The Chocolate War- Robert Cormier


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The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier is a story about a boy at an all boys Catholic high school who decides to rebel against a school tradition.  He also gets involved with a secret high school society.  The book addresses friendship, bullying, and teacher student relationships.  I enjoyed this book, and I think that it would be a good choice for teen boys.  There are several mentions of male arousal and self-pleasure, but they aren’t overly explicit and some students might not pick up on them.  For that reason I might not use it in a classroom, but I think with parent permission it would be fine.  This book is best for early high school in my opinion.  There is another novel, Beyond the Chocolate War which Cormier also wrote that continuing the story of the secret society and students at the school.  I will read and review it sometime in the future.

Awards:

An ALA Best Books for Young Adults
A School Library Journal Best Books of the Year
Kirkus Reviews Choice
A New York Times Outstanding Books of the Year
Margaret A Edwards Award 

Confessions of a Not It Girl- Melissa Kantor


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Confessions of a Not It Girl was a fun light novel that I think provides an alternate idea of what life is like in NYC to that which is presented in Gossip Girl.  While it doesn’t deal with many MAJOR teen issues it deals well with all the little things that teens go through.  I really identified with the way the main character Jan (pronounced Yahn), a senior in high school, was crushing on this boy Josh.  In fact I think teens, young adults, and probably even middle aged women with crushes can see a little bit of themselves in her.  There was some discussion of teenage drinking and the potential for sexual intercourse without any discussion of the consequences which is something that bothered me.  I do not mind those topics being talked about in books for teens, but I think it is important to make some mention of the potential consequences from making those choices.  That being said, nothing was overly explicit or inappropriate and I would not feel out of place recommending it to a student or having it on my bookshelf for students to read.  This book should probably be reserved for 9-12th graders.  I would not use it as required reading for a class.

AWARDS:

2004 A Booklist Top Ten Romance Novel for Youths

Publisher’s Weekly editor’s pick

Slam-Nick Hornby

This is Nick Hornby’s first true Young Adult novel.  The main character, Sam, is a 15 year old skater who becomes a teenage father.  The book follows the events leading up to the pregnency, through the pregnancy, and after the child is born.  In general it is realistic fiction but there are some fantastical moments throughout the story.  Due to Sam’s interest in skating there is a bit of inoformation about Tony Hawk sprinkled throughout the novel.

The book isn’t bad- however I do not see many teenage boys being interested in reading about pregnancy- even if they are teenage dads themselves.  There is a lot of skater jargon and the role of Tony Hawk might attract teens interested in the skating world to the book.  I think the book does a good job at discussing the issues surrounding sexual relationships between teenagers, safe sex, and the way a baby changes things.

This book could be used in a classroom but some might object to the frank discussion of sexuality.  I might suggest it to students that mention interests in any of the topics presented.  It is not a difficult read and feel it is appropriate for students in 9th-12th grade.

I Am the Messenger- Markus Zusak

I Am The Messenger centers around a 19 year old male searching for his identity.  Throughout the novel he speaks candidly about his relationship with his mother, his feelings of sexual inadequacy, and his friendships.  He is mysteriously pushed into action when he begins to receive cryptic messages on playing cards.  The novel chronicles his experience with these cards while keeping their origin a secret.

This is definitely a novel for older teens and young adults searching for meaning in their lives.  I would recommend it to men and women aged 16-22.  I believe it could be used in a classroom, and provides many topics for discussion.  With its male protagonist and some violence, I believe this book appeals to male readers.

Awards:

2006 – Michael L. Printz Honor
2006 – Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book
2005 – Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year – Children
2003 – Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Award in Australia

Twisted- Laurie Halse Anderson

This novel is written from a 17 year old male’s POV. I really enjoyed it. This book seems to do a good job at dealing with the issues of depression, suicide, emerging sexuality, fitting in, and more.  This is definiately a book written for high school students.  It can be used as a classroom read or as an individual read.  

 

 

AWARDS:

ALA 2008 Best Books for Young Adults

2010 High School Sequoyah Masterlist

Looking For Alaska- John Green

I really enjoyed this novel.  It takes place at a boarding school, and while it centers around a male protagonist there is also a strong female character.  I can see it being somewhat controversial due to some sex, drinking, and smoking.  I feel that the way the sexual elements are presented could lead to healthy conversations about sexuality and intimacy. This book also deals with grief, friendship, and fitting in.   John Green is relatively new to the field, and I think this novel is a great addition to the genre. I would use this in a whole class setting, but might warn parents/ask permission due to some of the controversial content.

Awards:

2006 Printz award winner

Finalist- 2005 Los Angeles Times Book Prize

ALA 2005 Top 10 Best Book for Young Adults

ALA 2005 Teens’ Top 10 Award

ALA 2005 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers

A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age

A Booklist Editor’s Choice Pick

Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection

Borders Original Voices Selection

YALSA Librarians’ Choice: 100 Super Summer Reads for Teens