SPM’s Summer Reading 2016

Summer Reading for All

Please peruse the wonderful books below. Each student must choose ONE of these books to enjoy over the summer break. You may not read a book that you may not read a book that you read last summer. Each title has a limited number of available slots, so you may want to choose a few just in case. When school resumes in August students and teachers will meet in small groups to discuss the books and participate in reflective activities on their reading.
A written component must be completed by the first day of school in August and will be turned in during homeroom. The written assignment can be found in the link below at left. AP students may have additional book provided to you by your teacher.
Check out all of the amazing titles and get lost in your reading adventures. Once you have decided the book(s) you would like choose click on the link below and submit your selection. Once the slots for that book have reached the limit it will be taken off the list, so if you do not see it there that is why. Enjoy!

Written Assignments for all students

 

**All book descriptions are from Amazon.com

A Long Way Gone

by Ishmael Beah

My new friends have begun to suspect I haven’t told them the full story of my life.
“Why did you leave Sierra Leone?”
“Because there is a war.”
“You mean, you saw people running around with guns and shooting each other?”
“Yes, all the time.”
“Cool.”
I smile a little.
“You should tell us about it sometime.”
“Yes, sometime.”

This is how wars are fought now: by children, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s. Children have become soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them.

What is war like through the eyes of a child soldier? How does one become a killer? How does one stop? Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have struggled to imagine their lives. But until now, there has not been a first-person account from someone who came through this hell and survived.

In A Long Way Gone, Beah, now twenty-five years old, tells a riveting story: how at the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he’d been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts.

This is a rare and mesmerizing account, told with real literary force and heartbreaking honesty. Grades 10-12

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

by Betty Smith

Francie Nolan, avid reader, penny-candy connoisseur, and adroit observer of human nature, has much to ponder in colorful, turn-of-the-century Brooklyn. She grows up with a sweet, tragic father, a severely realistic mother, and an aunt who gives her love too freely–to men, and to a brother who will always be the favored child. Francie learns early the meaning of hunger and the value of a penny. She is her father’s child–romantic and hungry for beauty. But she is her mother’s child, too–deeply practical and in constant need of truth. Like the Tree of Heaven that grows out of cement or through cellar gratings, resourceful Francie struggles against all odds to survive and thrive. Betty Smith’s poignant, honest novel created a big stir when it was first published over 50 years ago. Her frank writing about life’s squalor was alarming to some of the more genteel society, but the book’s humor and pathos ensured its place in the realm of classics–and in the hearts of readers, young and old. Grades 7-12

Brave New World

by Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley’s tour de force, Brave New World is a darkly satiric vision of a “utopian” future—where humans are genetically bred and pharmaceutically anesthetized to passively serve a ruling order. A powerful work of speculative fiction that has enthralled and terrified readers for generations, it remains remarkably relevant to this day as both a warning to be heeded as we head into tomorrow and as thought-provoking, satisfying entertainment. Grades 9-12

A Swiftly Tilting Planet

by Madeleine L’Engle

In A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle, a companion to the Newbery Award winner A Wrinkle in Time and A Wind in the Door, fifteen-year-old Charles Wallace and the unicorn Gaudior undertake a perilous journey through time in a desperate attempt to stop the destruction of the world by the mad dictator Madog Branzillo. They are not alone in their quest. Charles Wallace’s sister, Meg–grown and expecting her first child, but still able to enter her brother’s thoughts and emotions by “kything”–goes with him in spirit. Charles Wallace must face the ultimate test of his faith and his will as he is sent within four people from another time, there to search for a way to avert the tragedy threatening them all. Grades 7-8

Be Beautiful Be You

by Lizzie Velasquez

“”After spending years wanting to look like everyone else, I realized I needed to love and accept myself just as I am. When I stopped listening to other people and started making a life for myself, I discovered my purpose in life, my passion. Is someone or something hurting you? Are you feeling alone or lonely? Afraid? Misunderstood? Do you wish even just one person would listen to you? Do you have a decision to make and need help choosing a path? I want to give you the tools to figure out what to do about each of those problems.”” —Lizzie Velasquez, Be Beautiful, Be You
When an Internet video calling her “The World’s Ugliest Woman” went viral, Lizzie Velasquez set out to discover what truly makes us beautiful. Now she shares what she learned on that faith-filled journey.

