In “Coming of Age”, we are going to focus on two novels – both involving choices and decisions that teenagers made. Students will be actively engaging in pre-reading, reading, comprehension, discussion, analysis and writing activities to go with both novels. Students should expect approximately 2 - 3 hours of homework weekly, which will involve both reading and writing.
The Outsiders by SE Hinton
Parents need to know that this story of peer pressure, rebellion, and identity centers on two rival groups of teens, the lower-class "outsider" Greasers and the more well-heeled, popular Socs (short for Socials). It includes fighting, underage drinking, delinquent behavior, a rumble, a fatal stabbing, and a suicide. But the indelible characters and compelling story have consistently hooked middle school kids, teens, and reluctant readers since The Outsiders was first published in 1967. This book appeals to preteens (many read it in sixth grade) because that's the time when kids break into social cliques and life becomes tribal. The feelings of being ostracized are timeless -- which is why this book is still so relevant more than 40 years after its original publication.
The Outsiders was a controversial book at the time of its publication; it is still currently challenged and debated. It was ranked #38 on the American Library Association’s Top 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–1999. This book has been banned from some schools and libraries; however, in many United States schools, the book is part of the English curriculum at the middle- or high-school level.
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
Various parties have asserted that the novel implies homoeroticism between Gene and Finny, including those who endorse a queer reading of the novel, and those who condemn homosexuality as immoral. For example, the book was challenged in the Vernon-Verona-Sherill, NY School District (1980) as a "filthy, trashy sex novel" despite having no substantial female characters (and describing no sexual activity).
Though frequently taught in U.S. high schools, curricula related to A Separate Peace typically ignore a possible homoerotic reading in favor of engaging with the book as a historical novel or coming-of-age story. Knowles denied any such intentions, stating in a 1987 newspaper interview:
"Freud said any strong relationship between two men contains a homoerotic element...If so in this case, both characters are totally unaware of it. It would have changed everything, it wouldn’t have been the same story. In that time and place, my characters would have behaved totally differently."
NOTE: Registration deadline is December 30, 2019.