In high school, English was my favorite class. I was far more adept in reading and writing than calculating and measuring. However, even though I preferred to read, the novels that were assigned never sparked a genuine interest in me. Most times, you could find me researching the designated chapters online, rapidly seeking the major plot points and characters that may appear on the quiz I had approaching in mere minutes.
I am now a junior in college and an English major. I now see it as my duty to protect and advocate for the novels I had spent so many years in high school despising. I have also found that these pieces of literature often become better appreciated as we gain more life experiences. In other words, a novel that we didn’t understand when we were 14 can come to hold great importance when we are twenty. Here are seven novels you’ve probably read in high school that may hold more relevance for you today.
I remember not giving this novel a chance because it was assigned by an English teacher I didn’t particularly enjoy. However, after reading it again, I realized the importance it possesses as a piece of young adult literature. The novel contains a powerful message to use your voice, even if you formerly believed it held no significance. The author Laurie Anderson writes in such an authentic voice, it makes the novel easy to connect and extract an important lesson from.
2. To Kill a Mockingbird
The famous novel, written by Harper Lee and published in 1960, continues to remain relevant. The narrative flows and maintains its powerful messages regarding human morality, race, and courage. I think when most of us read the esteemed works, we weren’t able to truly submerge into the lessons Lee offered; it's almost as if we were reading it in a lens similar to Scout’s, a youthful naivety.
Elie Wiesel and his family were seized from their home and taken to an Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944. Night is a reserve of Wiesel's memories during his time at this camp. It is a first-hand account of the horror of our history and should be reread due to its deeply moving and honest record of tragedy.
4. Flowers for Algernon
This novel is a heartbreaking and beautiful tale of hope and perseverance. The story tackles a wide array of important topics such as disability, love and intelligence. The entire book is written in diary entries, letting the reader right into the mind of our main character, Charlie.
5. The House on Mango Street
The book is written in a series of vignettes, varying in emotion, and accounting the life of a young Latina girl raised in Chicago. She must discover herself and what she must become. The piece is beautifully written and extremely touching.
6. The Raven
Written by Edgar Allan Poe, it remains one of his most famous narrative poems. It battles themes such as loss and pensive sadness. Poe is able to use poetry as a medium for his horror-filled tales, making his works hauntingly lovely.
7. A Raisin in the Sun
The award-winning play written by Lorraine Hansberry tells the struggle of a working-class family, living in the south side of Chicago. If you’re willing to read a play, make Hansberry’s a top contender, it is a favorite amongst many readers and theater buffs. This is due to the vibrant characters, and their battle against prejudice and hardship.
Don't let high school sour your opinion on these beautiful works!