Junior Theme Book Talks - Shore Regional High School
Theme Book Ideas Mr. Amaral War Experience Women in Conflict with Societys Expectations Wild West and Wilderness Experience Baseball: All American Sport 1920s Expatriate Generation Chicago Experience American Frontier/Social Protest
Racial Tension and Identity Southern Issues Immigrant Experience American Family Americas Role in the World The War Experience Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier Plot Background: wounded
soldier decides to walk back home to the Blue Ridge Mts. of North Carolina and the woman he loves. Author Background: His first novel, taught and lives in North Carolina. Historical Setting: Civil War Era Catch-22
by Joseph Heller Plot Background: satirical war novel, World War II bombardier feigns insanity in order to get home Author Background: Heller served as a B-25 wing bombardier in World War II, flew sixty missions Historical Period: 1944, Final Months of World
War II Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut Plot Background: war novel, life of a soldier who survives the bombing of Dresden Author Background: Vonnegut served in the US Army from 1942-1945, was a POW, and received the
Purple Heart Historical Period: 1945, Dresden, Germany, and imaginary planet Tralfadore In Country Bobbie Ann Mason by Plot Background: daughter of
man killed in Vietnam tries to link with her past Author Background: newspaper and magazine writer Historical Period: 1984, with flashbacks to the Vietnam War The Things They Carried by Tim OBrien Plot Background: short
stories about soldiers in Vietnam Author Background: served in Vietnam Historical Period: Vietnam War Going After Cacciato by: Tim OBrien Plot Background: A solider recounts what happened and
what could have happened in Vietnam Author Background: OBrien served in an Army combat unit during a tour of duty in Vietnam Historical Period: Vietnam 1969 Pacos Story by Larry Heinemann
Plot Background: Vietnam Veteran returns to town looking for work and a sense of normalcy. Author Background: won the National Book Award in 1987 Historical Period: postVietnam war Enders Game by Orson Scott Card
Plot Background: young people train for alien military attack Author Background: science fiction writer known for his moral themes Historical Period: future Cats Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Plot Background: search for ice that freezes at room temperature Author Background: mixes science fiction and philosophy Historical Period: 1960s Women in Conflict with Societys Expectations
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton Plot Background: single woman in wealthy New York society Author Background: experienced New York affluence; received Pulitzer Prize for The Age of Innocence in 1921 Historical Period: early
1900s The Color Purple by Alice Walker Plot Background: Georgia, Tennessee, Africa, 1920-40 Author Background: Brought up in the rural South, won Pulitzer for this book Historical Background: The
exploitation of women The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan Plot Background: womens unhappiness in the 1960s Author Background: feminist organizer, writer, and lecturer Historical Period: 1960s
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath Plot: Highly intelligent young woman struggles with career choices and her own mental stability in the Fifties. Author: Autobiographical treatment of Plaths very real personal battles. Historical events: Conservative era with limited choices for
women. Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen by Alix Kates Shulman Plot Background: memoirs of a woman who feels trapped in her marriage and her life Author Background: feminist writer, her book was
considered the "first important novel to emerge from the Women's Liberation movement." Historical Period: late 1960s The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty Plot Background: Laurel visits her dying, but powerful Father and finds him married
to a coarse and shallow woman, who is Laurels age. Author Background: Pulitzer Prize in 1973 Historical Period: New Orleans, Mississippi Delta 1960s The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood
Plot Background: futuristic story about womens rights Author Background: prominent Canadian writer of many genres Historical Period: 22nd century (2195) The Wild West The Wilderness Experience
Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose Plot Background: focuses on the exploratory journey of Lewis and Clark. Author Background: author of several books about American History, Historical Setting: late 1700s early 1800s
The Oxbow Incident by Arthur Van Tilburg Clark Setting: Nevada Time Period: 1885 Theme: Three cattle rustlers are lynched just as word comes that they are innocent. Seen as the struggle between democracy and
totalitarianism Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty Setting: Great Plains Time Period: Late 19th C. Theme: Adventures of two former Texas Rangers on a cattle drive from Texas to Montana; Pulitzer Prize winner
Bad Land By Jonathan Raban Setting: Montana Time Period: 1909. Theme: Congress, lobbied by the railroad, offered homesteaders 320-acres. An account of the hardships, myths, heroes, heroines and
ruin of many immigrants. O Pioneers! by Willa Cather Plot Background: Swedish immigrants tame the wild land, also, a love triangle in Nebraska Author Background: considered this her first
novel, based on the memories of her youth. Historical Period: 1880s immigration, role of women A Lost Lady by Willa Cather Plot Background: story told by a boy in a Midwestern town, who admires the gracious ways and
manners of Marian Forrester Author Background: First ever woman to be voted into the Nebraska hall of fame Historical Background: the decline of the West, 1920s Baseball: the All-American Sport The Natural
by Bernard Malamud Plot Background: a superbly gifted natural at play in the fields of the old daylight baseball era. Filled with magical realism Author Background: The Natural was his first of eight novels, taught at Bennington College in Vermont Historical Period: 1930s and
1940s rural vs. urban life Eight Men Out by Eliot Asinof Plot: 1919 fix of the World Series and its attempted cover-up The most thorough investigation of the Black Sox scandal on record ~The Chicago
Tribune 1920s Expatriate Generation Early 20th Century This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald Plot Background: 1920s, East coast and Princeton University Author Background:
