Summer Reading Assignments: Student Opinions on the Novels

When deciding which English class to take, a big factor for many students is the summer reading that goes along with honors English classes. Although reading a novel and doing assigned work may seem like a daunting task, many students find the novels enjoyable.

Freshman year students are able to select a book for their summer reading assignment. Freshman Aaron Carter chose Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery by Scott Kelly. The novel is about Scott Kelly and his experiences and hardships during his year in the space station.

 “I liked how it was very scientific. It was on a topic I was already interested in and a person I already knew something about,” said Carter.

Although not everyone has an interest in space, Carter would still recommend the novel.

“I would recommend it because it was very well written, but the vocabulary was not too difficult. There was not any point where I felt bored,” said Carter.

Sophomore year students are assigned The Book Thiefby Markus Zusak. The novel follows Liesel, a young orphan who is beginning her new life with foster parents after her brother died during travel.

“During her brother’s funeral she picked up a book and although she could not read it, she associated it with him,” said sophomore Garrett Davis.

The novel is set during the Holocaust. The story becomes complicated as Liesel begins stealing books from book burnings and her family hides a Jewish boy whose father saved her foster father, Hans, in previous years.

“It was detailed, the story and the characters kept me interested,” said Davis.

Junior year for AP Literature and Composition, Life of Pi by Yann Martel is the assigned novel. It follows Piscine “Pi” Patel whose father owns a zoo. Pi struggles spiritually and physically after surviving a shipwreck and being left alone on a lifeboat with zoo animals, including Richard Parker, a massive Bengal tiger.

“I did like the book because it taught me life lessons. It is one of those books that really has a deeper meaning and you cannot stop talking about it because you are always learning more about it,” said Junior Drew Cosgray.

Because faith was such a driving force in Pi’s story, it was a central theme of the novel.

“It taught me that faith and religion are really important, even in your most desperate times,” said Cosgray.

If you decide to take IU English your senior year, you are assigned Just Mercyby Bryan Stevenson. It is a nonfiction novel, written by one of the most prolific nonprofit lawyers in the country. He defends those who are unable to defend themselves, but most prominently those on death row.

“I did like it, but there were some points where I was confused as he jumped from case to case,” said senior Adeline Riley.

Because Stevenson has so many experiences in his field, the novel contains a lot of information that could be confusing if you have no background in law. Riley believes it is important to take your time to get a better understanding of the novel.

“Get it done early. Do not procrastinate because you may want to research more information than what was given if you do not have background knowledge on the topic,” Riley.

Getting assignments done early and giving yourself time to complete the task well is important. Summer reading assignments may seem like a large task, but many students find the novels enjoyable.

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