After much consideration, we are pleased to announce the winners of this year's All-School Summer Reading Contest! Just like last summer, we have selected two books - so please feel free to read either, or both.
Charles Yu’s Interior Chinatown was the best book I read in 2020! Formatted like a screenplay, this book examines tropes, stereotypes, and other forms of oppression, discrimination, and marginalization faced by Chinese Americans. The book uses the structure of an action film script to satirize and critique limiting racialized “roles” within US society and culture, and is both hilarious and poignantly meditative.
The narrative focuses on Willis Wu, defined by the screenplay as the “Generic Asian Man” stuck playing “Background Oriental Male” and occasionally “Delivery Guy” in a fictional, stereotypical cop drama. He strives to work within established structures to achieve the highest role available to him: “Kung Fu Guy.”
Charles Yu wrote for HBO’s Westworld and has been published by the Atlantic, TIME, and McSweeneys. Interior Chinatown is super readable, a true Hannah Montana text in terms of its ability to cross genres and deliver the best of both worlds. Yu tackles an examination of racial marginalization in a way that’s accessible to all.
Little Women is a story about young women who do not want to fall into the roles that society has created for them. Rather than fall into these roles, they express their individuality through their hobbies and talents. While this book was written in 1868, many of the gender roles seen in the book are still experienced today. Little Women is also a story about selflessness; oftentimes the family finds themselves in near poverty. Despite this, they give what little they have to help those in need. I’m proposing only the first half of the book since the second half was written a few years after the first to explain who the girls get married to, “as if that was the only end and aim of a woman’s life,” said the book’s author, Louisa May Alcott. While the second half is still a great piece of writing, it implies that a woman is not complete without loving a man and complying with society’s gender roles. Alcott also strongly opposed writing the second half, which is yet another reason to only read the first. Overall, Little Women is a great ASSR choice as it explores topics relevant to today’s society. We could all learn something from Alcott’s writing and benefit from engaging in conversations next year about gender and the role it plays in our community.
It’s probably safe to assume that when Karen Penny decided to pursue a career in healthcare, she never imagined a scenario in which she would have to send hundreds of vials of saliva through the mail, every single week.
Whether they’re learning how to live in a dorm, enduring discomfort on Out Back, or just watching their teachers go about their lives on campus, students at a boarding school learn countless important lessons outside the classroom.
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