Summer Reading for Upper School Students
Dear Upper School student, It’s time to think about summer reading! I hope you have lots of time to read for fun this summer. This year, you may keep track of what you read this summer by keeping a reading log on paper, or on goodreads. You should read at least four books this summer. That means you should read one book every two weeks. 1) Choose one book to read for our book discussion groups. 2) Check to see if you have any required reading for honors courses or electives. If you do, count it as one of your books. 3) You should also read at least three additional books of your choice. The following pages contain a list of my suggestions if you need ideas, but also look at the suggestions of students for book discussion groups. 4)You can either keep a list of the books you read on goodreads.com, or on a simple book log. You must hand in something to me, in the library, to show that you have read at least four books.
Students will be able to check out books from the Faulkner Library for summer reading. Of course any books not returned in the fall will be billed. If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to contact me by email. Sincerely, Toni Vahlsing Director of Libraries Abington Friends School (215) 576-3976 firstname.lastname@example.org Distinguished Summer Reading: For those of you who want an additional challenge, aim to become a “Distinguished Reader.” To earn this recognition, you must do the following: 1)Read 2500 pages (or the equivalent in ebooks) during the summer months, including the books required above. 2)Write a three paragraph review of each of your books on Goodreads. Students who rise to this challenge will receive a notation on their official school transcript and will be invited to a special ice cream party.
Read at least three other books: Here are some suggestions- you can read what you want to read. The point of summer reading is to enjoy it.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell This very clever book will attract readers of fanfiction as well as fans of Rainbow Rowell. If you are neither, you should still give it a try. Cath is in her first year of college. Life is not easy for her. However, she has tens of thousands of readers in the fan fiction world that are counting on her to finish one of her stories, but college and life keeps getting in the way.
Ask the Passengers by A.S. King Astrid is unwillingly living in a small town after growing up in New York City. She questions her identity and sexuality and is keeping big secrets for other people, too. It all comes to a head when she and her friends get arrested in a place that they donâ€™t want people to know that they have been. Stolen by Lucy Christopher This is a haunting book that will stay with me for some time. A girl is stolen from an airport and transported to a house in the middle of the Australian desert. Her captor had been obsessed with her for years before this kidnapping. The story is told in the form of a letter written to her kidnapper.
Fat Boy vs the Cheerleaders by Geoff Herbach An amazing cast of characters fill this story of the war between fat boy Gabe and his band friends against the cheerleaders over who gets the profits from the school soda machines. Tensions run high! This is funny, but brutally honest. Shine by Lauren Myracle A really good read. Cat, who has been hiding out for the past three years, for reasons unknown, tries to solve a mystery. Someone has brutally beaten her friend, put a gas nozzle down his throat and tied him to a gas pump. Because Patrick is gay, it is labeled a hate crime, but there are no leads. Cat lives in an extremely small place that is not open to people who are different. Well done, with a surprising ending.
Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin A really compelling read about how damaging keeping secrets can be. Max is a golden boy, a soccer player (well, football, because this is a British book.) His family never talks about the fact that he is intersex. A horrible thing happens to Max, that he keeps secret for a long time, to avoid the issues of his sexuality.
Every Day by David Levithan What would happen if every day you woke up in a different person’s body? One day you’re a boy, another a girl; one day you are rich, another you don’t have enough to eat. What would happen if you fell in love? How would you let that person know who you really are? This is a fantastic concept that is well done.
How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr Jill’s dad died last year and now her mother wants to adopt a baby. Jill’s mom finds Molly on the internet. Molly is pregnant and needs to get out of her abusive family situation. Molly comes to live with Jill and her mother for the end of the pregnancy. Told in alternating viewpoints, this really gripped my imagination and kept me reading. King of the Screwups by K.L. Going Liam Geller is the son of a world famous model and a well-known businessman. Liam inherited his mother’s looks and fashion sense; something Liam’s father will never forgive him for. Liam acts out so much that he is thrown out of his home. Liam goes to stay with his cross-dressing uncle, “Aunt Pete,” in a trailer park in a tiny town. He tries to become someone his father will like; someone who likes academics, is not fashionable or popular, and he even joins the AV club. Liam even screws up trying to not be popular. I love the five older men in this book who try to help Liam fulfill his potential, but not in the way his father is thinking. The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson Though there is a romance in this gripping story, the main issues concern Hayley’s home life. Her father suffers from PTSD and Hayley is more his caretaker than he is hers. She never knows how his day is going to go and this affects her life entirely. She has spent the last five years traveling across the country with him in his semi, while he homeschools her. For her senior year, he wants her to go to a high school which feels really alien to her. All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin In New York in 2083, paper is hard to get. Caffeine and chocolate are illegal, but beer for minors is okay. (Why would you waste precious water making beer, anyway?) In the bathroom at school, you need to insert quarters to get water to wash your hands. Anya Ballachine is the daughter of a criminal who used to head a chocolate company before he was shot and killed, making Anya an orphan. Anya has got a lot on her hands. Her grandmother is dying, her older brother is simple-minded, her boyfriend is a jerk and she has to take care of her little sister. Good action. Good premise, but scary, because you could see how NYC could end up this way. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell Awesome book about a strange romance set in the 1980’s (which embarrassingly, is historical fiction). I loved how Eleanor and Park’s friendship and then romance unfolds. Eleanor has to keep the relationship a secret because of her family situation. Such a sweet romance, such a bad situation, such a good book!
