To follow up on a post from October, Welcome to My Book Club, I have two more exceptional books that every incoming freshman should read. These page turners will keep you captivated, keep you on your toes, and keep you guessing.
“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas
So I may be a bit late to hop on the “The Hate U Give” train, but let me tell you—this was, by far, the best book I’ve read in a long time. And I haven’t even seen the movie!
Starr Carter lives a double life. At home, she is Starr from Garden Heights—the ghetto. At school, she is Starr at Williamson Prep, a prestigious, private school. One night, she decided to attend a Garden Heights party with her half-sister, Kenya. At the party, Starr runs into Kahlil, her childhood best friend who she had lost touch with over the years. When a shooting interrupts the party, Kahlil and Starr run to Khalil’s car, and he offers to drive her home. On the way, Khalil gets pulled over for a taillight being out. The officer commands Khalil and Starr to vacate the car and demands them not to move. As Khalil reaches for Starr’s door to ask if she is okay, the officer shoots Khalil in the back, killing him.
As news of Khalil’s death spreads, rumors spread just as quickly. The news reports that Khalil was armed at the time of the shooting, that he was a thug, a drug dealer, and a criminal. Starr’s uncle, who is a police officer himself, urges Starr to share her story with the police to get justice for Khalil. After the trial is completed, the grand jury decide not to pursue legal action against the officer who killed Khalil. Riots break out in Garden Heights, including a violent and deadly attack on Starr’s father’s family business. Starr learns the power of words, family, and activism.
“Bird” by Crystal Chan
Jewel’s brother died on the day she was born.
Jewel never met her brother, John. In fact, as she was being brought into the world, John was being taken out of it. Jewel’s mother and father blame Grandpa for the tragedy, as Grandpa bestowed the nickname Bird onto John. Thus, John thought he could fly. At five years old, he ran to a cliff in their hometown of Caledonia, Iowa and jumped—flew. Jewel’s father believes that Grandpa brought a duppy (a spirit with the mastered art of coercion and trickery) into their home. On the day John jumped off a cliff, dad cursed Grandpa to a life of eternal silence.
Jewel knows that her parents will never love and cherish her like they had John. Her Grandpa is mute, her mother never smiles, and her father can feel the familial tensions rising just as Jewel can. One day, during a Caledonia Summer, Jewel meets a young boy while rock-climbing. He tells her his name is John, and they quickly become best friends.
When Grandpa sees John, he begins to spread rice on the floor and draw a roman numeral “X” in the ground—signs to repel a duppy. But Jewel knows John isn’t a duppy, he’s something Jewel has been looking for a long time—a friend.