Franklin Picks

What book have you read that you want to recommend to others? Type your review in Word and spell check (remember to italicize or underline title).  Copy paste into comment box. Do not include your last name when asked for name. Include the author and title, genre,  page length,  audience or reading level.   Then include a brief summary in your own words, and an evaluation of the writer’s craft and story. Tell us what you got out of the story, whether you enjoyed it and why.  You must include your first name, your last initial, your  teacher’s name (if doing this for credit) and your grade. Teachers can post too!

You can also create a  Good Reads account and then post the link to your review in our comment box.

72 Responses to Franklin Picks

  1. Isabella R. says:

    From Archetype to Zeitgeist
    Herbert Kohl
    Non-Fiction
    246 pages
    Reading level: easy

    Kohl is a professor at a University that noticed that his students were struggling to find the right word while speaking, or did not use a word correctly. He wrote this book in order to expand intellectual thinking. It is filled with different topics about the arts, literature, religion, philosophy, and many more. Each topic has different concepts that Kohl believed was important, or concepts that he believed people misused. With each topic, Kohl introduces many concepts, and then goes into great detail about that concept. He includes definitions, the origin of the word, and the proper usage.

    This is a great book to read for those striving to push themselves academically. The book causes you to look at things differently. This book will prepare you to do research in specific subject or assist you while reading dense text in various academic subjects.

    Isabella R.
    AP Literature, Ms. Bartley

  2. Melani N. says:

    The Kite Runner
    By: Khaled Hosseini
    Genre: Fiction
    Page length: 400
    Reading level: easy

    In the book, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, the narrator Amir, tells a story about living with guilt. In the beginning chapters the book is set in Afghanistan and the narrator recollects a story about himself and a childhood friend leading to a situation which he allows to take place that changes his life for years to come, leaving him full of remorse and guilt. The book then begins to slowly move forward in time explaining the political problems in Afghanistan which lead to his life in the United States and how he meets his wife. The book then catches up to Amir and his current life where he gets a call from his father’s past business associate and someone whom he considers to be a friend, telling him that he needs to go visit him in Pakistan. Amir decides to fly to Pakistan and upon talking to his friend, Rahim Khan, he is given a solution to make amends with his past and find peace after many years of guilt. He finally chooses to defy what his father had worried about and stand up for himself to do what is right. In the end he is able to gain freedom within himself and help the people to whom he was indebted to.

    I would highly recommend this book because the the author does an amazing job of being very descriptive and truly connecting the character to the reader. I think anyone who reads this book will be able to somehow relate to Amir and his pursuit of forgiveness. It lends itself as an easy read but is an impactful story of a journey of freedom within oneself and the affect that social and political problems have on a person.

    Melani N.
    AP Lit and Comp., Ms.Bartley

  3. Antonio Crosier says:

    The Illustrated Man
    By: Ray Bradbury
    Genre: Science-Fiction
    Pages: 275

    The Illustrated man, written in 1951 by Ray Bradbury, is a collection of 18 short stories that are told through a collection of tattoos that are canvassed on the skin of the Illustrated Man. The stories represent the struggle of nature, technology, and that of human beings, as the author creates stories based off of the survival of mankind on various planets throughout our universe. This struggle for survival is showcased in many different scenarios such as; an attempt to escape a war torn time in the future by traveling to the past, and the struggle of escaping to a sun-dome in order to stay out of the constant downpour of rain on the planet of Venus. The Novel ultimately highlights many life themes such as power, survival, and human-nature in the never ending quest for each individuals own desired goals, in a universe that collects many stories.

    The book was a very easy read, I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes short-stories, and also people who like science-fiction. I personally really enjoyed every short-story, they all contained some sort of historical relation to world history. Although these stories are not related to one another, I did find that the trait of survival was very prevalent to each story. The author is very good at translating the message of human destiny, and of the universal struggle of being content with ones own life.

    Antonio Crosier- Grade 12- Mrs Bartley’s AP Literature

  4. Edman Wong says:

    The Short Stories
    By: Ernest Hemingway
    non-fiction
    Reading Level: Medium
    AP-Lit Bartley

    Ernest Hemingway is a well-known American author who has won a Nobel Prize in Literature for a non-fiction work he published in 1954. In Hemingway’s collection of forty-nine short stories, he tells stories about his own personal life. Ernest was from the generation that fought in World War One, and through his use of vivid flashbacks within the story he depicts the horrors of war, and the loss in value that comes with war, and drinking.

    Out of the many stories included I recommend reading “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”, the story is about a man who has become a sloth, and in order to regain his work ethic and virtues he must embark on an adventure through the safari. The story is essentially a series of flashbacks that leads to the inevitable death of the main character Harry. Ernest Hemingway represents those from the “Lost Generation”, the people who fought in World War One, many of the stories in this book show how little faith there was during that time. Hemingway uses nature, and death in most of his stories, he highlights how nature is an unstoppable force, and how death is something that’s inevitable in many of his works.

    The stories are short and don’t take long to read, but can get confusing with all the flashbacks and imagery included. Overall I enjoyed reading this book.

  5. Diana S. says:

    Title: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
    Author: Junot Diaz
    Genre: fiction
    Length: 335
    Level: young adults

    The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a fiction novel about the life of a young Dominican and his family who seem to be cursed, this Fukú as they call it, has followed their family for generations. The novel starts with the narrator describing Oscar’s childhood as a player with two girlfriends to then becoming a nerdy and fat teen. Oscar struggles to get a girlfriend when even his nerdy friends have one. At this point Oscar lives in Paterson, New Jersey with his sister Lola and sick mother Belicia Cabral.
    The novel is not in chronological order. After talking about Oscar’s early life, the narrator takes us back to his mothers childhood to the regime of dictator Rafael Trujillo. The narrator explains the connection between Trujillo and the Cabral family and how Trujillo may be the cause of the family’s fukú. Throughout the novel Oscar is in quest to find love and ultimately does but with terrible consequences.

    This book kept my attention from beginning to end. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao may seem complex and difficult to understand with Spanish words and Dominican phrases, but overall it’s manageable to follow along. Diaz did a fantastic job in bringing humor, fantasy, history, corruption and pity all in one wonderfully elaborated novel. I would definitely read it again.

  6. Morgan Kender says:

    Walden
    By: Henry David Thoreau
    Genre: Memoir
    Page length: 246
    Reading level: Moderate-Hard

    Morgan Kender
    12th
    Bartley’s AP lit

    Walden is a book written by pioneering transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau. It chronicles his experiences when he lives on a plot of land at Walden Pond near Concord, Massachusetts in 1845. Here he builds his own cabin to stay in, and he lives a frugal, simple life where he spends a lot of time philosophizing about human nature and the natural world around him. This lifestyle allows him to engage in his own spiritual discovery. He farms a small plot of land, enjoys reading classical literature, and he has visitors every once in a while. Every few days he spends some time in the town of Concord where he one day has an influential experience with the law. Each chapter of the book has a theme to it related to certain aspects of his life which evident in the titles, such as “Reading” or “The Ponds”.

    This is a great book for anyone who loves engaging with nature and being in the outdoors, as well as a person who enjoys philosophy. Even a person who has an interest in neither of these things will walk away with a different outlook on life. Thoreau uses beautiful, descriptive language that can sometimes be hard to understand, so it is helpful to look up any confusing words so as not to lose the message of the book. Even after 150 years, this classic has been very influential in the environmental movement as well as being referenced in many fields of study, and the reader is able to make connections from today into the past. It is a beautiful memoir that is deeply inspirational, and it not only leads to understanding of Thoreau’s mind, but also to the connection between humans and the natural world.

  7. Tucker M. says:

    The Things They Carried
    by: Tim O’Brien
    memoir/fiction
    246 pages
    level: medium

    Synopsis: This book follows the writers experiences in vietnam as a footsoldier. He explores the lives and experiences of his platoon mates through multiple short stories concerning the moment they are killed, the moment they make their first kill and everything in between. Through the book the author explores his own experiences and the drastic changes the war made to his body and mind. He speaks about the purpose of the war and the interesting locals and volunteers he meets uring his trecks through the thick jungles and fields of Vietnam.
    The book does not have a very clear plot, it is more of a collection of short stories about love, war, death, and change, culminating with a reflection by the author on his own purposes for writing this story.

    Evaluation: I loved this book. I am not a violent person and often find it difficult to trudge through books like this; however, this book was not so hard for me. I expected a story of a tough guy getting picked up by the draft and glorifying each kill he made. The result was the exact oposite. I loved the sence of reflection this book created around the war in Vietnam. The author was not afraid to get down and dirty when talking about the violence he experienced, but the violence was not in the foreground of the story, only aiding the author in his own reflection which in turn allowed him to reveal his deeper message on war, how it can simultaneously take a man down to nothing and turn him into a hero.

  8. Ahmed Gedi says:

    Great Expectations
    By Charles Dickens
    454 pages
    Reading Level: Medium – Advanced

    Ahmed Gedi
    Grade 12
    AP Lit – Bartley

    Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations is a story of wealth and how it influences the life of a young orphan named Pip as he attempts to ascend the social ladder in order to win the heart of the girl he loves. The book starts out in the misty marsh of Kent, with Pip standing over the graves of his parents and his brothers when suddenly an escaped convict begins harassing him and demands that Pip steal for him. Eventually the convict winds up getting caught and Pips resumes life as ordinary. Pip lives with his authoritarian older sister and her husband, Joe who serves as more of a friend than an authority figure. One day a friend of his older sister, Mr. Pumblechook takes Pip to the Satis House where he meets and becomes enamored with Estella, the cold hearted adopted daughter of Miss Havisham, the owner of the Satis House. From that point on Pip dedicates his entire life to winning Estella, as he receives a fortune from a mysterious benefactor which he uses to pursue wealth and higher social status in order to be worthy of his beloved Estella.

    I would recommend Great Expectations for anyone who is in the mood for a lengthy, coming-of-age story that looks at life at the intersection of social class, and satisfaction. This book emphasizes the importance of being true to oneself despite any change in social status as exemplified through Pip’s journey. Throughout his life, Pip pursues fortune in the hopes of being a “gentleman” worthy of Estella, at the risk of losing a part of himself. This book shatters the illusions that happiness lies within the acquisition of great wealth, truly making Great Expectations a timeless tale.

  9. Julia G says:

    Title: Girl, Interrupted
    Author: Susanna Kaysen
    Genre: Memoir
    Length: 168 pages
    Reading Level: Easy
    Julia G
    12th Grade
    AP English Literature, Bartley
    Girl, Interrupted recounts Susanna Kaysen’s time at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts in the late 1960s. McLean Hospital is known for some of its more famous patients such as Sylvia Plath, and Steven Tyler. Kaysen admitted herself, at the age of 18, after going to a brief consultation where she was convinced her to admit herself for a few weeks to rest, this turned to two years and the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. Interspersed throughout the book are notes the doctors and other staff made while she was at McLean Hospital. These documents add to the story, and give a contrast between what the staff observed in Kaysen, and what she experienced. Kaysen’s memoir also includes the stories of other girls on the ward and the staff. She also explores the relationships between the patients and staff on the ward.
    Kaysen does not share her experiences in chronological order, but the story is still easy to follow. Girl, Interrupted is a fairly easy read and gives insight into what it would be like in the psychiatric hospital during this time, but also events which are taking place outside of the ward and how they affect the patients. I enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to anyone interested in what a psychiatric hospital was like during this time, or just a different perspective on the time.

