Category Archives: Entertainment

Thrillers Keep You Guessing Until the Big Reveal

By Mrs. McHugh

HHS Librarian

With some books, being confused is part of the fun. The author drops clues and layers plot twists so you’re constantly trying to figure out what’s going on. When it’s done well, you enjoy the ride – even if your predictions were off the mark. The final reveal shocks you, entertains you and makes you go back through the book to see what you missed.

These young adult books do it really well. They can be hard to describe without spoilers, but I’ll try.

Tell Me My Name by Amy Reed is the story of Fern, a quiet working-class teen living in a community that’s a playground for the rich and famous. Floods and drought have destroyed much of the country, and there’s a huge gap between rich and poor. Fern watches and waits – for college, a boyfriend, and adventure. When teen celebrity Ivy Avila moves into town, Fern feels alive for the first time in her life. Touching on serious issues like inequality, climate change, drug addiction and sexual assault, the story is about finding and keeping your identity in a turbulent world.

In Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson, Claudia is trying to solve the disappearance of her best friend. But no one else seems to know anything about the missing teen, or they assure Claudia that everything is fine. The story highlights racism, poverty and other social issues that cause people to fall through the cracks. It also explores the impact of trauma on your heart and mind. I was confused through much of this book, but since it received good reviews, I trusted the author and stuck with it. The ending was shocking and thought-provoking.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart is about a group of friends that spend summers together with their families on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts. Raised in privilege, the friends have few worries until one devestating summer. Cadence, the main character, reveals the story in two parts – what happened that fateful summer when she was 15 and what takes place when she returns two years later, still bearing the scars. When I finished this book, I immediately flipped back to the first page to try to see how I missed signs of the big twist. It was amazing. Family of Liars, a prequel by the same author, will be published in May.

Stories Show Scars of History, Efforts to Preserve Culture

By Mrs. McHugh

HHS Librarian

Our region is rich with Native American history, but it’s all too easy to focus only on lives from the past. These recent books remind us that Native Americans still exist today, striving to preserve their cultures and cope with the scars of a turbulent past.

In The Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley, Daunis is a young woman whose community is wracked by drug abuse and mysterious deaths. When she agrees to help with a police investigation, she grows close to an undercover officer who is posing as a local hockey star. Soon, she feels torn between protecting her community and bringing people to justice. The story takes a little while to build as it introduces its multigenerational cast of characters and the traditions of the Ojibwe culture. The action-packed ending is worth the wait. It’s a crime thriller, family saga and cultural celebration all in one.

There, There by Tommy Orange tells the stories of a dozen different characters whose lives converge at an Oakland cultural festival. Despite their different reasons for attending – some hopeful, some scared, some ready for violence – they all share the scars of the nation’s oppressive treatment of Native Americans, which includes forced removal from ancestral lands and the erasure of culture in government-sponsored boarding schools. These scars come through as struggles with poverty, suicide, alcoholism and identity. The mix of voices telling the story is powerful and eye-opening.

Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith follows Louise Wolfe, a Native American high school senior living in a largely white Kansas town. When the director of the school play shakes up the casting of their production of The Wizard of Oz, the ensuing backlash reveals long-held prejudice and divides the community. As Louise writes about the controversy for her school newspaper, she begins to fall for a fellow student. But she knows that “dating while Native” is never easy. Whose hearts will be broken before this is over?

Exploring a Dark Chapter in American History

By Mrs. McHugh

HHS Librarian

Imagine if the government deemed you and your family a threat to national security. You’re told to pack what you can carry and report for relocation, not knowing if you’ll ever see your home, community or possessions again. 

This is what happened to thousands of people of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast after the attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941. While the United States had previously watched World War II from afar, the conflict now hit closer to home than ever imagined. The U.S. government turned its sights on possible spies and saboteurs within its own borders, focusing on Japanese Americans and immigrants. Some of these prisoners – referred to as internees or evacuees throughout history – were U.S. citizens. Some had lived in the country for decades, but hadn’t been allowed to become citizens because of immigration laws. Many had children born here, who were citizens no matter their parentage. Yet all were treated the same, their rights stripped from them because they looked like the enemy, imprisoned in isolated and inhospitable “internment camps” with uncertain futures.


There have been many books written about this awful chapter in American history. One of the latest, We Are Not Free by Tracy Chee, is a moving novel sharing the stories of 14 teens from one San Francisco community. What I liked about this book is that it covers many different experiences: the Americanized teen trying to make the best of life in the camps, which offer dances and sports along with barbed wire and armed guards; the young man who enlists in the Army because he believes in America despite what it’s done to his family; the conflicted youth whose parents would rather return to Japan than deal with such poor treatment; the teens who protest the harsh living conditions. With a chapter told from the point of view of each character, the reader learns a lot more about the time period than they might from their history textbooks. While there may have been some cases where people of Japanese ancestry acted as spies in the war, most families who were imprisoned were innocent victims of bigotry and fear. The chapter about a young man named Twitchy is especially powerful, based on the real experiences of Japanese-American Army units who saw some of the toughest fighting of the war.

