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Food & Wine

Citrus-y beers celebrate summer

Citrus-y beers celebrate summer


Derek Wolfgram/Special to the Town Crier
Session beers offer an alcohol content low enough to sustain sipping through a long, lazy picnic. Local breweries are celebrating the citrus hop style now in vogue with other fruit-forward influences.

With the h...

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Your Health

Reading in sign,  ink and song

Reading in sign, ink and song


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
A baby girl learns sign language during a program offered Wednesdays at the Los Altos Library.

Visit Los Altos Library’s community room on a Wednesday afternoon and you’ll see its plain gray expanse descend into ...

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Your Home

Gardening for life: Strategies to make it easy

Gardening for life: Strategies to make it easy


Tanya Kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Succulents are a good choice for a small, low-maintenance garden that needs minimal water. Combine a variety of interesting colors and shapes.

If aches and pains are starting to limit your ability to garden, then g...

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On The Road

A different kind  of driving school

A different kind of driving school


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The Andersons observe Bixby Bridge – located on Highway 1 near Big Sur – from a dirt road during their recent Land Rover Experience Driving School lesson.

It is always exciting to do something youR...

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Senior Lifestyles

Monkey business: Senior Program volunteers lift spirits of sick kids

Monkey business: Senior Program volunteers lift spirits of sick kids


Photo Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos Senior Program volunteers – affectionately known as The Monkey Toy Ladies – make sock monkeys to comfort sick children.

Last year, nearly 400 children at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital received a special ...

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Wedding To Remember

The Veils of Time

The Veils of Time


Courtesy of Los Altos History Museum

For a new spin on the Town Crier’s “Peek into the Past,” the Los Altos History Museum has been gathering historical local wedding photos and the stories behind them.

Frances Elizabeth Shoup, second...

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Your Kids

Back to School

Is Early Decision the right choice for your student?

Is Early Decision the right choice for your student?


Courtesy of Hollis Bischoff
This chart compares the rate of Early Decision acceptances with the overall acceptance rate at various colleges.

As students apply to an ever-increasing list of schools, colleges are challenged to predict accurately whether ...

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Desperate for dystopia: Book recommendations for local teens

In “The Maze Runner” (Delacorte, 2009), James Dashner introduces readers to Thomas. And that’s all we know about him – his first name. Thomas proceeds to meet several other children, who insist that they know him. They also tell Thomas that they are inside a giant maze, and they don’t know how to escape. Dashner’s pace and style make this book impossible to put down, as you never know what might happen next.

Michael Grant’s dystopian science-fiction series “Gone” (Katherine Tegen Books, 2009) features plenty of action but is very dark as well. It follows the adventures of Sam Temple in the eerie town of Perdido Beach, Calif. On a completely normal day, everyone in the town older than 15 vanishes. Not only that, but the city and the surrounding areas are engulfed in an impenetrable bubble. Sam subsequently discovers that he and his peers have developed a unique supernatural ability. The six-part series will conclude with “Light,” which Grant plans to release next year.

Dystopia has been around for a long time, and with any long-standing genre, there are many classics. One of the best is “The Giver” by Lois Lowry (Laurel Leaf, 1994). This classic revolutionized the genre, because Lowry wrote it as if it weren’t a dystopia. She attempts to deceive the reader by writing from a utopian perspective. However, it doesn’t take long for the reader to discover the true nature of the tale.

The story revolves around a 12-year-old boy named Jonas who lives in a society that attempts to eliminate arguments, pain and other challenges by converting to “Sameness,” which also limits the amount of emotion felt by people in this society. When a youth turns 12, a ceremony takes place in which each child is assigned his or her profession. But on the day of his ceremony, Jonas’ name is skipped. The novel follows what happens after, as Jonas learns things that he doesn’t want to know and his perspective on “Sameness” changes.

Another old dystopic tale that claims its place among the classics is “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury, originally published in 1953 but reproduced in many editions over the years. The story centers on Montag, who lives in a future United States where books are banned. Montag is a fireman, but his job isn’t to extinguish fires – his job is to make fire. Montag’s profession involves burning the houses of those who have committed the crime of owning books. All his life, Montag has performed his job without questioning authority. But after meeting a mysterious girl, his perspective on society changes and he finds himself in the middle of a self-inflicted conflict.

Other classics like George Orwell’s “1984,” written in 1948, and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” from 1931 line library shelves. Newer titles – Scott Westerfeld’s “Uglies” series begun in 2005 and Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” series, the first of which was published last year – carry the dystopian torch.

Dystopias have been around for a long time, and all these new titles may even include a name that will eventually be heralded among the classics.

All titles are available at the Los Altos Library.

Nathan Desai is a sophomore at Monta Vista High School.

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