Tag Archives: High school

Susan Woodring. Goliath. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2012.

Goliath is a small town in North Carolina, based on similar places in Caldwell and Burke counties; it has a classic main street with shops and homes, a church, and a couple of diners. Its main claim to fame is the Harding Furniture Factory, a world famous company devoted to the creation of artisan furniture. The Harding family has been a pillar of Goliath for going on a century. The current patriarch, head of the factory and center of the community, is Percy Harding–until a teenage boy with a penchant for arson finds him dead one October morning, crushed on the railroad tracks.

Percy Harding’s death is the beginning of Goliath’s demise, and as the town slowly crumbles, we witness its destruction one person at a time. There is Rosamond Rogers, Percy Harding’s secretary. Abandoned by her philandering traveling salesman  husband and uncaring daughter, Percy was the only bright spot in Rosamond’s life. Even though her daughter, Agnes, is back in town after inexplicably dropping out of college, the mother and daughter’s relationship remains strained. Agnes always knew she would leave Goliath, while Rosamond could never imagine being anywhere else. Clyde Winston, her neighbor and the town’s police chief, is on the edge of retirement. Having lost his wife a few years ago, and estranged from Ray, his preacher son, Clyde is cautiously drawn to Rosamond and she to him. But somehow every time they connect they are pushed apart, like the opposite sides of two magnets.

Meanwhile, the town’s teenage population is in uproar. Junior girls at the local high school form a group that writes morbid poetry on pink paper. They leave their compositions in lockers, the library, and under the guidance counselor’s door. Students take to wearing black, and there is talk of a secret suicide pact. Vincent Bailey, the teenager who found Percy Harding, becomes obsessed with the poetry group’s ringleader: a reckless girl named Cassie. Slowly, seemingly unrelated events build together until one day Vincent Bailey and his friends arrive at a single idea that will result in the final knell for Goliath.

In this debut novel, Susan Woodring explores what the death of a small town looks like, and how the end of one company can spell the end of an entire community.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Burke, Caldwell, Mountains, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Woodring, Susan

R. K. Hardy. The Cheetah Diaries. Charleston, SC: CreateSpace, 2012.

Fifteen-year-old Kenya Taymore is definitely a cat person. This is important, because her veterinarian father owns and operates a big cat rescue sanctuary high in the North Carolina mountains. All of the cats (six tigers, one jaguar, one panther, three leopards, a puma, and assorted ocelots, servals, and margays) are enclosed in spacious habitats designed to mimic their native surroundings as closely as possible. The only cat allowed free range is Kenya’s cheetah, Shaka, whom she raised from a kitten. Shaka is special: Kenya’s mother, a brilliant writer, passed away just over a year before due to cancer. That’s when Shaka entered Kenya’s life, a helpless kitten. Kenya knows that treating a wild animal like a house pet was wrong, but having a constant companion in Shaka helped her survive the initial stages of her grief.

Now Kenya is starting her sophomore year in high school and feeling her mother’s absence acutely. The majority of faculty and students at her school are deeply religious, and because of this often use Christian doctrine as a basis for their lessons. Kenya, who has grown up in a household that embraces atheism and science, hates being asked to pray or listening to Creationism presented as a valid alternative to Evolution. She begins to rebel in small ways, one of which is befriending the new English teacher, Mr. Draper. Mr. Draper supports Kenya’s ambitions as a budding poet, and he lends her books that have been banned from the school library. Meanwhile, other teachers and students become increasingly fixated on Kenya. Some attempt to force Christianity on her, while others claim that the scratches she gets from working with large cats are failed attempts at suicide. But Kenya slowly begins to realize the situation is far bigger than her problems at school, and by then it’s nearly too late– everything she holds dear is threatened.

