Week 2, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

WEEK 2 PART 2, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Chbosky, S., (1999). The Perks of Being a WallflowerNew York, NY: Gallery Books.

Summary:

51GuzoWiFpL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThis classic idea of alienation and peer rejection comes into full swing in this novel as it dives into Charlie’s first year of high school. Charlie, who is still struggling from his best friend’s suicide and other traumatic incidences of his past, finds it difficult to make friends, until he meets two seniors named Sam and Patrick. Once the group clicks, Charlie is in for a ride as he tries drugs, alcohol and even relationships for the first time. Throughout the ups and downs of this experience with his new friends and some trouble with family members, he emerges as a more mature man ready to take on the world and be a part of life!

Keywords: letters; freshman year; close friends; confusing feelings

What I Think:

After hearing all the hype about this book and movie, I was excited to dive into the literature a few years later. The more I read, the more I realized how relatable this book was to any and all of us. Even as a graduate student years beyond high school, I can still look back and bring up similar situations and confusing feelings similar to Charlie’s experience. This reliability is the reason I would recommend this book to young adults. The book is relatable to young adults by allowing the audience to experience Charlie’s life as he develops friendships and experiences unwanted feelings. Charlie has a hard enough time as a freshman student, let alone when his emotions get mixed up and confusing. “And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be” (p. 2). This frustration and confusion can be seen throughout the book. Another quote that stood out to me said, “I turned around and walked to my room and closed my door and put my head under my pillow and let the quiet put things where they are supposed to be” (p. 28). Even today, I could repeat this quote after an exhausting day, as if I’ve lost all control of the good and bad around me. I think this is a feeling many young adults experience as they are trying to sort through life. With many more quotes like those, this book is an excellent inspiration and outlet for young adults everywhere.

What the Experts Say:

MTV Books has published The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012; Gr 9 Up) with an eye-catching movie-poster cover featuring the trio of stars (a hardcover edition with the original jacket has also been reissued). Written as letters to an unidentified “Dear Friend,” 15-year-old Charlie’s straightforward narrative is filled with innocence and insight. Still reeling from the recent suicide of his best friend, Charlie skates alone on the edge of the social pond, until he is reeled in by two independent-minded seniors who value him for who he is (in fact, it’s Patrick who identifies him as a wallflower, explaining, “You see things. You keep quiet about them. You understand”). Though it’s a tough year—filled with family crises (including his sister’s unwanted pregnancy), ever-changing relationships (his head-over-heels feelings for Sam, his first girlfriend, a best friend who is gay), exposure to drugs and alcohol, and his own breakdown and recovery (sparked by difficult revelations about his childhood)—Charlie emerges all the stronger, ready to step out of his role as observer and participate in life. Events both heart-wrenching and high-flying are described with honesty, humor, and a spot-on adolescent perspective. YAs will find much to relate to here, as they begin to explore and ponder their own place in the world. This edition ends with a reading group guide, and a list of discussion questions is available at Simon & Schuster’s website. Teens may also be interested in exploring some of the works that are recommended to Charlie by his teacher (each of which affects him deeply), including J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise, and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.

Fleishhacker, J. (2012). The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Other Tales of Teen Angst and Alienation [Review]. School Library Journal. Retrieved from http://www.slj.com/2012/08/collection-development/read-watch-alikes/the-perks-of-being-a-wallflower-and-other-tales-of-teen-angst-and-alienation/

Classroom Recommendations:

This book is written in an interesting format. The entire book is structured as if Charlie was writing letters to an anonymous person. Therefore, there could be many interesting activities used with this type of book and format. First of all, students could write and even send their own letters to an anonymous person, detailing their everyday lives. The students could send the letters to a pen pal, former teacher, long distance friend or even relative. Another activity using this book that could be fun for students would be to have them write letters actually responding to Charlie. Each student in the classroom would pretend he or she received one of the letters in the book, then must respond to Charlie giving him advice and expanding on what he wrote. Both of these activities would give students practice with their informal writing as well as setting up and formatting a friendly letter.

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Week 2, Romiette and Julio by Sharon M. Draper

266668WEEK 2 PART 1, Romiette and Julio by Sharon M. Draper

Draper, S. M., (1999). Romiette and Julio. New York, NY: Antheneum Books for Young Readers.

Summary:

This modern version of the classic story of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliette brings in current day issues such as gangs and interracial romances. Julio is the new kid in a Cincinnati high school after moving from Texas to get away from the gangs there. After a rough first day, he logs onto his chatroom to decompress, where he meets a girl that he seems to click with. Soon, Julio and this chatroom girl, Romiette, realize they share much in common, including the same high school! All is well, until one of the local gangs gets word of the interracial couple, and takes steps to break them apart. Although Roomette and Julio stand strong against these gang members, they end up finding themselves in more trouble than they could have dreamed.

Keywords: Gangs; High School; Hispanic Americans; African Americans; Romance

What I Think:

Like my first review of a book, this is another one that I would want to have in my library. This fun and modern twist on the classic is a fast-paced romance that quickly turns into a thriller. First of all, I liked this book for the depth of the content and the themes that flow through the book. This book follows an interracial romance that causes a huge stir in their school, simply because the two people are different. Not only do students at the school feel concerned about an interracial couple, but even Julio’s dad is weary of him dating an African American female as he says, “Julio, you’re not getting too involved with that girl are you? I don’t like it” (Draper, 1999, p. 114) He then goes on to say, “I have had a fear of black people since then, and what they can do. I will not allow you to develop a relationship with one of those people!”  (p. 116). This idea of treating people differently because of their race or other differences pops up throughout the book and is a theme that can truly be pondered by the reader and discussed with others.