In Be Beautiful, Be You, Lizzie uses anecdotes and exercises to teach readers to recognize their own unique gifts and blessings, talk to God in their own words, deal with disappointment, make and maintain healthy friendships, and set realistic goals.

In a world filled with airbrushed celebrity photos and plastic surgery, Lizzie Velasquez is a refreshing force of nature whose story will inspire anyone who has ever felt singled out, misunderstood, or afraid—and who hasn’t?

Lizzie Velasquez is a communications major at Texas State University in San Marcos. She is one of only three known people in the world with a medical syndrome that doesn’t allow her to gain weight or create muscle. Lizzie has appeared as a motivational speaker at more than 200 workshops. Her story has been featured in both national and international media, including The Today Show, Inside Edition, Australia’s Sunday Night, Germany’s Explosiv, and Dr. Drew. This is her second book. ”  Grades 7-12

Cinder

by Marissa Meyer

The #1 New York Times Bestselling Series!

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. Grades 9-12

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants

by Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell’s provocative new #1 bestseller — now in paperback.

Three thousand years ago on a battlefield in ancient Palestine, a shepherd boy felled a mighty warrior with nothing more than a pebble and a sling-and ever since, the names of David and Goliath have stood for battles between underdogs and giants. David’s victory was improbable and miraculous. He shouldn’t have won. Or should he?

In DAVID AND GOLIATH, Malcolm Gladwell challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, offering a new interpretation of what it means to be discriminated against, suffer from a disability, lose a parent, attend a mediocre school, or endure any number of other apparent setbacks.

In the tradition of Gladwell’s previous bestsellers-The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers and What the Dog Saw-DAVID AND GOLIATH draws upon history, psychology and powerful story-telling to reshape the way we think of the world around us. Grades 9-12

Esperanza Rising

by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Esperanza thought she’d always live with her family on their ranch in Mexico–she’d always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home, and servants. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California during the Great Depression, and to settle in a camp for Mexican farm workers. Esperanza isn’t ready for the hard labor, financial struggles, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When their new life is threatened, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances–Mama’s life, and her own, depend on it. Grades 7-12

Housekeeping

by Marilynne Robinson

A modern classic, Housekeeping is the story of Ruth and her younger sister, Lucille, who grow up haphazardly, first under the care of their competent grandmother, then of two comically bumbling great-aunts, and finally of Sylvie, the eccentric and remote sister of their dead mother. The family house is in the small town of Fingerbone on a glacial lake in the Far West, the same lake where their grandfather died in a spectacular train wreck and their mother drove off a cliff to her death. It is a town “chastened by an outsized landscape and extravagant weather, and chastened again by an awareness that the whole of human history had occurred elsewhere.” Ruth and Lucille’s struggle toward adulthood beautifully illuminates the price of loss and survival, and the dangerous and deep undertow of transcience. Grades 7-12

Jim the Boy

by Tony Earley

Both delightful and wise, Jim the Boy brilliantly captures the pleasures and fears of youth at a time when America itself was young and struggling to come into its own.

Tony Earley made his debut with Here We Are in Paradise, a superbly understated collection of (mostly) small-town vignettes. He returns to the same terrain in his first novel, Jim the Boy, setting this coming-of-age story in a remote North Carolina hamlet. The year is 1934, and like the rest of the country, Aliceville is feeling the pinch of the Great Depression. Yet neither Jim nor his mother nor his three uncles–who have split the paternal role neatly among themselves since the death of Jim’s father a decade earlier–are feeling much in the way of economic pain. Indeed, if you stuck a satellite dish on the front lawn, the story might be taking place in the New South rather than the older, bucolic one.