  10. Tri T. says:

    Watership Down
    Richard Adams
    Fiction
    Pages: 475
    Reading level: Easy–Moderate

    Hazel is a rabbit with a problem. His younger brother, a small rabbit named Fiver, has the gift of prophecy. He foretells the doom of their current warren, and insists it must be abandoned at once. Hazel trusts his brother, and together with a rag-tag band of rabbits, they set off to find a new home. The novel covers the challenges they face on their journey, as well as the struggles of establishing their new home and keeping it running smoothly.

    Richard Adams writes in an comfortable and fluid manner that’s easy to digest for his readers. I loved the way he brought his characters to life, through vivid personification, and how he manages to paint a picture of the setting directly into your head. It is a great read and I’d recommend it to anyone old enough to lift a book and is over four feet tall.

    Tri Tran, Grade 12, Mrs. Bartley’s AP Literature

  11. Susana G says:

    In the Time of the Butterflies
    By: Julia Alvarez
    Genre: Historical Fiction
    Page Length: 324
    Audience: High School

    In the Time of the Butterflies is based on the Mirabal sisters who are seen as ‘la mariposas’ and how they find ways to resist against political oppression in 1943 when Trujillo was the dictator of the Dominican Republic. This novel begins with a prologue with one of the sisters -DeDe- getting interviewed in present time (1994.) After the prologue the novel is divided into three sections; in those chapters, it talks about each sister – Minerva, Patria, Maria Teresa – and how they became apart of the underground movement. Dede is the only one who was not apart of it and when she began to have the courage it was too late.

    I definitely recommend this to people who believe in rights, religion, and hope. What I liked about this novel was, it kept me interested and very emotional. I like a novel that gives me courage and ambition.

    Susana G – Senior AP Literature – Ms.Bartley

  12. Brian Y. says:

    East of Eden
    By: John Steinbeck
    Genre: Fiction
    Page Length: 601
    Reading Level: Medium Hard-ish (Long but good)

    The story of East of Eden details the history of two families in the Salinas valley of California. The novel opens with a description of the surrounding mountains: the “light gay mountains full of sun and loveliness” Gabilan Mountains to the east and the “dark and brooding” Santa Lucia Mountains to the west. The mountains are a representation of the environment that the characters face. The Salinas valley is the battleground where good and evil will fight. The biblical motif that is prevalent throughout the novel is the story of Cain and Abel. This manifests itself in the relationship between brothers Charles and Adam, and eventually Adam’s sons Cal and Aron. The novel details the events and lives of the Trasks and the Hamiltons. The choices they make reflect the constant battle between good and evil throughout the novel.

    This novel is widely considered to be Steinbeck’s magnum opus. The novel was an immediate hit with readers and remains one of Steinbeck’s most well recognized works, after the Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men. Steinbeck’s characters have depth and dreams. They all represent the different natures of humanity and how they interact with each other. There is no ostentatious language, only the voice of the everyday man. Steinbeck’s manipulation and use of good, evil, love, choice and loneliness are displayed by the actions and characteristics of each and every character. It makes you question your identity and the people around you. I found the novel to be fantastically written. The length of the novel is daunting but rewarding and makes you think about the choices you make in life and how it affects you and others. The messages in the book remain with you and will make you think about what it is to be good or evil.

    Bartley, AP Lit

  13. sally chen says:

    The Good Earth
    Author: Pearl Buck
    Length: 357 pages
    Reading level: Easy

    Sally Chen
    Grade 12
    Ms Bartleys AP lit class

    The Good Earth, by Pearl Buck is a family novel centered on the figure of Wang Lung, a poor, simple farmer in the village of Anh Wei, China. When Wang’s town was flooded, he struggles a famine and ends up with barely enough food to feed his family. The author talks about how Wang deals with this tragedy to foreshadow his later transition into a careless wealthy man. The brutal traditions practiced in this novel is the authors way to show the relationship between man and earth and how Wang’s success and idleness can lead to a betrayal of the morals that are taught as a youth.

    Speaking from the point of a view of a person that enjoys very little of the books she reads, I am so glad I chose this book. Not only did this book help me in learning more about my own culture, it helped me understand the difference in wealth and poverty and how each differs in respect for the earth and those close us.

  14. sally chen says:

    The Good Earth
    Author: Pearl Buck
    Length: 357 pages
    Reading level: Easy

    Sally Chen
    Grade 12
    Ms Bartleys AP lit class

    The Good Earth, by Pearl Buck is a family novel centered on the figure of Wang Lung, a poor, simple farmer in the village of Anh Wei, China. When Wang’s town was flooded, he struggles a famine and ends up with barely enough food to feed his family. The author talks about how Wang deals with this tragedy to foreshadow his later transaction into a careless wealthy man. The brutal traditions practiced in this novel is the authors way to show the relationship between man and earth and how Wang’s success and idleness can lead to a betrayal of the morals that are taught as a youth.

    Speaking from the point of a view of a person that enjoys very little of the books she reads, I am so glad I chose this book. Not only did this book help me in learning more about my own culture, it helped me understand the difference in wealth and poverty and how each differs in respect for the earth and those close us.

  15. Joshua H. says:

    Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales. Ray Bradbury. Science Fiction.
    883 Pages. 100 Short Stories (3 – 15 Pages).
    Moderate to Extensive Difficulty

    Bradbury Stories, a collection of Ray Bradbury’s works, is compiled of 100 of his most influential and impressive works from his lifetime. Deferring to science fiction as its usual narrative style, the stories also seem to be of different genres as well; such as horror, mystery, romance, and fantasy. All of which have a profound effect on the reader to continue on with his stories. Five of his short stories are included below.

    I See You Never (1947) — A young man, Mr. Ramirez is being deported to Mexico after overstaying his visit on his visa and goes to see his landlord once more for a proper goodbye. Bradbury describes the nature of interpersonal relationships we have in our daily lives and goes on to

    The Pedestrian (1951) — In a future where the world is centered solely on television entertainment and seldom leaves their homes, a man enjoys going out for walks and writing; something that Bradbury uses to question progress once more.

    The Rocket (1952) — A poor father who works in a junkyard and spends his nights looking at rocket launches for space saves up enough money to send one family member off into space. The story’s focus is more so on the father’s efforts to grant a lasting memory for his family.

    The Flying Machine (1953) — A young servant to the emperor of China witnesses a man flying off in the distance and is bewildered by the sight. The story itself details the power and beauty of innovation as well as the danger of inventiveness without understanding of the consequence.

    The Dragon (1955) — Two knights prepare for battle right before they venture on to vanquish a dragon, discussing its fearsome character as a large monster of fire that is something that can only be slain. Bradbury explores the ideas of technology once again with this.

    Ray Bradbury shows his immense ability to command literary style and language in these collected stories by presenting these settings with such depth that they become incredibly vivid. The ability of his to create settings and characters with such depth truly create something that allow readers to feel empathetical on many levels. Most clearly, his touch upon science fiction in a manner that is not purely dystopian yet still goes on to lead the reader to reach larger conclusions about the true effectiveness of innovation is what truly sets his short stories apart from many others.

    Joshua H. Grade 12.
    AP Literature, Susan Bartley.

  16. Jackie Pardo says:

    Life of Pi by Yann Martel
    Genre: Fiction
    Pages: 319
    Reading Level: Easy

    Jackie P.
    12th grade
    Ms. Bartley’s AP lit

    The life of Pi is about a boy named Piscine Molitor Patel or Pi. His father who is a zoo keeper decided to move his family and the zoo animals from Pondicherry, India to Toronto, Canada for better business opportunities. They travel via ship, across the oceans. During Pi’s travels he and his family are hit with a terrible storm. Pi finds himself stranded on a life boat in the middle of the ocean accompanied by a 400 pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

    This novel is an amazing story of a boy finding the meaning of religion and God, when his life is in danger and has no one to turn to. This book is difficult to get into, but once you do it is hard to put down. Beautifully told story with amazing imagery. Questions religious aspects as well as the meaning of life.

  17. Harrison F. says:

    Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
    215 Pages
    Science Fiction/Historical Fiction

    Kurt Vonnegut’s semi-autobiographical science fiction novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, follows the life of Billy Pilgram, an apathetic, unpopopular, and outwardly uninteresting man who (without his own discretion) travels through time to live and relive moments from throughout his life. The story, told in a nonlinear fashion, tells of Billy’s experiences as a prisoner of war in World War II, his life after the war, and his travels to the alien planet Tralfamadore.

    Although the protagonist expresses almost no emotion concerning the war besides indifference and emotional and physical surrender, the book is deeply antiwar. It engages in a futile search for meaning and justification for the death that took place during World War II, and specifically during the bombing of Dresden, Germany, which both Billy Pilgram, and the real-life author of the book, Kurt Vonnegut survived.

    Although the subject matter may seem grim, Vonnegut finds a way to make Slaughterhouse-Five a uniquely funny book. And although the science of the novel, involving time-travel, interstellar voyages, and dimensional physics, may seem complicated, it is easy to follow both the story, and the high-minded concepts at play. I would recommend this book to any high schooler, if not for its challenging ideas concerning life, death, purpose, and time, then for its captivating narrative, and its dark sense of humor.

    Harrison Fonk, Grade 12, Bartley’s AP Literature

  18. Nancy Le says:

    Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll
    Fantasy/Fiction. 291 pages. Easy read.

    Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a novel written in 1865, also known as a popular story in children’s literature. This novel features the protagonist, a little girl named Alice, who goes on a journey after falling through a rabbit hole. On this journey, she runs into many instances where she has to come up with solutions all on her own in order to get herself out of trouble or to get something she really wants. Her journey tests the boundaries between where innocence is lost in the process of maturation and with the distortion of dreams and reality, does it affect it in any way? The sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is Through the Looking-Glass. This follow up novel, again, features Alice, but this time instead of falling through a rabbit hole she steps through a mirror entering a world that only she sees where everything is the opposite and backwards of what it actually is. In this parallel universe, Alice’s journey matches themes found in that of Wonderland, but now Alice is growing up and has to approach problems in a new way. Carroll utilizes his ideal dream world to create a truly unique story that some say is complete literary nonsense that somehow artistically paints a nostalgic childhood tale of a girl that is growing up.

    This book is a very fast read for those interested in the fantasy, nonsensical element of writing. It also doesn’t hurt to keep an open mind while reading this novel. I think the storyline is very interesting and quirky; I personally found the symbolic imagery very meaningful as well. The book offers a very different outlook on the way childhood is viewed, as well as the journey to growing up through a lot of symbolism and metaphors. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass are definitely novels that will leave the reader thinking about what the true meaning of innocence really is and when is the moment we grow up.

