, you didn’t even bring anything dangerous. Right?! Wrong. You brought your pencil case for homework and forgot that scissors were a hard no when going through security.  So, the security guard measures the scissors, and they are waaay bigger than they allow. So now what? You are still wearing that not-so-innocent innocent face when they throw, them, out. Dang, you’ve had those since you were eight years old! After you spend a few seconds mourning the loss of those scissors you spent so many years cutting out Halloween decoration skeletons with, you and your family move on to the stressful wandering around gates to find gate A47. There we go, dad found it. Now, we wait. Wait for the children and family (which you just didn’t make the cut because your sibling is too old) section to go, then the elderly and disabled, and finally, the majority. A mix of funky travelers, businesspeople, and very talkative middle-aged women going on their adventure retreats to Greece. Alright, you are on the plane! Finally, the flight attendant that speaks over the speaker says “May I have your attention ladies and gentlemen. We are about to take off so please fasten your seatbelts and listen to the very long presentation for safety precaution, and then listen to it again in French because we have to, enjoy your flight”.

English IRJE#2 – Naloxone

This is the first page of the book, Roxy, by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman that I have been reading as my Personal Reading book. In this excerpt of the book, the opioid overdose reversing medication, Naloxone, introduces itself.

“I am no superhero. But I can save you from the one who claims to be.”

“I am no wizard. But I cast a spell that can bring back the dead”


“And never often enough”

“I am, if nothing else, your final defense – your last hope when hope itself has spiraled into that singularity that crushes not just you, but everyone around you.” (p.1)

This book has a very powerful metaphor entwined in each chapter. This excerpt made me imagine Naloxone as a strong, fearless, and brave person, and drugs in general as dark and deathly things who do not take responsibility for their actions. Naloxone is not mentioned at all for the rest of the book other than one section where characters express despise from the anti-overdose medication. This does not surprise me because the book is narration of dangerous drugs, anthropomorphized, with hate towards the character Naloxone.

PR – They Shall Not grow Old – Laura

I felt a connection to this movie when the British soldiers jumped out of their trenches for the first time. These soldiers simultaneously knew exactly what they had to do while also knowing nothing about the situation. The goal of killing Germans is all they needed to know to push through. As they endure chaos and trauma they are numb. Nothing else to feel or see because they’ve felt and seen it all. As the veterans said, in no-mans-land you start to think about your past. You do this because in moments of fear, reminiscing of simpler times is easier than processing the present. They might start to remember playing outside on the streets as a schoolboy, or how much they cherished a special toy. As a soldier, you start to wonder, “Am I going to become just like the others? Lying dead in the dirt, with such a rich past shot into nothing”. I understand how the soldiers felt as here they describe how weeks of training and years of living amount to this small but crucial point in their lives. I connect with the soldiers to the extent that your whole life is resting on one event. For them, this event is being killed, for me, this event determines the rest of my childhood. Until I am 18, I’ll be forced into change. Tell me, and the soldiers, how are we supposed to live stagnant with the fact that our lives will never be the same?


Hello! My name is Laura Francesca MacKenzie. I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Go Blue Bombers! The Saskatchewan Rough Riders do not stand a chance. My family is from Italy and I have visited 4 times, during the summer. I have been attending Brookes Westshore for 3 years. My biggest interests are soccer, science, reading books that interest me, and spending time with my family. I’ve played soccer since I was 5 years old. I am also a very extroverted person.

When it comes to personal reading, I am the type of reader who needs to be truly and entirely engulfed in a book to be able to keep reading. I love books that have a deeper meaning, books that your brain gets to chew and reflect on. I’m not sure what genre I am into yet but I’m sure I’ll find out one day. I like to read before bed. I used to only read the Geronimo Stilton series. I still love them. But, by grade 8 it was time to move on. I really enjoyed The Selection by Kiera Cass as well as the first few books of the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Mass. Right now I am reading a book called Roxy by Jarrod and Neal Shusterman. I love this books so much right now.

For me, writing is a place to utilize new words I have learned and formulate clear sentences. I love being able to comprehensively organize my ideas. I will continuously change a sentence or paragraph if I feel it does not present my thoughts the way I want it to. I also talk out loud when I write complex ideas so that I may understand what I am trying to say and make sure it is digestible. I believe that it is okay to take longer to find an idea you like because you must be passionate about something in order to cultivate a piece of writing with quality.