Full independent reading list valhalla high school english department

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Paluhniak, Chuck. Survivor (3): The protagonist survives the demise of the cult to which he belongs. (MATURE CONTENT)
Fight Club (3): A surreal tale of a confused protagonist who imagines an alter ego capable of taking on the world. (MATURE CONTENT)
Patterson, James. Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas (2): Katie Wilkinson's boyfriend Matt dumps her; not a total cad, he leaves her a gift, a diary kept by Suzanne, his first wife, for their son Nicholas. Though it's not exactly the diamond ring Katie was hoping for, she's unable to make herself destroy the diary--against her better judgment, Katie begins to read.
Pessl, Marisha. Special Topics in Calamity Physics. (3): The narrator is clever Blue van Meer, who has a head full of literary, philosophical, scientific, and cinematic knowledge. Upon entering the elite St. Gallway school, she finds some interesting friends—a clique of eccentrics known as the Bluebloods. One drowning and one hanging later, Blue finds herself puzzling out a twisted murder mystery.
Puzo, Mario. The Fortunate Pilgrim (2): Lucia Santa has traveled three thousand miles of dark ocean, from the mountain farms of Italy to the streets of New York, hoping for a better life. Instead, she finds herself in Hell's Kitchen, in a bad marriage, raising six children on her own. As Lucia struggles to hold her family together, her daughter confronts the adult world of work and romance while her eldest son is drawn into the Mafia. Meanwhile, her youngest son aspires to American pursuits she cannot understand.
The Godfather (2): A searing novel of the Mafia underworld, The Godfather introduces readers to the first family of American crime fiction, the Corleones, and the powerful legacy of tradition, blood, and honor that was passed on from father to son. With its themes of the seduction of power, the pitfalls of greed, and family allegiance, it is the definitive novel of the virile, violent subculture that remains steeped in intrigue, in controversy, and in our collective consciousness. (MATURE CONTENT)
Quindlen, Anna. Blessings (2): An abandoned child who is subsequently recovered creates enormous change in several lives.
Robbins, Tom. Jitterbug Perfume (3): A saga must have a hero, and the hero of this one is a janitor with a missing bottle. The bottle is blue, very old, and embossed with the image of a goat-horned god. If the liquid in the bottle is actually the secret essence of the universe, it had better be discovered soon because it is leaking and there is only a drop or two left.

Roth, Philip. The Plot Against America (3): A novel that imagines what might have happened in

America, particularly to one Jewish family in Newark, New Jersey, had Charles Lindbergh won

the 1940 presidential election rather than Franklin Roosevelt and acted upon his anti-Semitic


Russo, Richard. Empire Falls (3): In this comic and compelling ensemble piece, forty-something Miles

Roby, proprietor of the local greasy spoon and recently divorced father of a teenage daughter,

leads a large cast of secondary characters, drawn from every social stratum of his depressed New

England mill town.

Schlink, Bernhard. The Reader (3): A German teen boy is seduced by an older woman with a grave past. (MATURE CONTENT)
Shields, Carol. The Stone Diaries. (3): Shields follows her heroine, Daisy Goodwill Hoad Flett, from her birth--and her mother's death--on the kitchen floor of a stonemason's cottage in a small quarry town in Manitoba through childhood in Winnipeg, adolescence and young womanhood in Bloomington, Ind. (another quarry town), two marriages, motherhood, widowhood, a brief, exhilarating career in Ottawa--and eventually to old age and death in Florida. Wittily, ironically, touchingly, Shields gives us Daisy's version of her life and contrasting interpretations of events from her friends, children and extended family.
Sparks, Nicholas. A Bend in the Road (2): Miles's life seemed to end the day his wife was killed in a hit-and-run accident. He still rises each morning to take care of his young son and carries out his duties as deputy sheriff of New Bern, North Carolina, but it's all in a numb and hopeless haze. Then Miles meets Sarah Andrews, who is rebuilding her own life.
Dear John (2): The 9/11 attacks change everything for a soldier and the girl of his dreams. John feels it is his duty to re-enlist in the army and, sadly, the long separation finds Savannah falling in love with someone else. "Dear John," the letter read...and with those two words, a heart was broken and two lives were changed forever. Returning home, John must come to grips with the fact that Savannah, now married, is still his true love--and face the hardest decision of his life.
Message in a Bottle (2): Teresa Osborne, a 36-year-old single mother, finds a bottle washed up on a Cape Cod beach. The scrolled-up message inside is a passionate love letter written by a heartbroken man named Garrett who is grieving over "his darling Catherine." Imagining that Garrett is the type of man she has always been seeking, Teresa sets out on a search where her journey, her discovery, and the wisdom gained from this voyage of self-discovery changes her life forever.
The Last Song (2): This is a story of a teenage girl and her first encounter with heartbreak and love. The tale that unfolds is an unforgettable story of love on many levels—first love and love between parents and children—that demonstrates the many ways that love can break our hearts...and heal them.

Stockett, Kathryn. The Help (2): Jackson, Mississippi, in the early 1960s is a city of tradition that seems ripe for change. As the protagonist observes her friend rudely interact with the gentle black woman who is practically raising her two-year-old daughter, she latches onto the idea of writing the story of the domestic relations from the help’s point of view.
Tan, Amy. Bonesetter’s Daughter (2): San Francisco ghostwriter Ruth Young finally begins to

understand her Alzheimer's-afflicted mother LuLing's preoccupation with ghosts and curses when

she reads Luling's writings of her dark backwoods childhood in 1920s China.
The Joy Luck Club (2): In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin

meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Rather than sink into tragedy, they choose to gather to raise their spirits and money.

Tyler, Anne. The Accidental Tourist (2): A hysterical book about Macon Leary, a travel writer who

hates both travel and anything out of the ordinary. He is grounded by loneliness and an

unwillingness to compromise his creature comforts when he meets Muriel, a deliciously peculiar

dog-obedience trainer who up-ends Macon’s insular world–and thrusts him headlong into a

remarkable engagement with life.
Digging to America (2): The story of two families who meet at the airport when they are adopting

Korean infants. The Donaldson family is as all-American as they come. The Yazdan’s are Iranian

immigrants. Digging to America uses the story of the families' growing friendship to explore what

it means to be American.

Wolfe, Tom. The Bonfire of the Vanities (2): Both his cynical irony and sense of the ridiculous are

perfectly suited to his subject: the roiling, corrupt, savage, ethnic melting pot that is New York

City. Ranging from the rarefied atmosphere of Park Avenue to the dingy courtrooms of the Bronx,

this is a totally credible tale of how the communities uneasily coexist and what happens when they

Young, Wm. Paul. The Shack (2): A kidnapped daughter is presumed dead, and when her grieving father receives a letter, apparently from God, inviting him to the scene of the crime, he can't help but go.  What he finds there will change his world forever.

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