This isn’t to suggest that Earley is deaf to social detail. Indeed, there are all sorts of wonderful touches, like the décor in Jim’s classroom, with its “large, colorful maps of the United States, the Confederacy, and the Holy Land during the time of Jesus.” But Jim the Boy is very much the tale of a 10-year-old’s expanding consciousness, which at first barely extends beyond the family property. Earley has a real gift for conveying childhood epiphanies, like Jim’s sudden apprehension of the wider world during a trip in Uncle Al’s truck:

Two thoughts came to Jim at once, joined by a thread of amazement: he thought, People live here, and he thought, They don’t know who I am. At that moment the world opened up around Jim like hands that, until that moment, had been cupped around him; he felt very small, almost invisible, in the open air of their center, but knew that the hands would not let him go. It was almost like flying.

The simple lyricism and anti-ironic sweetness work mostly to the book’s advantage. There are times, it’s true, when Earley sands his prose down to an unnatural smoothness, and we seem to be edging toward the sentimental precincts of a young-adult novel. But on the whole, Jim the Boy is a lovely, meticulous work–a song of innocence and (eventually) experience, delivered with just a hint of a North Carolina accent. –James Marcus  Grades 7-12

Looking for Alaska

by John Green

Winner of the Michael L. Printz Award An ALA Best Book for Young Adults An ALA Quick Pick A Los Angeles Times 2005 Book Prize Finalist A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age A 2005 Booklist Editor’s Choice A 2005 School Library Journal Best Book of the Year Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . . After. Nothing is ever the same. Grades 7-12

My Sister’s Keeper

by Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult tells the story of a girl who decides to sue her parents for the rights to her own body in this New York Times bestseller that tackles a controversial subject with grace and explores what it means to be a good person.

New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult is widely acclaimed for her keen insights into the hearts and minds of real people. Now she tells the emotionally riveting story of a family torn apart by conflicting needs and a passionate love that triumphs over human weakness.

Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate—a life and a role that she has never challenged…until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister—and so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable, a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves.

My Sister’s Keeper examines what it means to be a good parent, a good sister, a good person. Is it morally correct to do whatever it takes to save a child’s life, even if that means infringing upon the rights of another? Is it worth trying to discover who you really are, if that quest makes you like yourself less? Should you follow your own heart, or let others lead you? Once again, in My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult tackles a controversial real-life subject with grace, wisdom, and sensitivity. Grades 9-12

Odd Thomas

by Dean Koontz

“The dead don’t talk. I don’t know why.” But they do try to communicate, with a short-order cook in a small desert town serving as their reluctant confidant. Meet Odd Thomas, the unassuming young hero of Dean Koontz’s dazzling New York Times bestseller, a gallant sentinel at the crossroads of life and death who offers up his heart in these pages and will forever capture yours.

Sometimes the silent souls who seek out Odd want justice. Occasionally their otherworldly tips help him prevent a crime. But this time it’s different. A stranger comes to Pico Mundo, accompanied by a horde of hyena-like shades who herald an imminent catastrophe. Aided by his soul mate, Stormy Llewellyn, and an unlikely community of allies that includes the King of Rock ’n’ Roll, Odd will race against time to thwart the gathering evil. His account of these shattering hours, in which past and present, fate and destiny, converge, is a testament by which to live—an unforgettable fable for our time destined to rank among Dean Koontz’s most enduring works. Grades 9-12

Take Me With You

by Catherine Ryan Hyde

August Shroeder, a burned-out teacher, has been sober since his nineteen-year-old son died. Every year he’s spent the summer on the road, but making it to Yellowstone this year means everything. The plan had been to travel there with his son, but now August is making the trip with Philip’s ashes instead. An unexpected twist of fate lands August with two extra passengers for his journey, two half-orphans with nowhere else to go.

