New Summer Reading Option: The Book of Unknown Americans (Freshmen)

Over the next few months, we will be revealing the titles that will become our additional summer reading options for the summer of 2016. Students will select one title from a list of six novels per grade (In the subject line of the post, “Freshmen” means that the book will be read by incoming freshmen, not existing ones, etc.). 

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

The Book of Unknown Americans by Christina Henriquez

A boy and a girl who fall in love. Two families whose hopes collide with destiny. An extraordinary novel that offers a resonant new definition of what it means to be American.

Arturo and Alma Rivera have lived their whole lives in Mexico. One day, their beautiful fifteen-year-old daughter, Maribel, sustains a terrible injury, one that casts doubt on whether she’ll ever be the same. And so, leaving all they have behind, the Riveras come to America with a single dream: that in this country of great opportunity and resources, Maribel can get better.

When Mayor Toro, whose family is from Panama, sees Maribel in a Dollar Tree store, it is love at first sight. It’s also the beginning of a friendship between the Rivera and Toro families, whose web of guilt and love and responsibility is at this novel’s core.

Woven into their stories are the testimonials of men and women who have come to the United States from all over Latin America. Their journeys and their voices will inspire you, surprise you, and break your heart.

Suspenseful, wry and immediate, rich in spirit and humanity, The Book of Unknown Americans is a work of rare force and originality.

(Review by Amazon)

New Summer Reading Option: Indian Killer (Sophomores)

Over the next few months, we will be revealing the titles that will become our additional summer reading options for the summer of 2016. Students will select one title from a list of six novels per grade (In the subject line of the post, “Freshmen” means that the book will be read by incoming freshmen, not existing ones, etc.). 

Indian Killer by Sherman Alexie

Indian Killer by Sherman Alexie

In this mystery, a series of murders strike the Seattle area at the turn of the century. The killer’s calling card is a pair of owl feathers left on the dead body. The collective response darkens the racial line that divides the city, unearthing deep resentments between the Native American population and the middle-class whites in the city. A brash, right-wing radio personality calls for concentration camps, and packs of angry young Native Americans roam the streets looking for revenge against recent hate crimes. In this novel, Alexie manages to write both a compelling mystery, as the collection of characters all try in their own way to figure out the identity of the person who is terrorizing their city, and a socially provocative book which examines how much race defines and sometimes confines us.

New Summer Reading Option: I am Malala (Freshmen)

Over the next few months, we will be revealing the titles that will become our additional summer reading options for the summer of 2016. Students will select one title from a list of six novels per grade (In the subject line of the post, “Freshmen” means that the book will be read by incoming freshmen, not existing ones, etc.). 

I am Malala by Malala Yousefzai

I am Malala by Malala Yousefzai

(Summary Courtesy of the Buffalo Library)

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.

Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize.

I AM MALALA is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

I AM MALALA will make you believe in the power of one person’s voice to inspire change in the world.

New Summer Reading Option: Me Talk Pretty One Day (Juniors)

Over the next few months, we will be revealing the titles that will become our additional summer reading options for the summer of 2016. Students will select one title from a list of six novels per grade (In the subject line of the post, “Freshmen” means that the book will be read by incoming freshmen, not existing ones, etc.). 

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

There are few writers today who command an audience at a book tour like David Sedaris. He’s nearly at rockstar status. People pay upwards of $60 to hear him read, and lines trail around the block at his book signings. His appeal comes from his humor – in this collection of essays, Sedaris recounts his experiences as an expatriate in Paris, trying to learn French as an adult, and feeling like a failure most of the time. Sedaris’s stories are great – his stories turn from poignant to hilarious, and he’s the type of author who makes you want to find a friend and tell him or her, “Read this!” If you’ve never read any of his material, or heard his stories (Sedaris is a frequent contributor to NPR programs), then this title is considered by many to be the place to start.

New Summer Reading Option: Citizen (Juniors)

Over the next few months, we will be revealing the titles that will become our additional summer reading options for the summer of 2016. Students will select one title from a list of six novels per grade (In the subject line of the post, “Freshmen” means that the book will be read by incoming freshmen, not existing ones, etc.). 

