Penncrest High School Required Summer Reading Program 2015

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Penncrest High School
Required Summer Reading Program
2015
Mandatory Core Reading: Grade 9
A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
Beah's riveting memoir tells the tale of a childhood lost to the civil war raging in Sierra
Leone. When he was twelve, Beah was “recruited’ by rebel forces attacking his village and
enlisted as a boy soldier. After four years, during which he committed heinous acts and
witnessed unimaginable brutality, Beah was aided by UNICEF. He eventually moved to the
U.S., where he finished high school and college. The savagery of his early experiences during
the war makes his ultimate survival and redemption all the more gripping and powerful.
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
June Elbus had just one person in the whole world who truly understood her, and that was her
brilliant, artistic, gay uncle Finn. But Finn has died of AIDS and June is in shock. To make
matters more upsetting, Toby—Finn’s partner and the person June’s family blames for Finn’s
death—is trying to contact June secretly. June is also worried about her sister Greta, who seems
to be spiraling out of control. Against her better judgment June forges a fragile, hidden
friendship with Toby, which holds unexpected joys and as well as sorrows. June discovers truths
about herself and her family and about muddling through the complications of life.
Phoenix Island by John Dixon
Carl is standing in front of the judge yet again. Troubled by a tragic past, alone in the world, he
bounces from foster home to foster home and gets in trouble every place he goes. Only it’s not
his fault. Carl is just a guy who sticks up for what’s right–and maybe goes a little too far. The
judge sentences Carl, not to jail, but to Phoenix Island, a military confinement camp, where he
will have no contact with the outside world, but if he follows the rules, he can leave on his 18th
birthday with a clean record and a chance for new start. Will Phoenix Island be Carl’s last
hope?? Former RTM teacher, author John Dixon, sets us off on an action packed, disturbing
story about survival and conspiracy and a fight against all odds.
*Warning for violence
Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar
Scott Hudson fumbles through his freshman year of high school. He is hilarious as he juggles
altering friendships, a growing family, too much schoolwork, and an unexpected extra-curricular
load. Throughout it all, Scott writes letters to his unborn baby brother about how to survive
freshman year—if Scott can make it through himself!
Endangered by Eliot Schrefer
When fourteen year old Sophie leaves her Dad in Miami to spend the summer at her mother’s
bonobo sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of Congo, she never imagines what the summer
holds for her. Unwittingly, Sophie becomes the adoptive mother to an orphaned and abused
baby bonobo named Otto; together they are swept up in the midst of a revolution and trapped
alone in the jungle. Because of the its great characters (both human and primate!), vivid
descriptions, and suspenseful, action-packed plot, you will find yourself thinking about this book
long after you have finished reading it!
Rank One Selection: The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain
You might assume that when Prince Edward and the pauper Tom Canty accidentally change
places, the pauper is thrilled and the prince is repulsed. You would be partly right. Mark Twain
shows through this relatively short novel what Prince Edward learns about how the poor people
live and are treated by the Crown, and the pauper learns that there are many drawbacks to living
the life of a prince. Twain has fun satirizing both lifestyles in this work.
Mandatory Core Reading: Grade 10
The Queen of Water by Laura Resau
This poignant novel, based on a true story, is an eye-opener. Born in Ecuador, Virginia lives
with her poor, illiterate family until her parents literally give seven-year-old Virginia to a
wealthy couple, for whom she cleans and cooks for years, unpaid and not permitted to visit
her parents. Frequently beaten by the mother of the house and fearful of abuse at hands of
the father of the house, she secretly teaches herself to read and, although embarrassed,
enters elementary school as a teenager. Virginia finds herself caught between two
cultures—her impoverished upbringing and the wealthier family with whom she lives. You
find it hard to believe that human trafficking takes place today? Read this book; you will
never think of human trafficking in the same way again.
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
With a single act of kindness Richard Mayhew finds himself catapulted out of his ordinary life
into an alternate dimension--London Below, a dark and dangerous shadow city of lost people,
places, and times. The only chance of getting his old life back is to accompany a young woman
named Door on a dangerous mission across the London subway system to find out who hired the
assassins who murdered her family and why. Their companions are the Marquis of Carabas, a
trickster who trades services for very big favors, and Hunter, a mysterious lady who guards
bodies and hunts only the biggest game. Funny and creepy at once, Neverwhere is, “A fantastic
story that is both the stuff of dreams and nightmares” (San Diego Urban-Tribune).
Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon
Cory Mackenson and his father accidentally witness a murder as a car plunges into a lake while
they are working together on his father’s milk-delivery route. On their journey to discover the
killer, Cory encounters monsters swimming in his hometown’s river, a woman well over 100
years old whose powers are feared and legendary, and a violent gang of moonshiners. Amidst
what at times seem to be magical experiences, Cory also deals with the realities of 1960s Zephyr,
Alabama—racism and the decline of old-fashioned ways of life. Reality and fantasy blend as
Cory and his father struggle to work together against real and otherworldly forces of evil.
*Warning for language and violent situations
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco Stork
Have you ever thought that your parents just don’t understand you? Meet seventeen-year-old
Marcelo Sandoval who, because of a developmental disability, has always attended a special
school. He cannot wait for summer, because he has plans to work with the therapeutic horses in
the stables at his school. But his father, who does not really understand Marcelo at all, pushes
him instead to work at his law firm's mailroom to experience what it is like in "the real world.”
Marcelo finds a world filled with jealousy, competition, and injustice but also friendship,
compassion, and trust.
