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The senior thesis will require students to complete a final paper of 8-10 pages that has an original thesis connected to a novel as well as supporting or relevant quotes from at least 2 scholarly articles. Over the course of second semester students will read and conduct research based around a novel of the students choosing. The senior thesis serves as both a culminating assessment of the student’s work in high school English as well as a means of preparing students for the independent research and writing they will conduct in college.
The titular Oscar is a 300-pound-plus "lovesick ghetto nerd" with zero game (except for Dungeons & Dragons) who cranks out pages of fantasy fiction with the hopes of becoming a Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien. The book is also the story of a multi-generational family curse that courses through the book, leaving troubles and tragedy in its wake. The rope-a-dope narrative is funny, hip, tragic, soulful, and bursting with desire.
352 pages, level: hard
“It is funny, street-smart and keenly observed, and it unfolds from a comic portrait of a second-generation Dominican geek into a harrowing meditation on public and private history and the burdens of familial history.” – The New York Times
From the author of A Gathering of Old Men comes a deep and compassionate novel. A young man who returns to 1940s Cajun country to teach visits a black youth on death row for a crime he didn't commit. Together they come to understand the heroism of resisting.
256 pages, level: easy/medium
“What do you tell an innocent youth who was at the wrong place at the wrong time and now faces death in the electric chair? What do you say to restore his self-esteem when his lawyer has publicly described him as a dumb animal? What do you tell a youth humiliated by a lifetime of racism so that he can face death with dignity?” - Library Journal
Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with "cynical adolescent." Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he's been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. It begins,"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them."
Baldwin's 1956 novel, his second, was daring for its time, depicting a young man deep into Paris's second expatriate movement following World War II as he grapples with his sexual identity. He is drawn both to his fiance and to a male Italian bartender with whom he begins an affair.
176 pages, level: medium
“A young American involved with both a woman and a man...Baldwin writes of these matters with unusual candor and yet with such dignity and intensity."-The New York Times"Absorbing...[with] immediate emotional impact."-The Washington Post
Set in Ohio in 1941, this novel focuses on Pecola, an 11 year old black girl, who is spat upon, ridiculed, and ultimately raped and impregnated by her own father. No wonder she yearns to be the very opposite of what she is--yearns, in other words, to be a white child, possessed of the blondest hair and the bluest eye.
244 pages, level: hard
“so precise, so faithful to speech and so charged with pain and wonder that the novel becomes poetry... I have said 'poetry,' but The Bluest Eye is also history, sociology, folklore, nightmare and music.” – TheNew York Times
After The Atomic War the world is divided into three states. London is the capital of Oceania, ruled by a party who has total control over all its citizens. Winston Smith is one of the bureaucrats, rewriting history in one of the departments. One day he commits the crime of falling in love with Julia. They try to escape Big Brother's listening and viewing devices, but, of course, nobody can really escape.
268 pages, level: medium
“A profound, terrifying, and wholly fascinating book…Orwell’s theory of power is developed brilliantly.” – The New Yorker
At the age of twelve, Sophie Caco is sent from her impoverished village of Croix-des-Rosets to New York, to be reunited with a mother she barely remembers. There she discovers secrets that no child should ever know, and a legacy of shame that can be healed only when she returns to Haiti--to the women who first reared her. What ensues is a passionate journey through a landscape charged with the supernatural and scarred by political violence, in a novel that bears witness to the traditions, suffering, and wisdom of an entire people.
256 pages, level: medium
Ms. Danticat's clarity of vision takes on the resonance of folk art. Extraordinarily ambitious, extraordinarily successful. - New York Times Book Review
Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them - in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul - they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation.
432 pages, level: medium
“Unimaginably tragic, Hosseini’s magnificent second novel is a sad and beautiful testament to both Afghani suffering and strength. Readers who lost themselves in The Kite Runner will not want to miss this unforgettable follow-up.” - Booklist