Summer Reading Lists
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.
Dracula by Bram Stoker
A dreary castle, blood-thirsty vampires, open graves at midnight, and other gothic touches fill this chilling tale about a young Englishman's confrontation with the evil Count Dracula. A horror romance as deathless as any vampire, the blood-curdling tale still continues to hold readers spellbound a century later.
A Moment Comes by Jennifer Bradbury
Before India was divided, three teens, each from wildly different backgrounds, cross paths. And then, in one moment, their futures become irrevocably intertwined. Tariq. Anupreet. Margaret. As different as their Muslim, Sikh, and British names. But in one moment, their futures become entirely dependent on one another's.
Monster by Walter Dean Myers
"Monster" is what the prosecutor called 16-year-old Steve Harmon for his supposed role in the fatal shooting of a convenience-store owner. But was Steve really the lookout who gave the "all clear" to the murderer, or was he just in the wrong place at the wrong time? To calm his nerves as he sits in the courtroom, aspiring filmmaker Steve chronicles the proceedings in movie script format. The narrative alternates between his screenplay and his journal writings that provide insight into Steve's life before the murder and his feelings about being on trial.
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George
Blessed—or cursed—with an ability to understand animals, the Lass (as she’s known to her family) has always been an oddball. And when an isbjorn (polar bear) seeks her out, and promises that her family will become rich if only the Lass will accompany him to his castle, she doesn’t hesitate. But the bear is not what he seems, nor is his castle, which is made of ice and inhabited by a silent staff of servants.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
On October 11, 1943 A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun. When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she's living a spy's worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow. This improbable story of Christopher's quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for one of the most captivating, unusual, and widely heralded novels in recent years.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anne Shaffer and Annie Barrows
In January 1946, London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book? As Juliet and her new friend exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends. “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”— a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The novel follows the story of Jane Eyre, orphaned as a baby, who is a plain-featured, small and reserved, but talented, empathetic, hard-working, honest (not to mention blunt), and passionate girl. She endures rejection and hardship and, since she is skilled at studying, drawing, and teaching, she eventually becomes a governess at Thornfield Hall where she falls in love with her wealthy employer, Edward Rochester.
Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (both parts 1 & 2)
The Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler's Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father's story. Vladek's harrowing story of survival is woven into the author's account of his tortured relationship with his aging father, all told in comic book form: the Nazis are cats and the Jews are mice. Against the backdrop of guilt brought by survival, they stage a normal life of small arguments and unhappy visits. This astonishing retelling of our century's grisliest news is a story of survival, not only of Vladek, but of the children who survive even the survivors.
Watership Down by Richard Adams
Fiver, the runt of a rabbit warren, who is also a “seer,” prophesies the imminent destruction of the warren. He, his brother Hazel, and a few other believers begin a journey to find a new, safe place to live. This is an exciting and touching story about freedom, ethics, and human nature told through a warren of Berkshire rabbits.
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
The story of eleven-year-old Reuben Land, an asthmatic boy who has reason to believe in miracles. In the winter of his 11th year, two schoolyard bullies break into the Lands' house, and Reuben's big brother, Davy, guns them down and is forced to go “on the lam.” Shortly after Davy's escape, Reuben, along with Swede, his younger sister and an aspiring writer of Romantic Western tales, and their father, a widowed school custodian, hit the road too, swerving this way and that across Minnesota and North Dakota, determined to find the lost outlaw, Davy.
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
A true crime story of H.H. Holmes, who dispatched somewhere between 27 and 200 people in the churning new metropolis of Chicago; many of the murders occurring during the city's finest moment, the World's Fair of 1893. Larson's breathtaking new history is a novelistic yet wholly factual account of the fair and the mass murderer who lurked within it. The author strikes a fine balance between the planning and execution of the vast fair and Holmes's relentless, ghastly activities.
Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos
In the summer of 1971, Jack Gantos was an aspiring writer looking for adventure, cash for college tuition, and a way out of a dead-end job. For ten thousand dollars, he recklessly agreed to help sail a sixty-foot yacht loaded with a ton of hashish from the Virgin Islands to New York City, where he and his partners sold the drug until federal agents caught up with them. For his part in the conspiracy, Gantos was sentenced to serve up to six years in prison. Running just beneath the action is the story of how Gantos – once he was locked up in a small, yellow-walled cell – moved from wanting to be a writer to writing, which helped him endure and ultimately overcome the worst experience of his life.
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make.
Earth Abides by George R. Stewart
A disease of unparalleled destructive force has sprung up almost simultaneously in every corner of the globe, all but destroying the human race. One survivor, strangely immune to the effects of the epidemic, ventures forward to experience a world without man. What he ultimately discovers will prove far more astonishing than anything he'd either dreaded or hoped for.
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart—he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone—but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness.
**ONLY students who possess an IEP and/or teacher accommodations may select from the following:
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Since the beginning of the school year, Melinda has found that it's been getting harder and harder for her to speak out loud. What could have caused Melinda to suddenly fall mute? Could it be the fact that no one at school is speaking to her because she called the cops and got everyone busted at the seniors' big end-of-summer party? Or maybe it's because her parents' only form of communication is Post-It notes written on their way out the door to their nine-to-whenever jobs. While Melinda is bothered by these things, deep down she knows the real reason why she's been struck mute: something else occurred at last summer’s party and she can’t seem to tell anyone the truth. (Contains subtle references to rape.)
Slam! by Walter Dean Myers
Harlem is the backdrop for Myer’s tales about “Slam” Harris, a seventeen-year-old boy whose dreams of playing basketball in the NBA overshadow everything else in his life. Although Slam has grandiose dreams of making millions, Slam is on his way to flunking out of high school. It is Slam’s attitude that changes as he reconciles a harsh reality with his dreams.
