It isn't easy to know in advance what will be popular or what will sit on the bookshelf. My friends at the Voorheesville Middle School have certainly fooled me with their thoughts on the books they chose to read with a coming-of-age theme. I would never have thought that The Outsiders would still be so popular, and enjoyed by so many! Here are more reviews of books that surprised me:
Hinton, S.E. The Outsiders. New York: Dell Publishing, 1989. Print.
Ponyboy just witnessed the murder of a man and he doesn’t think he’ll ever forget it. And, you’ll never forget this memorable book by S.E Hinton. Action-packed, yet so believable, The Outsiders will continue to amaze you over and over again. Ponyboy is a Greaser and he lives on the rough side of a 60s city. (Even though this story takes place “back then”, this is the kind of story that won’t ever age.) Besides Ponyboy, the other Greasers are: Twobit, Steve, Darry, Johnny, Sodapop, and Dallas. Ponyboy is faced with trying to escape trouble and cope with death, all while trying to accept what is happening around him.
After a great night at the movies (and a not-so-great fight with his brother) to top it all off, the rival gang, the Socs, show up. Ponyboy and his friend Johnny are frightened. When a Soc begins to drown Ponyboy in the park fountain, Johnny, who is desperate to help, does the only thing he can: stab the Soc next to him. Ponyboy is happy to be alive…but police sirens are wailing already. Johnny saved his life and took another. But what does this mean Ponyboy needs to sacrifice in return? Do you think that you’re ready to join the Greaser gang? If you’re age 12 or older (adults, you too) will enjoy this book. I did not dislike anything about this phenomenal book and strongly suggest you read it. So head on over to the wrong side of the tracks, bring some cokes and your leather jacket and join Ponyboy and the gang. You’ll rumble with the Socs and learn the story of The Outsiders for yourself. ~Madison
Schmidt, Gary D. The Wednesday Wars. New York: Clarion Books, 2007. Print.
The Wednesday Wars by Newbery award winning author, Gary D. Schmidt is an interesting coming of age story about a normal Presbyterian boy, named Holling Hoodhood in the 60’s. It is a tale that will tickle your funny bone and capture your heart. As the Vietnam War rages on, Holling and his classmates are living peacefully in Farmingdale, NY, a small town on Long Island. In this book, some of the smaller characters have important roles, like Holling’s sister, Heather or Doug Swieteck’s brother. The main characters such as Holling or Mrs. Baker have very interesting characteristics and personalities.
Holling comes of age towards the end of the book when he realizes that Mrs. Baker does not “hate his guts”. He goes through experiences that make him mature and grow up. I think this book could appeal to anyone above age 11. The characters are easy to relate to and readers will see themselves in the characters. Overall, I would give this book four out of five stars. It got a little slow in the middle but redeemed itself with a great ending. ~Carl
Connor, Leslie. Waiting for Normal. New York: Harper Collins, 2008 Print.
Leslie Connor writes another inspiring novel about a 12-year-old girl named Addie. Addie and her mom live in a trailer house in Schenectady NY. Addie ends up staying home alone for many nights in a row. She is not telling her stepfather this because she is afraid of losing something important to her. Her mother has a tough time taking care of Addie. Despite her young age, she is able to take care of herself. Throughout the book she becomes a woman.
Addie solves spending time with her sisters and her stepfather who live in a separate house. One day she makes a terrible mistake while her mother isn’t home. Social services get involved and her life takes an interesting turn. Finally her stepfather adopts her. I think that middle school kids will love this book because it shares an inspiring story of how a young girl faces some big life changes. ~Veda
Weeks, Sarah. So B. It. New York: Harper Collins, 2005. Print.
So B. It, written by Sarah Weeks is about thirteen-year-old Heidi taking an adventure to uncover her mother’s true identity. Heidi, her mother, and Bernadette, her loving neighbor, all live in Reno, Nevada. Heidi’s mentally disabled mother can only speak a few words including, “soof” which neither Bernadette nor Heidi can understand the meaning of.
Brave and lucky Heidi goes on a quest to find out more about her mother and the mysterious word “soof”. Heidi travels alone to the Hilltop Home where supposedly her mother lived and was pregnant with Heidi. Here she finds the meaning of “soof” and finally comes of age and realizes that you can’t know everything in life. If you are a young reader and like short books you may be interested in reading this intense, inspiring, and adventurous book. ~Robin