3. Book Report on Fiction

Book Report on Fiction

Parlindungan Pardede

Universitas Kristen Indonesia


Similar to a book report on non-fiction, the main objective of writing book report on fictional works (novel, short story, poem) is to convince your reader (i.e. teacher/lecturer) that you actually read the work.  It simply a summarizes the work contents, with personal evaluation by the writer kept to a minimum.

  1. What will you include in your report largely depends on what your teacher/lecturer’ instructions. However, the followings are the general points you should include.
  2. Subject matter—what the story is about? In about 50 words, summarize the gist of what happens in the story (plot).
  3. The main character(s)—who is the story mostly about? Give a brief description. Often, one character can be singled out as the main character, but some books will have more than one.
  4. The setting—when and where does the story take place? Is the story set in the present day or in an earlier time period? Perhaps it is even set in the future! Let your reader know. Is it a real place or an imaginary one? If the author does not tell you exactly where the story is set, what can you tell about it from the way it is described?
  5. What is the style of the work? Is it easy to read?
  6. Does the work made an impress on you? Or, do you find something you like/dislike in it?

To see how these 5 points are combined to form a story report, read the following story and look at the report below it.


(Zona Gale)

Bill was thirty when his wife died, and little Minna was four. Bill’s carpenter shop was in the yard of his house, so he thought that he could keep his home for Minna and himself. All day while he worked at his bench, she played in the yard, and when he was obliged to be absent for a few hours, the woman next door looked after her. Bill could cook a little, coffee and bacon and fried potatoes and flapjacks, and he found bananas and sardines and crackers useful. When the woman next door said it was not the diet for four-year-old, he asked her to teach him to cook oatmeal and vegetables, and though he was always burned the dishes in which he cooked these things, he cooked them everyday. He swept, all but corners, and he dusted, dabbing at every object; and he complained that after he had cleaned the windows he could not see as well as he could before. He washed and patched Minna’s little garments and mended her doll. He found a kitten for her so that she wouldn’t be lonely. At night he heard her say her prayer, kneeling in the middle of the floor with her hands folded, and speaking like lightning. If she forgot the prayer, he either woke her up, or else he made her say it the first thing in the morning. He himself used to pray: “Lord, make me do right by her if you see me doing wrong.” On Sundays, he took her to church and listening with his head on one side, trying to understand, and giving Minna peppermints when she rustled. He stopped work for a day and took her to the Sunday-school picnic. “Her mother would of,” he explained. When Minna was old enough to go to kindergarten, Bill used to take her morning or afternoon, and he would call for her. Once he dressed himself in his best clothes and went to visit the school. “I think her mother would of,” he told the teacher, diffidently. But he could make little of the colored paper and the designs and the games, and he did not go again. “There’s something I can’t be any help to her with,” he thought.

Minna was six when Bill fell ill. On a May afternoon, he went to a doctor. When he came home, he sat in his shop for a long time and did nothing. The sun was beaming through the window in bright squares. He was not going to get well. It might be that he had six months. … He could hear Minna singing to her doll.

When she came to kiss him that night, he made an excuse, for he must never kiss her now. He held her arm’s length, looked in her eyes, said: Minna’s a big girl now. She doesn’t want Papa to kiss her.” But her lip curled and she turned away sorrowful, so the next day Bill went to another doctor to make sure. The other doctor made him sure.

He tried to think what to do. He had a sister in Nebraska, but she was a tired woman. His wife had a brother in the city, but he was a man of many words. And little Minna … there were things known to her which he himself did not know—matters of fairies and the words of songs. He wished that he could hear of somebody who would understand her. And he had only six month. …

Then the woman next door told him bluntly that he ought not to have the child there, and him coughing as he was; and he knew that his decision was already upon him.

One whole night he thought. Then he advertised in a city paper:

A man with a few months more to live would like nice people to adopt his little girl, six, blue eyes, curls. References required.

They came in limousine, as he had hoped that they would come. Their clothes were as he had hoped. They had with them a little girl who cried: “Is this my little sister?” On which the woman in the smart frock said sharply: “Now then, you do as Mama tells you and keep out of this or we’ll leave you here and take this darling little girl with us.”

So Bill looked at this woman and said steadily that he had now other plans for his little girl. He watched the great blue car roll away. “For the land sake!” said the woman next door when she heard. “You done her out of fortune. You hadn’t the right—a man in your health.” And then the other cars came, and he let them go, this woman told her husband that Bill ought to be reported to the authorities.

The man and woman who walked into Bill’s shop one morning were still mourning their own little girl. The woman was not sad—only sorrowful, and the man. Who was tender of her, was a carpenter. In blooming of his hope and his dread, Bill said to them: “You’re the ones.” When they asked: “How long before we can have her?” Bill said: “One day more.”

That day he spent in the shop. It was summer and Minna was playing in the yard. He could hear the words of her songs. He cooked their supper and while she ate, he watched. When he had tucked her in her bed, he stood in the dark hearing her breathing. “I’m a little girl tonight—kiss me,” she had said, but he shook his head. “A big girl, a big girl,” he told her.

