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The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier

Image credit: http://www.powells.com

(Image credit: http://www.powells.com)

Anna, 14, says, “I read a lot of teen realistic fiction, mostly because I can relate to the characters, and they’re usually pretty quick reads.”

Cormier, Robert. The Chocolate War. 2nd. New York, NY: Dell Laurel-Leaf, 2000. Print.

Annotation: High school freshman Jerry Renault gets sucked into a pride war between some very intimidating factions.

Booktalk

Beautiful boxes of chocolates, says Brother Eugene. They’ll make a wonderful profit for the school—so he bought twice as many as last year, and expects the boys at Trinity to sell every last one.

Beautiful! Thinks Archie, every time he watches another student squirm under his thumb. Archie leads the vicious group of bullies that haunts the halls of Trinity; he makes the assignments for the other kids to carry out. Will the Vigils ally themselves with the leaders of the school to sell the chocolates, or will they defy the brothers and bask in their own power?

Beautiful, Jerry thinks when he sees Ellen Barrett at the bus stop. But he has a feeling he may never get to speak to her, may never make it that far. Jerry is the rope in a terrible tug-o-war between Archie and Brother Eugene, and he only wants to be responsible for his own choices. He doesn’t want to sell the chocolates, he won’t sell the chocolates; he can’t say why it’s so important, but he knows it’s his own choice.

Beautiful, the way the Goober runs. When he runs he’s free of everything else, of the troubles at school; he’s in control of his own body when he runs. But when he stops running, does he have any control? Or can he only watch as his friend’s life is destroyed in slow motion?

This book is replete with hard-hitting themes, so much so that it topped the ALA’s list of Most Challenged Books in 2004. Pick it up during the annual Banned Book Week, or any time of the year, and you can decide on the merit of this novel yourself.

Awards:

An ALA Best Books for Young Adults
A School Library Journal Best Books of the Year
Kirkus Reviews Choice
A New York Times Outstanding Books of the Year
Margaret A Edwards Award

This book was also made into a feature film. Check out the trailer!

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