Books About Private School
From the publisher:
"The Nanny Diaries meets Lucky Jim in this devilish satire of the culture of power and privilege at a New York City private school.
John Spencer, an English teacher at the elite Academy X, is struggling through the final weeks of the spring semester. But keeping his students focused on the genius and wit of Jane Austen is the least of his problems. His crush on the sexy librarian is beginning to warp his judgment. An unexpected promotion leaves him drowning in a sea of academic intrigue. Pushy parents demanding higher grades lurk behind every corner and a favorite pupil suddenly reveals a cunning and sophistication far beyond her years. With each bumbling effort to keep everyone happy (and get his girl!), John digs himself deeper into trouble, until his very career is at stake. Witty and rollicking, Academy X is a priceless peek into New York City's top private schools?indeed into elite schools all over the country?where parents risk all for their child's academic resume and no price is too high (or pressure too great) to achieve a coveted admission to Harvard, Yale, or Princeton.
What's private school really like? Find out from people who have been there. Lorene Cary's Black Ice makes compelling reading. She was one of the first African-Americans to attend an elite private school. It was a different world from the one she grew up in back in Philadelphia. The classic novel is J.D.Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. As fresh today as it was when written back in 1951, Catcher opens on Holden's last day in prep school. Fast forward a few years and Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep sits atop the New York Times Best Seller List. These books are well worth a read. Enjoy! "
Black Ice By Lorene Cary
From the publisher:
"In 1972 Lorene Cary, a bright, ambitious black teenager from Philadelphia, was transplanted into the formerly all-white, all-male environs of the elite St. Paul's School in New Hampshire, where she became a scholarship student in a "boot camp" for future American leaders. Like any good student, she was determined to succeed. But Cary was also determined to succeed without selling out. This wonderfully frank and perceptive memoir describes the perils and ambiguities of that double role, in which failing calculus and winning a student election could both be interpreted as betrayals of one's skin. Black Ice is also a universally recognizable document of a woman's adolescence; it is, as Houston Baker says, 'a journey into self-hood that resonates with sober reflection, intelligent passion, and joyous love."
Casualties of Privilege: Essays on Prep Schools' Hidden Culture by Louis Crosier
From the publisher:
"Drinking, drugs, and sex; friendship, trust, and loyalty -- the other side of the prep school experience is presented with stark candor by recent graduates of the nation's most prestigious preparatory schools. These revealing, often startling essays set the stage for honest discussion of the boarding school's responsibility to the student's emotional and moral education."
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
From the publisher:
"Anyone who has read J.D. Salinger's New Yorker stories, particularly A Perfect Day for Bananafish, Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut, The Laughing Man, and For Esme--With Love and Squalor, will not be surprised by the fact that his first novel is full of children.
The hero-narrator of THE CATCHER IN THE RYE is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days.
The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it.
There are many voices in this novel: children's voices, adult voices, underground voices--but Holden's voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep."
The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
From the publisher":
"The Harry Potter series has been hailed as “one for the ages” by Stephen King and “a spellbinding saga’ by USA Today. And most recently, The New York Times called Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows the 'fastest selling book in history.'"
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
From the publisher":
"Curtis Sittenfeld’s debut novel, Prep, is an insightful, achingly funny coming-of-age story as well as a brilliant dissection of class, race, and gender in a hothouse of adolescent angst and ambition.
Lee Fiora is an intelligent, observant fourteen-year-old when her father drops her off in front of her dorm at the prestigious Ault School in Massachusetts. She leaves her animated, affectionate family in South Bend, Indiana, at least in part because of the boarding school’s glossy brochure, in which boys in sweaters chat in front of old brick buildings, girls in kilts hold lacrosse sticks on pristinely mown athletic fields, and everyone sings hymns in chapel.
As Lee soon learns, Ault is a cloistered world of jaded, attractive teenagers who spend summers on Nantucket and speak in their own clever shorthand. Both intimidated and fascinated by her classmates, Lee becomes a shrewd observer of–and, ultimately, a participant in–their rituals and mores. As a scholarship student, she constantly feels like an outsider and is both drawn to and repelled by other loners. By the time she’s a senior, Lee has created a hard-won place for herself at Ault. But when her behavior takes a self-destructive and highly public turn, her carefully crafted identity within the community is shattered.
Ultimately, Lee’s experiences–complicated relationships with teachers; intense friendships with other girls; an all-consuming preoccupation with a classmate who is less than a boyfriend and more than a crush; conflicts with her parents, from whom Lee feels increasingly distant, coalesce into a singular portrait of the painful and thrilling adolescence universal to us all."
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
From the publisher:
"An American classic and great bestseller for over thirty years, A Separate Peace is timeless in its description of adolescence during a period when the entire country was losing its innocence to World War II.
Set at a boys' boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II, A Separate Peace is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence. Gene is a lonely, introverted intellectual. Phineas is a handsome, taunting, daredevil athlete. What happens between the two friends one summer, like the war itself, banishes the innocence of these boys and their world."
Saving Miss Oliver's by Stephen Davenport
"'Some are called to serve in schools. Some are called to write. Davenport is called to both.'----Annie Dillard
The prestigious New England boarding school, Miss Oliver's School for Girls, is on the cusp of going under. The trustees have just fired Marjorie Boyd, headmistress for the last thirty-five years, because she's derelict as a financial manager. But she is a brilliant educator, beloved of the alumnae and students, who are angry and rebellious and will hate her successor. Nevertheless, if her successor, Fred Kindler, can get the support of the legendary senior teacher, Francis Plummer, he has a fighting chance to save the school. But to Plummer, anyone who replaces Marjorie represents disaster. His wife, Peggy Plummer, the librarian, thinks differently. She understands why the board had to save the school from the flaws of the very woman who had made it so worth saving. As passionately loyal to Kindler as Francis is to Marjorie, she steps forward to help the new head, usurping her husband's position at the head's right hand. Now the school's survival, Fred Kindler's career, and the Plummers' marriage are all at risk. INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR Q You have published 2 novels, Saving Miss Oliver's and No Ivory Tower, both set in a New England boarding school, Miss Oliver's School for Girls, and you are presently working on the third novel in the series, The Encampment. Why did you choose this setting? A. Because I have spent a lifetime in independent schools. Think of the novels in the Miss Oliver's School for Girls Saga as case studies made into good yarns. In fact, I have led workshops for school leaders based on events and characters in Saving Miss Oliver's. Q. What is it about that school world that makes for compelling stories? A. Everything that happens to humans happens in schools, usually in the compressed and therefore intensified time period of an academic year. Boarding schools are especially intense, hermetic, mission-driven communities. The mission of Miss Oliver's School for Girls is the empowerment of young women. Can you imagine how much passion there is around that ideal? All schools are emotionally charged, politically fraught searches for consensus among alumnae, who hate change, students, who yearn for it, an autonomous, verbally skilled, intelligent, highly opinionated faculty, and trustees who may or may not have a private agenda, and parents who, having paid a high tuition, are entitled to great results - the definition of which requires another search for consensus. Think of a family of 400 or more people. One could not ask for richer material. Q. Does it matter which novel in the Saga one reads first? A. Both novels are entirely independent, but if you intend to read both, start with Saving Miss Oliver's. Q. Tell us about your next novel, The Encampment. A. In No Ivory Tower and The Encampment, we see the arc of a women's career, namely Rachel Bickham, the African-American head of Miss Oliver's School for Girls, but in The Encampment, the emphasis switches to a senior who, imbued with the school's core value of compassion, risks expulsion from the school, and her own personal safety, in her support of a homeless man."
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