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
Both funny and intense, this book tells the story of Hayley as she attempts to readjust to
traditional high school after years of being taught while on the road by her military veteran
turned truck driver father. Unprepared for tests and the college application, Hayley treads
carefully at home too, where her father is battling severe post traumatic stress disorder
(PTSD) and reconnecting with a former girlfriend with her own demons. Hayley hates this
former sort-of-stepmom and has repressed all painful memories involving her and nearly
all memories about her biological mother as well. Simultaneously starting to remember and
trying not to remember, Hayley has a hard time knowing where to turn, much like her
father whose struggles escalate with tragic consequences that both he and Hayley must
face.
Rank One Selection: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley’s sole novel combines elements of science fiction and romance. Doctor
Frankenstein creates his famous monster, and in a unique narrative style, we learn about the
consequences of manipulation in all things -- nature, science, and the human heart.
Mandatory Core Reading: Grade 11
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Junior is an underdog; he’s an amateur cartoonist, a boy born with several medical problems, a
victim of bullying, and, at his core, a Native American teen searching for a brighter future.
Determined to receive a good education, Junior leaves “the rez” to attend a privileged, all-white
school in the neighboring town. Junior faces both serious family problems and jeers from his
new and old classmates, and the story he tells, both heartbreaking and hysterical, is about finding
your own way and your own strength.
*Warning for sexual references and language
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is
when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying
the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator's
obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to
whoever can unlock them. But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset
by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to
survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
This novel tells the stories of two teenagers coming of age on opposite sides of the conflict
during World War Two: blind Marie-Laure LeBlanc, who takes part in the French
Resistance, and the very Aryan-looking German orphan Werner Pfennig, whose talent at
fixing radios lands him in the service of Hitler’s army. The chapters of the novel alternate
between their stories until the two finally collide thrillingly in the last days of the war. The
short chapters make this book easy to read, and its beautiful, lyrical writing, fully realized
characters, and thrilling plot lines will resonate long after you’ve finished reading.
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
This gripping novel hits close to home as a community attempts to make sense of a horrific
shooting at Sterling High School. Picoult creates a compelling cast of characters who must come
to terms with powerful issues of bullying, conformity, and violence and who, eventually, learn to
take responsibility for allowing the worst to happen.
Women of the Silk by Gail Tsukiyama
Tsukiyama takes her readers back to rural China in 1926, where a group of women form
friendships as they work in a vast silk factory from dawn until dusk. Please do not be put off by
the time/setting. The San Francisco Chronicle says of the novel: "One of the loveliest and most
beautifully written first novels published this year...The pages turn themselves." The young
women use the strength of their ambition, dreams, and friendship to achieve the freedom they
could never have hoped for on their own. The author's graceful prose weaves the detail of "the
silk work" and Chinese village life into a story of miraculous courage and strength. Ms. Lobitz
and Mrs. Bury give this novel "two thumbs up"! Go for it, and challenge yourself!
Rank One Selection: The Water Is Wide by Pat Conroy
This memoir is based on his work as a teacher on a poor rural island in South Carolina. The
book details Conroy’s unconventional efforts to connect with his disenfranchised students and
invigorate learning for them.
AP Selection: Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A story that manages to be both sweeping and intimate in scope, Half of a Yellow Sun
follows five people—Ugwu, the bright village boy; Odenignbo, his idealistic and charismatic
master; Olanna, Odenigbo’s beautiful and cultured mistress; Kainene, her willful, sardonic
twin sister, and Richard, Kainene’s shy British lover—through 1960s Nigeria. Daily life,
complete with family tensions, love interests, political idealism, and tender personal
moments, gives way to ethnic cleansing, civil war, and starvation, as the attempt to create
the independent state of Biafra implodes. The five must forge their way through, and the
bond you form with them as they do will last long after you read the final page.
Mandatory Core Reading: Grade 12
the curious incident of the dog in the night-time by Mark Haddon
Christopher John Francis Boone is mathematically gifted and socially hopeless. For a school
project, he investigates the mysterious murder of a neighborhood dog and discovers family
secrets along the way.
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
Two worlds collide in this gripping novel. The fates of three people, a 16-year-old Nigerian
orphan and two vacationing British journalists, tangle one fateful day, and one of them is
forced to make a terrible, life-changing choice. Two years later when they meet again, the
story of forgiveness, heroism, and sacrifice unfolds.
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
Owen Meany is a small boy with a strange voice who accidentally kills his best friend’s mother
with a baseball. He also believes he is an instrument of God, that he was born to be a hero, and
that he can foresee the hour of his own death. This extraordinary story of the friendship of two
boys–one a social outcast, and the other an orphan–is darkly comic, heartwarming, and poignant.
*Warning for language and sexual references
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut's absurdist classic introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in
time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of
virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his
(and Vonnegut's) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the
firebombing of Dresden.
*Warning for language and sexual references
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
In this powerful memoir, Jeannette Walls, an underprivileged but intelligent young girl, tells of
her troubled childhood and her relationship with her three siblings and her unstable parents.
Walls’ journey from poverty and despair to success and acceptance is an inspiration to anyone
who yearns to become more than what is expected of him. This selection contains occasional
strong language.
Rank One Selection: A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines
Jefferson sits in a jail cell on death row, defeated by the knowledge of his innocence and the
impending doom of the electric chair. Grant Wiggins is thrust into a role that he never asked for
and never wanted: hero. The worlds of these two men collide in a gripping tale of one man’s
quest to save the dignity of another.
AP Selection: The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
In a fit of drunken anger, Michael Henchard sells his wife and baby daughter to a stranger
at a country fair. Although he eventually establishes himself as a respected and wealthy
man in the community of Casterbridge, the shameful secret of his past is ever-present,
waiting to be revealed.
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