Novelist and screen writer who epitomized the Jazz Age Historical Background: Lost Generation, Jazz Age The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway Plot Background: life among the expatriates on Paris's Left Bank during the
1920s Author Background: winner of the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett Plot Background: mystery set in the underworld of San Francisco Author Background: former
Pinkerton detective; wrote for pulp fiction magazines Historical Background: 1928, prohibition, stock market crash The Chicago Experience Studs Lonigan by James T. Farrell Plot Background: Chicagos South Side, 1916-1930
Author Background: Irish South-Sider who worked a wide variety of jobs Historical Background: End of World War I, Prohibition The Coast of Chicago By Stuart Dybek Setting: Chicago Time period: 1990S & 2000S
Theme: Long stories and short ones. Some read like poetry. Life in neighborhoods everywhere House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros Setting: Chicago Time Period: Mid-1960s
Theme: A Chicana feminist, Cisneros writes of growing up in Chicagos Mexican- American neighborhoods. Deals with ethnicity and sexual identity. American Social Protest In Dubious Battle
by John Steinbeck Plot Background: California farm area, 1930s Author Background: Fruit picker, journalist, screen writer, Nobel Prize winner Historical Period: Great Depression, rise of the American Communist Party On the Road
by Jack Kerouac Plot: Two young men travel across the country in search of thrills and adventure. Author: Autobiographical novel of Kerouacs experiences in the late Forties. Historical events: McCarthyism, conformist culture in the Fifties when the book was published.
The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac Plot Background: The semifictional accounts in the novel are based upon events that occurred years after On the Road Author Background: concerns duality in Kerouac's life and ideals Historical Period: late 1950s
Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe Plot Background: Ken Keseys psychedelic road trip Author Background: known for New Journalism style Historical Period: 1960s One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest by Ken Kesey Plot Background: revolution
and power struggle set in a mental ward Author Background: volunteered for government LSD experiments & worked in a psychiatric ward Historical Period:1960s Less Than Zero and American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
Historical Period: 1980s Plot Background: LA college student experiments with drugs & alcohol (Less Than Zero). Plot: explore depths of insanity as a stockbroker by day tortures and murders at night (American Psycho).
Author Background: wrote first book when he was 20. The Gang That Couldnt Shoot Straight by Jimmy Breslin Plot Background: Dark Comedy about Joe Gallo, a New York City gangster. Author Background: awarded the Pulitzer Prize (1986); writer for several
New York City newspapers Historical Period: Mafia crime, 1940s 1960s Racial Tension and Identity African American Native American Asian American Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Plot Background: a young man finds new ways of dealing with race and identity Author Background: Ellison wrote about the unity of the the American experience beyond class, race and religion. Historical Period: 1940s and Early 1950s, Deep South and Harlem.
Uncle Toms Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe Plot Background: Kentucky and Louisiana, explores social and psychological problems with slavery and injustice. Author Background: appalled by slavery, she wrote this book as a response. Book sold more than 300,000 copies in 1852 when it was published.
Historical Period: The South, late 1800s Native Son by Richard Wright Plot Background: Chicago, 1930s Author Background: Moved North as a young man, first full-length novel Historical Period: Great Black
Migration, rise of American Communist Party, Great Depression Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston Plot Background: Eatonville and the Everglades, Florida, 1930s Author Background: One of the foremost writers of the Harlem
Renaissance Historical Background: Harlem Renaissance, establishment of race colonies, racial politics Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin Plot Background: White writer passes as a black man in the South Author Background: Life
changing experience for Griffin. Historical Period: 1959, racism Black Boy by Richard Wright Plot Background: Mississippi, Arkansas, Chicago, 19121937 Author Background: Grew up in a poor family, affiliated with
Communist Party Historical Period: Era of strong racial prejudice, Jim Crow laws, Great Depression The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison Plot Background: Told from five perspectives, focuses on an 11 year old girl who faces abuse and racism.
Author Background: Toni Morrisons first novel, she won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993 Historical Period: American Midwest, Great Depression 1940s There are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz Plot Background: two
brothers struggling to survive in Chicagos public housing Author Background: Wall Street Journal reporter Historical Period: 1980s In Cold Blood by Truman Capote Plot: murder of a Kansas farm family;
investigation and trial Author Background: Capote is credited with inventing the true crime narrative Historical Period: 1959 The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie Contemporary life
on the Spokane Indian reservation, through 22 linked stories Basis for the film Smoke Signals House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday Plot Background: Native American World
War II vet returns to the reservation Author Background: Member of the Kiowa Nation, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for this work The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan Plot Background:
Chinese mothers and American daughters struggle for understanding Author Background: Chinese-American, writes about the clash of cultures and generations Snow Falling on Cedars
by David Guterson Plot Background: memories of internment camp on an isolated island. Author Background: former high school teacher and journalist Historical Period: 1940s, flashbacks from 1991 to 1945.
