Saturday, May 12, 2012

Saturday Seven #3

This week's Saturday Seven topic is...

Books All High Schoolers Should Read

As high school freshman, we believe our peers would benefit greatly from reading the following books. If you are a high schooler or you know a high schooler, you should definitely considering reading these books.

(Also it occurs to me now that this post is insanely long, so I apologize for that. These are books that mean a lot to us, so we have many things to say about them.)

Rachel: This book is absolutely amazing. I connected with the characters, and I laughed and cried and screamed at the situations I read about. It is a really heavy book--it is about a girl who commits suicide--but Jay Asher handles the heavy things perfectly. Instead of focusing on the dark and depressing, Thirteen Reasons Why has a lot of suspense that will keep you turning the pages. I read it in one sitting because I literally was unable to put it down.

I like this book because it tells a good story with good characters, but I also feel like it impacted me in a big way. It's about rumors and bullies and little actions that seem insignificant, and what happens when all those things build up. This is a story that I still think about months after reading, and I often feel the need to revisit it.

Megan: This book really impacted me too. It isn't an easy topic to read about by any means, but Jay Asher wrote it perfectly. I couldn't put this book down! I was so invested in what happened to the characters that I cried right along with them. Having had an experience with a friend who thought about killing himself, this book really hit home for me, and I could really relate to the characters. Jay Asher wrote an amazing book that really captures the emotion and the power behind how our actions can affect other people. I highly, highly recommend reading this one.

Rachel: Hate List is about a school shooting and the consequences. The main character is a seemingly normal teenage girl whose boyfriend showed up at school one day with a gun. He killed other students before eventually shooting himself.

What surprised me most about this book was Nick, the shooter. The story is shown from many different angles, and it's difficult to decide how to feel about him. Obviously, he is the shooter, and so you should hate him, right? But reading the book from his girlfriend's point of view, she has many memories of him--memories where he was happy and kind and caring. Hate List explores the effects of a school shooting on the parents and students and teachers. It was really hard to read at times, but overall, I think this is an important story that needs to be shared.

Rachel: I've read this maybe three or four times. The first time was about a year ago, when I was almost done with eighth grade. I'm really glad I read it when I did, because I think this is a good book to read before starting high school. The main character, Melinda, starts off her freshman year of high school with no friends and a big secret. She is ostracized by her peers, and throughout the book, Melinda navigates problems with old friends, new friends, her parents and home life, and most importantly, the event that changed everything.

Honestly, this book is kind of heart-breaking. Melinda is completely alone, and I just want to reach into the book and save her. She has a very dry sense of humor which I think a lot of high-schoolers can relate to. Laurie Halse Anderson is a genius. I've read a lot of books about a lot of characters, but this book is...different. Melinda's voice is so clear in my head, and she is a character who will stick with me forever.

Megan: I've read this book twice, both incidentally for my English class in 8th and 9th grade. Melinda's character has really stuck with me though. She has an incredibly sarcastic, almost negative way at viewing everything around her, especially her high school. Which, let's be honest, is the way more than half of teenagers view everything. Myself and Rachel both included. That immediately made me like Melinda, because Laurie Halse Anderson did an awesome job of making her so easy to relate to.

Melinda deals with a LOT of crap in this book. It shows how it isn't easy being so hated by everyone in your school. But she also has this really big secret that none of them know about. It makes you stop and think about how we don't really know what's going on with other people, and we only know what they choose to tell us. I think everyone should read this book and use the lessons that you can learn from it.

Rachel: This book does not have a likable main character. Sam is popular and pretty and perfect and well, she's kind of a bitch. At first, I really hated her and I didn't understand why anyone would want to read a book about such a terrible character. But this book really surprised me.

In the book, Sam relives the last day of her life seven times (side note: OH LOOK AT THAT SEVEN DAYS AND IT IS SATURDAY SEVEN HOW AWESOME). Each day brings a new problem, a new struggle, a new lesson. Sam learns a lot about the way she treats her friends and classmates and family. She starts to put herself in other people's shoes, and realize how her actions can affect them. By the end of the book I wouldn't say she's exactly a likable character, but you can at least understand her. The story is interesting, and the journey Sam goes on is extremely powerful.

Megan: You know that girl who thinks she's totally perfect, everyone loves her, and everyone wants to be her? Yeah, that's basically Sam at the start of this book. Sam is the nasty typical popular girl who goes to parties and matches outfits with her best friends on purpose. Which is typically the kind of people I don't like at school (no offense to them of course) and not the best characters to read about. At first I wasn't sure I was going to like the book because I couldn't understand why Sam thought the way she behaved was okay. 

Once she started reliving the day she died, (7 times. Not really a fun experience) I started to like Sam more. She slowly realizes what people really think of her, and how just changing one little mean comment can affect the entire outcome of her day. I loved how powerful and how well written this book was. It had me crying by the end because it was such a powerful story. 

Rachel: Eight completely different girls are brought together because of one list. The list has the names of the prettiest and ugliest girls in school. The idea of a list like this is disgusting and wrong and ugh. But stuff like this happens, and I'm glad there's a book out there that addresses it.

For me, this book is all about the characters. Each girl is different and complex and they all have their own problems to deal with. You get to see the world from the perspectives of popular girls and naive freshman and athletic girls and social outcasts, and how the list affects each of them. Every character has strengths and weaknesses. Maybe if every teenage girl read this, they'd stop judging each other and treating each other the way they do.

Rachel: I don't even know what to say about this book, other than this: It is beautiful. The story is told from the point of view of two teenage girls who at first, seem completely different. They each have their own problems that they struggle with, and they wind up in situations that I think a lot of teenagers can relate to. Each of their voices is distinct and unique in my head, and I find myself thinking about these characters often. Not to be all dramatic, but this book touched my heart. It's devastating and hopeful at the same time, and oh my god please read this book.

Rachel: Last but definitely not least, Shine. It's about a teenage girl and a small town and a hate crime. The main character Cat's best friend is assaulted, with the words Suck this, faggot written on his chest in blood, and Cat is determined to find out who did it to him. This book is not a light read at all. It's dark and gritty and disturbing, but most importantly, it's honest. Nothing is sugar-coated in Shine. There's drugs and cursing and poverty and violence and intolerance. This is not exactly a fun book to read, but at the same time, it's an important story. This book opened my eyes, and I'm very glad I read it.

Megan: Okay, so I haven't read the other books on this list yet because they are all in the giant TBR pile I am drowning under. However: I know for a fact that they are all amazing. Partially because I trust Rachel, and also because they are so real. All of these books are the types of books that some people argue teenagers my age shouldn't read. Being a teenager, I realize that this is kind of crazy. None of the subjects these books deal with are made-up, although the characters and the specific situations might be. All of these subjects are things that teenagers either deal with or could deal with in their lives. So why not put the books out there to let them read about it? Giving them the information can only help them. 
That's my opinion on it anyway. So almost any YA book that deals with a difficult subject is probably a good book for teenagers to be reading.
Wow. Those are some pretty heavy topics. Sorry to be all dark and dismal, but these are all amazing books that we have a lot of feelings about. 

Here is a picture of a rainbow I found on the internet. Hopefully it will cheer you up.
Anyway. If you've read any of these books, share your thoughts in the comments. Do you think these books should be read by the average teenager?


  1. Fantastic list--I've read and loved #s 1, 3, 4, 6, and 7. Mind if I pass it along to my students?

    1. Of course you can pass it along! That would be great! Glad you liked the list. -Megan