R.K. Hardy’s second work of fiction, aimed at young adults, provides an interesting combination of his opinions on the presence of religion  in education and how to care for rehabilitated wildlife. The author includes a note in the back, expressing the hope that readers will check out organizations such as Carolina Tiger Rescue, which is a clear inspiration for the Taymore’s sanctuary.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Children & Young Adults, Hardy, R. K., Mountains, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Travis Thrasher. Solitary. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2010.

Chris Buckley is dealing with a lot for a 16-year-old: first his parents divorced, and now Chris and his mother have moved from Chicago to the small town of her girlhood in the rural North Carolina mountains. Solitary, North Carolina is as different from Chicago as night from day– here Chris and his mother live in a three-room cabin without internet access or television, and the center of town is small enough to fit into one city block. Chris is miserable at the town high school, where he manages to get on the wrong side of the school bully and his posse, can’t find his classes, and everyone stares at him constantly. But Solitary has one thing Chicago doesn’t: Jocelyn Evans.

Jocelyn is the most beautiful girl in Solitary, the most beautiful girl Chris has ever seen. Although she first ignores him and then treats him with disdainful politeness, he can’t help but keep trying to befriend her. Little by little, her icy exterior thaws, and he starts to see the real Jocelyn, who is kind, spirited–and fears for her life. Chris doesn’t understand what she’s so afraid of, but the rest of the school seems to know. Only no one’s talking, and when Chris tries to solve the mystery on his own, things get ugly quickly.

There are cryptic, anonymous notes warning him to stay away from Jocelyn, strange dogs haunting the woods behind his house, and the stares of his new classmates now seem more sinister than curious. There’s something strange about the church everyone attends, as well, especially Jeremiah  Marsh, the charismatic pastor. Everyone in town seems to take the time to tell Chris that he and his mom don’t belong here, they’re outsiders, and they had better keep their heads down if they know what’s good for them. But no one tells Chris Buckley what to do, and he refuses to give up his precious relationship with Jocelyn, even if it means his destruction. Which it surely will, because the Devil is alive and well in Solitary.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Children & Young Adults, Henderson, Horror, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Thrasher, Travis

Jody Meacham. Through the Heart of the South. San Jose, CA: Doodlebug Publishing, 2010.

It’s the summer of 1968, and Chris McAndrew should be relaxed and looking forward to his senior year of high school in Shortridge, North Carolina. But this year, the local black school, Booker T. Washington High, is closing, and all of the students there will matriculate at the formerly whites-only Shortridge High. The School Board fought long and hard against this integration, and when nothing prevented it, did everything they could to make this year as uncomfortable as possible for the black community. Class activities and trips are eliminated, and if any black player should even think of scoring the winning point in a football game, there will be hell to pay. Chris is convinced it’s just plain wrong to treat anyone this way, but speaking up means being labeled a “nigger-lover” by the rest of the whites in Shortridge, especially his girlfriend Susan Marks’s angry father, Wade.

But as Chris and his best friend Cam get to know the new students, especially Malachi Stevens, a particularly gifted singer and football player, it gets harder to be friends in the classroom but treat them as less than human when school lets out. Susan and the rest of the town continue to try to convince Chris that “they” are the ones taking everything from the white population and polluting it, but somehow that doesn’t make sense. The situation finally comes to an ugly head when a local NAACP representative is murdered and found by his young daughter, and a teenage biracial couple flee to South Carolina to get married, only to return under a shadow when they find out it’s illegal. With the Vietnam War hanging over their heads and the railroad industry that supports Shortridge sliding under their feet, the graduating class of 1969 must at least agree on one thing: the times, they are a’changin’.

This heartfelt and engaging coming-of-age novel is Meacham’s first, and is based partially on his own experiences growing up in Hamlet, North Carolina.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library’s catalog. 

 

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Historical, Meacham, Jody, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont, Richmond

Laura S. Wharton. Leaving Lukens. Mt. Airy, NC: Broad Creek Press, 2011.

