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The Perfect Storm

Imagine: Water, foul smells and broken furniture in the first floor of your house. Dogs in need of rescuing; deceased bodies everywhere you turn. This is the life author Dave Eggers places us in in his novel Zeitoun. As Eggers introduces us to Zeitoun, a selfless man who saves his peers and then must fight misdirected criminal charges, we learn that hardships make us more tenacious people. This “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” philosophy is nothing new; rather, it has been debated for years now. Before Kelly Clarkson came out with her hit song, scientist Friedrich Nietzsche discovered this same philosophy, stating that amounts of trauma make us more resilient. This theory is proved full force in Egger’s novel as we learn that it is indeed the challenges that enable us to grow, and to grow in exponential and irreversible forms. For Eggers’ deep, character-driven story and his ability to teach readers to have optimism during the hardest of times, every college student, and every student of life, should read Zeitoun.

Zeitoun, a Syrian-American father and owner of a contracting firm, seems fearless of Hurricane Katrina’s power. As the storm grows, Zeitoun chooses to stay in order to take care of his business and those in need. As he survives the hurricane, it’s the horrible sanitation and misdirected imprisonment, Zeitoun continues to live in New Orleans, although greatly disappointed by his government. Though Zeitoun’s life in New Orleans has history, depth and fond memories, Zeitoun chooses to move on with his altered life instead of moving back to Syria, showing he still has faith despite the hardships he encountered.

Overall, not only has this novel taught me to make the best of the short time I have on this planet, but also, it has enabled me to realize how capable I am of conquering my own challenges. If one man can survive a category five hurricane, the loss of neighbors and being separated from his family, then we as college students should be able to have optimism when faced with our day-to-day obstacles. I am a 19-year-old preparing for the intimidating real world filled with challenges, but after reading this novel, my fears for the future seem miniscule. With Eggers’ heart-wrenching novel, readers are able to have hope not only in their own pursuits, but in the people they share the world with. Sure, the story of someone surviving Katrina has been told before. In fact, we hear stories all the time through television, film or even peers we interact with, but we do not always evaluate which stories truly matter. However, taking note of the ones that do is important – it is profound novels like Eggers’ that give us a wake up call and teach us to have courage to face any type of storm that may come our way.

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