The Immigrant Experience Woman Warrior & China Men by Maxine Hong Kingston Plot Background: growing up in a Chinese-American family Author Background: ChineseAmerican teacher and college professor Historical Period: written in
1976; stories occur 1924-1975 The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle Contrast between a family of illegal immigrants and a middle-class suburban family Poses questions about immigration,
unemployment, discrimination and social responsibility Call it Sleep by Henry Roth Plot Background: story told by a young immigrant Jewish boy dealing with slum life in New York City Author Background: published
in 1934, Roth was an immigrant himself, lived in similar slums. Historical Setting: New York, Immigrant Jewish life 1911 1913 When Heaven and Earth Changed Places by Le Ly Hayslip Non-fiction: A Vietnamese woman
grows up during the Vietnam War Focuses on the individuals emotional and physical outcomes caused by the war How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
Fifteen interconnected stories about a DominicanAmerican familys struggles with assimilation Four sisters and their parents look back on their struggles to adjust to America Lost in Translation
by Eve Hoffman Setting: Poland and Vancouver Time Period: 1950s+ Theme: Story of a young girl, who immigrated from Poland, learned a new language and culture, and shares what that experience means.
Southern Issues The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers Plot Background: Georgia cotton mill town, 1930s Author Background: First novel at age 23, a focus on the grotesque Historical Period: Condition of young women and Blacks in
the Great Depression, growth of radio A Streetcar Named Desire [and a second play] by Tennessee Williams Setting: New Orleans Time Period: 1940s Theme: Dysfunctional family; Blanche DuBois, despite her
poverty and lack of morals, tries to live in a gentile fashion All the Kings Men by Robert Penn Warren Plot Background: 1930s, an unnamed Southern state Author Background: Novelist, poet, scholar, university professor
Historical Background: the Great Depression, political corruption in the South The American Family Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow Plot Background: stories of average New York families woven with celebrities
(Houdini, Freud, etc.) Author Background: born in New York; English professor at New York University Historical Period: early 1900s (but written in 1974) All My Sons and Death of a Salesman** by Arthur Miller Author Background: Millers
dramas explore the issues that afflict humanity in postWWII America Historical Period: 1940s, after World War II Plot Background: An aging business man discovers how his actions have affected his family **Or another play like The Crucible Franny and Zooey
by J.D. Salinger Plot Background: two distinct and related stories about the Glass siblings Author Background: originally published in The New Yorker magazine. Historical Background: teen angst late 50s early 60s
Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger Plot Background: A collection of short stories Author Background: Includes his most famous stories A Perfect Day for Bananafish + For Esme with Love and Squalor Historical Background: late 1940s early 1950s
The Housebreaker of Shady Hills by John Cheever Plot Background: Collection of short stories focusing on the suburb of Shady Hill Author Background: Cheever won the Pulitzer Prize for The Stories of John Cheever, the American Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle
Award Historical Background: late 50s early 60s Rabbit, Run by John Updike Plot Background: 3 months in the life of a 26-year-old former high school basketball player and his attempts to escape the constraints of his life.
Author Background: Updike won the Pulitzer Prize for both Rabbit is Rich and Rabbit at Rest Historical Background: late 50s early 60s We Were the Mulvaneys Joyce Carol Oates Plot Background: ideal family begins to fall apart after a
traumatic event. Author Background: has published a book a year since the 1960s Historical Period: 1970s Empire Falls by Richard Russo Plot Background: Explores life in a small, blue collar Maine town, where the mill
and textile industries have closed, leaving behind the people and their stories. Author Background: lives in Maine; winner of Puiltzer Prize Historical Background: present day Americas Role in the World
The Plot Against America by Philip Roth Plot Background: alternate history in which FDR is defeated in the presidential election of 1940 by Charles Lindbergh Author Background: winner of National Book Award in 1960 for Goodbye, Columbus
Historical Background: 1940 The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon Plot: A former P.O.W. is brainwashed and programmed to kill a presidential nominee Set during the Cold War (late 1940s) A true thriller with
intrigue, suspense, and humor The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe Plot Background: New York Citys social and ethnic divisions, told through the downfall of a wealthy bond salesman Author Background: former
reporter credited with creating the New Journalism style Historical Period: 1980s Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics by Anonymous/Joe Klein Plot Background: The study of a presidential campaign, fictionalization of Bill Clintons run for the White House.
Author Background: Washington D.C. journalist, writer for Time Magazine Historical Background: 1992 presidential campaign War Experience Women in Conflict with Societys Expectations Wild West and Wilderness Experience Baseball: All American Sport
1920s Expatriate Generation Chicago Experience American Frontier/Social Protest Racial Tension and Identity Southern Issues Immigrant Experience American Family Americas Role in the World
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