US Essential Info
From the Head of the Upper School
Dear Upper School Parents,
We’re so proud of the way the Upper School created and sustained Distance Learning this past spring.
Now we’re busy planning a return to campus for the fall. We are considering several frameworks so that we can be responsive to health guidelines as they become available. Head of School Molly King will be sending out updates at the end of June and a more detailed one at the end of July. The deans and I will follow up with Upper School-specific details thereafter, including information about opening days, student schedules, and the like. Thanks for your steadiness as we all do our part to find a safe and sustaining path back to campus.
Below are some documents for the coming academic year, including a letter from the class dean and information on summer reading. Please give each link a careful read, and be sure to fill out any online forms. My thanks to the deans, the department chairs, and the great Elle Tarrant (if you don’t know her, you soon will).
Here’s to everyone enjoying a Zoom-free, fresh-air summer. And a special welcome to our new Upper Schoolers. We can’t wait to meet you!
Dear Parents of the Class of 2024,
As dean of next year’s freshman class, I am writing to introduce myself and to convey information helpful in ensuring a smooth transition to the ninth grade at the Greenwich Academy Upper School. During the past year, I have had a chance to meet many of you at parents’ meetings on campus. While your daughter’s advisor will eventually be your first point of contact with the school, at this point, I would encourage you to contact me with any questions or concerns about the transition to the Upper School. In an email later this summer, we will provide you with your daughter’s academic schedule.
Personal Advisor & Advisory Groups
Each GA Upper School student is part of an advisory group consisting of about seven students and one faculty member. The advisory group meets three to four times per week for 15-20 minutes. Advisors help students set academic goals and address social issues as they arise; they are generally the first point of contact for parents. I meet regularly with the ninth grade advisory team to monitor the class as a whole. The name of your daughter’s advisor was included on the course selections she received earlier this month.
Deans serve as a second point of contact for students and parents and as the first level of administrative guidance and monitoring for their class. We coordinate class activities, lead grade-level meetings, meet with students and occasionally parents regarding academic and social issues, and lead the class as a whole. Group IX students should think of me as an advisor to the whole grade and should feel free to contact me at any time. Once the school year is underway, parents are encouraged to seek help from the advisor or relevant teacher where possible. They should also feel free to contact me, either via email or on my direct telephone line 203.485.7395.
For their English classes, all students in the Upper School must read Circe by Madeline Miller over the summer. All Upper School students are also required to choose a book they haven’t read before from the extensive list that the English Department has compiled. In preparation for Modern World History, Group IX students will read only Chapters 5-10 of A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage. In order to aid in this process, the History Department has adapted a Reading Guide for all students. Students are not meant to write out or produce answers to the questions for school; the questions are merely to help with annotation and comprehension. Both English and history summer reading are found on this page.
Students are reminded to complete the assigned summer reading before the first day of classes.
We’ll be back in touch later this summer with more information, including preseason athletics and dance updates. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions. Enjoy your summer!
Group IX Class Dean
Upper School French/Spanish and Group XI Advisor
Dear Parents of the Class of 2023,
As dean of next year’s sophomore class, I am writing to introduce myself before we get too far into summer. Sophomore year comes with a tremendous amount of excitement, including more flexibility in class schedules and the all-important journey out of the freshmen hallway into the Student Center. With the first year of high school in their rearview mirror, this is a good time to seek out new opportunities in athletics, arts, community service, clubs, and various other interest groups on campus. While being well rounded is important, I encourage you and your daughters to be mindful of how much they are putting on their plate and find a healthy balance of academics, extracurricular activities, and time with friends and family.
As class deans, we serve as a point of contact for students and parents and as the first level of administrative guidance for the class. Deans coordinate class activities, lead grade-level meetings, meet with students and parents, and provide insight to the class as a whole. Once the school year is underway, parents are encouraged to seek help from their advisor or relevant teacher when possible. During the summer months, feel free to contact me if you have any questions via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on my direct telephone line 203.552.4442.
For their English classes, all students in the Upper School must read Circe by Madeline Miller over the summer. All Upper School students are also required to choose a book they haven’t read before from the list that the English Department has compiled. You will find that list, along with the required reading for History classes, on this page.