When they came for the next morning, he had her ready, washed and mended, and he had mended her doll. “Minna’s never been for a visit!” he told her buoyantly. And when she ran toward him, “A big girl, a big girl,” he reminded her.

He stood and watched the man and woman walking down the street with Minna between them. They had brought her a little blue parasol in case the parting should be hard. This parasol Minna held bobbing above her head, and she was so absorbed in looking up at the blue silk that she did not remember to turn and wave her hand.

A Book Report of Zona Gale’s Bill

Bill is a short story in which Gale tells what a widower does to prepare his six years old daughter, Minna, after realizing he has only six more months to live. After checking up his condition to some doctors, Bill advertises on a newspaper that he wants nice people to adopt Minna. He refuses a wealthy lady because she looks stern and unwise. Finally Minna is adopted by a couple whose little daughter has just died. Minna seems happy when her new parents bring her.

The main character of the story is Bill. The whole part of the story tells mainly about him. He presented as a single parent who works as a carpenter. He is a great and very loving father. He tries his best to bring Minna up. When he is told that he has only six more months to live, everything he does only to make certain that Minna is going to have a happy future.

The story is set in a modern period in a city. The existence of newspaper and cars indicate it is in a city (somewhere in U.S.) in the modern era.

The language employed in Bill and the subject matter presented in it are very simple. Despite these facts, Hemingway manages to present it very interestingly. Bill is placed in a situation. He is dying and has to decide how to save Minna’s future. In such a situation, his decision to give her daughter in adoption is I think the best. What is more, he selects the prospective parents very tightly. Although the end of the story seems sorrowful, there is a clear indication of hope: Minna’s future will be a happy one. In short, Bill is a very interesting and inspiring story.


9 thoughts on “3. Book Report on Fiction

  1. The report of the story of Jason Bocarro’s “A Long Walk Home”
    The story about A Long walk Home tells about Jackson’s feeling to his father. He feels so guilty to his father because of his action in lying to his father. His father feels that he can’t be a good parent for his son because his son has lied to him. Then he wants to give the lesson to his son that lies to other people is not good , and it will hurt the feeling of other and they can’t never believe us anymore. In this case, Jackson also get the main point of the lesson that his father has given to him, never tries to lie to other.
    The character of the short story are Jackson and his father. Jackson as a son who respect to his parents but he also wants to do the action that makes him do in the wrong way. But at the last he realizes that he is wrong. Jackson’s father is a wise and a fierce parents. he will not let his son become the wrong person by lying on the other. The story gives the lesson to the reader that lying is not good because we will not get any trust of other.
    The setting of the story are in South Spain, called Estepona, in the theater near the garage and in the road back home to Estepona.
    The language that is used in the short story is very simple and easy understood. It brings lesson for us and the lesson is also appeared in our live. The lesson can be very worth because it tells about trust. Our wod can be trusted if we do same with the words that we have said.

  2. Dear Dewi and Dia,
    Your report are quite interesting. It reflects that your team have a deep understanding of the short story. My suggestion for better works next time is that you need to focus more on the plot in paragraph 1. Tell what happen in the story.
    My second note is that the narrator is not automatically similar to the author. There is no information that Jackson is identical with Bocarro.

  3. A Report of Jason Bocarro’s A Long Walk Home
    Created by Sri Dewi Astuti and Dia Pristiawati

    The story of A Long Walk Home tells about the writer’s experience in making up the story to his father just because of his momentary pleasure. It’s set in modern period in a small community, called Estepona, in the south of Spain.

    The main character in the story is Jason Bicarro, the writer of this passage. His chance to watch the film made him forget his duty to pick up his father in Mijas. His car that was in the garage became the reason he lied to his father. He told his father that the car needed some repairs and took longer than he expected. In addition, actually his father knew that it was not true. He called the garage to ask if there were any problems with the car and when he found that there was not any problem with the car, he then realized that his son had told a lie to him. He blamed himself when he thought that he had failed to educate the philosophy of life to his son.

    The language written in “A Long Walk Home” is presented in very simple style. Nevertheless, the story contains a lesson that is very meaningful to us. We find that it’s important not to ignore the trust that other people has given to us.

  4. Good job, Dyan, Artati, Netti & Ema,

    Your report is very comprehensive. It indicates that your team really understand the story. A little suggestion you need to do for making better works in the future is please be more careful with capitalization and grammar. Look, for instances, at:

    1) A long walk home is short story in which …
    2) … Jackson promise to himself that he doesn’t want to [will never]
    3) … South Spain and one of the road in that area.

