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Grondolsky’s AP Literature class reviews what they read this year

Required reading is a common experience between all high schoolers, and many have differing opinions on the books they have to read. One of the classes with the most required readings is AP Literature. Jessica Grondolsky’s 11 AP Literature students each rated the books and short stories they’ve read this year out of ten, then, the average score was taken.


“The Song of Solomon” by Toni Morrison

“The Song of Solomon” follows the coming of age of Macon “Milkman” Dead III, an African American man in the mid-1900s, as he tries to take control of his life.

“I just really really liked it,” Max Taddeo said. “I loved the journey in the second part. It was actually kind of like a really cool tale of his travels that I would compare to ‘Odysseus.’ I thought there were so many interesting motifs, and it made me wanna read all of her other books as well.”

“It kind of took the reasons why I loved ‘Mrs. Dalloway’ and ‘The Namesake’ and even ‘The Hours’ and combined them,” Hilary Meyer said. “It reads very much like a more contemporary book, you can read through it very easily for a base understanding but you can also choose to look much deeper into it. Toni Morrison wrote this with so much meaning, and everything she wrote felt intentional. The book is very strange, but in a way that makes it very compelling. Everything has a purpose, and everything has a meaning, and I just think it’s so beautifully written.”

Overall, the class rated it a 9/10, the highest score of all the books.

“Mrs. Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf:

“Mrs. Dalloway” tells the story of a single day, alternating between the point of view of Clarissa Dalloway, an upper-class woman, Septimus Warren Smith, a retired soldier, and the many people in their lives in post-First World War England.

“I think it will be a book that I will go back and read every ten years or something,” Sasha Zahler said. “You can’t really understand it all now, and you’re not supposed to. I think that you get a new perspective on it each time you read it.”

“If you had asked when I first read it, I would’ve given it a four or five because I just didn’t understand it at all, but honestly I think the more that I was able to unpack it I just liked it so much more, and I still think there’s so much more I could still find in the book.” Taddeo said. “I think it’s very beautifully written as well– I just think it’s so dense, but, that kinda makes it fun to analyze.”

Overall, the class rated it an 8.5/10.

“The Namesake” by Jhumpa Lahiri:

“The Namesake” tells the story of the various members of the Ganguli family, immigrants from Calcutta, India, as they try to adapt to American life while facing challenges to stay true to and honor their heritage.

“I loved the time period and the whole aesthetic of the book, I really liked all the characters, I liked that they had flaws,” Myiesha Alam said.

“It was a more straightforward read than a lot of the other books, and it was just a nice story that didn’t take too much to read but there was still enough to analyze,” Sophia Polyakov said.

Overall, the class rated it an 8/10.

“Henry IV, Part One” by Shakespeare:

“Henry IV, Part One” dramatizes the reign of King Henry IV and follows the political endeavors plaguing the early 1400s as his son Henry V comes into power.

“This was the first Shakespeare book that I have ever read, and I really liked the experience of reading Shakespeare,” Meyer said. “It really does feel like you are trying to solve a puzzle while reading it. Honestly, I was expecting a bit more from the story, and it felt a bit short but that’s just because it’s part one. I did really like the characters though, and I did think it was really funny. When you are reading something like Shakespeare where everything is written in such a complicated way, when something is just a little bit funny, it’s hilarious.”

“I feel like Shakespeare seems really intimidating, but if you read the book for the banter and the insults it’s quite enjoyable,” Joy Fan said. “My favorite one was on page 30: ‘Mad mustachioed purple-hued malt worm.’”

Overall, the class rated it a 7/10, and eight out of the eleven students said they would consider reading “Henry IV, Part Two.”

“The Hours” by Michael Cunningham:

Based on Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway,” “The Hours” follows three different women, Virginia Woolf, Clarissa Vaughan and Laura Brown, as they navigate their individual yet intertwined lives, trying to find meaning and love.

“I feel like coming off of ‘Mrs. Dalloway’ it was just kinda like: What am I reading right now?” Jane Radis said. “You go from this dense, detailed, beautifully written Virginia Woolf novel, and then, Michael Cunningham.”

“It’s hard to not compare it to ‘Dalloway’ because it almost is ‘Dalloway,’” Alana Guo said. “I don’t know, I just think that Micheal has a lot of audacity to base it off of that. I just can’t wrap my head around it, the descriptions were just so weird. I feel like the story itself would be good if it wasn’t associated with ‘Mrs. Dalloway.’”

Overall, the class rated it a 3/10.

The class ranked the top three short stories they’ve read in the class as well.

Short stories:

“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman:

“The Yellow Wallpaper,” written as a series of journal entries, follows a young woman on vacation with her husband to recover after giving birth.

“I feel like a lot of short stories are almost too short and the pacing is off, but I think this one did as much as it could within a short story really well,” Taddeo said.

“I really liked the time period of the story and how it brought attention to women’s mental health and postpartum depression,” Guo said.

Overall, the class rated first with an 8/10.

“Roman Fever” by Edith Wharton:

“Roman Fever,” tells the story of past and present as two women sit on a terrace in Rome Reminiscing, just after Roman fever, a strain of malaria, ravaged the city.

“I feel like it was a classic suspense story, I was really shocked at the end which I liked,” Polyakov said.

“Every time you read it you just keep unveiling more, which I really enjoyed,” Zahler said.

Overall, the class rated it second with a 7.5/10.

“How I Met My Husband” by Alice Munro:

“How I Met My Husband” follows Edie, a 15-year-old helper for the Peebles family, told from the perspective of her older self as she tells the story of how she met her husband.

“It has a lower score because the ending was just a little bit unsatisfying,” Alam said. “It was almost too realistic, which isn’t a bad thing, but as readers, you kinda want that better ending–but for the story it did make sense which is why it’s still a good story.”

“A little predictable, but it was definitely a fun story to read, so I liked it a lot more than the other ones,” Zahler said.

Overall, the class rated it third overall with a 6.5/10.

If you are looking for a good book to read this summer, take a look at “Song of Solomon” or “Mrs Dalloway,” but try to avoid “The Hours.”

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    Ms. GrondolskyApr 26, 2024 at 6:50 am

    Great job, Lillian! Love the article. 🙂