We will touch base later this summer with more information, including preseason athletics and dance updates. In the meantime, enjoy the beginning of summer!
Group X Class Dean and Science Department
Dear Parents of the Class of 2022,
As dean of next year’s junior class, I am writing to introduce myself. Junior year is an exciting, challenging year and it’s a year when your daughters really start to emerge as upperclassmen and become visible leaders here at GA.
Junior year moves fast and, in my experience, our happiest, most fulfilled students are the ones who invest some time and energy in the wide variety of clubs, teams, and service opportunities at GA. Perhaps the best ways to feel like you are part of a community is to contribute to it.
Junior year is significant for many reasons, but I’ve always felt that the real challenge is not just excelling on the next test, but rather seeing the year as an opportunity (and certainly not the last one) to find some balance between the rigors of a demanding year and living a full, meaningful life. Stability is as virtuous as excellence and it is a good year to keep the long game in mind.
As you probably know at this point, Deans serve as a point of contact for students and parents and as the first level of administrative guidance for their class. We coordinate class activities, lead grade-level meetings, meet with students and parents regarding academic and social issues, and lead the class as a whole.
Often it’s best to begin conversations with your daughter’s advisor, but feel free to email me with questions.
For their English classes, all students in the Upper School must read Circe by Madeline Miller over the summer. All Upper School students are also required to choose a book they haven’t read before from the list that the English Department has compiled, which can be found on this page, along with the required reading list for history classes.
We’ll be back in touch later this summer with more information, including your daughter’s academic schedule, preseason athletics, and dance updates. In the meantime, enjoy the beginning of summer!
Group XI Class Dean and English Department
Dear Senior Class Members & Parents,
As your senior class dean, and on behalf of the entire Upper School faculty, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to the Class of 2021. Senior year is full of so many traditions to celebrate your final year at GA. From moving into that coveted real estate of the Senior Room and immersing yourselves in carefully chosen courses to looking forward to Prom and Graduation, we’re excited for all that the year holds for you.
As seniors, you’ll be engaged in GA’s traditions, activities, and leadership of the school, while the college process is in full swing. We know the opportunities for college visits have been severely limited, and we’re working with the college office to provide some flexibility for those visits in the fall, if possible.
Mrs. King will be in touch at the end of June, and again at the end July, with more specific information about the opening of school for 2020-2021. Be sure to check the website for English and history summer reading requirements. Information about preseason sports and dance will be coming later this summer. Another highlight of senior year is that you continue to work with advisors who know you well, so please feel free to reach out to them with questions or concerns throughout the year.
After the uncertainty of this spring, I hope the coming year will be full of promise and excitement, and I look forward to seeing you in the fall. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call or email me.
Until then, happy summer!
Mary Gayle Meyer
Group XII Dean
Upper School English
Below is a list of dearly loved books compiled by members of the English Department (most with commentary from the teacher who recommended the title).
In addition to reading our all-school read, Madeline Miller’s Circe, please choose one book from this list that you have not read before. There are so many good books here—have fun exploring and researching them, and please reach out to any member of the English Department or our US Librarian Ms. Slattery if you’d like help in choosing! (And you should of course feel free to read more than one!)
- Elizabeth Acevedo, The Poet X. A novel in verse about a teenage girl living in Harlem who comes into her own as a poet.
- Richard Adams, Watership Down. This is an adventure story, with a twist. Hazel, a natural-born leader, takes control of a band of misfits to lead them from their devastated home to a new, safer place to live. Kind of like The Odyssey (only better), but with rabbits (that’s the twist!).
- Chimamanda Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun. This novel creates compelling characters from all walks of life and shows how they connect during the tumultuous war in late 1960s Nigeria.
- Julia Alvarez, In the Time of the Butterflies. This highly readable and remarkable novel tells the true story of four sisters who resisted the government of General Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. It’s both sad and inspiring as each of the sisters narrates a different part of the novel.
- James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk. Read this novel for the love story, for what it was like to live in New York City in the 1970s, and to better understand racism and false imprisonment—then and now.
- Richard Blanco, Looking for the Gulf Motel. If you haven’t already read a book of poems by Richard Blanco, one of our visiting writers in 2018, start with Looking for the Gulf Motel. Then consider his newest collection, How to Love a Country, which includes his poem about the Pulse shooting and many others that explore what it means to be American.
- Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre. This novel tells a story of a poor orphan who grows up to be one of the bravest, most outspoken characters I know—she’s not even afraid of the creepy noises in the attic.
- Geraldine Brooks, People of the Book. The term “people of the book” is one that has been used to refer to Jews and Christians, followers of Abrahamic religions. The people in this fascinating book all “follow” the Sarajevo Haggadah, one of the oldest surviving Jewish illuminated texts and a priceless manuscript. Beginning with Hanna, an Australian book conservator called upon to restore the Haggadah, the novel works backwards in time and across Europe to the conflict zone of Sarajevo where the book was made in the 1300s.
- NoViolet Bulawayo, We Need New Names. A coming-of-age story about a young girl named Darling. The first half of the book is set during Darling’s childhood in Zimbabwe, and the second half of the book takes place after she immigrates to Michigan as a teenager.
- Julie Buntin, Marlena. A coming of age novel about female friendship and addiction.
- Octavia Butler, The Parable of the Sower. This novel, by a rare African-American voice in the sci-fi genre, tells the story of Lauren Olamina, who, faced with the loss of her family in a world devastated environmentally and economically, sets off on a journey to safety. She picks up other travelers as she goes. If you liked The Hunger Games, you may like this.
- Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. A story about comic books for those with no interest in comic books, and the most unlikely superhero story you’ll ever read. This is one of those novels in which you become fully immersed, neglecting what’s going on in your own world for the pleasure of being in the book.
- Ted Chiang, Stories of Your Life and Others. Science fiction short stories that “deliver dual delights of the very, very strange and the heartbreakingly familiar, often presenting characters who must confront sudden change—the inevitable rise of automatons or the appearance of aliens—with some sense of normalcy.” (from Amazon)
- Junot Diaz, Drown. Before The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz wrote this fantastic short story collection. For aspiring fiction writers and for fans of Diaz’s other work alike, Drown is a sure hit. Keep an eye out for Yunior!
- Charles Dickens, Bleak House, Our Mutual Friend—anything!. These look like tomes (they’re long) but Dickens was a popular writer—lots of action, coincidences, romance, and funny character names make them exceptionally readable and hard to put down. There’s even a character in Bleak House who spontaneously combusts.
- Anthony Doerr, All The Light We Cannot See. This is a must-read for lovers of historical fiction and/or admirers of downright gorgeous sentences. It’s the WWII-era story of a French girl and a German boy whose paths cross in occupied France. It’s nuanced, it’s moving...it’s really something special. It’s on the New York Times’ “Best Books of 2014” list and won the Pulitzer Prize!
- Jennifer Egan, A Visit From the Goon Squad. A book that plays with form and storytelling in exciting ways, this novel is very different in style from last year’s all-summer read, Manhattan Beach, but Egan’s sharp observations and prose remain. A must-read for music lovers, especially!
- Leif Enger, Peace Like a River. This novel seems inspired by To Kill a Mockingbird and if you loved that book, you’ll probably like this one. It’s a great road trip story. If you like to imagine the possibility of miracles, this might be for you.
- Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex. This is an epic novel that spans three generations of a Greek-American family from their tiny village overlooking Mt. Olympus to being firmly established in Detroit. Eugenides, an evocative storyteller, crafts distinctive, unforgettable characters.
- Elena Ferrante, My Brilliant Friend. This highly readable (perhaps semi-autobiographical?) novel is the first in a quartet tracing the friendship between two girls in 1950s Naples, Italy. At times intense, at others funny, and at still others heart-breaking, this is one of the few novels out there that takes a sustained look at complicated women’s friendships.
- Jonathan Safron Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. This novel combines different points of view, illustrations, and experiments with typography to tell the story of Oskar Schell, a precocious 9-year-old who pursues a mystery left by his father after he died suddenly in the World Trade Center on 9/11/01. Along his journey across the five boroughs of New York, Oskar meets some amazing characters, including his long-lost grandfather who doesn’t speak.
- Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. The narrator’s voice in this novel—angry, passionate, hilarious, bittersweet—is captivating. I won’t give away the plot entirely, but it involves a young woman trying to understand the disappearance of her sister many years before.
