By Mabel Soriano, 11th Grade
The summer is arriving, and we are tired of the usual book selection school requires us to read. I don’t know about you, but some classics are difficult to read due to the old English filling the pages. Even though I enjoy reading the Color Purple and the Great Gatsby, I want to see more modern literature in my assignments. Below are a few books that teachers should assign because they are enjoyable reads besides relevant to our generation.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (1999), Stephen Chbosky
This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction.
This is the story of what it’s like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie’s letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixtapes, unresolved trauma and struggling with mental health, family dramas, and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is the perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.
Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming of age story, a powerful novel that you could relate to.
The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) (2005), Rick Riordan
If you are into fantasy and mythology this might be a good option for you.
Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse—Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from and that he goes to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp for demigods on Long Island, where he learns that the father he knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends, Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.
The Nightingale (2015), Kristin Hannah
In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France… but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.
Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gaëtan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life again to save others.
With courage, grace, and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of World War II and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion, and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path towards survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France—a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (2017), Taylor Jenkins Reid
Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon, Evelyn Hugo, is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?
Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jump-start her career.
Summoned to Evely’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a genuine connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story concludes, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
This is a great book to understand self-love, perseverance, and determination. The character development is exceptional and it allows the reader to appreciate each one of them. I think we can all learn a bit from this book.
The Silent Patient (2019), Alex Michaelides
Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.
Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.
Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him…
The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband—and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive.
One of Us Is Lying (2017), Karen M. McManus
Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walked into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing drugs.
Cooper, the athlete, is an all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.
Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon is dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for the killer that is still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.
The Comfort Book (2021), Matt Haig
“It is a strange paradox, that many of the clearest, most comforting life lessons are learnt while we are at our lowest. But then we never think about food more than when we are hungry, and we never think about life rafts more than when we are thrown overboard.”
The Comfort Book is Haig’s life raft: it is a collection of notes, lists, and stories written over a span of several years that originally served as gentle reminders to Haig’s future self that things are not always as dark as they seem. Incorporating a diverse array of sources from across the world, history, science, and his own experiences, Haig offers warmth and reassurance, reminding us to slow down and appreciate the beauty and unpredictability of existence.
As a teenager, this book is a necessary read since it helps to further understand mental health and gives hope to those who need some.
The Hate U Give (2017), Angie Thomas
Black sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death made a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community and endanger her life.
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.
Every Last Word (2015), Tamara Ireland Stone
“If you could read my mind, you wouldn’t be smiling.”
Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off.
Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn’t help that her lifelong friends can be really toxic and judgemental at times—well, most of the time. With the appearance of a new friend and crush, Sam slowly begins to feel more “normal”… until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.
This is a great book that perfectly explains the mentality of someone who struggles with OCD, from medication and breakdowns. This book is raw, funny, and a tearjerker. Definitely a must-read!
Everything I Never Told You (2014), Celeste Ng
Lydia is dead, But they don’t know this yet.
So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos.
A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mother and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.