Entry #23 – Book with a message: Discuss a book that had a meaningful message behind it.
Okay, so I couldn’t pick just one book for this post. Instead, I went with three: Wonder by R.J. Palacio, Deadline by Chris Crutcher, and Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. These books couldn’t be more different from one another, but they all share important life lessons with their readers.
1. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Wonder tells the story of Auggie Pullman, a ten-year-old with a facial deformity, who is about to attend public school for the first time. August experiences bullying—as do a few brave friends who stick by him. You hear from Auggie’s side of the story, as well as his classmates, his teenage sister, and his sister’s boyfriend. It’s amazing to see what they all learn from living in Auggie’s world. You also get some great quotes about kindness thanks to an assignment from one of Auggie’s teachers. Although Amazon lists the book for grades 3-7, I think older kids and adults will get enjoy it just as much as a younger audience. With bullying being such a hot topic lately, this book approaches it in a beautifully simple and honest way. Instead of demanding No Bullying or Stop Bullying, it urges Treat Everyone with Kindness, which is a message I can certainly get behind.
2. Deadline by Chris Crutcher
Chris Crutcher is well known for his stories Athletic Shorts, Running Loose, and Chinese Handcuffs. In Deadline, high school senior Ben Wolf finds out that he may not live to the end of his senior year. He decides to keep his illness and prognoses a secret from everyone, and instead, decides to push himself to try new things. He musters up the courage to ask out the gorgeous girl, he becomes a star on the football team, and he challenges his teachers. The message here is to live each day as if it were your last. It also challenges readers to think for themselves and not judge people by their appearances. I recently picked up this novel at the Half-Price Bookstore, and I look forward to reading it again. I think it’d make a great novel to use with high school juniors and seniors who are questioning what to do with their lives.
3. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
In this novel, a teenager named Clay Jensen receives a package unlike any other. The box contains cassette tapes narrated by Hannah, a classmate who recently committed suicide. As Clay listens to the tapes, he comes to understand that Hannah is explaining the thirteen reasons why she was motivated to take her own life—and that only people who were part of the reason are receiving the tapes. Clay listens to the tapes to find out why he is partially to blame. Through rumors, ruined reputations, and teenage egocentrism, you’ll uncover what life was like for Hannah. Readers will realize that even if they are not participating in the rumors and bullying directly, sitting on the sidelines can be just as hurtful. The message of this novel seems to be treating others with kindness as well. It also promotes paying attention to people around you and stepping in when necessary. I listened to this book on audio CD before reading the book version. I preferred the audiobook because there were different voices for the main characters, and it was almost like listening to Hannah’s voice on cassette tape. Asher’s story is dark and troubling. He’s going to be an author to watch. He has also co-authored the slightly lighter story The Future of Us, which I’d also recommend reading.
What books have important messages for you?