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude. Not for the faint of heart! This is a complicated but rewarding novel that follows one hundred years in Macondo, a fictional town in Colombia. Garcia Marquez is probably the most famous and most influential of Latin American novelists, bringing magical realism to wide audiences. Funny and tragic and incredibly inventive.
- Roxanne Gay, Bad Feminist. Over the past couple of years, Roxanne Gay has emerged as an important thinker on subjects ranging from race to gender and from politics to Scrabble. This collection of essays captures her sense of humor and her fierce intelligence.
- Lauren Groff, Florida. A collection of atmospheric, fierce, and beautiful short stories set in—you guessed it—Florida, this book is the perfect companion to summer evening spent on a porch watching fireflies. It’s moody, funny, and haunting all at once.
- Nathan Hill, The Nix. Inventive and imaginative, this novel traces the investigation Samuel Andresen-Anderson undertakes after his estranged mother is arrested for an absurd crime that captivates a politically-divided country.
- Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day. Quietly funny and then silently heartbreaking. This novel is in my top five (the movie, too).
- Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House. A very good, very scary haunted house story.
- Nalini Jones, What You Call Winter. A collection of interconnected short stories from the sister of a GA alum. They revolve around a small Catholic community in India.
- Mary Karr, The Liar’s Club or Cherry. Tough stuff, but so compelling. Real stories of an extraordinary childhood told in authentic, hilarious, poignant prose.
- Jack Kerouac, On the Road. Crisscross America with the Beat generation in the classic novel. Kerouac’s prose reads like the bebop jazz he and his pals listened to as they raced across the American landscape in the late ’40s. One draft of this book was typed nonstop on what appears to be an endless scroll of paper.
- Jamaica Kincaid, Annie John. The story of a young girl growing up on the island of Antigua, and the reasons that lead her to leave it.
- Stephen King, Skeleton Crew. Because summer reading should be fun and terrifying.
- Barbara Kingsolver, Unsheltered. Kingsolver’s newest novel, and one of her best, goes back and forth between a family pulling itself together in 2016 and the story of Mary Treat, a real-life botanist who lived in the 1800s and corresponded with Charles Darwin. Through a surprising connection, both narratives include characters immersed in science and grappling with family and love.
- Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior. Hong Kingston's memoir was a favorite of mine in high school and college. She tells the story of her childhood in America and her mother’s stories of life in China, weaving myth with memory. Her writing is unflinching, confident, and surprising, and she is brilliant on cultural memory and haunting.
- Nicole Krauss, The History of Love. A mystery that spans generations, and a puzzle for the reader to put together. There are some great characters in this innovative and engaging novel.
- Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Hey, Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction. I loved this heartbreaking (sometimes funny) graphic memoir about the author growing up with a mother addicted to heroin and the flawed, loving grandparents who raised him. Full-cast audio, too (just nominated for an Audie award).
- Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird. Funny book on writing and observations of life in general. Lamott makes writing approachable and instills confidence by reminding us of all the potential material we observe every day.
- Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness. Set on a distant and icy planet, this science fiction novel takes on big questions around gender and culture. What does it mean to be male or female? How do we interpret the actions and feelings of people whose manners are mysterious to us? Part anthropology, part folklore, part adventure-story, Le Guin’s novel will cool you to the bone in the summer heat.
- Valeria Luiselli, Lost Children Archive. “Told through several compelling voices, blending texts, sounds, and images, Lost Children Archive is…a richly engaging story of how we document our experiences, and how we remember the things that matter to us the most. With urgency and empathy, it takes us deep into the lives of one remarkable family as it probes the nature of justice and equality today.” (from Amazon)
- Hisham Matar, In the Country of Men. Short but intense coming-of-age novel about a young boy in Tripoli, Libya, who comes to realize his father’s secrets might jeopardize the family’s future. Matar sheds some light on what living under Muammar Gaddafi was like for those who had the courage to disagree with him.
- William Somerset Maugham, The Razor’s Edge. You'll keep reading this author once you start. The writing feels like conversation with a wise, cultured friend.
- Courtney Maum, Costalgre. Written by a GA alum (!), this novel is inspired by the relationship between heiress Peggy Guggenheim and her daughter, Pegeen, and tells the story of Lara (Pegeen’s fictional counterpart) as she’s brought along on a wild, art-seeking trip into the Mexican jungle.