What none of them could have known was how transformative both the trip—and the bonds that develop between them—would prove, driving each to create a new destiny together. Grade 7-12

The Glass Castle

by Jeannette Wells

Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn’t stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an “excitement addict.” Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.
Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town — and the family — Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents’ betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.
What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.
For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story. A regular contributor to MSNBC.com, she lives in New York and Long Island and is married to the writer John Taylor. Grades 9-12

The Invention of Wings

by Sue Monk Kidd

Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world—and it is now the newest Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 selection.

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved. Grades 9-12

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto: A Novel

by Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom creates his most unforgettable fictional character—Frankie Presto, the greatest guitarist to ever walk the earth—in this magical novel about the bands we join in life and the power of talent to change our lives.

In his most stunning novel yet, the voice of Music narrates the tale of its most beloved disciple, young Frankie Presto, a war orphan raised by a blind music teacher in a small Spanish town. At nine years old, Frankie is sent to America in the bottom of a boat. His only possession is an old guitar and six precious strings.

But Frankie’s talent is touched by the gods, and his amazing journey weaves him through the musical landscape of the 20th century, from classical to jazz to rock and roll, with his stunning talent affecting numerous stars along the way, including Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Carole King, Wynton Marsalis and even KISS.

Frankie becomes a pop star himself. He makes records. He is adored. But his gift is also his burden, as he realizes, through his music, he can actually affect people’s futures—with one string turning blue whenever a life is altered.

At the height of his popularity, Frankie Presto vanishes. His legend grows. Only decades later, does he reappear—just before his spectacular death—to change one last life.

With its Forest Gump-like romp through the music world, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto is a classic in the making. A lifelong musician himself, Mitch Albom delivers a remarkable novel, infused with the message that “everyone joins a band in this life” and those connections change us all. Grades 9-12

The Skin I’m In

by Sharon G. Flake

Maleeka suffers every day from the taunts of the other kids in her class. If they’re not getting at her about her homemade clothes or her good grades, it’s about her dark, black skin. When a new teacher, whose face is blotched with a startling white patch, starts at their school, Maleeka can see there is bound to be trouble for her too. But the new teacher’s attitude surprises Maleeka. Miss Saunders loves the skin she’s in. Can Maleeka learn to do the same? Grades 7-12

Timeline

by Michael Crichton

In an Arizona desert a man wanders in a daze, speaking words that make no sense. Within twenty-four hours he is dead, his body swiftly cremated by his only known associates. Halfway around the world archaeologists make a shocking discovery at a medieval site. Suddenly they are swept off to the headquarters of a secretive multinational corporation that has developed an astounding technology. Now this group is about to get a chance not to study the past but to enter it. And with history opened to the present, the dead awakened to the living, these men and women will soon find themselves fighting for their very survival–six hundred years ago. . .  Grades 9-12

Uglies

by Scott Westerfield

Everybody gets to be supermodel gorgeous. What could be wrong with that?
Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. Not for her license — for turning pretty. In Tally’s world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.
But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to be pretty. She’d rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world — and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever. Grades 9-12

When the Legends Die

by Hal Borland

A young Native American walks between the lonesome forest where he was raised and the complicated modern world he must navigate to survive

 

Thomas Black Bull’s parents forsook the life of a modern reservation and took to ancient paths in the woods, teaching their young son the stories and customs of his ancestors. But Tom’s life changes forever when he loses his father in a tragic accident and his mother dies shortly afterward. When Tom is discovered alone in the forest with only a bear cub as a companion, life becomes difficult. Soon, well-meaning teachers endeavor to reform him, a rodeo attempts to turn him into an act, and nearly everyone he meets tries to take control of his life.