    Nancy Le
    Grade 12
    AP Literature, Bartley

  19. Shirley W. says:

    Jane Eyre
    By: Charlotte Brontë
    Genre: Fiction
    Page Length: 284
    Reading Level: medium

    Shirley W.
    Ms. Bartley’s AP Lit. Class
    12th grade

    In the book, Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë, Charlotte Brontë examine the social class of women living in the 19th century, a time when women had limited choices and respect, especially for an orphan girl like Jane Eyre. Jane Eyre is a girl orphan living in the 19th century England who experienced a harsh childhood but was not put down by it; instead, it strengthen her spirit and independence that led her to stay truthful to her self and later becoming a governess, which is a very good position for an orphan girl. This book portrays Jane’s quest on finding self- respect and self- worthiness, as well as true love.

    This book is a great novel. It shows a strong and independent woman that survived through hardship and cruelty. It also shows the importance of self-respect and self-worthiness in oneself. The book is not too long and pretty descriptive. If you are looking for femininity or romance novel, this book is the one.

  20. Karina says:

    The awakening
    By Kate Chopin
    The awakening by Kate Chopin is an easy read. Though the book is short, it includes several emotional themes and ideas. The book starts out with Edna Pontellier, vacationing with her husband, Léonce, and their two sons at the cottages of Madame Lebrun. From the beginning of the book, you can tell that there are issues in Edna’s and Leonce’s marriage. The husband provides all the essentials Edna needs, but is never home because he has to travel often for work.
    Edna becomes effectuated with another guy, named Robert. Edna stops doing her wife, “duties” and focuses on painting and spends a lot of time alone. Edna starts becoming closer to Robert and enjoys spending time with him. Robert cannot stand being around Edna, because he knows he cannot do anything while she is married. Robert decided to go away, because he could no longer deal with his emotions for Edna. Feeling alone in a world in which she has found no feeling of belonging, she can find only one answer to the inescapable and heartbreaking limitations of society. The awakening tells a story of love and tragedy. The book although sad, is written beautifully.
    Karina Santacruz
    AP Literature, Bartley

  21. William R-D says:

    The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse
    by Louise Erdrich
    Fiction
    Page Length: 355
    Reading Level: Medium

    William R-D
    Grade 12
    Ms. Bartley’s AP Lit. Class

    The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse begins with a priest preparing one of his reports to the Pope that he periodically compiles from the North Dakota reservation that he lives on. However it is revealed that the catholic priest, Father Damien Modeste, is a woman and fears that all his accomplishments as a priest will be invalidated when his gender is discovered at his death. The story continues, articulating how Father Modeste came to be, how he began as a Nun, Sister Cecilia, transitioned into the house wife and pianist Agnes Dewitt and finally how she became Father Modeste after her quasi-husband’s death and her almost drowning. Father Modeste then reports his life on the reservation, his interactions with the Ojibwe and in particular his friendship with the traditionalist and trickster, Nanapush. The priest constantly reevaluates his religious belief and reorganizes his view of the world, hybridizing his stance as a Catholic Priest and the beliefs and schools of thought that the Ojibwe practice. Throughout the story there is also a representative of the Catholic Church interviewing Father Modeste, attempting to ascertain whether or not a nun on the reservation was a saint. Father Modeste balances attempting to not divulge the secret of his gender and how the nun in question, Sister Leopolda bullied him, threatening to divulge his secret and acted in a decidedly un-saintly manner.
    Louise Erdrich writes with a message, she deconstructs western views of gender and religion and promotes a flexibility of thought and interweaving of multiple schools of thought in one’s beliefs and opinions. Additionally Erdrich speaks of the lack of recognition for the truly good people in society and how some of the best individuals are often overlooked. I recommend this book as a means to rethink many seemingly simple issues. Erdrich’s style, showing multiple perspectives: Priest, farmer, men, women, Native American, white, catholic, traditional Ojibwe religion, gives wonderful insight into the issues articulated within the story.

  22. Maddy Wolleck says:

    The Red Tent
    Anita Diamant
    Novel
    321 pages
    Young Adult

    The Red Tent focuses on stories of women in biblical times and their forgotten history. The book follows the four wives of Jacob—Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah and Leah’s only daughter of the family, Dinah. This book recounts Dinah’s childhood growing up as the only girl among eleven brothers and her transition from ignorant girl to brave woman. Dinah tells stories about her experiences in the red tent each month with her mother’s as they begin their menstrual cycles and celebrate the gift of life and passing down legends of the woman goddess Teraphim. As Dinah matures, she becomes a renowned midwife and is called into the city of Shechem where she meets Shalem, the prince, and falls instantly in love. She betrays her father Jacob and marries Shalem without his blessing. The remainder of the fable follows Dinah’s life and the many hardships and sacrifices she encounters following her marriage to Shalem.
    I wasn’t sure that I was going to enjoy this book, but I am truly happy that I gave it a chance. I learned a lot about family, sacrifice and the importance of remembering your loved ones. The story of Dinah is tragic but also uplifting as it follows her development into a women of courage and strength.

    Senior AP Literature, Ms. Bartley

  23. Sophia Nguyen says:

    Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
    Fiction
    122 pages
    easy

    Hermann Hesse’s 1922 famous novel Siddhartha is about a young Brahmin’s quest for spiritual wisdom and self discovery. Through his journey in ancient India, Siddhartha is confronted with various different people who instructs and seeks him closer to his spiritual inner peace. Hesse cleverly expresses the ideas of wisdom, inner peace, and enlightenment in this novel throughout each scene to expose the universal emotion between the body, spirit, and mind with parallels to the enlightenment of Gautama Buddha.

    This novel beautifully translates the story of a man and his lifelong journey to inner peace and enlightenment. It deals with all the aspect of enlightenment, solitary, wisdom, and the self into one simple structure. A must read for anyone searching for enlightenment.

    Senior AP Literature, Ms Bartley

  24. Christina says:

    The Joy Luck Club
    Author: Amy Tan
    Length: 332 pages
    Reading Level: Easy
    Christina K.
    Grade: 12th
    Ms. Bartley’s AP Lit Class

    The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan is divided into four sections, and each section contains four short stories. These short stories follow the lives of four Chinese immigrant mothers and their four American-born daughters. The four mothers first met at a local church in San Francisco. Since then, they became friends and created a mah jong group called the Joy Luck Club. Although they all seem happy on the outside, each of them struggles to translate concepts and sentiments from one culture to another.
    The Joy Luck Club is a beautifully written novel. Amy Tan captivates and exemplifies the cultural conflicts between traditional Chinese mothers and westernized daughters. She demonstrates that despite the cultural difference, the mother and daughter relationship can never be broken. She also shows how first generation Americans struggle to conform to the American society while trying to retain their own heritage. This book is perfect for readers that are interested in exploring the struggles of finding cultural identity and readers that are interested in examining the relationship between mothers and daughters.

  25. Tabor R. R. says:

    Room by Emma Donoghue
    Genre: Fiction
    Page Length: 417
    Reading Level: Easy

    Tabor Redman Racklin, Grade 12, Ms. Bartley’s AP Literature

    This twisted story is shown through the eyes of five year old Jack, the horrifying situation softened by the curious mind of a child. Jack and Ma live in an 11 by 11 foot room, held prisoner by the nightly visitor, Old Nick. In Room, Jack lives his normal life. He has plenty of friends: Dora and Boots on the television, Jeep and Remote, Rug, and Wardrobe, all provide companionship for the young boy. Jack’s entire world is Room, the four walls giving him comfort from the unknown Outside. In contrast, Room is Ma’s prison. Haunted by thoughts of what their captor could inflict on herself and Jack, and fueled by her desire to give herself the sense of normalcy and freedom she was stripped of as a young adult, Ma deems Jack old enough to hear the truth about Room; a truth that rocks the foundation of Jack’s small 11 by 11 foot world.
    This book was utterly captivating. I am usually not drawn to stories of hostages and abductors, but the innocence that came from a child made the story unlike any of its kind. Donoghue drew on the real life events of Elisabeth Fritzl, a woman held captive by her father for over twenty years. The parallels Donoghue draws between the two stories, while sickening, only add to the unique perspective that only a child in such a traumatizing situation. Room is not a difficult read, being from a child’s perspective, but the book will evoke emotions as Jack and Ma navigate through their horrible ordeal.

  26. Sierra H. says:

    Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
    Genre: Fiction
    Page Length: 146
    Reading Level: Easy
    Sierra Hosea, Grade 12, Ms. Bartely’s AP Lit Class
    Herland takes place in the unexplored wilderness on a scientific expedition with three young men; Van (who is also the narrator), Jeff, and Terry. Early on they hear rumors from the native people about a land filled only with women; they decide to find it and meet the women, all of them in disbelief that a real civilization could exist without men. Gilman writes of the young men’s journey and education while learning the dynamics of a society that has been without men for more than two thousand years. The author’s use of using a first person gives a slightly biased account of the events and people they come across, however the reader easily relates to the ideas and point of view of the narrator. Additionally, the women want to know about United States where the men come from, but the men realize that their culture is far inferior and could be upsetting to the women in terms of equality, education and society as a whole, and often hide the full truth.
    This novel has ideas of politics, adventure, and a large interest in traditional and non traditional gender roles. I was surprised by the high level of feminism in the novel as it was written in 1915, however I can see how the same author wrote the “Bible” of the women’s movement. Herland has such dense and inspiring content for how few pages it has, and I would easily recommend it to anyone looking for a short read or a novel with a unique point of view.

  27. Dustin D. says:

    The Art of the Story
    Edited By Daniel Halpern
    Genre: Various categories of fictional short stories
    Length: 655 pages total, with 78 short stories ranging from 2 to 20 pages long.
    Audience: Young adults
    Reading level: Generally medium to hard

    The book is a collection of short stories from around the world. As it is a little difficult to summarize 78 stories, I will write provide synopses about five.

    “The Immortals” by Martin Amis (England) – This story follows the narration of an immortal being who has existed since Earth’s creation. It details his journeys and experiments with immortality from the beginning of time to humanity’s demise, and offers an author’s take on what a person would behave and feel if they could not die.

    “The Management of Grief” by Bharati Mukherjee (India) – This story explores the management of an Indo-Canadian woman after a terrorist bombing of a plane causes her community to be thrown into turmoil. It reveals how those who appear the strongest in the face of tragedy in fact the most in pain.

    “The Elephant Vanishes” by Haruki Murakami (Japan) – An elephant suddenly vanishes from the town’s elephant house without a trace. The story tracks the tale of one man as he continues somewhat obsesses over the elephant’s disappearance.

    “Are These Actual Miles?” by Raymond Carver (United States) – The story opens innocently enough, with a husband seeing his wife off as she goes to sell a car. But as it progresses, the tension between them and the overall dire situations of his life come to light.

