Student Nominated Summer Reading -Choose One!
My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult
"A single choice can destroy a family. A terminal illness can spark hope, patience and love, but also jealousy and hatred. My Sister's Keeper examines the definitions of a "good" parent, sister and daughter, through each of these characters' perspectives. It explores the strength and determination to be seen as an individual, and the underlying situations you never really know about a family on the surface. And here's the thing - protagonist Anna isn't a normal teenager. Sure, she questions life and resents the rest of her family at some point, although she usually comes around, but the weight sitting on her 13 year old shoulders, and the decision she makes to rid herself of that weight, is not what your average teen could even imagine, let alone carry out. And yes, being the youngest of three and always in her siblings' shadows can prove difficult, but Anna keeps going, discarding what some might consider morally correct in order to discover who she and her family really are and what they truly stand for. When my mom recommended this book to me, she warned me that it would be an emotional roller coaster. I brushed her off, telling myself I would be fine...at the end of the book, I realized that all of my morals and values had been challenged. I had empathized with each character, frequently switching whose side I was on, and my mom was right - I went from all smiles and happiness to literal tears in less than 15 minutes. You will laugh, you will cry, you will be surprised - buckle your seatbelts, because this is one heck of a journey, complete with triumps and obstacles, twists and turns. If you decide to read My Sister's Keeper this summer, I sincerely hope you are touched by it as much as I was." (Jenna)
Excellent Daughters, by Katherine Zoepf
“The book itself is reflective of the ways in which women are causing a paradigm shift throughout the Middle East; shapeshifting and turning upside down defining constructs of the past.” "Zoepf, in her study of the various women living in the Middle East, does not fail to examine all aspects of femininity. This seemingly impossible feat is done in a manner that is close to perfection: the women she interviews are activists, flight attendants, normal teenagers, newlyweds, beloved daughters, women in secret societies, and those who symbolize a sort of familial betrayal—one entirely foreign to us—that extends far beyond constructs that we could ever begin to understand." (nonfiction) (Ellie)
Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier
"Rebecca is a romantic mystery written in Victorian England that explores love, loss, misconception, and deception. The novel starts out with the iconic lines “Last night I went to Manderley again” in which she describes the beautiful Manderly, a house she lives in during the novel. She then discusses how both she and her husband can never go back to their precious home which leaves the reader with an unsettling start. The story then goes back to a young woman who falls in love with the handsome widow, Maxim de Winter in Monte Carlo. They get married and move back to his house, Manderley, the very house mentioned at the start of the novel. Upon arrival the bride is haunted by her husband's late wife, Rebecca, who died tragically in a sailing accident. She had been loved and adored by everyone especially the ghostly housekeeper Ms. Danvers. The narrator endures cruelty daily from Ms. Danvers who constantly compares the flawed protagonist to her seemingly perfect predecessor. Yet despite the presence of Rebecca in the narrator’s life, her husband never speaks of her. As the book progresses tensions rise as Maxim and the narrator’s relationship is strained by secrets only Maxim knows, and the question hangs in the air “Why did they have to leave manderly?” This book’s fast-moving plot makes it impossible to put down, and it gives the reader a taste of what upper-class victorian England was like. Please read Rebecca, I guarantee you will not be disappointed!" (Astri)
The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman
"The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman tells the story of Lyra, a young girl living in a universe parallel to our own. Everyone in this universe has a piece of their soul living outside of their bodies in the form of an animal that accompanies them everywhere, reflecting the often unseen sides of each character through the form they take. However, this world is so much more complex than that. Pullman intricately crafts a universe wonderfully similar to our own, but fascinating in its differences. While the book starts slowly on the stuffy campus of Jordan College where Lyra was raised, it soon picks up the pace, becoming an adventure that you can’t put down. While the book starts slowly on the stuffy campus of Jordan College where Lyra was raised, it soon picks up the pace, becoming an adventure that you can’t put down.” (Aeven)
The Miseducation of Cameron Post, by emily m. danforth
The Miseducation of Cameron Post begins with one striking sentence: “The afternoon my parents died, I was out shoplifting with Irene Klauson.”Cameron Post lives in a tiny midwestern town, and the before and after of her life is marked around her parents’ deaths. The same day she experimentally kisses her best friend is the day that her parents fall victim to an earthquake at Quake lake, a place where her mother had survived an earthquake as a child. Cameron is then placed with her grandmother and her aunt, left to navigate all the confusion of adolescence and form her identity in the wake of the tragedy. Told in the first person, her story is one of self discovery, describing the movies she obsessively watches and the many romances and relationships that take place in her life. (Nyx)
*Common Sense Media recommends this book for age 17 and up.
Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon
"Maddy is a smart, curious and imaginative 18-year-old who is unable to leave the protection of her house because of an illness. Olly is the boy next door who won't let that stop them from being together. Gazing through windows and talking only through texts, Maddy and Olly form a deep bond that leads them to risk everything to be together. If you love classic teen romances, this is the perfect summer escape. The story reads like a journal, with cute doodles in the margins. This book is the perfect summer beach read! It’s cute, funny, and overall an enjoyable read. Plus, the movie of the same name is poised to become this summer’s blockbuster hit. (Grayson)
Rabbit Cake, by Annie Hartnett
“The main character, Elvis, is wonderfully weird and smart. When her mother burned the rabbit-shaped cake for her tenth birthday, Elvis knew it would be an unpleasant year. Soon after, her mother dies, and Elvis puzzles through the strange details of her mother’s death while trying to figure out how to help the rest of her family, which includes her sleep-eating sister. Overall, Rabbit Cake is a sweet book that teaches us to celebrate all new beginnings, just as Elvis’s mother had, and at the least, it teaches us interesting animal facts. The author of Rabbit Cake, Annie Hartnett, will be coming to speak to us next year so I really hope that you will read it!” (Erica)
The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath
“The Bell Jar, is not hard to understand. Plath tells a clear, gripping story of illness. More specifically, she tells the story of a woman, Esther Greenwood, living in the 1950’s, a time where both women and mental illness were seen with a very different understanding than we have now. This novel is made even more chilling when you take into account the semi-autobiographical nature of this piece. Though originally published under a pseudonym, it is now widely known that Esther’s stark, haunting recount of her descent into depression, suicide attempt, and time in asylum parallels Plath’s real-life experiences in almost every way. In the novel, Esther even decides that she will write a book, saying “My heroine would be myself, only in disguise.” Though Esther never writes her novel, Plath most certainly does, and it was through reading this novel in the context of Plath’s life that I found a new way to look at literature. (Zoe)
*Recommended for 11th and 12th Graders.
The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
"The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is a novel that tells the story of 16-year-old Starr Carter, a black girl balancing her home life in a poor neighborhood and that of her private school. When the police shooting of her childhood best friend goes without justice, Starr's two worlds collide as she is the sole witness it and is unable to escape the inevitable. Angie Thomas's has carefully tailored the narrative of authority and integrity through the prism of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has spun a beautiful novel that is being hailed as 'one of the most important books in years' by John Green." (Sage)
Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng
The year is 1977, the setting, a quiet all-American town in Ohio, where everyone knows one another and nothing like this has ever happened before.
"I’ve always loved reading fiction, but it is a place filled with white protagonists. It didn’t stop me from enjoying these characters and their stories, but I rarely ever saw anyone like me represented. When I read this book at Ms. Summers’ recommendation during spring vacation, I cried. A lot. It’s a bittersweet, heartbreaking novel about growing up as an outsider, which takes on a different meaning from each family member’s perspective. If you would enjoy a beautiful story about the second generation immigrant experience with complex, well written Asian characters, I highly recommend reading this book." (Ye Rin)
The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
“It is one of the earliest American novels that focuses on women's issues without condescension. It is also widely seen as a landmark work of early feminism.”
"The Awakening by Kate Chopin tells the story of Edna Pontellier, a young mother who is "awakened" to her passions and to her own mind, defying the social conventions of her class, nature, gender, and time. It's a lovely book and the story itself is quite short. Iridescent and exquisite imagery paints the picture of a woman’s emancipation, along with her awakening to desires and passions that threaten to consume her. (Maeve)
*Recommended for 11th and 12th Graders.
In the Skin of a Lion, by Michale Ondaatje
In the Skin of a Lion is quite possibly the most beautiful piece of literature I’ve ever read. Ondaatje weaves words masterfully, at once creating breathtaking imagery that will replay in one’s mind for days on end. He places characters in heartbreaking circumstances, leaving them always on the verge of self- discovery. (Kimaya)
Juliet Takes a Breath, by Gabby Rivera
*Recommeded for 12th Graders. Students could find Rivera's language offensive. Author, Rivera, says that Juliet Takes a Breath is "New Adult" fiction. "It’s 'New Adult' because Juliet is a little older. She’s above the age of consent and is involved in stuff that goes a little beyond high school experiences."