By: Alexis Gomez
The power of a great book is immeasurable, and it’s the best books that high school students read that are oftentimes the most unforgettable and thought-provoking. This list of our Top Ten books for 9-12th graders includes memorable classics and influential soon-to-be classics that will have teenage readers eager to engage in important discussions that will set them up for success in higher education and beyond.
By: Walter Dean Meyers
Sixteen-year-old Steve Harmon is on trial for murder. A Harlem drugstore owner was shot and killed in his store, and the word is that Steve served as the lookout. As a way of coping with the horrific events that entangle him, Steve, an amateur filmmaker, decides to transcribe his trial into a script, just like in the movies. He writes it all down, scene by scene. But despite his efforts, reality is blurred, and his vision obscured until he can no longer tell who he is or what is the truth.
2. Of Mice and Men
By: John Steinbeck
As laborers in California’s dusty vegetable fields, they hustle work when they can, and live a hand-to-mouth existence. George and Lennie have a plan: to own an acre of land and a shack they can call their own. When they land jobs on a ranch in the Salinas Valley, the fulfillment of their dream seems to be within their grasp. But even George cannot guard Lennie from the provocations of a flirtatious woman, nor predict the consequences of Lennie’s unswerving obedience to the things George taught him.
3. Lord of the Flies
By: William Golding
At the dawn of the next world war, a plane crashes on an uncharted island, stranding a group of schoolboys. At first, with no adult supervision, their freedom is something to celebrate. This far from civilization they can do anything they want. Anything. But as order collapses, as strange howls echo in the night, as terror begins its reign, the hope of adventure seems as far removed from reality as the hope of being rescued.
4. One of Us is Lying
By: Karen M. McManus
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention. Bronwyn, the brain. Addy, the beauty. Nate, the criminal. Cooper, the athlete. And Simon, the outcast, and creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app. Only Simon never makes it out of that classroom and before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. On Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder.
By: Elie Wiesel
Night is Elie Wiesel’s candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. Elie’s memoir makes readers reflect on the enduring importance of Night and recognize his lifelong, passionate dedication to ensuring that the world never forgets man’s capacity for inhumanity to man. A tough, powerful, and necessary read.
6. The Great Gatsby
By: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Set in the Jazz Age on Long Island, the novel depicts narrator Nick Carraway’s interactions with mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and Gatsby’s obsession to reunite with his former lover, Daisy Buchanan. With a mixture of envy and dismay, Nick observes Gatsby and his flamboyant life in the town of West Egg, while Gatsby yearns for Daisy and all that shimmers across the Sound in East Egg.
7. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
By: Erika Sánchez
Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family. But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was her sister, Olga’s, role. Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought.
By: Marjane Satrapi
In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Marjane Satrapi tells the coming-of-age story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.
9. Sing, Unburied, Sing By: Jesmyn Ward
By: Jesmyn Ward
Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man. His mother, Leonie is an inconsistent presence in his and his toddler sister’s lives. When the children’s father is released from prison, Leonie packs her kids and a friend into her car and drives north to the heart of Mississippi and Parchman Farm, the State Penitentiary. At Parchman, there is another thirteen-year-old boy, the ghost of a dead inmate who carries all the ugly history of the South with him in his wandering. He too has something to teach Jojo about fathers and sons, about legacies, about violence, about love.
10. Exit West
By: Mohsin Hamid
In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—fiercely independent Nadia and restrained Saeed. They take comfort in each other as unrest grows and roils their city. When it explodes, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through.