    “Who, Me a Bum?” by Luisa Valenzuela (Argentina) – A very short story detailing a homeless man’s trip through a subway station. The title should give you enough insight as to what the story is about – the hidden experiences behind one homeless man’s existence.

    This book is one of those where you can crack it open to practically any page and immediately be immersed in a compelling work of prose. Every story imparts upon its reader a different lesson about life from a multicultural perspective. It shows a diversity of voices from around the globe, and a unity in the ideas that make us human beings.

    Dustin D.
    Susan Bartley
    12th Grade

  28. Ben M says:

    1984
    George Orwell
    Length: 268 Pages

    “1984” is a fictional novel by George Orwell. The book is a story of Orwell’s prediction of the world in the future (1984). In George Orwell’s 1984, Winston Smith wrestles with oppression in a society where the government, which is also known as the Party scrutinizes citizen’s action. Defying a ban on individuality, Winston takes a risk to express his thoughts in a diary and pursues a relationship with Julia. Taking a risk by expressing his feelings of the government to his coworker O’Brien, Winston is given a book that explains why things are the way they are. Winston reads the book and he’s blown away by it, unfortunately right after he reads it the police bust in and arrest him and Julia. They torture Winston in many horrible ways for the “criminal deeds” they made. I recommend this novel to any reader that enjoys dark suspenseful novels and would like to view a government that holds absolute power. “1984” is a great quick read, and very easy to follow along with a great story and message.

  29. Kayla says:

    Title: Things Fall Apart
    Author: Chinua Achebe
    Length: 191 pages
    Level: Easy

    Things Fall Apart is an outstanding story of young male individuals fighting for their honor while trying to conquer this dominating disease of fear and anger. The beauty if fear and anger is change. New religions, new faces, new times; with all of these new happenings, one begins to lose sight of what is the key factor to change and the only way to conquer the symptoms of fear and anger.

    I truly, enjoyed this book. The first couple chapters seem pretty boring but when you get about halfway into the book you’ll begin to love it. It’s like listening to a an amazing song and then all of a sudden the beat drops. This story is much more than just fear and anger, its about depressing and emotional. The cost of losing a fight is equivalent to losing your pride, or killing someone is equivalent to being a king. In America it is has been written into our history that we should be proud of where we come from and the blood sweat and tears our ancestors contributed, but in Ibo you pride is passed on for decades through your bloodline. This book is both beautiful and depressing.

  30. Haley D. says:

    Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
    Genre: Gothic fiction
    Page Length: 446 pages
    Reading Level: grade 9-12 (exhausting, old English)

    The classic gothic novel Wuthering Heights written by Emily Bronte takes place in Yorkshire, located in Northern England on a farming estate in the mid-1800s. This story is narrated mostly from a spectators view by a servant named Nelly. She worked for the Earnshaw family, taking care of a girl named Catherine Earnshaw. Nelly speaks of her recollections from when she worked at the family’s estate to a neighbor, who is curious to know the history of Wuthering Heights and its occupants. Her account begins when Mr. Earnshaw leaves on a business trip, promising his two children that he will bring back a gift for each of them. Instead, upon his return he introduces his daughter Catherine and his son Hindley to an orphaned, dark-skinned, gypsy child who he decides to adopt and call Heathcliff. Both children initially despise Heathcliff’s presence in their family’s household. Young Catherine grows to like him and befriends him, while her brother Hindley continues his acts of violence against the newly arrived boy. Against his father’s wishes, Hindley relentlessly abuses Heathcliff because of his dark-skinned appearance and detests his living at Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff’s only escape from his enraged non-biological brother is to then go off and explore the moors with Catherine during which both children grow closer, becoming inseparable. This story becomes a tale revenge over Heathcliffs tortured life and tragic love.

    Wuthering Heights is considered to be a classic romantic novel and an important piece of English literature. It is arguably a radical social statement for its time, about the prejudices and injustices being done to minority groups. It draws attention to the oppressive circumstances which women in the 1800’s were under, the awful treatment of gypsies, and those with dark appearances alike. I believe Emily Bronte questions the social structure of the time and wrote to voice the sufferings of the European lower class. I recommend this book to those who enjoy reading period dramas, romances, or greatly detailed, and descriptive writings.

  31. Meghan says:

    The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
    Genre: Fiction
    Page Length: 252
    Reading Level: Easy

    Meghan Miller, Grade 12, Ms. Bartley’s Ap Lit, P.6

    The History of Love follows various character’s lives and how they are impacted by a book. The author, a plagiarist and a reader share their stories of the complexity that is love and how the looming presence of death can stop one from living at all. As the characters continue to individually look for a piece of their history, their present selves begin to intertwine in more ways than one. Krauss reveals the challenges that life throws and the selflessness required to truly love another. The History of Love also provides insight into the jewish religion and the brutal history they faced in the holocaust while also digging into the differing roles that men and women played in the 1900’s.

    I strongly recommend this book. The stories are all enjoyable and force you to think about the world as you know it. While the way it was written keeps the reader interested it could cause many to become confused since the point of view shifts a multitude of times. However, if you want a book that will trigger emotions and relay a deeper message, then The History of Love will not be a book you regret reading.

  32. Kaeli F. says:

    Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
    By: Gregory Maguire
    Genre: Fantasy
    Length: 406
    Reading Level: Moderate

    Kaeli Frank, Grade 12, Ms. Bartley’s AP English Lit.

    While the title attracts Wizard of Oz enthusiasts and theater aficionados alike, this novel is not for the faint of heart. A tale of adventure teeming with debauchery and deceit, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West is sure to provoke emotion as well as thought from avid readers. The story opens with the birth and early life of Elphaba, the green-skinned daughter of a unionist minister and a local heiress. Upon the birth of her crippled younger sister, Elphaba assumes a life of constant assistance and protection.

    She is temporarily stripped of her responsibility when she enrolls at Shiz University, where she first comes into contact with Galinda of the Arduennas. The two endure many disagreements before becoming begrudging friends, and together gather a group of unlikely comrades around them. Following a rather grim series of events, the book continues along the many twists and turns of Elphaba’s life: political and religious turmoil, a forbidden lover, and ultimately, the yearning for forgiveness. Despite being a prequel to the Wizard of Oz, the text maintains its individuality and originality throughout. Wicked is a thrilling, if complex, second look at Oz, and what truly differentiates good from evil.

  33. Jasmin P. says:

    The Women of Brewster Place
    By: Gloria Naylor
    Genre: African American novel; fiction
    Page length: 192
    Reading Level: Easy

    Jasmin P.
    Grade 12
    Ms. Bartley- AP Literature

    The Women of Brewster Place, set in 1980s Northern America, follows the intertwined lives of seven women. The stories are emotional and recount the daily struggles and strength the seven women possess. These struggles include living in poverty, being an African American, and being a woman. Although very different from the others, each woman is searching and hoping for love, acceptance, and home on the tattered, dead-end street.

    I highly recommend reading this novel. It’s not only a novel about the struggle of being an African American woman, but also the struggle of all women. I was emotionally moved by the lives of these seven women and their ability to find something positive in even the worst places. I enjoyed how closely the novel was with possible real-life events. I also enjoyed how, as the paths of the women crossed, the novel pulls one in deeper.

  34. Kale Satta-Hutton says:

    Slaughter-House-Five
    By: Kurt Vonnegut
    Length: 215 Pages
    Reading Level: Easy to Medium

    Slaughter-House-Five is an Anti-War novel based on Kurt Vonnegut’s experience in WWII, specifically in Dresden. Vonnegut uses the main character Billy Pilgrim to depict different periods in his life that chronicles his experience with the war and the Dresden firebombing. The novel is introduced with Billy who chooses to write a book of Dresden. Vonnegut uses the novel to jump back and forth in time, with the main protagonist recalling random events and experiences. Every few paragraphs Billy’s recall of moments in his life changes. While very skewed, Slaughter-House-Five is a jumbled description of the life of a WWII and in the end comes together to show the terrors of war.

    This novel while a description of the brutalities of war is a good and interesting read, the emotions are real throughout the novel. I give this a easy to medium reading level due to the constant change in the timeline, but it is still easy to comprehend and understand the authors purpose.

  35. Alondra J. says:

    Beloved
    By: Toni Morrison
    Length: 324 pages
    Reading level: Easy-Medium

    Alondra Jaramillo-Rodriguez
    Grade: 12
    Mrs. Bartley’s AP Literature

    The novel opens in 1873 in Cincinnati, Ohio. For the past eighteen years, Sethe, an ex-slave, and her daughter, Denver, have been living in a house that is haunted by the ghost of Sethe’s firstborn baby daughter. Until eight years ago, Sethe’s mother-in-law, Baby Suggs, also lived with them in their house at 124 Bluestone Road. Before she died, Baby Suggs sank into a deep depression, exhausted by a life of slavery and by the loss of all eight of her children. Sethe works hard to remember as little as possible about her past, and the memory of her sons is fading fast. Most of her painful memories involve Sweet Home, a plantation in Kentucky where she lived as a slave until her escape eighteen years ago. Morrison analyzes the measure a mother is willing to take to salvage her children from the brutality of slavery, it proves a mothers unconditional love, and the growing guilt that she is forced to live with.

    Beloved by Toni Morrison made me question the love of a mother towards her children the minute that I began to read the book. It gave me chills, it generated mixed emotions inside me, and at some point I caught myself shedding a tear. Morrison does a phenomenal job of incorporating some poetry within the characters, to add a flow, swirling the voices of the three main women in the novel. Any female can relate to this novel, it’s a story of a mother and a daughter, and how a mothers love never fades.

  36. Amy R. says:

    White Noise by Don Delillo
    Length: 326 pages
    Difficulty: moderate
    Ms Bartley’s Senior AP Literature class

    White Noise by Don Delillo describes the life of a man during his fourth marriage, Jack Gladney. He and his wife, Babette, live with four of their children from their various marriages. This novel follows Jack through a full academic year of Hitler studies, a department of study that he himself founded at the College-On-The-Hill. Though he is the head of this department, he had altered his appearance and actions in order to fill the role of Hitler studies professor. For instance, he had given himself an additional name, gained weight, attempted to learn German in order to create a more memorable reputation for himself. These fraudulent alterations lead him to feel uneasy and he worries about his exposure throughout the novel.

    Though this novel can be difficult to follow at times, and many described events seem unrelated to main events of this book, the topics explored are interesting to anyone amused by American culture. Jack spends much of his time describing small, typically unnoticed cultural moments and rituals that actually describe American culture as a whole. These described moments tie into the two major events in the novel: an airborne toxic event and his wife Babette’s involvement in a drug known a Dylar.