- Ian McEwan, Saturday. This story is an interesting, philosophical account of one day—a Saturday—in the life of British neurosurgeon living in London post-9/11. I enjoyed spending time in the protagonist’s mind as he is a thoughtful narrator who leads a charmed life – until a tense encounter and home invasion change the entire tenor of the day. (Most appropriate for juniors or seniors.)
- Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles. Like our all-school read (Circe, also by Miller), this text reimagines and animates Greek mythology in a way that makes it juicy and irresistible!
- Lorrie Moore, Self-Help. Moore is the queen of the funny/tragic pun, and, in Self-Help, she conquers the notoriously tricky second person. Though her later collection Birds of America is perhaps better regarded, when I was nineteen, Self-Help made me want to become a writer and remains my favorite of hers. (A warning: After you read the collection, you will likely think that I got the wrong message.)
- Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood. Trevor Noah, whom you might recognize as the host of The Daily Show, was born in South Africa to a white father and a black mother when it was illegal for people of different races to marry. This autobiography—inspiring, funny, sad, and always compelling—traces Trevor Noah’s unusual upbringing with his unconventional mother and provides insight into how he survived and thrived in a dangerous place and time.
- Téa Obreht, The Tiger’s Wife. This magical novel is in many ways about story telling itself. The narrator learns of the mysterious death of her beloved grandfather and attempts to retrace his steps, remembering the stories he told her of his encounters with a “deathless man,” and imagining other stories about a tiger’s wife.
- Tommy Orange, There, There. Beautiful, daring, and disturbing, this novel examines Native American urban life in Oakland, CA. Told from multiple voices, stories are braided in a complex, shared history that culminates in a shooting at the local pow wow.
- Helen Oyeyemi, Boy, Snow, Bird. Part fairy tale, part family drama, this prize-winning novel will involve you in the lives of three young women, beginning with Boy, who is the stepmother of Snow and the mother of Bird. Quirky and inventive, you’ll be entertained and provoked to ponder questions about love, transformation, race, family & identity.
- Angela Palm, Riverine. Winner of the prestigious Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, this memoir opens the window on Palm’s life growing up in Demotte, Indiana, a small town that was often flooded by the Kankakee River. Palm finally escapes her tough childhood, settles in the East, gets married, (and visits the GA Writers Festival), but is pulled back home to renew her relationship with a young man who is in prison for murder.
- Morgan Parker, There are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce. A bold poetry contemporary collection that uses pop culture references to meditate on the ways that race and gender intersect in our world. It includes poems such as “RoboBeyonce,” “What Beyonce Won’t Say on a Shrink’s Couch,” and “Freaky Friday Starring Beyonce and Lady Gaga.” Beyonce is clearly used as the guiding symbol of the collection, but it’s also about a whole lot more than just her.
- Ann Patchett, Commonwealth. This novel traces fifty years in the lives of two families connected by a romantic encounter. Both funny and heartbreaking, and described as “impossible to put down” by the New York Times. Another of Patchett’s novels, Bel Canto (about a terrorist takeover of an embassy) is also a great read.
- Sylvia Plath, The Collected Poems. Read Plath’s poems for their brilliant, incisive language. No one uses words the way she does to examine troubling and ordinary experiences. After her early death, Plath became famous for expanding what women could write about in poems, such as “Daddy,” “Lady Lazarus,” “The Moon and the Yew Tree,” among many others.
- Annie Proulx, Close Range. A tough, smart collection of short stories about life in Wyoming.
- Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea. If you have read Jane Eyre, this novel is a must. Rhys sets her story in Jamaica, before the events of Jane Eyre, and adopts the perspectives of (spoiler alert) the woman in the attic and Mr. Rochester. Rhys’s prose is gorgeous, and the novel will leave you reeling. A persuasive critique of Brontë’s novel and a wonderful introduction to Rhys’s work.
- Rainer Marie Rilke, The Selected Poetry of Rainer Marie Rilke (Stephen Mitchell translation). You can spend a lifetime reading and thinking about The Duino Elegies. Strange and mystical.
- Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping. This is a beautifully written novel about Ruth and Lucille, two sisters who are raised by their eccentric aunt after their mother’s death. Haunted by a train wreck that killed the girls’ grandfather, the inhabitants of the small town of Fingerbone worry about the habits of this unconventional family.
- George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo. Who knew that somebody could craft a new way of telling a story after a few thousand years of storytelling? Brilliant (but not smug), quite funny, and genuinely moving once you get the hang of it.
- Marie Semple, Where’d You Go, Bernadette. This is zany, funny, heartwarming, and a real page-turner. Bee Fox is on the hunt for her mother, Bernadette, who has disappeared. Bee uses, among other things, emails, school memos, and other stray pieces of paper to figure out why Bernadette has gone missing and where she might be. Terrific!
- Hampton Sides, In the Kingdom of Ice. For those of you who love non-fiction, adventure, and reading about the incredible strength and resilience of people under devastating stress, Sides’ books are ideal. In the Kingdom of Ice tells the true story of what happened to the sailors aboard the Jeanette as they traveled to the Arctic in the hopes of being the first to discover the North Pole. Suffice it to say, they did not return triumphantly.
- Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Not only a nonfiction account of the enormous impact of the HeLa cell, this book is also a memoir of Skloot’s creative process, including how she searched for the Lacks family, uncovered the history of poverty and racism behind the science, and ultimately formed a close relationship with the descendants of Henrietta Lacks, whose cancer cells changed history.
- Carol Shields, Unless. Told from the perspective of a woman whose daughter has chosen to become homeless as a kind of protest. Lots of good feminist thinking in here. A book I’ve found hard to forget, and I usually have no memory for plot.
- Patti Smith, Just Kids. In this National Book Award winning memoir, Patti Smith paints a picture of what it was like to live in NYC in the late sixties and seventies. Before either of them was famous, she and Robert Mapplethorpe hung out together. The photographer was an inspiration for Smith’s visual and performing art.
- Zadie Smith, Swing Time. This novel takes its name from a Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers movie, follows the lives of two black women who shared a love of dancing when they were growing up in London. Their paths separate, but never entirely diverge as one stays with dancing and the other travels to the US and Africa as an assistant to a famous performer.
- John Steinbeck, East of Eden or Travels with Charley. East of Eden is timeless and sweeping. Steinbeck fully immerses the reader in the worlds of two families with intersecting lives. The characters are sometimes touching, sometimes terrifying, and always believable. This is an American novel that you don’t want to skip over. Steinbeck’s dedication at the beginning of the novel is enough to make you cry. Travels with Charley makes you want to do a road trip. One of the only books I read twice in high school.
- Kathryn Stockett, The Help. What was it like for black women to work as “help” in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962, the year before Martin Luther King’s freedom March on Washington, DC? What risks did they take to share their stories with a young white woman who collaborated with them to write a book? Told from three fascinating points of view, The Help will make you laugh and cry.
- John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces. This comedic novel, set in New Orleans, introduces a crazy cast of characters in high and low comedy situations.
- Hannah Tinti, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley. If you enjoyed The Good Thief a few summers ago, this most recent book by Tinti might interest you. It’s more violent than The Good Thief—in part it’s the story of how the titular character (a ne’er-do-well) barely escapes death on multiple occasions—but it also includes a father-daughter relationship, a mysterious death, and a whale.
- Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone. (Most appropriate for juniors or seniors.) This is a compelling story about twin brothers and their lives in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and New York City. It is a story about brother dynamics, parental inheritance, romantic love, and medicine. My doctor friends say Cutting for Stone is one of their favorite novels, but I also loved it. It is 650 pages, but I promise it does not disappoint!
- Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous or Night Sky With Exit Wounds. A son’s letter to his mother and a beautiful book of poetry, both of which grapple with identity, love, race, class, and masculinity. Vuong’s voice is tender and wrenching—and especially worth reading as we look forward to his visit to GA in the fall. (And On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is the Daedalus Book Club’s summer pick!)
- Jeanette Walls, The Glass Castle: A Memoir. Imagine growing up with two crazy parents who have plenty of imagination and no money. Out of desperation, a child not only survives, but also grows up and flourishes as an accomplished writer.
