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Summer Reading

Summer Reading


Natick High School English Department

Summer Reading Program 2015

NHS Summer Reading Philosophy

The Natick High School Summer Reading Program gives students the opportunity to explore a work of literature that is thematically rich and thought-provoking.  Chosen literature includes themes, subject matter, and/or characters that are relevant to the age, experience, and interests of our students, and reading level and length are appropriate to grade level. The goal of NHS Summer Reading is to foster a life-long love of reading.

New This Year! (2015) All students (except those in AP Literature or Language) will choose ONE book from a list of three options according to their grade as listed below.  In the fall, students will participate in a small group discussion on the major themes and topics of their chosen text. (See below for other requirements for Honors and AP classes)

Entering 9th OR 10th grade: Choose ONE

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

Synopsis excerpted from BN.com When Kimberly Chang and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to Brooklyn squalor, she quickly begins a secret double life: exceptional schoolgirl during the day, Chinatown sweatshop worker in the evenings. Disguising the more difficult truths of her life--like the staggering degree of her poverty, the weight of her family's future resting on her shoulders, or her secret love for a factory boy who shares none of her talent or ambition--Kimberly learns to constantly translate not just her language but herself back and forth between the worlds she straddles. Through Kimberly's story, author Jean Kwok, who also emigrated from Hong Kong as a young girl, brings to the page the lives of countless immigrants who are caught between the pressure to succeed in America, their duty to their family, and their own personal desires, exposing a world that we rarely hear about ... Girl in Translation is an unforgettable and classic American immigrant novel—a moving tale of hardship and triumph, heartbreak and love, and all that gets lost in translation.

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

Synopsis excerpted from BN.com  Child soldiers are being used as human pawns in dozens of conflicts around the world. Indeed, the figures are staggering: As many as 300,000 children are currently fighting in wars. Behind these distressing figures, of course, are real-life children, some as young as 8. Journalistic reconstructions can take us only so far into the lives of these boys; we had to wait for this firsthand account by Sierra Leone native Ishmael Beah to truly understand this ghastly, life-shattering practice. Beah was only 13 when he was handed an AK-47 and sent off to the killing fields. A bracing memoir about a survivor in a world gone mad.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Synopsis excerpted from BN.com Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

Entering 11th OR 12th grade: Choose ONE

Into the Wild by Jack Krakauer

Synopsis excerpted from BN.com Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, [Christopher] McCandless roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir.  In the Mojave Desert he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all of his  cash.  He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and, unencumbered by money and belongings, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented.  Craving a blank spot on the map, McCandless simply threw the maps away.  Leaving behind his desperate parents and sister, he vanished into the wild.... Admitting an interest that borders on obsession, [Krakauer] searches for the clues to the drives and desires that propelled McCandless.  Digging deeply, he takes an inherently compelling mystery and unravels the larger riddles it holds: the profound pull of the American wilderness on our imagination; the allure of high-risk activities to young men of a certain cast of mind; the complex, charged bond between fathers and sons.

The Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick

Synopsis excerpted from Publishers’ Weekly review. In 1821, a whaling ship came upon a small boat off the coast of Chile containing two deranged men surrounded by human bones . . . . The two were survivors of one of the most well-known marine disasters of the 19th century: the sinking of a 240-ton Nantucket whaleship by an 80-ton sperm whale. A maritime historian, Philbrick recounts the hellish wreck of the Essex (which inspired Melville's Moby-Dick) and its sailors' struggle to make their way to South America, 2,000 miles away. Of the 20 men aboard the two boats, only eight would remain alive through the ravages of thirst, hunger and desperation that beset the voyage. With a gracefulness of language that rarely falters, Philbrick spins a ghastly, irresistible tale that draws upon archival material (including a cabin boy's journal discovered in 1960). Philbrick shows how the Quaker establishment of Nantucket ran a hugely profitable whaling industry in the 18th and 19th centuries and provides a detailed account of shipboard life.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Synopsis excerpted from School Library Journal review. Cadence Sinclair Easton comes from an old-money family, headed by a patriarch who owns a private island off of Cape Cod. Each summer, the extended family gathers at the various houses on the island, and Cadence, her cousins Johnny and Mirren, and friend Gat (the four "Liars"), have been inseparable since age eight. During their fifteenth summer however, Cadence suffers a mysterious accident. She spends the next two years—and the course of the book—in a haze of amnesia, debilitating migraines, and painkillers, trying to piece together just what happened. . . . The story, while lightly touching on issues of class and race, more fully focuses on dysfunctional family drama, a heart-wrenching romance between Cadence and Gat, and, ultimately, the suspense of what happened during that fateful summer. The ending is a stunner that will haunt readers for a long time to come.

Excerpted from Wall Street Journal. "Haunting, sophisticated . . . a novel so twisty and well-told that it will appeal to older readers as well as to adolescents."


Entering 9th Grade Honors

Students in English 10 classes In addition to one of the choices above, students in this course will also read Zeitoun by Dave Eggers.

Entering 10th grade Honors

Students in English 20 classes In addition to one of the choices above, students in this course will also read  All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

Entering 11th grade Honors

Students enrolled in English 30  In addition to one of the choices above, students in this course will also read Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.

Entering 12th grade Honors

Students taking English 40 In addition to one of the choices above, students in this course will also read How to Read Literature like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster. For information about summer assignments and expectations associated with the summer reading, please see this document: English 40 Summer Reading


Students taking AP Literature and Composition will read  Catch 22 by Joseph Heller,  Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison,, Beloved by Toni Morrison, and How to Read Literature like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster. For information on summer assignments and expectations associated with summer reading, please see this document: AP 2015 Summer Work

Students taking AP Language and Composition will read  Into the Wild  by Jon Krakauer, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, AND ONE book of their choice from the following list: Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell; It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens by danah boyd, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander, The Rise of Enlightened Sexism: How Pop Culture Took Us from Girl Power to Girls Gone Wild by Susan. J. Douglass. For information about summer assignments and expectations associated with the summer reading, please consult Mr. Wall's AP web page.