 

Powerful and timeless, When the Legends Die is a captivating story of one boy learning to live in harmony with both civilization and wilderness. Grades 7-12

Ender’s Shadow

by Orson Scott Card

Orson Scott Card brings us back to the very beginning of his brilliant Ender Quartet, with the novel that begins The Shadow Series and allows us to reenter Ender’s world anew.
With all the power of his original creation, Ender’s Shadow is Card’s parallel volume to Ender’s Game, a book that expands and complements the first, enhancing its power, illuminating its events and its powerful conclusion.
The human race is at War with the “Buggers”, an insect-like alien race. The first battles went badly, and now as Earth prepares to defend itself against the imminent threat of total destruction at the hands of an inscrutable alien enemy, all focus is on the development and training of military geniuses who can fight such a war, and win.
The long distances of interstellar space have given hope to the defenders of Earth–they have time to train these future commanders up from childhood, forging then into an irresistible force in the high orbital facility called the Battle School.
Andrew “Ender” Wiggin was not the only child in the Battle School; he was just the best of the best. In this new book, card tells the story of another of those precocious generals, the one they called Bean–the one who became Ender’s right hand, part of his team, in the final battle against the Buggers.
Bean’s past was a battle just to survive. He first appeared on the streets of Rotterdam, a tiny child with a mind leagues beyond anyone else’s. He knew he could not survive through strength; he used his tactical genius to gain acceptance into a children’s gang, and then to help make that gang a template for success for all the others. He civilized them, and lived to grow older.
Bean’s desperate struggle to live, and his success, brought him to the attention of the Battle School’s recruiters, those people scouring the planet for leaders, tacticians, and generals to save Earth from the threat of alien invasion. Bean was sent into orbit, to the Battle School. And there he met Ender… Grades 9-12

Have A Little Faith

by Mitch Albom

What if our beliefs were not what divided us, but what pulled us together In Have a Little Faith, Mitch Albom offers a beautifully written story of a remarkable eight-year journey between two worlds–two men, two faiths, two communities–that will inspire readers everywhere. Albom’s first nonfiction book since Tuesdays with Morrie, Have a Little Faith begins with an unusual request: an eighty-two-year-old rabbi from Albom’s old hometown asks him to deliver his eulogy. Feeling unworthy, Albom insists on understanding the man better, which throws him back into a world of faith he’d left years ago. Meanwhile, closer to his current home, Albom becomes involved with a Detroit pastor–a reformed drug dealer and convict–who preaches to the poor and homeless in a decaying church with a hole in its roof. Moving between their worlds, Christian and Jewish, African-American and white, impoverished and well-to-do, Albom observes how these very different men employ faith similarly in fighting for survival: the older, suburban rabbi embracing it as death approaches; the younger, inner-city pastor relying on it to keep himself and his church afloat. As America struggles with hard times and people turn more to their beliefs, Albom and the two men of God explore issues that perplex modern man: how to endure when difficult things happen; what heaven is; intermarriage; forgiveness; doubting God; and the importance of faith in trying times. Although the texts, prayers, and histories are different, Albom begins to recognize a striking unity between the two worlds–and indeed, between beliefs everywhere. In the end, as the rabbi nears death and a harsh winter threatens the pastor’s wobbly church, Albom sadly fulfills the rabbi’s last request and writes the eulogy. And he finally understands what both men had been teaching all along: the profound comfort of believing in something bigger than yourself. Have a Little Faith is a book about a life’s purpose; about losing belief and finding it again; about the divine spark inside us all. It is one man’s journey, but it is everyone’s story. Grades 9-12