In June of 1942, Lukens is a small town on the North Carolina coast, and it’s getting smaller. Residents left first in trickles, but now they’re crossing the Neuse in a torrent to places like Oriental, with its modern conveniences and thriving community. Ella Marie Hutchins, seventeen, is dead set against leaving. Everything she loves is in Lukens: her house, her Grandmother, and her handsome boyfriend, soon-to-be naval officer Jarrett Migette. When Jarrett announces he’s leaving earlier than planned, and her mother decides that they’re moving, Ella is distraught. Leaving Lukens might be the safest idea, however, as the war is closer than anyone thinks. Walking alone near the tideline one evening, Ella is threatened by a vicious Nazi scout, and barely escapes unscathed. Luckily, she’s assisted by a young stranger named Griff, who just happens to be passing by. Griff’s story makes sense–he’s a recreational sailor and treasure-hunter, visiting his uncle in Lukens on his prize sailboat Susanna. Soon he and Ella are fast friends, and as they spend more time together sailing, biking, and picnicking throughout the long, hot, Lukens summer, they begin to feel more for one another. But Griff is more than he seems, and the secret mission he is bound to fulfill will push Ella into danger greater than she’s ever faced before.

Filled with sailing lore, secrecy, Nazis, and romance, Leaving Lukens is an exciting new adventure from the author of The Pirate’s Bastard.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

 

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Carteret, Coast, Craven, Historical, Pamlico, Suspense/Thriller, Wharton, Laura S.

Alan Thompson. A Hollow Cup. Livermore, CA: Wingspan Press, 2011.

Lilah Freedman, a young woman involved in the civil rights movements in the small North Carolina town of New Hope in 1966, was brutally murdered one night after a protest at the local university. The white man originally accused of her murder was never convicted and a great deal of mystery and racial tension has surrounded this cold case ever since. Now, in 1991, a State attorney thinks he has enough evidence for a surprising new indictment, throwing the small town into an uproar once again. Pete Johnson and Luke Stanley, two attorneys sharing a past with each other, Lilah Freedman, and New Hope, return seeking closure and redemption in their own lives. Pete, having watched an unfairly convicted client of his go to his death, is disillusioned with the justice system. Luke Stanley, having spent his life fighting for racial integration in Chicago, seeks to bring that battle to his home town.

A complex novel that often switches perspective to give the reader a chance at glimpsing the world through a variety of eyes and opinions, A Hollow Cup travels back and forth in time between the youth of these main characters in the 1960s and their actions in the present day of 1991, illustrating the racial division and tension of each time. Alan Thompson’s readers will enjoy the geographical treasure hunt as the author describes his characters’ forays throughout the fictional town of New Hope, which bears a great many similarities to Chapel Hill.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Historical, Mystery, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Orange, Piedmont, Thompson, Alan

Jenny Hubbard. Paper Covers Rock. New York: Delacorte Press, 2011.

Alexander Stromm describes himself, as does everyone who knows him, as a “good, solid kid.” His best friend, Glenn Albright Everson III, is a “golden boy”: blessed with golden looks, golden athleticism, and golden intelligence. Alex has always wanted Glenn’s life, with his perfect, wealthy family and beautiful girlfriend. Alex’s mother left when he was five, and he has never stood out in anything, until his junior year at the Birch School. On September 30th, both he and Glenn stand out for being the boys who were with Thomas Broughton when he drowned. Since the accident happened because they were drinking vodka and diving in the nearby river, Glenn and Alex decide to lie to avoid being thrown out of school. But someone else saw them at the river that day and watched them pull Thomas’s body from the water: Haley Dovecott, the brand-new fifth form English teacher.

Glenn is convinced that Miss Dovecott, an extremely perceptive young woman, knows more than she says she does, and he’s determined to eliminate that threat. The problem is that Alex is falling in love with her as she encourages his poetry, and he doesn’t want to hurt her. It’s also possible that Glenn is hiding other, more terrible secrets that played a role in Thomas’s tragic death. Uncertain and grief-stricken, Alex retreats to the library each day, writing his thoughts, confessions, and poems in a small journal that he hides behind the school’s copy of Moby Dick.

