Great Summer Reads with Carol Jago: Friends and Family Matter, Grades 9–12

Carol Jago Blogs 12

Though we may sometimes have differences of opinion with our friends or family members, they are often the ones we rely on to see us through difficult times.

Dear Readers,

In all three of these novels, friends and family are critical to the physical and emotional well-being of the main characters. When going through hard times, no one wants to go it alone. I hope you find these stories as compelling as I did. They really are unputdownable.

Happy reading!



Novel by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Aristotle and Dante seem to have nothing in common; Ari is perpetually angry with a brother in prison, and Dante is a know-it-all with unique perspectives. After a chance meeting at the local swimming pool, they begin to hang out, and a friendship develops. They start to learn more about each other, about themselves, and about the kind of people they want to be.


Dystopian Fiction by Samira Ahmed

Imagine a time in the not-too-distant future when the government announces a Muslim ban and American Muslim families are herded into interment camps. Samira Ahmed’s dystopian tale mirrors the plight of Japanese Americans during WWII with contemporary plot twists and turns. Layla, the heroine, rejects her parents’ compliance and garners allies to battle for their rights. Layla’s resistance and leadership are awesome to behold.


Historical Fiction by Angie Cruz

Inspired by her own mother’s experiences as a teenage immigrant from the Dominican Republic, Angie Cruz paints a heart-wrenching picture of life in New York City without English, without papers, and without a clear path forward. Part coming-of-age story and part testimonial to the resilience of the human spirit, Dominicana offers a window into the lives of many first-generation Americans.

As you read these titles, consider:

  • How do friends and family impact our decisions?
  • Why is it important to consider the thoughts of others?
  • How do changes, large and small, affect us?
  • How should we handle conflicts with those closest to us?

Try out one of these activities to further your reading:

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of HMH.

Note: HMH is not responsible for the content of third-party websites.

Photo of Carol Jago provided by ©Andrew Collings

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