Illustrated History of Edgar Allan Poe

by Paul J. Macek

The book presents itself with a great deal of visual appeal–the graphics are stunning–not a book that can easily be put down. Once the book is in the hands of the reader there is an irresistible urge to turn the page. Graphics by Gustave Doré, Harry Clarke, Aubrey Beardsley, and others capture quickly the interest of the reader. But the book goes far beyond the pictorial level of reading. The book also contains 204 epigrams or famous sayings which link with Poe’s writings or personal life. This level of reading falls within the realm of marginal notes-perhaps the most difficult and satisfying level of reading. Lastly, the figure caption and the exposition of text lead the reader from one part of Poe’s life to the next: from Boston to Richmond to Philadelphia to New York with two timelines clearly outlining the structure of the book Edgar Allan Poe influenced not only American but also world culture, especially in the area of literature, from Charles Baudelaire in France to Fyodor Dostoyevsky in Russia. Poe invented science fiction with his stories “MS Found in a Bottle,” “The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall,” and “A Descent into the Maleström,” which provided the inspiration for Jules Verne and H. G. Wells. As the father of mystery fiction, Poe created the first detective stories and horror stories in American literature.

Book is available in C/W Mars Connecting Libraries in Central Massachusetts.

Quickest way to purchase is the webpage: webpages.charter.net/pmacek

Other Options: Facebook, Annie’s Book Stop in Worcester, Booklover’s Gourmet in Webster, or Amazon.com. Grades 9-12

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

by Bryan Stevenson

A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time
 
Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.              Grades 9-12

Missing Mom: A True Crime, True Family Story

by Daniel L Murphy

This is an odd and twisting true story about kidnapping, robbery, and murder; and yet it is strangely uplifting.
This true story begins on a sunny July morning in 2003, just outside of Flint Michigan, when an eighty year old grandmother has mysteriously disappeared from the face of the earth. Days later the charred remains of her car were identified, after being completely destroyed by an intentional fire; but she was nowhere to be found. We had to find her.
She was my mom…      Grades 9-12

Never Fall Down

by Patricia McCormick

This National Book Award nominee from two-time finalist Patricia McCormick is the unforgettable story of Arn Chorn-Pond, who defied the odds to survive the Cambodian genocide of 1975-1979 and the labor camps of the Khmer Rouge.

Based on the true story of Cambodian advocate Arn Chorn-Pond, and authentically told from his point of view as a young boy, this is an achingly raw and powerful historical novel about a child of war who becomes a man of peace. It includes an author’s note and acknowledgments from Arn Chorn-Pond himself.

When soldiers arrive in his hometown, Arn is just a normal little boy. But after the soldiers march the entire population into the countryside, his life is changed forever.

Arn is separated from his family and assigned to a labor camp: working in the rice paddies under a blazing sun, he sees the other children dying before his eyes. One day, the soldiers ask if any of the kids can play an instrument. Arn’s never played a note in his life, but he volunteers.

This decision will save his life, but it will pull him into the very center of what we know today as the Killing Fields. And just as the country is about to be liberated, Arn is handed a gun and forced to become a soldier.  Grades 9-12

Remember why You Play: Faith, Football, and a Season to Believe

by David Thomas

If you enjoyed Friday Night Lights, this book is a must-read. Remember Why You Play documents the lives, struggles, and triumphs of the players and coaches of Faith Christian School in Grapevine, Texas.
Sports columnist and author David Thomas followed the team for a full season, recording a story that will inspire readers to understand that relationships are more important than winning.
One of the key events was a game that Faith Christian played against the Gainesville State Tornadoes, a school for convicted juvenile offenders. The story of this spectacular game is being made into a movie, titled One Heart, with an anticipated release in November 2010. Reminiscent of Hoosiers and Remember the Titans, this true story makes a strong statement about the impact of compassion and sportsmanship. Grades 9-12

The Boys of Winter

by Wayne Coffey.

Once upon a time, they taught us to believe. They were the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, a blue-collar bunch led by an unconventional coach, and they engineered perhaps the greatest sports moment of the twentieth century. Their “Miracle on Ice” has become a national fairy tale, but the real Cinderella story is even more remarkable. It is a legacy of hope, hard work, and homegrown triumph. It is a chronicle of everyday heroes who just wanted to play hockey happily ever after. It is still unbelievable.

The Boys of Winter is an evocative account of the improbable American adventure in Lake Placid, New York. Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews, Wayne Coffey explores the untold stories of the U.S. upstarts, their Soviet opponents, and the forces that brought them together.