Citizen by Claudine Rankine

Citizen by Claudine Rankine

This book is prose poetry, visual artwork, anecdotal storytelling, essay, narrative, and verse. It is easily the most experimental works that we offer at BHS in the way that it challenges the whole notion of what a book is and how it ought to function. The book’s central theme is the current state of affairs in the United States in how we react to or respond to racial tension. The book examines historical moments like Hurricane Katrina and the increased awareness of police violence against black youths, pop culture moments including professional tennis and soccer athletes, and the contemporary contradiction of how racial identity has become a topic that we must talk about, and yet as a country, we seem ill-equipped to talk about it. This 2014 publication is a thought-provoking and exciting book from a contemporary perspective.

New Summer Reading Option: The Beach (Seniors)

Over the next few months, we will be revealing the titles that will become our additional summer reading options for the summer of 2016. Students will select one title from a list of six novels per grade (In the subject line of the post, “Freshmen” means that the book will be read by incoming freshmen, not existing ones, etc.). 

The Beach by Alex Garland

The Beach by Alex Garland

In this novel, Richard is a young Brit who has traveled to Thailand in an attempt to find something new. When he gets there, though, he’s disappointed in how many other westerners are there seeking the same sort of adventure. That’s when he finds out about The Beach – a secluded island that has not yet been tainted by commercialism. What follows is Richard’s efforts to find this island and become a part of the ragtag group of people who have turned it into a secret utopia. But what that utopia really is, and what it demands of Richard, quickly changes.

This book takes a harsh look at globalization, and how the desire to be unique sometimes becomes an unattainable and foolish quest. The pacing is quick, and the writing is sharp. If you liked Lord of the Flies or LOST, you’ll love The Beach.

New Summer Reading Option: High Fidelity (Seniors)

Over the next few weeks, we will be revealing the remaining titles that will become the summer reading options for the summer of 2015. Students will select one title from a list of around five novels per grade (In the subject line of the post, “Freshmen” means that the book will be read by incoming freshmen, not existing ones, etc.). 

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

HiFi

Top five reasons Rob Fleming’s life is falling apart:

  1. As an underemployed record-store owner, his lack of ambition is ruining his business.  Rob is unwavering in his music snobbishness, he puts the bare minimum of effort into his shop, and he also owes his ex-girlfriend Laura $5,000.  Laura is a succesful lawyer, so she had the money to lend him.  Rob has no issues about this, at all.  He especially does not have issues about her making more money than him, or her changing ambitions from when they first met, or her new friends at her law firm.  No issues at all.  Nothing about masculine pride or hurt feelings going on here.

  2. Laura, Rob’s live-in girlfriend, has left him for their upstairs neighbor, Ian.  To add insult to injury, Ian doesn’t even like good music.

  3. He barely likes his only friends.  Dick is soft-spoken, introverted, and nervous.  Barry is an arrogant and in-your-face jerk.  Dick and Barry also work for him, and they can’t help Rob with his problems.  They can’t even agree on whether to listen to Belle and Sebastian or Katrina and the Waves on Monday morning.

  4. Rob can’t stop obsessing about his ex-girlfriends.  Why did they leave him? Why is he so unloveable? Do they have it better now, or do they miss him?  Can’t they please tell him what is wrong with him?

  5. Rob can’t stop making top five lists about his favorite records, the women who broke his heart, the films he wants to see on his birthday, the best side-one track-ones of albums ever.  How is he supposed to get his life together when there are so many lists to be made?

New Summer Reading Option: Eleanor & Park (Freshmen)

Over the next few weeks, we will be revealing the remaining titles that will become the summer reading options for the summer of 2015. Students will select one title from a list of around five novels per grade (In the subject line of the post, “Freshmen” means that the book will be read by incoming freshmen, not existing ones, etc.). 

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

e&p

Eleanor is the chubby new girl with big, red hair. Unsure of herself and alone, Eleanor embarks on yet another first day at a new school. Targeted by bullies from the beginning based on her appearance, including a penchant for wearing men’s clothes, Eleanor just wants to disappear. Not only is school difficult, her home life doesn’t give her much solace either. Eleanor lives with her mother, four younger siblings and an unpredictable stepfather who becomes more sinister over the course of the story.