If this topic interests you, here are a few more recommendations:

The Train to Crystal City by Jan Jarboe Russell – While We are Not Free touches on the experience of imprisoned families facing deportation to Japan, this nonfiction book goes into much more depth. For one thing, it wasn’t just Japanese immigrants who were imprisoned in camps during World War II; there were Germans in America who were considered dangerous as well. When these immigrants – mostly men who pledged loyalty to the U.S. and were never charged with a crime – were jailed in camps, their wives and children would join them rather than struggle to survive on their own. If the men were deported, the children followed without question, even if they were born in America and therefore citizens. The author describes one such family that was sent to a Japanese city devastated by an atomic bomb; there were neither the resources nor the goodwill to welcome them and the family struggled to survive. 

Manzanar by John Armor and Peter Wright – In commentary by a journalist who covered World War II and stark black and white photographs, this nonfiction book details life in one of the largest prison camps for Japanese Americans. While the camps offered things like Boy Scout troops, dances and softball leagues, they also featured tall barbed wire fences and armed guards. Homes were crowded barracks that barely provided shelter from the harsh weather of the isolated mountain or desert regions where camps were built. Food was rationed, mail was censored, and prisoners lost hope.

Internment by Samira Ahmed – Although fiction, the premise of this story feels a little too easy to imagine. It’s the near future, and the U.S. government has imprisoned all Muslim-Americans in internment camps, including 17-year-old Layla and her family. Even though they are citizens, they are stripped of their rights and possessions and considered enemies of the state. This echoes what happened to Japanese-Americans during World War II. It also draws on the hate and fear directed at Muslims after the September 11th attacks committed by radicals in the name of their religion. This is a fast-paced, thrilling story of tolerance and reason triumphing over fear and hate. It also highlights the danger we face when we stay silent in the face of injustice.

Featured image: A Japanese internment camp in California in 1942. Eliot Elisofon/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images from https://eji.org/news/history-racial-injustice-forced-internment-of-japanese-americans/

Prism Offers Story Contest for Writers, Artists

By Michael Greene, ’22

Staff Writer

Attention all HHS writers and artists!  Do you like telling creative stories?  Do you like making art?  If you do, then this is the perfect opportunity for you!  The Hanover High School literary magazine, The Prism, is holding a story prompt contest that will last until the end of January.  The contest gives students the opportunity to respond to an open-ended story prompt by either finishing the story or making unique artwork.  This year, the prompt is, “I don’t know how it happened, but it all began when …”

Once all participants have submitted, the top three winners will receive gift cards and be featured on the literary magazine’s website and in future print issues.

Happy writing!

To submit, please email theprism@hanoverstudents.org.  For any questions about the contest or the literary magazine, please contact Mr. Henderson (shenderson@hanoverschools.org) or Michael Greene (mgreene22@hanoverstudents.org).  You can also follow “The Prism” on Twitter @theprismhhs, and visit the magazine’s website at theprism.medium.com.

Featured image: https://neilpatel.com/blog/create-facebook-contest/

Tragedy at Astroworld

By Teddy McCrann, ’23

Staff Writer

At least 10 innocent people dead and hundreds injured: the result of chaos in Houston on Friday, November 5th at Travis Scott’s Astroworld festival. The horrific sights and first-hand accounts of what went on that night are unparalleled to anything we have seen in the music industry in years, as the “surge” of the crowd left people suffocating, trampled, and in pure agony. The dead ranged in age from 9 to 27, with the youngest casualty, Ezra Blount, placed in a medically induced coma because of injuries his family believes occurred when he was trampled.  

Although Scott and his associates have offered apologies and financial support for what happened at the festival, questions still linger over whether these deaths and substantial injuries could have been prevented.

Since that nightmarish night, the public has struggled with who is truly to blame. Was it Travis Scott’s fault for failing to see his fans scream for help and continuing to perform and induce further surges? Was it the security’s fault for failing to realize what was going on just feet away from them in the crowd? Or was it the spectators’ fault for succumbing to the grasps of Scott’s “rager” influence and injuring their fellow concertgoers? I believe the blame should be attributed to Scott and the fact that he was oblivious to what was happening at his own concert. Even though at some points Scott had stopped the show due to ambulance lights and people being carried off on stretchers, he still continued to perform and wanted the crowd to make the “ground shake.” This behavior is unacceptable. Scott should have completely stopped his show in order to address the crowd, allow the injured to recieve help as quickly as possible, and prevent any casualties. 

