Great Summer Reads with Carol Jago: Stories You Won't Forget, Grades 9–12

3 Min Read
Carol Jago Blogs4

These stories will probably stick with you the rest of your life—the characters and what they experience are just that unforgettable!

Dear Readers,

Why is it that some books are easily forgotten, while others continue to haunt us long after the final page has been turned? For me, it usually has to do with a character in crisis—an individual whose personal struggle embodies a world of trouble. Curiously, I feel I know some of these fictional friends as well as I know my own sisters and brothers.

Happy reading!



Novel by Colson Whitehead

Pulitzer-prize winning novelist Colson Whitehead has done it again. Returning to the genre of historical fiction, he tells the grim story of two friends caught up in the web of prejudice and persecution that was Jim Crow-era Florida. Based upon an actual reform school outside Tallahassee, the novel recounts how a system of abuse can permanently distort lives. Masterfully written, the novel is a disquietingly painful remembrance of an “infinite brotherhood of broken boys.”


Novel by Neil Gaiman

With a heroine by the name of Door, you might imagine that this novel will take you to worlds away. You would be correct. Door—who can open anything—is on a quest to learn why her family was executed. As she travels underground through London, Door meets villains galore, along with a host of people who have “fallen through the cracks in the world.” Like all of Neil Gaiman’s books, this one offers readers a wild ride.


Novel by Bryan Bliss

Luke and Toby are best friends. They’ve always had each other’s backs when their neglectful and abusive families did not. When the boys head off to college, their futures are finally looking brighter, but that all comes to a screeching halt when a series of bad decisions leads Luke to murder. From prison, Luke writes to Toby as he faces the death penalty.

As you read these titles, consider:

  • What can reading about characters in trouble teach us about survival?
  • Should one bad decision—or a series of bad decisions—define someone?

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

Related Reading

WF1880715 Shaped 2024 Blog Post Science of Reading Small Group Reading Instruction Hero

Dr. Heather Haynes Smith

Associate Professor in the Department of Education, Trinity University

WF1953350 8 Fun Last Day of School Activities for Elementary School Hero

Alicia Ivory
Shaped Editor