  37. Makennah K. says:

    Angela’s Ashes
    By: Frank McCourt
    Memoir Non-fiction
    Page #: 362
    Reading Level: Medium

    Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt is a memoir. The book explains the troubles that the family had to overcome being Irish immigrants to American and then traveling back to homeland of Ireland. It also captures relatable issues regarding classism, addiction, and hunger. As a growing child Frank had to miss out on many opportunities because of the poverty his family faced, regardless of how talented the young boy was he was deprived of the opportunity because he wore rags and old clothing. This book also ties in the addiction by explaining how their poverty was impacted by the fathers addiction to alcohol. His constant spending of their money led them into extreme poverty.
    Overall this book is very powerful and really helps open the readers eyes to these issues. I would recommend it to anyone who is easily encouraged and moved by the will to overcome struggles when the odds are not in their favor. It is a beautiful piece of literature full of rich language.
    Senior AP literature, Mrs. Bartley

  38. Mathew Rowell says:

    The Art of the Story
    Edited by: Daniel Halpern
    An International Anthology of Contemporary Short Stories
    655 pages
    80 stories

    Mathew Rowell
    Grade 12
    Mrs. Bartley’s AP lit class

    Stories Ranked from favorite to least:
    1. The Life Guard – Mary Morris
    2. Rara Avis – T. Coraghessan Boyle
    3. The Immortals – Martin Amis
    4. Wilderness Tips – Margaret Atwood
    5.The Hammam – Herve Guibert
    6.The Glass Tower – Reinaldo Arenes

  39. Jackie C says:

    “Possessing the Secret of Joy”
    Author: Alice Walker
    Reading level: medium but mature
    Genre: fiction
    Pages: 288
    “Possessing the Secret of Joy”, a 1992 fictional feminist novel, is written from multiple points of view centered around Tashi, an African women living in the States with her white husband and grown son. This character was mentioned briefly in Walker’s earlier novel, The Color Purple. Tashi is torn between two cultures, Western and African, which cause her to be mentally unstable as she spends a lot of the novel with psychiatrists before finding the strength to defy the trauma she faced as a young girl. Having a disabled child and a husband who is in love with another woman are only part of what causes her dilemma. This novel explores the idea of being a woman and the general question of identity. Tashi mourns her sister, Dura, who bled to death after being circumcised as a young girl. Characters in the novel: Tashi, her husband Adam, his lover Lissette, their son Pierre, Tashi and Adams son Benny, and others all carry the emotional and physical burden of circumcision of the women of Olinka, a fictional African nation. Tashi does not undergo the traditional operation until later in her life whereas most girls had it done as a child, but the circumcision does not allow her to come to peace with herself anymore than before. When Tashi is put on trial for the murder of M’lissa, the women who circumcised her as an adolescent, the reader is able to see perspectives of how M’lissa carried the burden of performing the procedure and having it done herself. This part of the novel reveals the conflict of female genital mutilation and finding identity as a women growing up in this culture where choice is beyond their control. It is not until the end of the novel where Tashi is fully at peace with who she is.

    This novel is not a hard read, 280 pages, but explores the brutal hardships women faced with genital mutilation. Walker’s use of imagery and pathos is what makes this book a rewarding read, despite the darker side of it. Walker does a great job of expressing the importance of standing up for justice as a woman. I would recommend “Possessing the Secret of Joy” to anyone who enjoyed “The Color Purple” or is looking to lean more about the meaning of feminism.

  40. Beatrice says:

    The Virgin Suicides
    Jeffrey Eugenides

    The Virgin Suicides is a story set in the seventies of a group of suburban neighborhood boys who share an obsession with a family of girls, Mary, Therese, Lux, Bonnie and Cecilia. The story follows the transformations of the Lisbon girls, the Lisbon family, and the group of boys as tragedy strikes the Lisbons. The Virgin Suicides is a powerful reminder of what it means to be an adolescent girl and the true tragedy and cost of the way that they are viewed as objects of fascination instead of real people.
    I find this book powerful because of the style of writing and because of the message it sends about private lives becoming a sort of public domain and the way that can destroy people. I think it’s very relevant to today though it’s set in the seventies, because our society faces the same problems today, though the vehicles of looking in are different.
    Bea Yucho,
    AP Literature, Bartley

  41. Kathleen says:

    The Handmaid’s Tale
    By: Margaret Atwood
    Genre: Fiction
    Pages: 311
    Reading Level: Medium

    Kathleen Nguyen, Grade 12, Mrs. Bartley’s AP Lit Class

    The Handmaid’s Tale, written by Margaret Atwood is a horrific novel that takes place in a totalitarian society called “Gilead”. Due to low reproduction rates, “Handmaids” are assigned to wealthy couples who cannot have children of their own. As Handmaids, they live in a world of restriction, where they are not allowed any rights, property, jobs, or the abilities to read or write. These women are practically sex slaves who bear children. Offred, the protagonist tells the story of her daily life as she attempts to overthrow Gilead, along with affairs and other trouble.

    Although this novel was disturbing, I found it highly interesting because it brought the importance of feminism due to their roles in The Handmaid’s Tale. It also got me thinking about what the future would be like for women if they were only viewed as an importance for reproduction and not anything else.

  42. Chelsie says:

    The Neverending Story-
    By: Michael Ende
    Genre: Fantasy
    Page Length: 377
    Reading Level: Easy
    Chelsie C , Grade 12, Mrs. Bartley’s AP Lit Class

    In The Neverending Story Bastian Balthazar Bux travels through any fictional lands of Fantastica to find a cure for the Childlike Empress and save the land of Fantastica from utter oblivion. Freeing Fantastica from the nothing that’s spreading over the land is the only way to keep the inhabitants safe and the only way to save the human world as well. This is an excellent read for those who love the fantasy world. It is definitely a must read, but isn’t something I’d read twice.

  43. Emma Woodburn says:

    The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
    Autobiography/Fiction
    200 pages
    Easy to medium reading level

    Sylvia Plath’s renowned novel, The Bell Jar, is an insightful piece into the destructive world of depression and the constraining nature of womanhood within society. The beginning of this autobiographical piece takes place in New York City, where the narrator, Esther, is surrounded the pressures of conforming to a typical domestic life during the 1950s. Esther has a passion for poetry and plans on pursuing English in her future educational endeavors. However, her return from New York results in an irreversible phase of depression and an attempted suicide. She is then admitted to an asylum where she must endure countless treatments to cure her severe mental melancholy.

    Plath concisely and eloquently presents her emotions without making them consume the majority of the novel. Her real-life account gives the story much more meaning knowing that she went through the dreadful, eye opening, and sometimes even humorous events described in the novel. I would recommend this book to anyone who would like a short, emotional, and thought provoking read. However, if anyone can be traumatically triggered by suicide or rape, then I would not suggest reading this novel.

  44. Katherine W. says:

    1984
    Author: George Orwell
    Genre: Fiction
    Page Length: 326
    Reading Level: Moderate

    Katherine Williams, Grade 12, AP Literature – Ms. Bartley

    In George Orwell’s, 1984, he depicts a totalitarian society in London where the government, known as the “Party,” aims to control the actions and thoughts of the people, clearly drawing parallels between the rule of the Nazi Germany and Soviet Union, with the fictional “Oceania, London”. Their leader, the “Big Brother” is a figure who is seen plastered among several buildings on a poster that says, “Big Brother is watching,” representing the Party’s ability to constantly monitor the lives of people through television, cameras, and the “Thought Police”; anyone in opposition of the Party becomes eradicated from history. The living quarters are run down and people are given little supplies and food to survive. War has been going on since the times of the Revolution, with no means of ending. History is constantly being rewritten; subjecting the people of Oceania to “doublethink”, a term in which people are aware of the contradictions created by the Party, yet accept the statements as facts. With that, the Party has the power to say that 2 plus 2 makes five.

    The main character, Winston, shares his tale of secretive opposition to the government, and what happens to him shows readers how the government is unable to fully manipulate an individual without extreme measures. Orwell uses his knowledge of past events to predict a future where complete government control rules the lives of its citizens. This book made me think about contemporary society and how propaganda is used to get us to believe many of the things we see on posters and advertisements, although they are not as extreme as the posters in 1984. It was an interesting read, and although the story was hard to imagine at first, as the story developed and intensified, I could visualize every scene while grasping the concepts of how the fictional government was run.

  45. Olivia J says:

    I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem
    Author: Maryse Condé
    Genre: Historical Fiction
    Page length: 179 (225 with afterword)
    Reading level: Fairly easy

    “I, Tituba” is a strong, engaging tale of Tituba, the only black woman tried during the Salem witch trials for witchcraft. Condé weaves a fictional imagining of Tituba’s life, from her childhood in Barbados to her experiences in Salem and afterward.

    Within the novel, Tituba is actually a witch; she communicates with spirits and has healing powers that are beyond most normal humans. However, she does not see herself as a witch, merely as a woman who can heal others. Neither does she know of Satan, or the widespread belief that her “witchcraft” is the Devil’s work. Through her marriage to a slave and her subsequent enslavement to her husband’s master, she learns of Christianity.

    Along with Tituba’s struggle with Christianity, and white Christians’ beliefs being shoved upon her, she also faces harsh sexism and racism. The heart of the book is in displaying these struggles, and how they shape Tituba’s life and how she views herself as a person. The inherent misogyny and slavery-based racism of the 17th century is what fuels Tituba’s journey from Barbados to Boston, and, eventually, Salem.

    I would recommend this book to any who read and enjoyed The Crucible in AP English Composition. This novel delves deeper into one of the most fascinating characters in that play, and it is a very, very enjoyable read. It is also clear that the author cares very deeply for Tituba’s story, which makes the book much more interesting to read. Condé obviously thought carefully about Tituba’s life and cares greatly for her as a person and as a character.

    I would also say that if you’re interested in women and their role in history that this book would be a good choice. It is truly a gem.

    Olivia Jensen
    Ms. Bartley’s Senior AP English Literature Class

  46. Shatoria C. Bartley's Senior AP Lit. says:

    Title: Their eyes were watching God
    Author: Zora Neale Hurston
    Page length: 193 pages
    Genre: Fiction
    Audience: High school and up

    Summary:
    Their eyes were watching God was an astonishing book and I completely recommend it to other readers. This book was written in 1937. It focuses on a girl called Janie. Her grandmother which is called her nanny raises her, after her mother and father abandon her. Janie’s grandmother was a former slave and has a very limited way of thinking, due to the oppression she’s experienced. At a young age Janie’s grandmother marrys her off to a middle-aged farmer who she has no connection with. Speech and silence become powerful themes throughout the book and Janie uses them to her advantage in the end and realizes her speech empowers her. The whole point of the book is for Janie to find herself and with doing so she goes on a quest to find her horizon and look for love to fill completed. In the end you’ll find out if Janie finds her horizon and true love, and is completed or if she has failed to do so. I like this book because it shows weaknesses in an individual and strengths, it shows how the main character really develops into a woman at the end, in a circulatory movement.