Plagued by the Iran hostage crisis, persistent economic woes, and the ongoing Cold War, the United States battled a pervasive sense of gloom in 1980. And then came the Olympics. Traditionally a playground for the Russian hockey juggernaut and its ever-growing collection of gold medals, an Olympic ice rink seemed an unlikely setting for a Cold War upset. The Russians were experienced professional champions, state-reared and state-supported. The Americans were mostly college kids who had their majors and their stipends and their dreams, a squad that coach Herb Brooks had molded into a team in six months. It was men vs. boys, champions vs. amateurs, communism vs. capitalism.

Coffey casts a fresh eye on this seminal sports event in The Boys of Winter, crafting an intimate look at the team and giving readers an ice-level view of the boys who captivated a country. He details the unusual chemistry of the Americans—formulated by a fiercely determined Brooks—and he seamlessly weaves portraits of the players with the fluid, fast-paced action of the 1980 game itself. Coffey also traces the paths of the players and coaches since that time, examining how the events in Lake Placid affected and directed their lives and investigating what happens after one conquers the world.

But Coffey not only reveals the anatomy of an underdog, he probes the shocked disbelief of the unlikely losers and how it felt to be taken down by such an overlooked opponent. After all, the greatest American sports moment of the century was a Russian calamity, perhaps even more unimaginable in Moscow than in Minnesota or Massachusetts. Coffey deftly balances the joyous American saga with the perspective of the astonished silver medalists.

Told with warmth and an uncanny eye for detail, The Boys of Winter is an intimate, perceptive portrayal of one Friday night in Lake Placid and the enduring power of the extraordinary. Grades 7-12

The House on Mango Street

by Sandra Cisneros

Here is Sandra Cisnero’s greatly admired and best-selling novel of a young girl growing up in the Latino section of Chicago. Acclaimed by critics, beloved by children and their parents and grandparents, taught everywhere from inner-city grade schools to universities across the country, and translated all over the world, “The House on Mango Street” has entered the canon of coming-of-age classics even as it depicts a new American landscape. Sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous, “The House on Mango Street” tells the story of Esperanza Cordero, whose neighborhood is one of harsh realities and harsh beauty. Esperanza doesn’t want to belong – not to her run-down neighborhood, and not to the low expectations the world has for her. Esperanza’s story is that of a young girl coming into her power, and inventing for herself what she will become. “The San Francisco Chronicle” has called “The House on Mango Street” “marvelous… spare yet luminous. The subtle power of Cisnero’s storytelling is evident. She communicates all the rapture and rage of growing up in a modern world.” It is an extraordinary achievement that will live on for years to come. Grades 7-12

The Last Season: A Father, a Son and a Lifetime of College Football

by Stuart Stevens

Fathers, sons, and sports are enduring themes of American literature. Here, in this fresh and moving account, a son returns to his native South to spend a special autumn with his ninety-five-year-old dad, sharing the unique joys, disappointments, and life lessons of Saturdays with their beloved Ole Miss Rebels.

After growing up in Jackson, Stuart Stevens built a successful career as a writer and political consultant. But in the fall of 2012, not long after he turned sixty, the presidential campaign he’d worked on suffered a painful defeat. Grappling with a profound sense of loss and mortality, he began asking himself some tough questions, not least about his relationship with his father. The two of them had spent little time together for decades. He made a resolution: to invite his father to attend a season of Ole Miss football games together, as they’d done when college football provided a way for his father to guide him through childhood—and to make sense of the troubled South of the 1960s. Now, driving to and from the games, and cheering from the stands, they take stock of their lives as father and son, and as individuals, reminding themselves of their unique, complicated, precious bond.

Poignant and full of heart, but also irreverent and often hilarious, The Last Season is a powerful story of parents and children and of the importance of taking a backward glance together while you still can. Grades 10-12

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The Man Who Quit Money

by Mark Sundeen.

