I need novel suggestions for a 9th grade curriculum. The novel should be by a woman, be around 200 pages (re: not long), be accessible to reluctant readers, and, hopefully, be Catcher in the Rye-ish. International would be great. So would a "classic." We've had too many middle school students reading A Lesson Before Dying and To Kill a Mockingbird in the 8th grade, and also want something that doesn't focus primarily on African American issues (Fences is already one of our staples).
Ideas I have so far:
Ellen Foster. Positives -- it's a good book, it's coming-of-age, it's a female protagonist. Negatives -- it would be our second work written primarily in dialect; it uses the n-word a few times, perhaps too focused on race (it's been a while since I read it.)
Broken Glass Park by Alina Bronsky: I just picked this up and read about a quarter of it this weekend. It has a lot of the attributes (female, Catcher-in-the-rye-ish) I'm looking for, plus it's international, but I'm now getting a little bored by it and think it might be a little too cerebral for the 9th graders. I want them to have a good time raading a book.
Other thoughts I'm having:
Bee Season by Myla Goldberg: Wonderful book, but I'm not sure if I can get my colleagues into it.
Yellow Raft in Blue Water by Michael Norris: Too bad it's by a man; it would be perfect (it's also about female characters, so maybe I can justify it in my head).
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson: I don't have a good reason against it right now, although I'm not sure it would be a great choice for our boys.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker: It's always been a dream to teach this one, but it's another African American novel right after Fences. Not much exposure to the wider world.
By the, the curriculum is looking like this:
Summer Reading: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time (Hadden) plus either The Book Thief (Zusak), A Long Way Gone (Baeh), and Does My Head Look Big In This? (Abdel-Fattah)
Book 1: Persepolis (Satrapi)
Book 2: Fences (Wilson)
Book 3: The Novel
Book 4: Perhaps Oedipus
Book 5: Lit Circles novel -- Students choose from Swimming the Monsoon Sea (Selvadurai), Life of Pi (Martell), In the Time of the Butterflies (Alvarez), or Nectar in a Sieve (Markandaya)
Book 6: Romeo and Juliet
So, too male as it is, probably.
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