  47. oscar says:

    Flying home by Ralph Ellison
    Genre: Fiction/Literature
    Page Length: 173
    Reading level: Easy
    Oscar Hernandez, Grade 12, Ms.Bartley’s AP Lit class
    Flying Home by Ralph Ellison takes place between 1937 and 1954. This book consists of 13 stories that were never published during Ellisons lifetime. These stories take place within the era of Jim crow, the Harlem bingo parlor, the great depression, and WW2. The book is told from different points of view each one different. From a young white boy experiencing the lynching of an African American man. To a young African American male pilot in WW2. Each story withholding its own deeper meaning.
    I highly recommend reading this book. It’s quick and easy to read. It also does a great job of breaking down what it was like to live in 1940’s as a colored, and having to live with ideologies that were oppressed upon people of color. It helps you get a better sense on what it was like growing up as a colored within different regions of the U.S.

  48. Nick Finberg says:

    Naked
    By David Sedaris

    While Naked by David Sedaris is not one continual story, instead a collection of personal anecdotes, it still produces the same effect. The book follows the struggles of a young man of Italian decent growing up homosexual as well as obsessive compulsive. Though his life could be told in a very serious way, Sedaris chose to write it with a comedic theme, most likely to get more people to read about the struggles of the life of a gay man. He had the same family issues as everyone one else, some instances were even exaggerated to produce a connection with his audience about how crazy family can be.

    This book is great for almost anyone, even if one doesn’t want to think deeply about what they are reading it is lively and at least amusing. If someone does want to think about the purpose of the author, the way Sedaris wrote the book gives rise to this form of thinking. While the surface of the book is the comedy of Sedaris’ life, underneath lies ideas that are a little hard to swallow for the more traditional of people. The stories within his book also function as a guide to growing up, it shows what people go through as they get older. This book is great if you want to laugh, learn about the struggles of gay men, or the culture separation in American society.

    Nick Finberg
    AP Literature and Comp., Ms. Bartley

  49. Meggie Kirchner says:

    Middlesex
    Jeffrey Eugenides
    Length: 529
    Difficulty: Medium to hard
    Meggie Kirchner
    Grade 12
    Ms.Bartley, AP Lit

    Weaving his personal stories of growing up Greek in America, Jeffrey Eugenides shares the story of Calliope Stephanides, or Cal’s, life long struggle of discovering his self identity. The novel starts off explaining the genealogical history behind the making of Cal and explores the delayed consequences of incestuous relations. The novel further explores the journey of self acceptance and the discovery of self identity in the form of some one who is intersex, or a hermaphrodite. Eugenides describes the technical, medical reasons the lead to Cal being who is his, but also unveils the emotional and personal affects of being an intersex on someones daily life.

    Eugenides uses Cal’s journey to not only discuss incestuous relationships, intersex, self identity, rebirth, he also uses Cal’s Greek heritage to create a multilayered discussion on race, ethnic identity, immigration, and the American Dream. Instead of talking solely about self identity, Eugenides uses Cal’s Greek roots to also address the struggles of being an immigrant in the 20th century. Cal’s grandparents, who immigrated from Smyrna to Detroit, begin to idolize the American Dream, even though they do not truly fit in. This social dilemma is then paralleled by Eugenides to analyze the 1967 Detroit riots and bring awareness to the chasm between races and ethnic identity and how that prevents the American Dream from actually being achieved. Eugenides creates this multifaceted novel to explain ones journey for identity and the effects that society plays on that individual.

  50. Eamonn H. says:

    Something Wicked This Way Comes
    By: Ray Bradbury
    Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
    Page length: 293
    Reading Level: Medium

    Eamonn Hartmann, Grade 12, Ms. Bartley’s AP Literature Class

    Something Wicked This Way Comes follows two 9-year-old boys, Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade along with Will’s father, Charles Halloway while they separate good and evil. The setting is a small town, which is quickly populated with a small carnival that attracts the curious boys. However, the boys discover that the leaders of the carnival are kidnapping members of the town’s community and turning them into side acts while changing their age using a magic carousel. The boys battle against the dark forces of the carnival, striving for justice and happiness for their small hometown.

    The plot chronicles the trials and tribulations of a friendship and the bond between a father and son. The imagery in the novel puts vivid detail in every scene with even the smallest details serving as instrumental parts of the plot. Bradbury masks a heartfelt message within an out-of-the-ordinary plot to engage the reader throughout the novel.

  51. Jake R. says:

    Friday Nights Lights a Town, a Team, and a Dream
    By: H. G. Bissinger
    Genre: Non-fiction (sports)
    Page Length: 357
    Reading Level: easy
    Jake R., Grade 12, Ms. Bartley’s AP Lit Class

    Friday Nights Lights a Town, a Team, and a Dream, by H. G. Bissinger, is a story written in a realistic and journalistic form, from the point of view of the author who lives in a town that is obsessed with football. The author spends a year in the town of Odessa, Texas and tells the story of the town through his own experiences and the experiences of the people in the town during the 1988 Permian High School Football season. The author focuses on six players on the football team and follows them through this emotional year. He takes the reader through the players’ triumphs and failures giving different perspectives on how people in this town view football. Through these players’ experiences right in the heart of all the chaos that surrounds football in this town, the author is able to reveal the truth about this football-crazed town. Odessa may be a town that is crazy about football but the author also tells the story of the town’s racial barriers and economic struggles that come with being a town dependent on the oil business. The reader is able to see the people of Odessa at their highest and their lowest; through this the author reveals that maybe it isn’t just this town in Texas that has lost focus on aspects of life such as brotherhood and being an intellectually inclined society. Maybe it is an issue across all of America. I enjoyed the way this book analyzed the conflict between high school athletics and education. I highly recommend this book, not only to those who love to read about athletics and how they impact peoples lives, but also to those who enjoy reading about the very pertinent issues of racial and economical inequality in America.

  52. Kaleb Swoverland says:

    Train Go Sorry
    By: Leah Hager Cohen
    Genre: Autobiography
    Page Length: 296
    Reading Level: Easy
    Kaleb Swoverland
    Grade 12
    Ms. Bartely’s AP Lit Class

    Train Go Sorry explores the foreign world of the deaf community. This book is an overview and an interpretation of issues in the deaf’s education. Leah Hager Cohen shares her own intimate experience growing up as a hearing daughter of a superintendent of a deaf school called Lexington in Queens, New York. She explores the school through her connections through her father’s job, and her grandmother’s struggle for acceptance and survival. Cohen also writes from two students’ prospective from Lexington, James Taylor, and Sofia Normatov. Sofia is an immigrant from Russia who must learn both English and ASL, despite not knowing either, in order to continue her education in college. James struggles to stay in school and faces many challenges throughout his life including choosing whether or not a cochlear implant, a hearing device despised by the deaf community, will rob him of his deaf culture.

    This memoir of Cohen’s own experience appreciates both sides of the silent world that separates it from our own. She analyzes the debates of American Sign Language (ASL) and oral speaking. Does forcing the deaf to speak orally rob the deaf of their own personal culture? This book really spoke to me because of my connection to the deaf world as a hard of hearing student today. I relate to many struggles and challenges Cohen explores in Train Go Sorry. She carefully examines the lives of others, as well as her own, to develop a well thought out and descriptive story that anyone interested in learning about deaf education should read.

  53. Kiah says:

    The Color Purple
    By: Alice Walker
    Genre: Historical Fiction
    Page length: 304

    In this famous novel, the narrator named Celie is an African American woman who starts out living with her abusive father named Alphonso, as her mother passes away. She is put through many struggles that she seems to be used to such as having various kids with her father. Celie is constantly trying to protect her sister from going through the same events as her. Soon, she is given to a man who she marries and is treated as somewhat of a maid to Mr. _____, while he is still love stuck by his ex named Shug Avery. During the time that Celie is married to Mr. ______ she received the same abuse. Celie looks up to Shug and ends up moving in with her at her home in Memphis and leaves her husband. Celine’s life ends up flipping and becoming much more happy, as she starts her own business and moves into her own house after Alphonso passes away and owns the land along with it. Her sister gets married and goes to Africa and changes up her beliefs that she had in God. Celie becomes heartbroken as Shug enters a new relationship with someone that is less than half of her age. Celie soon begins rekindling her relationship with Mr. _____ and all that they do is talk about how much they admire Shug and reminisce on old times.

    I love this book a lot because it is full of history even though Alice wasn’t writing this to get a learning lesson across. The novel is filled with emotion and makes the reader look on the brighter side of things. Everything that happens makes you want to keep reading to see what happens next.

    Kiah, AP Literature, Bartley, 12th grade

  54. Casey N. says:

    Zora Neale Hurston
    Their Eyes Were Watching God
    Genre: Fiction
    Page length: 184
    Reading level: Easy/medium

    This novel follows the story of Janie, a beautiful girl trademarked by her coffee skin and long silky hair. After an arranged marriage, Janie’s discovery of her own self-worth and her spirit develop as she runs away from her husband to a seemingly appealing man, Joe Starks. She then suffers through her second marriage, but widows and marries a third time, finally discovering the role of love in a marriage with her husband Tea Cake. Janie’s different marriages are filled with beatings, humiliation, glimpses of romance, control–and in the end, love. Zora Hurston displays the abrupt reality of the females’ experience in marriage in the early 20th century, thoroughly discussing the male dominance in homes and post-slavery life of African-Americans in the south.

    I enjoyed this story because I could imagine all the characters and events in my head, as if a movie was playing along with my reading. Accredited to Hurston’s style of writing, this helped me follow along with the story’s difficult dialogue and plot development. Hurston’s deeper message of male dominance in Janie’s culture pushed me to empathize with Janie throughout the novel, and helped me to relate to her situation and immersed me deeper into her story. Hurston’s feminist take on the time period pushes her audience to analyze the oppression of females, and encourages her readers to unearth themselves through Janie’s journey.

    Casey N.
    AP Literature, Bartley

  55. Tyler Schay says:

    The Color Purple
    By: Alice Walker
    Genre: Epistolary novel/confessional novel
    Page length: 294
    Reading level: medium but mature
    Tyler Schay
    Grade: 12th
    Ms. Bartley’s AP English
    The Color Purple is about a poor black woman named Celie (the narrator), who writes letters that tells the reader her story over the course of 20 years of her life. It starts by revealing her getting abused by her father at age 14 and showing that Celie does not wish the same for her little sister so, she does what she can to prevent it. “Mister,” is Celie’s abusive husband who hides her letters to and from her sister, but eventually Celie finds out and through her rage and the confidence she had contained with Shug (her friends with benefits), she is able to finally kick “Mister” to the curb and be the independent woman she had longed to be her whole life.
    This novel is a great read and really forces one to capture the sense of freedom and think about what freedom means to one’s self. Emotions are all over the place when reading this book, which is something I always enjoy. This novel is a must read for anyone who loves to be moved emotionally.

