Believe it or not, school started here in the Ozarks a couple of weeks ago! With all the kiddos out the door early these days, what better time to catch up on a few good reads?
These books set in schools are entertaining and can help you remember what it is really like for students in your life who are having to get up early, navigate the confusing social hierarchy that is a cafeteria, or worry about homework. It’s a win-win situation, really.
And, if you’re participating in the 2016 library challenge, this list will help you pick a book to fill in one more of those blanks!
If you like nonfiction–
Maya Van Wagenen’s Popular (2014)*
If you want a nonfiction look at school that isn’t just your run-of-the-mill memoir, consider Maya Van Wagenen’s Popular. Van Wagenen felt out-of-place in her Texas middle school when she decided to remedy the situation by following the advice laid out in a 1950s manual on how to be popular and kept a diary of her experiences. But how did adopting mid-20th century advice on how to be a popular teenager work out in the 21st century?
*Audiobook also available on Libby.
Recommended for those who enjoyed Lindsey Leavitt’s Going Vintage and Gaby Rodriguez’s The Pregnancy Project.
Buzz Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights (1990)
Another work of nonfiction, though not a memoir, Friday Night Lights delves into the very competitive world of Texas high school football. However, in following the Permian High Panthers through an entire season, Buzz Bissinger also delves into the lives of the players and coaches, as well as the community itself. As such, even those who aren’t ostensibly interested in football may enjoy the personal stories and sociological insight the book provides. As an added bonus, if you enjoy the book, you might also enjoy the popular film and television adaptations of it.
Recommended for those who enjoyed Michael Lewis’s The Blind Side.
If you want to read fantasy–
Vera Brosgol’s Anya’s Ghost (2011)
In this graphic novel, Anya’s been having a tough time of late–she doesn’t get along with her family, and she feels invisible at school. She could probably use a friend, though she may have gotten more than she bargained for when she falls down a well and befriends a ghost named Emily. In exchange for taking her out of the well for the first time in decades, Emily offers Anya some help of her own. Naturally, complications ensue.
Recommended for those who enjoyed Karen Rivers’ The Girl in the Well is Me, Raina Telgemeier’s Smile, and Hope Larson’s Mercury.
If you prefer historical fiction–
Stacey Lee’s Outrun the Moon (2016)
If you are looking for a more historical trip to school, consider Stacey Lee’s Outrun the Moon, which was released earlier this year. Set in 1906 San Francisco, the book follows fiery teenager Mercy Wong. Her desire to leave her family’s impoverished life in the city’s Chinatown has led her to a prestigious girls’ school in the city. However, her own personal struggles are quickly overshadowed by the earthquake of 1906, which devastates the community. In the midst of the destruction, Mercy decides she cannot stand idly by while the world she knows is thrown into chaos. Lee received a lot of praise for her delightful protagonist, as well as her vivid recreation of historical San Francisco and depiction of the earthquake.
Recommended for those who enjoyed Jessica Spotswood’s A Tyranny of Petticoats.
If you enjoy suspense–
William Landay’s Defending Jacob (2012)**
The connection to schools is tangential in this one, but William Landay’s legal thriller Defending Jacob would still count for the challenge. In addition, the critically-acclaimed thriller should certainly appeal to fans of the genre as Landay relates the story of Andy Barber, a prosecutor who is stunned to learn his teen-aged son is charged with murdering a classmate. Barber instantly comes to his son’s defense, but as he prepares for trial and his personal life implodes around him, he starts to have second thoughts about his son’s innocence.
**Ebook and audiobook also available on Libby.
Recommended for those who enjoyed Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent, John Grisham’s The Client, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, and Herman Koch’s The Dinner.
As always, if you’re interested in learning more about any books mentioned below, be sure to visit our online library catalog.
Have you read any of these books? What’s your favorite book set in a school? What part of school life do you think makes the best fodder for novels? Tell us in the comments!