What happened at Astroworld has some precedence. In 1979, 11 people were trampled to death at a Cincinnati concert by the Who. In 2000, nine people died at a Pearl Jam concert in Denmark. These concerts all offered “festival seating,” a practice where seats are either not reserved or are removed entirely so the crowd ends up standing shoulder-to-shoulder. To address the chaos and casualties that can occur with such seating, concert venues since then have often divided the main floor into grids; crowd size is limited in each section and security has better access when there are issues. The number of security personnel has also been increased at many shows. These measures were either not in place or not adequately enforced for Travis Scott, whose shows are known for being so high-energy they border on chaotic.

Since the tragedy of November 5th, many performers and artists have come out before their concerts to reassure the crowd that nothing close to what happened that night will be repeated. These artists care about their fans and want to prevent deaths or injuries at their shows, which indicates a promising future in concert safety.

The calamity at Astroworld will never be forgotten. While the debate over who truly is to blame may rage on, Travis Scott has felt repercussions including being removed from this year’s Coachella music festival lineup. This is a step forward in responding to his inhumane and negligent actions, and may help ensure other artists work to prevent such tragedies in the future.

Featured image: https://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Travis-Scott-Astroworld-victim-Danish-Baig-fiancee-16636224.php

With Apocalypse Near, Teen Fights for Survival

By Mrs. McHugh

HHS Librarian

The end of the world is upon us, and you’ll only survive if you’re useful. But who gets to decide if what you can offer is important enough?

That’s the question facing 16-year-old Denise in the young adult novel On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis. A comet is on track to hit Earth, causing devestation not seen since the dinosaurs were wiped off the planet. If you’re wealthy and connected, you’ve bought a spot on a “generation ship” set to colonize another planet. If you’re not – like Denise – you’ve been assigned to a temporary shelter and after a few days, you’ll be on your own.

As the impact nears, Denise and her mom stumble upon a different kind of ship, one that will take people with practical skills that will help the community survive. There are doctors, engineers, computer scientists, teachers. Denise is desperate to prove they deserve a spot. But she’s a teen with autism whose inability to read social cues or handle change often causes her problems. And her mom is struggling with drug addiction. Can they convince the ship’s community that they’re worth saving?

This science fiction thriller has some exciting action sequences, and could easily be turned into a gripping television series or movie. In fact, when it ended, I wanted a sequel so I could find out what happens next to all of the characters. The book also raises thought-provoking questions about identity and purpose. The author is autistic, so her depictions of the sensory issues and meltdowns that Denise endures are honest, accurate and valuable for those not familiar with the challenges. There are also several LGBTQ characters, including Denise’s trans sister and a lesbian couple on the ship. So in addition to being an action-packed story, it provides representation for some groups that are often sidelined or restricted to just “issue” books. 

Trio of Novels Highlight Far-off Land, Universal Issues

By Mrs. McHugh

HHS Librarian

Too often, when people think of Africa, they think of it as one big place, not the dozens of individual and unique countries that make up the continent. Or maybe they come up with generic images: lions on the savannah, slave ships teeming with misery, or famine and civil war.

None of these is the full picture.

As Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie once said in a widely quoted TED talk, there is a danger to just one story. “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete,” she said. “They make one story become the only story.”

I read a lot and consider myself pretty open-minded, but when a colleague recommended one of this author’s novels last summer, I realized that I knew very little about Africa – especially contemporary Africa. In the ensuing months, I read the book she suggested and two others that took me deep into the culture of Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa. I learned that this one country alone has more stories than I ever imagined.

Some may wonder, why does it matter? Africa is so far away; it doesn’t really impact our daily lives. Of course, there’s the danger of a single story – when we know little about a country or people, we default to stereotypes, and stereotypes make it hard for us to empathize. Empathy not only makes us better people, it prepares us – in this interconnected world – for the eventual encounters we are likely to have.

Also, what is happening in Nigeria – the conflict between ethnic groups, city life versus village life, the clash of economic and social classes, climate change issues, and emigration in hopes of a better life – is taking place in a lot of countries. These issues are changing our world, and we need to know something about them.

Finally, reading about this faraway place reminds me that things such as love, family and growing up are universal. The rituals and circumstances experienced in each society may be different, but emotions and relationships are very relatable.