  56. Molly B.B. says:

    White Oleander
    By: Janet Fitch
    Genre: Fiction
    Page Length: 469 pages
    Reading Level: Easy

    Molly Booth-Balk
    12th Grade
    AP Literature, Bartley

    White Oleander is a novel that follows Astrid, a teenage girl living in LA, as she endures the broken foster care system she is placed in after her single mother murders a former lover. Astrid has never had any father figure in her life and once her mother, a poet and self-centered, borderline neglectful parent, is taken to prison she is put in the care of several different, dysfunctional families. Throughout the course of this novel, Astrid is relocated to five separate foster homes where she experiences a range of disturbing, painful, and heartbreaking experiences including rape, gun violence, dog attacks, substance abuse, starvation, and suicide. In addition to the hardships she experiences with these unfamiliar families, Astrid’s actual mother continues to try manipulate her daughter through letters she writes from jail, prompting Astrid to question her life-long feelings of abandonment.

    This book is written in a very beautiful, poignant way that helps convey the raw emotion and pain intertwined through this young girls life. I thought this novel was extremely moving and compelling, especially because of the descriptive and diverse portrayals of the different families. I also found it to be very though-provoking due to the different themes of sexism, religion, and social class woven within Astrid’s personal tale.

  57. Calli S. says:

    The Road from Coorain
    Jill Ker Conway
    Autobiography
    238 pages
    Young Adult

    The Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway follows her childhood transition from the land which shaped her emotional resilience and stoicism to the city which cultivated and fueled her hunger for knowledge. Raised on a sheep farm in Coorain, a dormant, dusty expanse that could both contain freedom and a spiritual communion, as her father saw it, and a desolate isolation that engulfed the soul, as her mother saw it, Jill found a primal connection with the land of the 1930s Australian outback, something she increasingly came back to as she grew up. Her mother’s battle against complete social isolation resulted in an attempt to connect to current events, prompting many political, philosophical, and generally intellectual books to be delivered to their farm, many of which Jill picked up and began to read herself. From there, her curiosity led her through an education at many prestigious schools, an education that included disillusionment about her status in Australian society as both a woman and an intellectual, the fundamental ideals that were so valued in Australia, and the misplaced nationalism towards Great Britain and how that left an underlying sense of shame for being Australian. The collision of all these elements within her life created a solitary path for her to follow; however, it was not an inadequate or disappointing path, on the contrary, rather a tough choice to follow her heart, simply an unbeaten trail in the bush that she must brace herself to walk, brace herself to leave behind those ties to all the things that made her who she was, and walk into the unknown.

    At first I was taken aback by the brisk nature of Conway’s writing, which attempts to cram the first twenty five years of her life into 238 pages, which she does remarkably well. Each paragraph is carefully constructed to maximize both her extraordinary command of the English language and her content; while the book takes a while to arrive at her story, the deviation into a little synopsis about the history of the land she grew up in serves to highlight and accent the story later on. I would recommend this book to people who would appreciate a thoughtful, occasionally heartbreaking, and compassionate analysis of one woman’s struggle to find herself in a society struggling to find itself as well.

    Senior AP Literature, Ms. Bartley

    • Maria says:

      Wild
      By: Cheryl Strayed
      Autobiography
      311 pages
      Reading Level: Easy to Medium

      In Cheryl Strayed’s autobiography, Wild, which has now been made into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon, Strayed embarks on a personal journey along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) to find and establish a sense of personal worth and meaning to life after the loss of her mother. Not only does this novel cover the gruesome details of the physical tolls that the trail takes on her, but weaves in the stories of her life pre-PCT which consist of divorce, drugs, sex, brotherhood, sisterhood, and child abuse.

      Consistently I found myself laughing at the honest humor and strange relationships that are formed during the long days and nights on the PCT. This memoir is not necessarily the most challenging story to read or the most life changing but it is a story of self-discovery that you couldn’t find anywhere else. Not to mention, the author lives in Portland and most of her journey consists of the desire to reach the land that most of us have spent our lives on such as Mt. Hood and the Three Sisters. This makes a phenomenal difference because throughout the book it is easy to visualize the scenery she saw herself.

      Maria Carlsen, Grade 12, Ms. Bartley’s AP Literature

    • Max says:

      A Clockwork Orange
      By Anthony Burgess
      Genre: Dystopian society
      Page length: ~200 pages
      Reading level: Difficult-Moderate. Maturity is recommended due to the books brutal content.

      “Is a man who chooses the bad perhaps in someway better than a man who has the good imposed upon him?”, is the very question A Clockwork Orange deals with. Set in dystopian future America, Burgess integrates the two largest world powers of his time, (America, and the USSR), into one nation. In this future nation the nights are largely ruled by “nadsats” or teenagers, who go around committing atrocious acts such as rape, robbery, andMurder even. Enter protagonist Alex, at only 15 years old, Alex has become completely desensitized to violence. Furthermore, he finds a sense of beauty in it, which becomes evident during his descriptive monologues about the way that blood is trifling from someone’s body. When beating an old man in the opening scene, Alex becomes almost poetic in his description, showing his capability of grasping human emotion, just utter and complete disregard for it. Him and his “droogs” continue their pillage that night and run to a house where they beat the man and rape the woman inside. We eventually discover that the woman dies of shock. The next night, Alex and his “droogs” break into an older woman’s house who is said to have very valuable possessions. When breaking into the house, he encounters the woman and consequently beats her to death. When he hears sirens, he attempts to run, but his friends betray him, and chain him outside of the house where he is arrested. He is sentenced to 15 years, but remains incarcerated for two years in a prison where he eventually discovers an experimental form of treatment that can supposedly rehabilitate him, called the “Ludovico Technique”. The Prison Chaplain tells him that the method forces him to be good and he no longer has the choice to be bad, an allusion to the divergent perspectives on liberty between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S., which leads the chaplain onto a diatribe about the morality of choice. Alex opts to be treated and is the first to test this method. He receives injections that the doctors first tells him are vitamins, but he soon realizes are actually nausea-inducing drugs, and is forced to watch horrifically violent films to make an association between the nausea and egregious acts. Eventually, Alex is classically conditioned to become violently ill at the sight of anything immoral, and is released. When Alex is released back into the world he discovers what it means to live in such a violent world, which he formerly perpetuated, with his condition. Additionally, due to the fact that the films had music played in the background, Alex has lost his one true love, his one true tie to humanity. In the ensuing chapters, Burgess forces the reader to question their own ideals and ultimately asks the question, “is liberty more important than a moral society?”

      Burgess experiments by bastardizing Russian and English to form “nadsat” (teenager) slang, which is used to narrate the story from Alex’s perspective. For example, instead of good, Alex uses the term “horrorshow”, which is derived from the Russian word for good – “хорошо”. Although this drastically increases the difficulty of the book, it also establishes a clearer view through Alex’s mind. Juxtaposed with the many pretentious sounding officials Alex encounters throughout the book, the slang shows a major dichotomy between the two classes within this society, and further adds to the characterization of the individuals. Additionally, Burgess explores Christianity, since it is thought to be one of the bastions or morality. In prison, Alex befriends the prison chaplain, who later vehemently opposes him receiving the treatment. Although Alex is only kowtowing to the chaplain to receive his favor in hopes of an abbreviated sentence, we find copious references to the bible and Alex turning to it later for comfort. These biblical allusions only add to the contrasts between good and evil in this book. Finally, Burgess remarks on the treatment of prisoners in the 50s and 60s by vividly depicting the inhumane abuse Alex receives during his treatment. Although at times this book can be hard to read due to the extreme violence and difficult vocabulary, it is very much worth while, especially if like me, you enjoy symbolic and philosophical texts. It will truly give it’s reader insight into the morality of good and evil, and revolutionize the way you think about these issues. I give it my highest recommendation.

  58. Abigail O'Brien says:

    Alias Grace
    By: Margaret Atwood
    Length: 460 Pages
    Reading Level: Medium

    Abby O’Brien, Grade 12, Ms. Bartley’s Ap Lit
    Alias Grace takes place near Toronto in 1859 and centers around two main characters: A servant woman who has been imprisoned in an insane asylum for aiding in the murder of her master and his illicit lover, and Dr. Jordan, who is speaking with her in the hopes of reaching the truth despite her amnesia in regards to the killings. Atwood uses the shifting of narration from first person (Grace) and third person (chapters about Dr. Jordan) to develop deep descriptions of each character, as well as letters and newspaper clippings. Her choice to forgo all use of quotation marks blurs the lines between what is said and what is thought, and while brilliant, is the reason I gave this book the Medium reading level.

    Covering many issues, ranging from spousal abuse to class immobility to sexism, Alias Grace is a dark read with many twists and turns that I would recommend to those willing to question the power of memory. In addition to being artfully written and bursting with beautiful descriptions of characters and scenery alike, Alias Grace is also a lesson in the customs and lifestyle of poor servants and their employers in the mid 1800’s. Despite having written the novel in the 1990’s, Atwood manages to properly capture the sentiments of the upper middle class in regards to what was proper in an era long before she was alive.

  59. Matthew says:

    A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
    Genre: Fiction
    Pages: 212
    Difficulty Level: Medium
    This book follows the story of the narrator Alex, a fifteen year old who spends his nights stealing, harassing, and killing. After being caught by police Alex is subjected to an innovative aversion therapy technique which causes him to feel sick whenever he thinks of violent acts. This book delves into the issue of whether an individual is responsible for their actions, or if the society that raised the individual is at fault. This book goes into descriptive detail of many violent acts and is an extremely brutal view on society and its flaws.
    I did like this book and though overall depressing the final chapter delivers an uplifting message as opposed to the harsh truth that the rest of the book meditates on. The one difficult part of the book is that the narrator talks in a made up slang language. This is extremely confusing at first and makes understanding what is being said very hard but as the story goes on the slang can be learned and the story comprehended much more easily.
    Matthew T, Ms. Bartley Per. 1 AP English, Grade 12

  60. Billy T. says:

    Siddhartha
    By: Hermann Hesse
    Genre: Fiction
    Page Length: 122
    Reading Level: Easy

    Billy T.
    Grade 12
    Ms. Bartely’s AP Lit Class

    In Hermann Hesse’s novel, Siddhartha, a young man leaves his home in search of enlightenment. His friend, Govinda, follows him, and his presence or lack thereof, helps to show Siddhartha’s transcendence into a new being. On Siddhartha’s journey, he encounters the Buddha (referred to as Gotama) along with ascetics, a courtesan, a merchant, and a wise ferryman. In his endeavors to become a more knowledgeable and wise man, Siddhartha faces constant epiphany, where he always thinks his life has been lived the wrong way. His journey keeps the reader wanting more, as small truths about the world are revealed as we follow Siddhartha’s life. This novel is one that requires an open mind to both religion and culture, as it is set in a less-modern society inside Asia.

    Siddhartha is a short novel which holds an abundance of deeper messages. I would recommend the book to everybody, although there are mild sexual references. The story is similar to Siddhartha Gautama’s (Buddha) life, telling the story of a man who seeks enlightenment. The story helps to show Siddhartha as a normal man, but adds both his cynical and optimistic views of the world. He thinks of man as sinful, yet he himself is a man full of sin. He sees himself as privileged and above others, even when he is below them. The story of Siddhartha’s life helps to show how a man can always be blind, and how man’s proclivity is to be sinful. It makes the reader reflect upon their life, while also pondering the idea of whether living pragmatically is a good thing.