Paper Covers Rock is this narrative, through which we trace the tale of a young man coming to terms with death, his own emerging sexuality, and the cruelty of a world that encroaches on even the most remote and sheltered places. A difficult, but poetic and thought-provoking read for young adults.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Buncombe, Children & Young Adults, Mountains

Nicholas Sparks. The Best of Me. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2011.

Amanda Collier and Dawson Cole both live in Oriental, North Carolina, but they might as well be from different planets. Amanda is a daughter of one of the oldest, most respected families in the town, while Dawson’s kin make up the resident drunks, hoodlums, and moonshiners. But Dawson is different, and when he and Amanda bond over a high school chemistry assignment, their friendship soon turns to true love. When you’re seventeen and in love, life is difficult – Amanda’s parents are outraged at their daughter’s choice of boyfriend, and finally refuse to pay for college if she continues to date him. Divided, the two move far away from one another. Hardened by an unfair prison sentence and family violence that he barely escapes, Dawson finally finds refuge in New Orleans, but Amanda is always in his heart.

Years later, the death of a mutual friend reunites them in Oriental. In fulfilling their deceased friend’s final wishes, they begin to wonder if they might find happiness in life after all…but Amanda is married, and Dawson’s family has a long memory for revenge. With a compelling cast of small-town characters, a gripping plot, and just a touch of the supernatural, longtime fans of Nicholas Sparks will not be disappointed in his latest offering.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog. 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Coast, Pamlico, Romance/Relationship, Sparks, Nicholas

Mary Flinn. The One New York: Aviva Publishing, 2010.

In middle school Kyle Davis seemed to have it all–good looks, smarts, athletic ability, and a wealthy, close-knit family–but appearances can be deceiving. After his sister dies and his father commits suicide, Kyle’s mom sends him off to prep school, but after just one year he returns to his hometown of Snowy Ridge, North Carolina.  There he finds that there is one constant in his life–his friend Chelsea Davenport.

Chelsea and Kyle’s fathers were once business partners, and the two teenagers have know each other since grade school.  The One follows Chelsea and Kyle through their last year of high school, a year with typical teen turmoil over dating, balancing school with other activities, and college admissions.  Chelsea and Kyle have some additional problems: a girl who is obsessed with Kyle and who seems willing to do anything to keep Kyle and Chelsea from getting close; Kyle’ s role in the death of a football player; Mrs. Davis’s  heavy drinking; and the physical decline of Chelsea’s beloved grandmother. Using dialog that is believable and vivid, the author brings these two teenagers and their difficulties alive in a coming-of-age novel that will appeal to teens and adults.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Children & Young Adults, Flinn, Mary, Mountains, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Romance/Relationship

Joanna Pearson. The Rites and Wrongs of Janice Wills. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2011.

Few people look back on their high school years without cringing at least a little. Social mores often seem to be at odds with creativity, and your social group has a lot to do with what you experience and how you feel about it. For young women in Melva, North Carolina, one of the rites of passage is participating in the Annual Miss Livermush Pageant. Although Janice Wills, a junior at Melva High School, agrees to take part in this tradition mostly to make her mother happy, she also has an ulterior motive. Janice is a budding anthropologist and she reasons that one way to make the next few weeks bearable is to approach the pageant in the same way the approaches life: as an anthropological study. How else could she get excited about a festival devoted to liver pudding? Just as she begins to develop fascinating hypotheses about adolescents, Janice’s friends throw her a curve ball. All of her “observations” seem to them to be mean-spirited criticisms. Being around her is no longer fun. Only when she takes an honest look at herself does Janice find the beauty surrounding her and the value of livermush-loving Melva.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Children & Young Adults, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Pearson, Joanna, Piedmont