This review covers three books, starting with Americanah by Adichie, recommended by former HHS English teacher Mrs. Pavao. The story follows Ifemelu and Obinze, teens in love when they leave Nigeria for better opportunities. Ifemelu heads to America, where she struggles with what it means to be Black, African, and an immigrant in a country divided by race. Obinze, barred from the United States, ends up an undocumented immigrant in England. Their vastly different experiences impact their relationship and, ultimately, their ideas of identity and home. I loved how the book explored so many angles and issues, and I rooted for Ifemelu to find happiness.

Next I read The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare, suggested by English teacher Mrs. Doyle. Adunni is a 14-year-old village girl who dreams of getting an education when her father promises her as the third wife of an old man. Faced with abuse in the arranged marriage, Adunni flees to the wealthy capital city. There, she finds work in the home of a cruel businesswoman and her preying husband. Adunni dreams of using her voice to improve her own situation and help other Nigerian girls. Through every heartache, she never gives up hope. I was right there with her hoping for a happy ending. Some readers may struggle with the dialect; Adunni’s English is very rough at the start of the story and improves as she grows older and more educated. But if you can stick with it, it’s worth it.

Finally, I returned to Adichie with Half of a Yellow Sun, which senior Elsa Little-Girl raved about. This is more historical, taking place before and during a civil war in the 1960s. Conflict between different ethnic groups leads to a massacre and war, which we experience through the lives of five unique characters: a servant boy from a small village, the university professor he works for, a young woman who prefers the intellectual life to that of her upper class parents, her bold twin sister, and a white Englishman visiting the country. I had my favorite characters, but I was fascinated by how their lives intertwined. It was a compelling way to tell the story of a society torn by civil war.

Sometimes there’s a gap between what we feel we should read and what we want to read. If you fear these books may seem “meaningful” but too much work, rest assured; they’re also really good stories.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk on the danger of a single story

Featured image: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-54357810

COVID Couldn’t Stop the Music, But Band is Joyful for Return to Normal

By Jake Faghan, ’23

Staff Writer

Drum majors . . . is the band ready?”

It’s often said that absence makes the heart grow fonder. And as members of the Hanover High School band felt the crisp air of a recent Friday night while standing silently in formidable formation on the field, those words rang true. There’s magic in band, and what makes it truly magical is how the HHS band has pulled through the challenge that has been COVID-19. With pride, we stand. With strength, we return.

“Please welcome back to the field, the Pride of Hanover!”

With Thanksgiving break wrapping up Autumn 2021, the marching band will finish its season with one final performance at the Hanover-Norwell football game on Thanksgiving Day. But before the band leaves in the early morning to perform that day, members will likely reflect on the  hours and hours of sacrifice and strife that have led to the day’s opening notes. It all started back in March 2020, which may be scary to realize was around a year and some change ago: the era of no band.

The band takes the field at a football game this fall.

Well, no tangible band. Band continued through remote school in spring 2020 as most of my classes did, with students turning in assignments and becoming dangerously independent. While it wasn’t the best, it was something that should be respected given the quick thinking. Our assignments from Mr. Harden focused on practicing sight-reading or even fun games like plotting a field show. However, we weren’t together, it wasn’t the same. So by the end of that year, my first of high school, I was able to see what band was like, but not get the full experience.

Coming into sophomore year, things were different, and that became clear very quickly. No band camp, and just half of the band together during outdoor classes, was a lukewarm welcome into the year, but something we took with a smile. When it got colder, our cohort moved inside to the auditorium, where there was just enough room for us with ten feet spacing. While we were spread out, we played together but we were distant. We recorded separate parts to come to a whole, played over video for virtual audiences, but we were never whole in the first place. Band 2021 was a more normal year, we had our groups, but still were stranded.

Excited for Band Day at UMass Amherst!

Until the calendar announced the start of the current school year, that is. This year has brought so many good opportunities. This year we were able to practice during band camp, and it was perfect. We were able to play in the band room again, together. It took what felt like ages, but we were able to perform for a crowd again with the return of Friday night football, a trip to Band Day at UMass Amherst in October, and a cabaret showcase in the HHS caf.

Our field show this year has a theme of love to it, and also a message to love life before it flies by. I believe that our show illustrates through music how we as a society can finally come together again. 

That also shows through our formations for the opening song Can’t Help
Falling in Love. At the start, everyone is scattered, much like the beginning of COVID life. Then as we play, we march into sections of our instruments, similar to how we were last year, together but not whole. We found a group, but not a united family. Then moments later, the small groups unite and march together with pride. Not only is it cool and a powerful moment of the show, it also has its symbolism. Now that we march together, we do so striding forward with strength. We as a band made it through a long period of confusion, and now as we prepare for the Thanksgiving game, there is a lesson I have learned: Pride is a feeling, and it’s a magic.

To view a recording of the Cabaret showcase from October 21, which features the HHS band and a variety of student talent, click here.