Posts tagged ‘High School’

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

frankie1When Frankie discovers that her formerly all-boys prep school has a secret society whose past exploits seem a dim memory and its reason for existence reduced to lame pranks, she takes it upon herself to mastermind the revitalization of the group and its aura of mystery. Yet she does this from the ‘outside’ because the group, headed by her hot-but- aloof senior boyfriend (Frankie is a sophomore) will not accept females. Nor will her boyfriend admit to Frankie that the secret society even exists. Frankie creates a series of pranks that society members believe are the schemes of one of their own, and Frankie seems happy enough to let it be so. Until that boy is caught and faces expulsion. Frankie has found the strength to be the equal of the most talented boys in her school, but does she have the strength to expose herself as the perpetrator of the pranks?The book is intelligent (mentioning Focault and prison theory) and smart (think John Green), full of witty dialogue and clever pranks. I found Frankie to be too manipulative to really care for, but her learning to stand up for herself and coming to terms with the cost of popularity and romance with cutest boy in school ring true. Girls will likely love it. John S. WLS


November 28, 2008 at 7:29 pm Leave a comment


13Published in late 2007, Thirteen Reasons Why is one of those books whose audience becomes its best marketers, and somehow achieves cult-like status among its readers. It is the story of Hannah Baker whose sucide shocks everyone at her school because no one could have predicted that the beautiful, popular Junior would ever take her own life. Sara left behind something that will help some of her classmates have a better idea of how each of them played a role in her suicide: a box of 13 cassette tapes in which she tells her story of hurt, isolation and despair. The box is mailed from one former schoolmate to another, and we discover the tapes along with Clay, who made out once with Hannah at a party, and dreads learning why he is included among those who hurt Hannah so badly. The listening becomes a taut, mesmerising mystery as Hannah chronicles her downward spiral and her final appeal for help. But no one notices.  And no one hears her until the tapes arrive in the mail. By then it’s too late.

Suicide is a difficult topic in teen fiction, but Asher has found a way to make the story compelling and topical and especially painful for both Hannah, and those who have survived her. The final message of the story is hopeful and teens will immediately be drawn to discussing Hannah’s choices and the typical adolescent behaviors that are so often hurtful. Recommended for older teens. John S. WLS

November 18, 2008 at 6:58 pm Leave a comment

Headlong by Kathe Koja


Where do our leaders come from? There are some who are privileged from birth and feel that they are, indeed, the best – these are the sons and daughters who are educated in private academies and then go on to the Ivies. Is this not their birthright?

Lily is a sophomore at Vaughn, one of the turreted havens for the rich. Academically and socially, she and her cohorts check their grade averages several times per day. But wait – this citadel also opens its doors to a few gifted public school students and gives them scholarships. They, too, then rub shoulders in this heady atmosphere. One such recipient is Hazel, a girl from a city ghetto. The blond elite from Vaughn do not overawe Hazel. The group snobbery or the faculty that transfixes Lily doesn’t intimidate this gifted outsider. It appears Hazel is a lot more savvy about art and literature than the students at Vaughn. She can talk about Modigliani and she has actually read J. D. Salinger. Lily feels an enormous camaraderie with Hazel and thereby becomes estranged from the other students and her parents. The rest of the book covers her feelings and doubts about staying at Vaughn. By the conclusion, however, Hazel returns to her former high school and Lily stays put at Vaughn. This is an interesting book about the search every teen must make to find out who she is and where she fits in. It is about friendships, belonging, mother/daughter relationships, boyfriends, and growing up. More questions than answers remain to be resolved. Recommended by Lily Hecker, Pelham.

November 5, 2008 at 6:25 pm Leave a comment

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