Good Books to Get Ahead With

Ashton Ruiz, Staff Writer

Although the green list of eight book choices may seem daunting to sort through, seniors and teachers alike have found their favorites amongst the AP English 4 summer reading. With such a variety of contemporary literature to choose from, two of the books were particularly well received: Going After Cacciato by Tim O’Brien and The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan.

Tim O’Brien was a familiar name for the seniors because his novel, The Things They Carried, had previously been assigned in AP English 3.

“I like the way Tim O’Brien writes, personally,” Senior Mukul Ramakhrishnan said, “and if I find an author that I like, then I usually read books from them.”

O’Brien’s clear-cut, contemporary style became popular in class amidst the educational turmoil of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Going After Cacciato embraces the same format as seen in O’Brien’s other works.

Going After Cacciato isn’t only the shortest read, but also a jumble of insight into the minds of the soldiers. It also centers on the psychological effects of the Vietnam War, just like The Things They Carried.

“The Vietnam War affected my generation so much,” AP English teacher Diana Cain said. “I love Tim O’Brien’s books.”

Despite the enjoyment factor, the novel still encourages a thoughtful mind and meets the AP requirements for future seniors.

Equally popular, Amy Tan’s The Bonesetter’s Daughter covers a completely different topic than that of which O’Brien specializes: Chinese-Americans. Tan’s repertoire includes a list of best-selling novels, such as The Joy Luck Club and The Kitchen God’s Wife which is enticing to students unfamiliar with her work.

Even after a brief synopsis, The Bonesetter’s Daughter pulls the reader in with the allure of a character’s real world problems solved through a surreal recount of her family’s past.

“I really liked the plot of it, and how it went back in time – like exploring the memories,” Senior Yeghia Keleshian said.

Through this, a Chinese-American ghostwriter discovers the truth behind her heritage and finds respect for her mother. Tan uses the power of text and unspoken words to masterfully propel the story.

“It’s very heartfelt and very touching,” Senior Melissa Tung said. “I really enjoy reading books about culture – that’s why I read the book.”

Though the characters are fictional, the mother-daughter relationship and dialogue that plays out are perfectly real and relatable to any reader.

Current juniors would be apt to pick up either of these novels – if not for future AP English reference, then for an enjoyable read.