In 2000, Daniel Suelo left his life savings-all thirty dollars of it-in a phone booth. He has lived without money-and with a newfound sense of freedom and security-ever since. The Man Who Quit Money is an account of how one man learned to live, sanely and happily, without earning, receiving, or spending a single cent. Suelo doesn’t pay taxes, or accept food stamps or welfare. He lives in caves in the Utah canyonlands, forages wild foods and gourmet discards. He no longer even carries an I.D. Yet he manages to amply fulfill not only the basic human needs-for shelter, food, and warmth-but, to an enviable degree, the universal desires for companionship, purpose, and spiritual engagement. In retracing the surprising path and guiding philosophy that led Suelo into this way of life, Sundeen raises provocative and riveting questions about the decisions we all make, by default or by design, about how we live-and how we might live better. Grades 9-12

The Time Machine

by H.G. Wells

The Time Traveller, a dreamer obsessed with traveling through time, builds himself a time machine and, much to his surprise, travels over 800,000 years into the future. He lands in the year 802701: the world has been transformed by a society living in apparent harmony and bliss, but as the Traveler stays in the future he discovers a hidden barbaric and depraved subterranean class. Wells’s transparent commentary on the capitalist society was an instant bestseller and launched the time-travel genre.

The Time Machine inspired the international bestseller The Map of Time by Félix J. Palma. As a gift to our readers, we are including the first three chapters of The Map of Time in this ebook edition.  Grades 9-12

Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, A Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson

by Mitch Albom

Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher, or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, helped you see the world as a more profound place, gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it.
For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago.
Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded, and the world seemed colder. Wouldn’t you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you, receive wisdom for your busy life today the way you once did when you were younger?
Mitch Albom had that second chance. He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man’s life. Knowing he was dying, Morrie visited with Mitch in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final “class”: lessons in how to live.
Tuesdays with Morrie is a magical chronicle of their time together, through which Mitch shares Morrie’s lasting gift with the world.
It’s been ten years since Mitch Albom first shared the wisdom of Morrie Schwartz with the world. Now–twelve million copies later–in a new afterword, Mitch Albom reflects again on the meaning of Morrie’s life lessons and the gentle, irrevocable impact of their Tuesday sessions all those years ago. . . Grades 9-12

Van Gogh, Inspiration Sketchbook

Van Gogh Museum, Rock Point Pub. Co.

“For the great doesn’t happen through impulse alone, and is a succession of little things that are brought together.” – Vincent van Gogh, The Hague, Sunday, October 22, 1882, to Theo van Gogh

Artistic inspiration abounds in the Van Gogh Museum Sketchbook featuring spot art by one of the world’s great artists, Vincent Van Gogh. Place your own drawings and art alongside the sketches of one of the most innovative and famous artists of all time. Enjoy an introduction by the one of the curators at the Van Gogh Museum. Throughout the pages, learn about Van Gogh and see his rarely published sketches.

Follow Van Gogh’s own themes, cities, countryside, and people with meaningful quotes from his letters.

“Ideas for work are coming to me in abundance , I’m going like a painting-locomotive.” – Vincent van Gogh, Arles, on or about September 11, 1888, to Theo van Gogh Grades 9-12

You Were Made to Make a Difference

by Max Lucado

Want to change the world? Did you know You Were Made to Make a Difference?

This adaptation of Outlive Your Life for teens offers practical tips youth can take out into their community to make a difference, plus real-life stories about those who have done just that. Teens learn that God can use them to make a difference right now. He wants to use them today, without waiting for them to be older, stronger, richer, or even more “together.” God can use their minds, their spirits, and their hands and feet to make permanent change for His kingdom.

Also included are valuable resources, interesting facts about the needy in the world and how little it takes to make a big difference, and other interactive elements such as journaling opportunities for writing personal ideas and service goals.

Teens will learn that their role in life is bigger than themselves, and that they’re not too young to make a difference for God. Grades 7-12