- Minette Walters, The Last Hours. Don’t be put off by the length of this book—it’s actually a quick read, and it’s a great choice for those who love both historical fiction and dystopian novels. The Last Hours tells the story of a small estate in southern England trying to avoid the Black Plague devastating nearby communities. Lady Anne, the wife of the estate’s owner, tries to manage her recalcitrant daughter and save the nearby villagers as what seems to be the end of the world takes place around them.
- Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones. This novel is about a poor, rural African-American community on the gulf coast set in the 10 days leading up to a massive hurricane (possibly Katrina). The narrator is a teenage girl, who we quickly discover is pregnant. It’s beautiful and sad, but has a redemptive, hopeful ending.
- Tara Westover, Educated. A gripping memoir about growing up in a household of survivalists in rural Idaho and the path that led Westover out of there and into some of the most revered classrooms in the world.
- Kevin Wilson, Nothing to See Here. I get the sense there were two camps on this one (“love it” and “what WAS that?”). I fell into the “love it” side and wonder if some Upper Schoolers would appreciate this outrageous, funny, disturbing (and short!) book.
|CLASS||AUTHOR||TITLE||ISBN #||AVAILABLE AT|
|AP COMP GOV||Prezeworski, Adam||Crisis of Democracy||978-1108498807||Amazon|
||Wheelan, Charles||Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science||978-0393356496||Amazon/Barnes & Noble|
||Potzsch, Oliver||The Hangman's Daughter||978-0547745015||Amazon|
|Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited||9780812975659||Amazon/Barnes & Noble|
||Millard, Candace||Destiny of the Republic||978-0767929714||Barnes & Noble|
|MODERN WORLD HISTORY
||Standage, Tom||A History of the World in Six Glasses||978-0802715524||Barnes & Noble|
||Millard, Candace||Destiny of the Republic||978-0767929714||Barnes & Noble|
For your summer reading assignment for United States History, all students are expected to read Candice Millard’s Destiny of the Republic. In the book Millard describes in detail the rise and fall of President James Garfield and the impact his death had on the nation. Below are a series of questions to help you better understand the book. You are NOT required to answer these questions; however, you would be wise to pay attention to them as they might form the core of the assessment that you must take when beginning the course in the fall.
Take a few minutes to look up answers to these questions; this will help orient you as you read the book.
- What was the broad political context in the country at the time in the book (Gilded Age)? What were the major parties? What did they stand for? What were the controversial issues that differentiated the political parties at the time?
- Describe the Oneida community of the first half of the 19th century. What were their beliefs? What do you know about their leaders?
- How does Millard describe President Garfield’s background and life prior to becoming president? In particular, focus on his education and his work experience. How did his background compare to the backgrounds of other American presidents?
- Garfield did not campaign for Senator or for the Presidential nomination, but he got nominated anyway. According to Millard, why did this happen?
- How does Millard describe Lucretia (Garfield’s wife)? How would you describe their relationship? Does this seem reflective of what you know about 19th century gender roles?
- What other prominent women feature in the book? How do they reinforce or challenge your ideas about 19th century gender roles?
- Describe Charles Guiteau’s life experience. To what extent was this either “typical” or “representative” for the era? To what extent does Millard seem to blame him for what he did to President Garfield? Why do you feel this way?
- What was Dr. Lister’s theory? According to Millard, why was his theory so slow to catch on in the United States?
- What were Alexander Graham Bell’s accomplishments?
- Describe Vice President Arthur. Did he deserve the hatred that came his way after Garfield had been shot? There are many passages that describe him crying. Was your impression that he was crying for Garfield or himself? Did you expect him to be the kind of president he was?
- What particularly stands out about Garfield’s time and treatment after he was shot?
- How did the country respond to Garfield’s shooting?
- According to Millard, who was most responsible for Garfield’s death? Why?
- What was the role of the President of the United States in Garfield’s time? Has role of the President changed from Garfield's time to now? If so, in what ways?
- Americans have always disagreed about things. How did political disagreements manifest themselves in Garfield's time, and how are these disagreements manifested today?
- Are political parties good for America? What is their purpose? Are they a good way to identify differing viewpoints among citizens? Would your answer change if the question applied to Garfield's time?
- How does Millard’s work compare to other secondary sources/history books that you have read? In what ways is this similar? In what ways is this different? Did you enjoy this book more or less than other history books that you have read? Why?