Written by Kyle Banker, University of Miami
I think that all teenagers should read “The Forces Within” as they will learn a great amount about the final development of characters in the MLH series and how it could correlate to their own lives. All of the key messages that were mentioned throughout the series are all present in this novel, which serves as a perfect capstone. In particular, I believe that teenagers will be able to resonate with the relationship drama of Chantal and Andy and Bobby and Katherine. At the end of the day, even though some things may seem perfect, life will undoubtedly throw you obstacles that you will need to dodge, and after that point, the same very thing you saw as flawless could lose some of its value. This is clearly shown through these two relationships, and this can also be applicable to life in Montgomery Lake High School as well. In all, teenagers will immensely benefit from learning this essential lesson through the experiences of all characters in “The Forces Within.”
One of my favorite parts of the books was the entire portion of Part 1: it was extremely exciting! In particular, I think that the different, action-oriented writing style created a great deal of intensity, which also comes with the setting of a haunted mansion found deep in the woods. While it came across my mind that at some points, this whole experience had the possibility to be a dream, I would have never imagined that this scenario would return later in the novel as a Déjà vu type of instance. I also really enjoyed the final letter that Andy wrote to himself at the end of the novel. I found it really interesting to see him combine all of his ideas together while outlining the timeline of events of what happened to him, and what he learned throughout his experience. It was a very fitting and effective way to end the novel, and a great moment for the reader to reflect on the series.
I think that a key hidden message within “The Forces Within” is that there will always be a light that can lead you through the darkness. Even though it was a dream, it was shown that Chantal’s devotion to God allowed her to be found by Andy and the rest of the crew; the same also occurred in the real world, when the town of Montgomery prayed for Andy’s recovery. Another example of this is when Lisa was stressed by participating both on JV and Varsity cheer, and while she was intentionally not updated about changes to the halftime routine (and messed up during the game), she was still offered the opportunity to join Varsity cheer full-time. Overall, “The Forces Within” clearly conveys the message that there will always be light at the end of the tunnel, which can be fueled by a good disposition and thoughts. I really believe that this has been a hidden message that has shined throughout the series, and I am very appreciative of how this important message truly stood out in the final parts of the MLH series.
I would say that Chantal and Jason are my favorite characters in the series, with Andy coming in on a close third place. In my opinion, Chantal has always been a favorite character of mine due to her good nature and intentions. Additionally, Chantal seems to be kind and supportive to anyone that she meets, and she rarely speaks negatively about anyone. Finally, Chantal was very shy near the beginning of the series, and I really enjoyed watching her grow into a more vocal and strong human being. For Jason, it is clear that his beginning was less than desirable, with many bad influences within his family and his impending drug usage problem. However, near the second half of the series, I immensely enjoyed Jason’s growth into a better person, which is shown through his decrease of substance usage, a kinder personality, and higher dedication towards his craft. While Jason may not have been a likable character in the beginning of the series, his development and transformation were inspirational and resulted in a socially aware and independent character.
About Kyle Banker
Kyle graduated from Beaver Country Day School in Chestnut Hill. His favorite subjects include Biology, English, and Entrepreneurship. Some of his hobbies are playing soccer and hockey, volunteering, and being with friends and family. Kyle is now studying Biological Sciences at the University of Miami.
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