Park is the quiet, shy half-Korean student at Eleanor’s new school in Omaha, Nebraska. Feeling like an outsider most of his life, he is drawn to Eleanor when her first sees her, if only because he knows the bullies will eat her alive. Coming from a more stable home than Eleanor, Park still has to endure the constant reminder that he is not the sports loving athlete that his brother is.

On the first day of school, Eleanor steps on the bus and Park senses immediately that she will attract the attention of bullies. Apprehensive at first, as to not draw attention to himself, Park eventually offers Eleanor a seat next to him. Thus begins the friendship of an unlikely pair that blossoms into love through a shared interest in comic books and 80s music.

New Summer Reading Option: The Case of the Missing Servant (Sophomores)

Over the next few weeks, we will be revealing the remaining titles that will become the summer reading options for the summer of 2015. Students will select one title from a list of around five novels per grade (In the subject line of the post, “Freshmen” means that the book will be read by incoming freshmen, not existing ones, etc.). 

The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall

Servant

When the young servant girl of a well-to-do family in India goes missing, Ajay Kasliwal, the family patriarch and a prominent lawyer, becomes the prime suspect in the case. This story, however, revolves around private investigator Vish Puri, who is called in by the family to clear the man’s name. Puri is a gifted detective with a crack team of characters in his employ, but his efforts are hampered by Kasliwal’s wife, the police, Dehli’s overburdened justice system, and the breathless press coverage of the mystery. The Case of the Missing Servant is a thrilling detective story, and Vish Puri is a compelling protagonist who simply defies the one-dimensional characterization so common to the detective archetype. Described as India’s Sherlock Holmes, Puri is indeed deft and clever, as well as highly regarded in his field, but he is also comically self-aggrandizing and often plainly frivolous. He and the similarly well-drawn supporting characters make this mystery novel truly entertaining –a book you won’t want to put down.

Apart from sheer entertainment value, the narrative of this novel also serves as a representation of place. The novel slowly and subtly reveals India itself as one of Hall’s well-drawn characters. In the course of his investigation, Puri travels around India, and the reader shares a glimpse into the sights, the sounds, the scents, the history, and even the food of a fascinating country and its people. Set primarily in the heat of Dehli, this novel presents a city and country of both tradition and progression, a place of beautiful complexity. Puri’s investigation exposes a string of social issues that are entrenched in this complex place, while simultaneously highlighting its strengths. Puri’s position in the social strata is a crucial element of the story. He is successful, in-demand, and extremely useful to his clients, which include some of the most wealthy and revered people in India. But his position as a private investigator – not the most respectable occupation in society – defines and limits him in the eyes of those same clients. Puri is well aware of this, and he struggles against his limitations, but still clearly respects and even embraces this caste system. This dynamic is further on display in the relationships between the Kasliwal family, their children and their servants, and even between Vish Puri and his own household. Although the mystery presented in this story is compelling, and offers many twists, Hall’s candid, yet affectionate depiction of India and its people is what makes this book truly unforgettable. The first book in Hall’s Vish Puri detective series, The Case of the Missing Servant, is a must read.

New Summer Reading Option: An Abundance of Katherines (Freshmen)

Over the next few weeks, we will be revealing the remaining titles that will become the summer reading options for the summer of 2015. Students will select one title from a list of around five novels per grade (In the subject line of the post, “Freshmen” means that the book will be read by incoming freshmen, not existing ones, etc.). 

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Green

After being broken up with by his 19th girlfriend named Katherine, Colin Singleton is about to give up on ever finding true love. Everything reminds him of his last relationship with a Katherine, and he constantly evaluates and reevaluates the course of his previous relationships. His issues don’t stop there, though. Colin is a child prodigy who speaks eleven different languages and memorizes information as soon as he hears it, but he has no idea how to put his talents to good use in the world. Furthermore, in social situations, Colin has trouble figuring out what facts will be interesting to other people and which ones only amuse him. Despite all of his troubles, Colin is a lovable character who is easy to relate to. His issues may seem extreme–especially the 19 girlfriends of the same name–but upon closer examination, Colin’s experiences are just an exaggerated version of struggles common to every teenager.