The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
Marietta Greer hits the road in her 1955 junker Volkswagen, determined to remake her life, and begins by renaming herself after the first place she buys gas: coasting “into Taylorsville on fumes.” Now “Taylor” Greer, she discovers that car trouble can change more than just her name: when her rocker arm breaks in Oklahoma, she is "given" a baby; when she has two flat tires in Tucson, she limps into “Jesus Is Lord Used Tires,” where she begins to learn that her troubles are minor compared to what many other people have to endure.
Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
Blink is a book about how we think without thinking, about choices that seem to be made in an instant-in the blink of an eye-that actually aren't as simple as they seem. Why are some people brilliant decision makers, while others are consistently inept? Why do some people follow their instincts and win, while others end up stumbling into error? How do our brains really work-in the office, in the classroom, in the kitchen, and in the bedroom? And why are the best decisions often those that are impossible to explain to others?
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Holden Caulfield narrates the story of a couple of days in his 16-year-old life, just after he's been expelled from prep school. His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to “phonies” (the two, of course, are not mutually exclusive), capture the essence of the universal teenage experience of alienation. (This book contains strong language.)
The Chosen by Chaim Potok
In 1940s Brooklyn, New York, an accident during a baseball game throws rivals Reuven Malther and Danny Saunders together. Despite their differences (Reuven is a Modern Orthodox Jew with an intellectual, Zionist father; Danny is the brilliant son and rightful heir to a Hasidic rebbe), the young men form a deep, if unlikely, friendship. Together they negotiate adolescence, family conflicts, the crisis of faith engendered when Holocaust stories begin to emerge in the U.S., loss, love, and the journey to adulthood.
The Demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston
In this nonfiction work, Richard Preston ventures into the heart of Usamriid, the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland, once the headquarters of the U.S. biological weapons program and now the epicenter of national biodefense. Usamriid went into a state of Delta Alert on September 11, 2001, and activated its emergency response teams when the first anthrax letters were opened in New York and Washington, D.C. Preston reports, in unprecedented detail, on the government’s response to the attacks and takes us into the ongoing FBI investigation. His story is based on interviews with top-level FBI agents and doctors.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Sent at a young age to live with her grandmother in Arkansas, Angelou learns a great deal from this exceptional woman and the tightly knit black community there. These lessons carry her throughout the hardships she endures later in life, including a tragic occurrence while visiting her mother in St. Louis and her formative years spent in California – where an unwanted pregnancy changes her life forever. (This book deals with rape and teenage pregnancy.)
A.P. English List (open to all seniors, but A.P. students must read one from this list):
My Antonia by Willa Cather – Set in Nebraska in the late 19th century, this tale of the spirited daughter of a Bohemian immigrant family planning to farm on the untamed land is told through the eyes of Antonia’s childhood friend, Jim Burden. Jim has been newly orphaned at the beginning of the novel and arrives at his grandparents' neighboring farm on the same night Antonia’s family arrives in this new country. Ántonia represents immigrant struggles with a foreign land and tongue, the restraints on women of the time, and the great courage and determination that marked the earliest settlers on the frontier. Cather opens the novel with Virgil’s phrase "Optima dies ... prima fugit, meaning "The best days are the first to flee.” This could be said equally of childhood and the earliest hours of this country.
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller – Catch-22 satirizes war in a way at once both outrageously funny and strangely affecting. Set in the closing months of World War II in an American bomber squadron on a small island off Italy, its hero is a bombardier named Yossarian, who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he hasn't even met keep trying to kill him. (He has decided to live forever even if he has to die in the attempt.) His problem is Colonel Cathcart, who keeps raising the number of missions the men have to fly. The unusual cast of characters ranges from Lieutenant Milo Minderbinder, a dedicated entrepreneur (he bombs his own airfield when the Germans make him a reasonable offer: cost plus 6%), to the dead man in Yossarian's tent; from Major Major Major, whose tragedy is that he resembles Henry Fonda, to Nately, in love with a prostitute; from Clevinger, who is lost in the clouds, to the wounded gunner Snowden, who lies dying in the tail of Yossarian's plane.
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving – In the summer of 1953, two eleven-year-old boys are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire, when one of the boys hits a foul ball that kills his best friend’s mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn’t believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God’s instrument. What happens to Owen, after that 1953 foul ball, is extraordinary and terrifying, and haunts his friend, John, into his adulthood. Mixing flashbacks of their growing up years through the ‘50s and ‘60s with his present year of 1987, John narrates this coming of age story which involves comedy and tragedy, friendship and faith.
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy – John Grady Cole, finds himself in love at age 16 with a dying lifestyle as he is soon to be cut off from the only life he has ever imagined for himself: that of a long line of Texas ranchers. To escape a society moving in all the wrong directions, Cole and two companions decide to seek their future in Mexico, a land at once beautiful and desolate, rugged and cruelly civilized, still a “last frontier.” But what begins as an idyllic, sometimes comic adventure, leads, in fact, to a place where dreams are paid for in blood. Within months, one of the boys is dead, and the other two aged beyond their years.
Beloved by Toni Morrison – In the troubled years following the Civil War, the spirit of a murdered child haunts the Ohio home of a former slave. This angry, destructive ghost breaks mirrors, leaves its fingerprints in cake icing, and generally makes life difficult for Sethe and her family. Set in rural Ohio several years after the Civil War, this haunting chronicle of slavery and its aftermath traces the life of a young woman, Sethe. The narrative juxtaposes scenes from Sethe's former life as a slave on Sweet Home Farm, her escape with her children, and the tragic events that ensue, with her struggles to deal with the consequent present.