Wild Things: YA Grown-Up discussion

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Teachers' and Librarians' Corner > New Novel Suggestions for Senior English Class?

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message 1: by Kyla (new)

Kyla Belvedere | 3 comments Readers: I need a recommendation for a novel for my senior English class! The students are between 16-19. It is an alternative school, and I feel comfortable using any style or topic with my students within a few limits (abuse, especially sexual abuse of children, is a no-go).

Our course overall is Heroes and Villains. We did one unit on war heroes, and we've moved on to fairy tales (focused on Sleeping Beauty). Other areas we are going to look at are superheroes and villains, mythological heroes and First Peoples heroes, everyday heroes/villains, and the heroes journey.

We need a MANAGEABLE novel (LoTR, HP, etc are out for length) that can fit with this topic. I am willing to spend a couple weeks, maybe as many as 4, working through the novel. It can go in any of the remaining units, and it would be amazing if it had a First Nations component, but that might not work (I tried Indian Horse, but the abuse may be too close to home for some of my class). I think The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is too young, but also not as quite right with the theme.

I can't do Hunger Games, Of Mice and Men, Brain on Fire as I have assigned those novels in the last year and will have at least 1 student who has read each. Most of these kids are not "readers"--although as a group I wouldn't say they are weak, a few just reluctant--so I don't have to worry too much about them having read titles on their own. However, in class, I have students doing independent studies of When a Monster Calls, Unwind, It's Kind of a Funny Story, The Alchemist, The Martian, and Catcher in the Rye--although, I would be willing to ask a student to stop reading a novel so we could all read it, as we are not too far...

Can anyone recommend anything adult or YA? The more exciting the better. The shorter the better. The better for reading aloud the better. I'm not against a graphic novel (V for Vendetta I think is too difficult for my students, and Angel Catbird didn't give me enough to work with).

We have a lot of big themes going on such as the fine line better heroes and villains, how the victorous decide the heroes, etc, so a lot of different styles and works would fit. I need suggestions! The school librarian is amazing and will get me a class set (it is only 12 kids) if I can find a gem.


message 2: by Judy (new)

Judy | 9 comments I found The Fifth Wave had some very good lessons on what makes a person a real hero. The only problem is it is a series of 3 and it might take reading all three for that to come across which might be prohibitive to your purpose.


message 3: by Sara (new)

Sara (arctic_comet) | 1 comments I'd suggest Vicious by V.E. Schwab. It's about anti-heroes with superpowers. It's maybe a bit on the dark side of the spectrum though.


message 4: by Amy (new)

Amy Miller (felesroo) | 3 comments Honestly, I think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl is a great book for Heroes and Villains. Charlie is a sort of passive hero, though an imperfect one with the theft of the fizzy lifting drink. The other children have deep faults that lead to their downfall, and there's an interesting discussion to be had about Wonka's role as a hero or villain.

One of my personal favorites, Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones, is also a great book. It features a supremely villainous Gwendolyn with a fun twist at the end.

Sorry if magic's off the table. :)


message 5: by Jennifer W, WT Moderator (new)

Jennifer W | 1289 comments Mod
I recently enjoyed Grave Mercy, which starts slow, but then there's a lot of twists and intrigues.

Graceling also is exciting and has some interesting heroes and villains.

If you would consider nonfiction, I can't recommend The Complete Maus highly enough. It's one of the best Holocaust memoirs out there. The illustrations of the graphic novel side of it gives plenty to discuss just on their own.


message 6: by Kyla (new)

Kyla Belvedere | 3 comments Amy wrote: "Honestly, I think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl is a great book for Heroes and Villains. Charlie is a sort of passive hero, though an imperfect one with the theft of the fizzy lif..."

My son is named Charlie after that book.


message 7: by Alma (new)

Alma Alexander | 2 comments I was going to suggest a couple of things but my problem in life is summed up by "I like big books and I cannot lie" and my favorite recommendations are all probably in the "too long" category for you. However, if you will forgive me for chiming in with my own stuff, you might well take a look at my Were Chronicles (there are three books - Random, Wolf and Shifter - and they work well with your stated parameters, and each individual book is manageable in length - and here's a bonus - if you can set it up technologically and have the interest you have here an author who would be delighted to answer any questions from your young readers via email or via skype...)


message 8: by Kyla (new)

Kyla Belvedere | 3 comments Alma wrote: "I was going to suggest a couple of things but my problem in life is summed up by "I like big books and I cannot lie" and my favorite recommendations are all probably in the "too long" category for ..."

That sounds great. I will look in to those!


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