  5. A Report on Jason Bocarro’s A Long Walk Home

    A long walk home is short story in which Jason Bocarro tells about Jackson’s Father who’s get fault feeling as a parent. He tries to give trust to his son, Jackson. Jackson said that he comes late because there’s trouble with the car so he has to go the garage. But his father knows that his son is lying because after that he tries to call the garage and the car just fine. He’s disappointed to his son. Finally he decide to walk home even though he has to walk 18 miles away. He does it because he has feeling guilty to himself and this is the way to give punishment to himself and his son. And Jackson promise to himself that he doesn’t want to lie anymore.

    The characters of the story are Jackson and his father. The story tells about Jackson’s father as a parent who tries to give trust to his son even though he knows that his son is lying. Then he feels fail till he does punishment to himself.

    The story is set in a little community called Estepona, South Spain and one of the road in that area.

    The subject matter presented in the story are very simple. Despite these facts, it’s a simple problem in life but not all parents could be do the same way like Jackson’s father. He could be a good sample for other parents. The way to give a punishment is we think the best.

    By : R Dyan Sevika, Artati, Chricenciana Netti H & Ema Maritha

  6. Well done! After reading this report, I know you really understood the story. What you need to improve is to use accurate expression. For instance, look at the following correction of mine to your last sentence:
    After reading this story we learn a lot about life experience, that we [should never] ignore other people’s trust on us.

  7. A Report on Jason Bocarro’s A Long Walk Home

    A long walk home is a short story about Jason Bocarro’s experience with his father. They lived in the south of Spain in a little community called Estepona. When he was 16 years old he had ever tried lying to his father. One day, he had to pick up his father at 4pm and he kept his father waiting for a long time by giving a reason that the car was hardly damage which caused him too late to pick up his father. Just because he wanted to fulfilled his intension by watching movie near the car garage. But, his father knew that he lied when he made a phone call to the car garage asking if there were any problems, and they told him that Jason had not yet picked up the car, then he blamed himself that he didn’t succed to educate his son.

    The main character in this story is Jason and his father. In this short story the writer describe himself as a man who mistrusted his father. Meanwhile, Jason’s father was a strict and tends to be a person who blame himself. However, his father succeded to educate his son to be an honest man when he decided to walk 18 miles home and made Jason realised that he had dissapointed his father. Jason thought this moment as a worth experience in his life.

    In addition,this story is written in a popular style and easy to understand. After reading this story we learn a lot about life experience, that we don’t ever ignore other people’s trust on us.

    By : Overman Gea, Visi Gastini and Limesias Suriani.

  8. Dear all,
    After studying the above concept and example on “Book Report on Fiction”, read the following story and post your report below it.
    Good luck!

    A Long Walk Home

    (by: Jason Bocarro)

    I grew up in the south of Spain in a little community called Estepona. I was 16 when one morning my father told me I could drive him into a remote village called Mijas, about 18 miles away, on the condition that I take the car in to be serviced at a nearby garage. Having just learned to drive and hardly ever having the opportunity to use the car, I readily accepted. I drove Dad into Mijas and promised to pick him up at 4 p.m., then drove to a nearby garage and dropped off the car. Because I had a few hours to spare, I decided to catch a couple of movies at a theatre near the garage. However, I became so immersed in the films that I completely lost track of time. When the last movie had finished, I looked down at my watch. It was six o’clock. I was two hours late.

    I knew Dad would be angry if he found out I’d been watching movies. He’d never let me drive again. I decided to tell him that the car needed some repairs and that they had taken longer that had been expected. I drove up to the place where we had planned to meet and saw Dad waiting patiently on the corner. I apologized for being late and told him that I’d come as quickly as I could, but the car had needed some major repairs. I’ll never forget the look he gave me.

    “I’m disappointed that you feel you have to lie to me, Jackson.”

    “What do you mean? I’m telling the truth.”

    Dad looked at me again. “When you did not show up, I called the garage to ask if there were any problems, and they told me that you had not yet picked up the car. So you see, I know there were no problems with the car.” A rush of guilt ran through me as I feebly confessed to my trip to the movie theater and the real reason for my tardiness. Dad listened intently as a sadness passed through him.

    “I am angry, not with you but with myself. You see, I realize that I have failed as a father if after all these years you feel that you have to lie to me. I have failed because I have brought up a son who cannot even tell the truth to his own father, I’m going to walk home now and contemplate where I have gone wrong all these years”.

    “But Dad, its 18 miles to home. It’s dark. You can’t walk home.”

    My protests, my apologies and the rest of my utterances were useless. I had let my father down, and I was about to learn one of the most painful lessons of my life. Dad began walking along the dusty roads. I quickly jumped in the car and followed behind, hoping he would relent. I pleaded all the way, telling him how sorry I was, but he simply ignored me, continuing on silently, thoughtfully and painfully. For 18 miles I drove behind him, averaging about five miles per hour.

    Seeing my father in so much physical and emotional pain was the most distressing and painful experience that I have ever faced. However, it was also the most successful lesson. I have never lied to him since.

    (From: Bocarro, J. (1997). A long walk home. In Canfield, J. (Ed.). Chicken soup for the soul. USA: HCI Books.)

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