American Literature: Summer Reading

The best way to become better at understanding what you read is simply to read more and more! Reading improves your comprehension, makes you a better writer and improves your vocabulary. In light of this, the English Department encourages students to spend time reading for pleasure during the school year and the summer.

This year, the English Department has chosen two summer reading books for incoming American Literature students. Each student must read allassigned novels before school begins. Just as when you were freshmen, you will be writing an essay on one of them, completing a creative project and taking a test concerning the content of all three.

Required Summer Reading

  1. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

This novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. Readers follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love. -Goodreads

2. Proof by David Auburn

One of the most acclaimed plays of the 1999-2000 season,Proofis a work that explores the unknowability of love as much as it does the mysteries of science. -Goodreads

3. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

A provocative novel that raises some important ethical issues,My Sister's Keeperis the story of one family's struggle for survival at all human costs and a stunning parable for all time.


American Literature: Summer Assignments

  1. The Invention of Wings: Annotate this text, usingthe attached guide. There will be a multiple choice test on it within the first week of school, along with the other two works of literature on this list.
  1. Proof:Be prepared to hand this in within the first week of school.

On a standard size poster, createa Twitter or another social media account for 1 of the 4 major characters - Catherine, Claire, Hal and Robert – (even though this last character is deceased, he is frequently mentioned) picking out appropriate backgrounds and pictures and then creating information that would tell a viewer about your character. Share posts, images, and links to a few different sites your character would be interested in. Then, write up an evaluation of how you made the decisions you did and what you believe this tells us about the character you chose and bring it to class when instructed.

  1. My Sister’s Keeper:Choose ONE of the following on which to write your first essay of the year on.

Due: The first draft(typed, MLA format) is due on the second day the class meets. We will peer edit these and then you will hand in a final draft as well as upload a copy to soon thereafter.

Needed: Introduction paragraph with a thesis statement, body paragraphs and a conclusion. Final draft must be uploaded to

  1. Roles exist in every family unit. The members of the Fitzgerald family each have a role or “place” in their family structure. What are these roles and what does each person do to fulfill them? For example, it’s easy to see that Jesse is the troubled child. Explore the reasons behind these roles.
  1. Discuss the different extremes that every member of the family went to because of Kate’s illness.
  1. The most obvious struggle is Anna’s in her decision to pursue legal action. How does this decision affect her relationship with the other members of her family?
  1. Do you agree or disagree with Brian’s decision not to turn Jesse in to the authorities for setting the fires? Fully discuss at least three reasons.

5. Discuss three of the ethical/moral issues presented in the novel, how each issue was handled and how you feel about each of these.