I guess I don’t need to tell you why I’m drawing attention to these books.
Urgh. This world sucks so hard sometimes. Merry #@%&ing Christmas.
FISHTAILING by Wendy Phillips
Teen violence, bullying and the burning quest to fit in are presented in the poems of four unforgettable high school students: Natalie, Kyle, Tricia, Miguel. Their stories unfold in this explosive new book told in free verse. A story of teen angst like no other, it is based on fictional characters but is rooted in the realities of the teen experience. When Natalie moves to a new high school she befriends three unwitting victims into her spider-web of manipulations, lies and deceit. Through the poetry and assignments of an English class we glimpse the world of the four teens. Natalie, whose alcoholic parents, years of neglect and ultimate rape by her father’s friend has shaped her into a cruel and manipulative teen; Tricia, dealing with her blended family, is drawn into Natalies’ forbidden world of partying and rebellion; Kyle, a would-be musician is in love with Tricia and Miguel who lusts for Natalie while hiding the secrets of his family.
The story weaves us through their poetry, their lives and culminates at a party where the four lives fishtail out of control. English class will never be the same.
THE BRIMSTONE JOURNALS by Ron Koertge
The Branston High School Class of 2001 seems familiar enough on the surface: there’s the Smart One, the Fat Kid, Social Conscience, Bad Girl, Good Girl, Jock, Anorexic, Dyke, Rich Boy, Sistah, Stud . . . and Boyd, an Angry Young Man who has just made a dangerous new friend. Now he’s making a list.
The Branston High School Class of 2001. You might think you know them. You might be surprised.
Narrated by fifteen teenage characters, this startling, often poignant poetic novel evokes a suburban high school both familiar and terrifying — and provides an ideal opportunity for young adults to discuss violence in schools.
UNLOCKED by Ryan G. Van Cleave
Andy is the janitor’s son, an outcast, a nobody. Then the rumor starts-that Blake has a gun in his locker. In a moment of misguided hopefulness, Andy steals the keys from his dad and opens up Blake’s locker, hoping that finding the gun will change his own status. But the gun isn’t there and Andy remains an outcast. When an unlikely friendship develops between the two loners, Blake shares most of his secrets with Andy, including the gun. But there’s one secret that worries Andy more than anything-the date circled on Blake’s calendar. Does Blake have something planned? Something that Andy can prevent? In a fascinating look at how teens deal with the now constant threat of school violence, debut author Ryan G. Van Cleave provides a unique, emotional perspective on how it feels to be the one who can prevent a tragedy.
WHO KILLED MR. CHIPPENDALE?: A MYSTERY IN POEMS by Mel Glenn
When popular Tower High English teacher Mr. Chippendale is fatally shot, everyone’s a suspect. The killer could be anyone — one of his students, a colleague, or even an ex-flame. Told in a series of interlocking poems, this suspenseful story will keep readers guessing who the killer is right up until the last page.
I don’t know whether reading these books will make you feel better or worse, whether they might be appropriate to assign to students this week or over the holidays, whether librarians might be getting requests for this ind of stuff. I only know this – this kind of violence in our schools is not new, not anymore. The time to act is now.