  61. Lily says:

    Memoirs of a Geisha
    By: Arthur Golden
    Genre: historical novel
    Page length: 428
    Reading level: medium but mature

    Lily B
    Mrs. Bartley’s AP lit class
    Grade 12

    In this novel by Arthur Golden, the life of a young girl from a fishing village is followed until she becomes one of the most celebrated geisha in Japan and even into the years beyond coinciding with WWII. This young girl with rare blue-gray eyes is sold along side her sister into the hands of another with her father’s permission while her mom drifts into death. She is placed into the slavery of women that put her on the path to becoming a geisha and separate her from sister whose fate is much less kind. As she attempts to reconnect to her sister, escape, and run away, she makes a terrible misstep and is confined to the place she hated most without the security of her sister’s whereabouts and without the chance to become a geisha which would have brought her more power than the maid she becomes. Years pass and she is taken under the wing of a very well known and respected geisha as a pawn in this woman’s plans to destroy her rival. As she is given this second chance to become a geisha, her name is changed to Sayuri, her relationship with her only friend Pumpkin is abolished, her life becomes dependant on dance and music lessons, makeup, and beautiful kimonos, and her virginity is sold to the highest bidder, her inner drive is fueled by a forbidden love. Though war, rivalries, and politics stand in her way, her memories of her journey and life in the mask of a geisha are defined by her cleverness and small but precious friendships later in life that bring the authors deeper themes of slavery, exploitation of the female gender, and social class to light.

  62. William Mundorff says:

    The Things They Carried
    By: Tim O’Brien
    Genre: Historical Fiction
    Page Length: 246 pages
    Reading Level: Easy

    William Mundorff
    12th Grade
    AP Literature, Bartley

    The Things They Carried is a historical fiction novel that chronicles a man’s experiences throughout the Vietnam War. The main protagonist, named after the author, is drafted into the military at the age of 18. O’Brien meets many friends during his tour, as well as many harsh realities on the front lines of a battlefield. Every chapter in the story either recounts a separate moment during the war or O’Brien’s attempts to find peace twenty years later. While very straightforward, The Things They Carried is brutally honest with the horrors of war. Everything is as it appears and no punches are pulled.

    This novel is a great read and is very introspective. While questioning the morality of war, at the core of the book is one man’s journey to discover his meaning in life, as well as how everyone fits into the universe as a whole. The book is not long (about 250 pages). Anyone who enjoyed Catch-22 will certainly like this as well.

  63. Jane W. says:

    The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
    Fiction
    311 pages
    Medium to Difficult read

    Jane Wong, AP Lit with Ms. Bartley, 12th grade

    The Handmaid’s Tale, written by Margaret Atwood, is set in a futuristic time period where the United States’ society is a dystopia. Women are objectified and sterile women are sold to men based on their wealth, solely for reproduction purposes. The novel follows Offred, a woman living in Giliad, formerly known as Cambridge, Massachusetts. As a Handmaid, owned by the wealthy, she is expected to provide the family with babies while staying within the women’s strict boundaries set forth by society. The novel, written in the format of her journal, parallels the similarities between what was once the way of living to her life now, slowly revealing aspects of the new society that discriminates women while also protecting them against things that were a common problem in the past.

    Since the novel is set in a society where women are only viewed as important if they are sterile, it is a very intriguing ideal and a way of living. It is a story that is depicted in such a way where you yearn to read more since the information is slowly being sifted through the experiences of Offred. It is a difficult read however because there are numerous flashbacks to the old society she lived in, before Giliad was created. It is a must read because it gets you thinking on the future of the United States and what the future might hold if women are sexualized even more so than they are now.

  64. Griffin says:

    Dune, by Frank Herbert. Science Fiction. 489 pages. Moderate difficulty.
    Griffin Drake, 12, AP Lit, Bartley

    The fantasy epic Dune is just that. Herbert’s work spans the political, the religious, and the ecological, as it follows the young Paul Atreides, the son of Duke Leto, as he travels to the desert planet, Arrakis. Paul, trained from birth to be a “human computer,” with skills in combat, observation, and politics, is rumored to have the power to see the future as no one has before. The book covers the political and military maneuverings of the Atreides family to secure the precious resources on Arrakis: water, and spice, the most valuable substance in the universe. All the while, they must protect themselves from the plots of Baron Harkonnen, who wishes for nothing more than to destroy the Atreides and secure the spice for himself. Meanwhile, the Fremen, a mysterious desert people, who live in the seemingly uninhabitable lands of waterless plains and deadly sandworms, have a secret mission, one that Paul’s destiny is inexorably tied into.

    Herbert makes Dune a delightful balance between action and discussion. Conversations have the intensity of a feint-filled knife fight, and the excitement of a knife fight is heightened by providing a window into the character’s mind. The style of rotating narration allows the reader to truly experience Arrakis through the eyes of complex and believable characters. And it is the realism of these individuals that provides grounding for the reader as Herbert explores the abstract mysticism of seeing the future, the past, and the present. Arrakis itself comes to life within the pages, bringing an air of ancient wonder to the culture and fauna of the desert. Don’t be afraid to use the glossary; it is not necessary for comprehension, but it can add another layer of understanding and appreciation. Dune achieves the ultimate science-fiction goal: presenting a complex study of greed, power, and human nature, while still retaining its page-turning excitement.

  65. Arianna J says:

    Paradise
    By: Toni Morrison
    Genre: Fiction
    Page length: 318
    Reading level: hard(don’t be discouraged)

    Arianna J
    Grade:12th
    Ms. Bartley’s AP lit

    Should fiction be easy? Depending on how you answer this rather basic question, you will either love or hate this book (and the rest of Morrison’s books too). In other words, is reading merely another hobby for you, or is it an obsession? Morrison caters to those of us who are obsessed. Paradise takes a rather complex story and tells it in a complex way.

    In this non-linear book, each chapter is devoted to a main female character in the novel, including the town itself, Ruby. Ruby is an all-black town in OK, founded by freed slaves. This is a town that prides itself on its history and on its racial purity among other things. It is these beliefs that head the town toward the path of destruction when some women, who are not like the citizens of Ruby, move in to the convent on the outskirts of town.

    Morrison, uses confusion as a means of bringing us deeper into her world. The act of reading is not so much a discovery of answers, but of more questions. Paradise is first and foremost a mystery novel: who are the nine men with guns in the first chapter? Who is the white girl? What has provoked this violence? etc etc. Every answer that Morrison gives us comes at a price: more questions. Personally, I wouldn’t want to have it any other way.

  66. Hannah H. says:

    The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
    Genre: Fiction
    Page Length: 252
    Reading Level: Easy

    Hannah Horten, Grade 12, Ms. Bartely’s AP Lit Class

    The History of Love follows the life of four Jewish people who are all intricately connected through a book written within the book. Krauss delicately analyzes the different dynamics of love and death that capture the reality of what it means to love and remember. A father mourning his son, a young girl remembering her father, and a young boy enthralled by religion are all examples of the lives and relationships that lie within the pages of Krauss’ book.

    This book is a very reflective book that does not center around action; however, I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a good book that is more emotionally stimulating rather than thrilling. This book made me cry and is definitely on my list of favorites. It is a very fast read and will spark an appreciation for life.

  67. Sawyer Hiton says:

    Like Siddhartha, Hesse’s other best-known book, Steppenwolf is about one man’s spiritual journey towards self-knowledge. Nearly 90 years on, its message to readers retains a religious intensity: we must explore ourselves and keep doing so. If we don’t, then our lives become living deaths.

    The novel’s protagonist, 47-year-old Harry Haller, is living an extremely death-like existence. Once a public intellectual, he has retreated in disgust from modern European culture. Having lost his job, family and home, he lives in wolfish isolation, brooding by day and haunting taverns by night. Two souls war inside him: “the beast”, yearning for savagery and isolation, and “the man” seeking culture, society and love. Harry longs to kill himself, yet clings stubbornly to his “evil days of inward emptiness and despair”.

    Steppenwolf is a book about – but ultimately against – suicide. For all its savagely articulate descriptions of torment and isolation, it is most eloquent about something less glamorous but far more important: healing.

    Sawyer Hiton, Senior
    AP Literature with Bartley

  68. Olivia Wilk says:

    The Handmaid’s Tale
    Margaret Atwood

    The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is a futuristic story that takes place in a totalitarian theocracy known as “Gilead”, a region that was once the United States of America. Due to the rampant issue of male sterility in this dystopian world, fertile women are assigned to become “handmaids” for wealthy couples. As handmaids, these women become tools of reproduction for society and are severely punished if they fail to conform to their role. This story follows a handmaid named Offred in her attempt to subvert the system and recounts her experience prior Gilead’s regime through a series of flashbacks.

    I found this novel unbelievably terrifying and utterly compelling. The riveting tale of Offred sheds light on the dangers of extremism and questions the misogynist ideology of society by exaggerating it in the story. The Handmaid’s Tale is a feminist take on the story of a dystopian regime; thus, I found it to have many similarities with 1984 and Brave New World. The Handmaid’s tale is captivating and fantastic read for those who are willing to imagine the horrors of the cruel world Atwood creates.

    Olivia Wilk
    AP Literature, Bartley

  69. Pavlina S. says:

    Zeitoun by Dave Eggers is 325-page nonfiction account of a Muslim family’s experience during Hurricane Katrina. The father of the family, Abdulrahman Zeitoun, decides to stay in New Orleans while his wife Kathy leaves with the children. As the city floods and the situation worsens, Zeitoun struggles to survive amongst the crime, danger, and chaos that the hurricane has imposed on the functioning of the city and the government.

    I really enjoyed how although the story is about Hurricane Katrina, it sheds light on the lasting impacts of 9/11 through the eyes of a Muslim Arab-American. The injustice that Zeitoun faces as a Muslim reveals corruption and wrongdoing in the American government and society that I had never considered before. Despite this bleak reality, Kathy and Zeitoun’s unwavering compassion and courage in the face of disaster weave a heartwarming element into the story, leaving the reader with inspiration and hope.

    Pavlina S.
    Senior AP Literature, Bartley

  70. Leandro says:

    Siddhartha
    By: Hermann Hesse
    Genre: Religious Classic
    Page Length: 152
    Reading Level: Easy

    Leandro Marx, Grade 12, Mrs. Bartley’s AP Lit Class

    In Hermann Hesse’s most famous novel, Siddhartha, a young man leaves home with the intention of becoming enlightened. Weary of religious doctrines, Siddhartha chooses to pursue his own, self-fabricated, path to enlightenment by learning from the world around him as opposed to any one omniscient teacher. These teachers include forest dwelling ascetics, a lustful courtesan, a merchant, and a ferryman. This peculiar journey is sure to captivate readers as it details one man’s quest to understand his own life and to understand the world.

    Although Siddhartha is short and only takes a few hours to read, it is full of insightful messages that will make you think about the way you live your life. I would highly recommend this book to all readers, especially to those looking to broaden their perception of what it means to be human.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s