Fiction

Lois Lowry

  • Summary. Jonas lives in a seemingly idyllic community where everything is determined for the people. Citizens are assigned their partners, children, and jobs, all of which are accepted without question. That is, until Jonas receives his life assignment and begins to question the dark secrets of the community as well as the power of his own inherent feelings.

  • Reviews. While The Giver is often assigned as required reading for higher level elementary school students, we believe the literary quality and depth of the story line is better understood and appreciated at the high school level.

  • Newbery Medal Winner

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Stephen Crane

  • Summary. First published in 1895, this masterpiece novel follows Henry Fleming as a young soldier in the Civil War. Henry is full of fear, cowardice and egotism. It is through the nightmares of battle that he discovers courage, humility and a bit of wisdom.

  • Reviews. Well regarded for accurate depictions of the sights and sounds experienced by soldiers in combat, this well-written novel conjures emotion and self-reflection. While a few reviewers found the writing style disjointed, the overwhelming feedback is positive. This book, filled with adventure, determination and heroism, is a classic.

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Harper Lee

  • Summary. Set in the South, this is a gripping tale told through the eyes of a young girl. Scout’s father is a highly respected lawyer who risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime.

  • Reviews. This book showcases a rich cast of characters and tragic reality of the times. It is filled with life lessons that encourage readers to recognize the meaning of dignity and justice. The writing is beautiful with an intensely developed story told from the eyes of a child.

  • Pulitzer Prize Winner

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George Eliot

  • Summary. Originally published in 1861, this is a simple tale of a linen weaver. The book is notable for its strong realism as it tells the story of Silas who is falsely charged with theft and exiled from the community. He is embittered and detached from society until he rescues a child.

  • Reviews. Get past the cover, which may not attract the attention of modern day teens, and this is a beautifully written tale. Many people do not realize the amount of humor throughout this classic novel. Some reviewers feel the plot resembles that of a soap opera, which may in fact be part of the charm and enjoyment as well written as it is.

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Mark Helprin

  • Summary. Set in 1964, this novel tells the life story of a distinguished gentleman who served in WWI. It is a story of love, friendship, survival, and family. Alesandro Giuliani recounts to a young inexperienced acquaintance his years of service in the Italian Alps, including desertion, forced labor, capture, love and loss.

  • Reviews. This book is remarkable. The descriptive prose captivates readers from the start and never lets go. The characters and setting are so thoroughly developed that readers develop a deep emotional connection and quickly find it difficult to put the book down.

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Jane Austen

  • Summary. Set in early 19th century, title, rank and fortune matter. Accordingly, when Elizabeth Bennet, who has great ambitions for her role in society, initially meets bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she believes him to be arrogant and conceited and is determined to dislike him. In time, their complicated relationship progresses in unforeseen ways.

  • Reviews. This masterpiece develops the characters so thoroughly that readers develop a connection and feel invested in the relationships. Despite very few events actually occurring throughout the long novel, readers quickly become engrossed in the story. High school students will experience a different style of writing, which can build vocabulary and literary skills as well as an understanding of literary history.

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Non-Fiction

Stanley Milgram

  • Summary. A chronicle of Stanley Milgram’s experimentation on human nature. In the 1960s, the psychologist at Yale University attempted to determine the extent to which people will obey the orders of authority figures. Using electroshock applications, the controversial experiments showcase the troubling danger of accepting authority without question.

  • Reviews. Real events worth knowing and a book worth reading. Reviewers highlight the disturbing reality of how easily and quickly people willingly give up their personal decisions to those of authority figures.

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William Strunk Jr.

  • Summary. A cornerstone upon which to build writing skills. The guide includes rules of usage, principles of composition and a list of commonly misused words and expressions. Updated editions include texting style and emailing style.

  • Reviews. To understand and use correct writing and grammar is essential and this book is a great reference for high school students. The guide assists students in learning punctuation, lexis and structure, grammar, and appropriate use of words.

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Short Story

James Thurber

  • Summary. Various stories by James Thurber, one of the finest humorists of the 20th century. The collection includes stories from My World and Welcome to It, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and The Owl in the Attic, among others.

  • Reviews. The reviews are overwhelming positive for this book of short stories, which are filled with wit and sophisticated humor.

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