Posts Tagged 'high school'



Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 14 and up

# of pages: 288 p.

RAC Book: Yes

Clay Jensen is shocked to find a box of 13 audio tapes in a package addressed to him on his doorstep one afternoon. The note says that the tapes are to go to 13 people and if someone fails to send them on to the next person on the list then another copy of the tapes will be released publicly. As Clay begins to listen to them he learns that they are spoken by Hannah Baker, a fellow high school student who recently committed suicide. Each tape discusses one of the reasons that led to her suicide and which people were involved. As Clay anxiously awaits to find out how he played a part in her suicide he can’t help but notice how terrible high school can be and how a bunch of little, seemingly insignificant, incidents can add up to a terrible high school existence for someone else.

This story is powerful and not for someone looking for a fast read. It reminds us all that sometimes when something is said or done to hurt another intentionally it can have lasting effects and can even lead to other major events in that person’s life. The theme of the story is that we are all responsible for our own actions.  Hannah never denies it was her choice to end her life.  However, there were many times where someone could have acted differently that may have changed that decision. Even though it is a fictional story, many students will identify with at least parts of Hannah’s high school career and may even know someone showing warning signs for suicide. A very good read with an important message that students will hopefully think about long after they are finished.

Crushed by Laura and Tom McNeal

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 14 and up

# of pages: 308 p.

RAC Book: Yes

Audrey and her two friends grew up going to a very small school and feel uncomfortable finishing their education in a large high school where gossip and bullying are rampant. They all manage by supporting each other. All of that begins to change when a new boy arrives and begins giving Audrey special attention. He seems enamored with her big house and expensive clothes. Everything goes great until Audrey learns that her life is not as financially stable as she thought it was. At that point, the new boy’s interest in her begins to wane.  At the same time an underground gossip newspaper begins mysteriously appearing in the halls and revealing deep secrets of both students and teachers.

This book highlights some of the many issues facing high school students today such as gossip, bullying, dating, money, friendship, and status.  High school students often feel like nothing can hurt them and believe the best in everyone, but this is also the time when they start to experience how tough it can be to be an adult by facing harsh realities from their families, teachers, and peers.  Audrey thought the worst thing that could happen to her was bullying, but quickly learns that many of the aspects of her life she thought were stable were anything but.  Most high school students will be able to identify with some aspect of Audrey’s life whether it be an unstable homelife, bullying, trouble academically, and betrayal from those close to her.  A powerful, but realistic story.

 

November Blues by Sharon M. Draper

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 14 and up

# of Pages: 316 p.

RAC Book: Yes

In this sequel to The Battle of Jericho November Nelson is dealing with the death of her boyfriend after a hazing ritual went bad. To make matters worse, she discovers that she is pregnant. She was planning to spend the summer in an Ivy League summer program which would hopefully lead to a very productive senior year. When she tells her mother about her pregnancy she is understandably upset. November faces a lot of difficult decisions as she endures this pregnancy.

Meanwhile, Jericho, the cousin of the boy who died, is having an equally difficult time coping with his friend’s untimely death. He decides to try football in order to have something new to do instead of the band, which he previously loved but now feels is a painful reminder of his cousin. He tries to help November in any way he can, but is struggling with his own emotions as well.

This was a good story about teenage pregnancy and death, but addresses similar concepts to The First Part Last. The characters were complicated and interesting and were the strength of the story. Nothing these characters were dealing with was easy and was not portrayed that way. The ending took an unexpected turn, but was a little predictable nonetheless. Most readers will guess what November’s decision will be, but will enjoy it anyway.

 

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 14 and up

# of Pages: 230

RAC Book: Yes

Junior is a young teen ready to begin high school on the reservation on which he and his family live. Junior was born with several health problems and had to have surgery on his brain at only six months old. Despite that he is incredibly smart, if not maybe a little skinny and dorky. His best friend is the town bully and he often protects Junior from getting beat up everyday. On the reservation there is a lot of alcoholism and poverty and he is always getting picked on by those around him.

After getting suspended by accidentally hitting a teacher with an old text book, he decides to commute the 22 miles to the next town in order to go to a better high school. He wants to go somewhere where the teachers are qualified and the text books are not the same ones his parents used when they were in school. By choosing to leave the reservation for school others on the reservation treat him like a traitor, especially his best friend who now hates him. When he gets to the new school he finds they completely ignore him, which is worse than getting picked on.

This humorous story follows a young boy who sees no opportunities around him and tries to go searching for some. He is courageous and tough as he tries to navigate these two worlds. His accounts of daily events are presented through his comics, which are very inciteful and funny. This story will amuse students while also shedding some light on racism and the true conditions of life on the reservation.

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Reading Level:  12 and up

# of Pages:  271

RAC Book:  Yes

Naomi was late at school one day working in the year book office when she tripped down some stairs and suffered a blow to the head.  The result was that she forgot the previous four years of her life, including everyone she met during that time.  Naomi has a difficult time trying to discover why she liked yearbook, tennis, and even her boyfriend.  At the same time she must come to terms with her parents divorce and her father’s new fiancee.

Naomi chooses to make many changes in her life because she believes that she is changed and cannot be the person she was before.  Everyone around her is unbelievably patient and understanding to her situation and never pushes her to do anything.  That does not mean that those around her, specifically her father and best friend, do not get disappointed by her subsequent actions.

The idea of this book was creative and interesting much like Zevin’s previous novel, Elsewhere, but it lacked the follow through that  one did.  The middle lagged as Naomi struggled with discovering herself, and the end was anticlimactic and boring.  No one will dispute that going through something like that would be traumatic, but Naomi seems overly selfish and mean at times to those who have been so understanding to her through everything.  All in all, a bit of a disappointment.

 

Gym Candy by Carl Deuker

Genre:  Sports

Age Level:  14 and up

# of pages:  313 p.

RAC Book:  Yes

Mick Johnson wanted to be the starting running back on his football team from the moment his father put a football into his hands at the age of four.  Mick was raised to believe his father was a tremendous football player who played for the NFL, but later realizes he did not get the full story.  He vows never to make the same mistakes his father made.

In junior high Mick starts to really gain speed and agility, but finds he is not as strong as he would like.  He starts to lift weights constantly, but he has a difficult time exceeding his past personal goals.  His father offers to get him some time with a personal trainer at a nearby gym and Mick goes, despite his coach’s concerns that it would be better to work out with his own teammates.  His personal trainer, Peter, offers Mick some steroid enhancements that he refuses.  After Peter assures him that they are harmless and will give him unimaginable strength, he relents and vows to stop taking them when the football season begins.

Mick loves the power and strength he gets when he takes the steroids, but when it comes time to quit he wonders if he has the strength to do that.  Carl Deuker is one of the most popular sports writers around because he combines exciting sports moments with real people who have real problems.  His books are interesting for anyone, despite their athletic ability, and this one is another hit.  Recommended


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