9th Grade: “The Lord of the Flies”
By Arianna Lowengrub
“The Lord of the Flies,” written by William Golding, tells the story of a group of boys whose plane crashed on an island. The point of view shifts between the different characters throughout the book. I felt the uncertainty of the unaccompanied kids, which was not unsimilar to my feelings on the first day of school.
My favorite character was Ralph, who the boys elected as their leader, because I liked how he was proactive about accomplishing all of the tasks. Throughout the book, there is mounting tension between Ralph and Jack, another boy who wants to replace Ralph as the leader. They constantly fight on what’s right, and form opposing groups of boys.
The beginning of the book was very interesting, however I felt that the middle was not captivating. I wish that the book could have had a better resolution, as it was frustrating to read the whole book, and not get a true compromise between the two bands of boys at the end. Overall, even though I would have never picked it out to read myself, I enjoyed “The Lord of the Flies.”
10th Grade: “Of Mice and Men”
By Amelia Bergeron
For their English class summer reading, 10th graders read “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck, a novel that encompasses feelings of both sadness and hope. The book focuses on Lennie and George, two friends working on a farm trying to earn money to eventually buy their own plot of land. Lennie, a large, lumbering migrant worker with a undiagnosed mental disability, mainly relies on George who is, in contrast, the exact opposite. Though George often makes remarks of how much better his life would be without the caretaking responsibilities of Lennie, the pair finds themselves inseparable.
“Of Mice and Men” generates a very depressing mood, but Steinbeck made sure to include glimmers of hope throughout the entirety of the novel. The characters hope to achieve their dreams and escape the hard, tiring work that they spend a day doing daily. The way Steinbeck uses dramatic irony and descriptive language enhanced the plot and the overall read.
11th Grade: “Between the World and Me”
By Grace Kowal
All rising juniors were required to read “Between the World and Me,” a 176-paged blend of nonfiction and narrative. Written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, it was one of the most jarringly profound books Wilson has ever assigned. The author immediately establishes the audience as his son, putting an intimate spin on the book that enhances the emotion felt by the reader in a way that many nonfiction books fail to do.
Though the book is bluntly biased, that’s not to say that it’s inaccurate. The author weaved facts with his own experiences and mentalities to create a seemingly bulletproof case on how and why the system of perpetual racial injustice occurs in the United States. The one sidedness of the story due to his pairing of fact and opinion, however, becomes a bit heavy handed as it goes on.
This aside, as I explored Coates’ words and their weighted meaning, I felt myself being pulled in deeper and deeper in to the depth of his brilliance. The book was an excellent way to share the unavoidable truth of our country and its flaws.
12th Grade: “Wild”
By Erin Harper
This year, I chose to read “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed, a 336-page memoir of her journey along the Pacific Crest Trail, a hiking trail along the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges. The book commences with a suspenseful moment 38 days into Cheryl’s hike, when her left hiking boot tumbles off the side of the mountain. This moment symbolizes the feeling of emptiness from her mother’s passing, one of the reasons she decided to take this hike along the trail.
As the memoir switches from past to present, Strayed speaks about her past involving the death of her mother, and her struggles with drug use and abuse. I felt the agony and heartbreak in Strayed’s description of her mother’s passing. Later, I felt her loneliness while she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. “Alone had always felt like an actual place to me… where I could retreat to who I really was,” she reflected. This was one summer reading book that captured my heart and left me feeling like I had truly experienced the Pacific Crest Trail along with Cheryl.