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My puppy helping me read Romiette’s Journal

I also enjoyed this book because of the variety of types of text throughout. Each chapter has a different format. Some chapters are the traditional format of a fictional novel. Other chapters take different forms. For example, chapters two(p. 3) and eighteen(p. 69) are in the format of Romiette’s diary. Chapters seven(p. 28) and eight(p. 33) are in varying chat room formats. Other chapters can even be in the form of a TV newscast. “TV Six has been investigating the increase of gang actvity in our schools and our city” (p. 172) This variety in the chapters draws in the reader’s attention even further and gives the reader multiple perspectives of the story.

What the Experts Say:

Romiette and Julio by Sharon Draper is a modern-day take on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. We first meet Romiette Cappelle through her journal as she writes about her fear of drowning and her recurring nightmares. Julio Montague is a new student, angry at leaving Corpus Christi, Texas, for Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. The two are introduced through an online chat room where they quickly discover they have much in common, including their school. A local gang, the Devildogs, threatens the budding romance between Romiette, an African American girl, and Julio, a Hispanic boy. Together with their friends Ben and Destiny, the couple decide not to report the gang’s increasingly serious threats to the authorities or their parents. As a result they become caught in a horrifying chain of events, putting their lives at risk.

Zonnenberg, A. (2002). Romiette and Julio. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 45(7), 660-661.

Classroom Recommendations:

In the classroom, I would use this book to spark discussions about the deep seeded issues and themes within. I recommend having students answer questions and talk with their peers on issues related to gangs, interracial romances, moving schools, or even simply the idea of treating people differently just because of their differences.

This book would also be great to incorporate into writing projects. Students could be encouraged to write their own version of the classic tale, Romeo and Juliette after reading both the Shakespeare version and Sharon Draper’s version. Students could also be prompted to take this book and re-write it into play format so that it could be acted out for the school or even just with a Reader’s Theater activity.

Week 1, The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

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Reading my ebook on Kindle for iPad

WEEK 1, The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

Cormier, R. (1974). The Chocolate War [Kindle iPad version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com

Summary:

This compelling  book dives into the heavy young adult choice of having to stand up for yourself and your beliefs, or adapt and blend in with those around you. This novel follows a boy who chooses to do the former. At the start, the students at Trinity High School seem to support Jerry Renault’s refusal to partake in the annual chocolate sale. This decision eventually backfires and lands Jerry in a world of trouble. Will he break down and finally conform? Or will he maintain his ground and truly defy his universe?

Keywords: The Vigils; football; assignments; boxing; defiance

What I Think (Assessment):

I really enjoyed the content and morals learned in this story. This is one I would definitely recommend to young adult readers for two reasons.

First of all, the moral or lesson of the story is one I think young adults and teenagers could benefit to learn and read about. The main character, Jerry, had a poster in his locker that said, “Do I dare disturb the universe?” (Cormier, 1974, p. 128). Many times Jerry found himself pondering this statement and wondering what it meant. By the end of the book, he made a decision, ultimately deciding that society may tell us to be ourselves, but in all truth and reality people are looked down upon when they do disturb the universe. I think this book and theme challenges young adults to ponder the same question for themselves and truly attempt to think about they’re own beliefs.

Secondly, I would recommend this book to young adults because of the fact that it is a classic novel, yet it appeals to so many of the teenage population today. This book includes adventure, drama, real-world teenage issues, and of course, an emphasis on sports. This book seems to have a little bit of everything to offer teenagers with all sorts of tastes. For example, the book starts out with action and adventure, describing the setting as if it were a war zone. “They murdered him. As he turned to take the ball, a dam burst against the side of his head and a hand grenade shattered his stomach” (p. 1). Yet soon, the reader discovers the true scene is of a freshman trying out to play football for his high school team. The reader also discovers the emphasis of boxing at the school, as one of the leaders of the school, Carter, “appreciated the fight concept. He loved boxing” (p. 239). These examples from the book show the variety the reader gets from action to sports even to some drama, which ultimately appeals to all teenage readers!

Overall, I highly recommend this book for young adult readers. It was a very interesting and fast-paced book that was hard to put down. I also very much enjoyed the ebook version because it was nice to have a version on my iPad to carry and whip out anytime I had a minute to spare!

What the Experts Say (Review):

Gr 8 Up–Still as powerful and disturbing as it was when published in 1974, this classic of a lone student confronting the system relates the story of a high school freshman who refuses to participate in the annual chocolate sale. In doing so, he invokes the rage of a corrupt and bullying school authority, challenges the ruthless school gang, and pays a terrible price for his nonconformity. Audio version available from Listening Library.

Ralston, J. (2005, May). Cormier, Robert. The Chocolate War. School Library Journal, 51(5), 51.

Classroom Recommendations:

This book would be a great one to just have in the library for students to read. As a teacher, I would recommend this book to students who might have trouble fitting in and could relate to the main character, Jerry Renault.

This book would also be great to use with groups of students and then have them respond to writing prompts. For example, students could write an opinion piece responding to, “If you were in Jerry’s position, would you sell the chocolates? If so,when would you start selling them?” The students could also write a persuasive piece to the principal on if they think their own school should rely on a similar candy sale to raise money or if another option would be better.