After by Amy Efaw The police investigate the case of an infant left to die in a trash can. A teenager is home, sick from school and is found to be guilty. Her whole life she has been responsible, hardworking, and mature. How did this happen? After is an interesting look into the pysche of a desperate teen.
The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan Duncan comes to a private boarding school as a senior, mid-year. He has inherited a room that comes with a set of audio CDs telling the story of a tragedy that had happened the year before. You will become obseessed with the story of Ian, an albino who falls in love with the popular girl, Vanessa. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld Turning 16 in Tally’s world is a milestone, not because she will get a driver’s license, but because she will get the operation that all 16-year olds get, the one that will turn her “pretty”. She can’t wait. Something goes wrong on the day of her operation that delays her transformation and changes the course of her life. You will need to obtain all of the books in this series because once you start reading about Tally, you won’t be able to stop. Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier Dimple Lala is confused, but who isn’t? Her parents want her to meet a “suitable” Indian boy. That meeting does not go well. Then she meets him again in a nightclub, spinning a magical web. Complications follow. Dimple meets some amazing characters along the way. Hate List by Jennifer Brown Valerie kept a “Hate list” with her boyfriend. If someone did something she didn’t like, she would remark to him, “Put that girl on the list.” One day he comes into school with a gun, killing many of the people on her list. He shoots her in the leg before killing himself. Now she is trying to go back to school. How can she survive that? Boy21 by Matthew Quick Basketball, the Irish mafia, secrets, and friendship all combine to make a fantastic book. Finley has always been a solid member of his basketball team, but then his coach asks for his help with a new boy, who is a basketball star and whose parents have been murdered. He wants to be called “Boy21” and acts very strangely. Finley helps, despite the fact that if he does, he might lose his starting position on the team. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz This beautiful book follows two loners, who are very different from each other, as they spend more time together. A delight to read.
Adult books that will appeal to young adults: Night Road by Kristin Hannah Mia and Zach are twins. When Lexi moves into town she becomes best friends with Mia, but is attracted to Zach. The intertwining relationships are sweet and complex. When the friends are seniors in high school, everything seems all set. Then tragedy strikes one night after a graduation party. A book about how people deal with loss in different ways. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See In nineteenth century China, two girls are matched in an arranged friendship. They communicate overs the years by writing on fans and other gifts in a special language developed by women. They endure foot-binding, arranged marriages and having children. A lovely book.
Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon Lynnie, a woman with a developmental disability, and Homan, a deaf man who is unable to communicate, are locked away in a facility. They escape one night with the baby that Lynnie has just given birth to. They arrive at Martha’s farm at night. Before she is recaptured, Lynnie gives the child to Martha, whispering “Hide her.” The adventure that follows for all four of these characters is not to be missed. You will be repulsed by the institutions that used to exist to house people with differences like Lynnie. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba What a great true story of human courage and ingenuity! William Kamkwamba lives in Malawi. He lived through a terrible famine and had to drop out of school. He taught himself science and learned to build a windmill out of found parts. He wired his family’s house with no money, using flip flops and other objects for switches and other parts. Kamkwanba has given two TED talks that are amazing. Awesome book. Read it. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon The first in a planned series of seven books, this dystopian novel combines several genres into a gripping read. Read this if you like fantasy, vampires, or dystopian books. Toni predicts it will be next big series. Even if you don’t like vampires, give it a try.
The Blind Side by Michael Lewis Partly the story of Michael Oher, partly the history of football. Those who like the human story part can skim the football history or those who are fascinated by the history can skim the story. Or you can read the whole thing with great interest. Even if you have seen the movie, it is worth it to read this.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford Alternating between the 1980s and pre-World War II San Fransico, where a Chinese boy meets a Japanese girl. The reader who knows history knows that things are not going to go well for the couple.
The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg I loved, loved, loved this! A tale of two families. One in the 1920s-1940s and one in the present. The historical family is just so interesting! The girls take over the family filling station during World War II, learn how to fly, and become WASPS, ferrying airplanes all over the country. An easy read that is fun!
Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card Rigg is trained to keep secrets. Only his father knows about Rigg’s talent for seeing the path of a person’s history. After the death of his father, Rigg discovers that there are even more secrets that will change the course of his life drastically. Orson Scott Card has a vivid imagination and created a whole new world for this series.
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie A murder in the middle of the night on a train in a snowstorm, what could lead to a better mystery. Hercule Poirot is just the detective to solve the crime. This is classic Agatha Christie. If you haven’t read any mysteries by her, you should. They are such fun!
Defending Jacob by William Landay You will love reading this gripping crime novel and family drama. An 8th grade boy has been murdered in a park on the way to school. When his classmate (and son of the DA’s investigator into the case) is accused, the family’s world is turned upside down. Haunting ending.
The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow Rachel, a bi-racial girl, falls off the roof of a nine story building in Chicago, with her whole family. Rachel survives the fall and is taken to live with her black Grandmother in Portland, Oregon. She tried to become “the new girl” and not remember anything that happened to her before her fall. A boy who witnessed the family’s fall from below is profoundly affected by that event. Eventually the boy finds Rachel to give her a message from her father, whom she hasn’t seen in years. It is a heart-wrenching, wellwritten exploration of identity and discovery.