Hey there and welcome to Feature Shelf, a series that provides book recommendations based on the,e or title suggestions. This week’s shelf was co-created by Mr. Buteau, a teacher in Colorado. I am the (book) supplier and this is Feature Shelf #21: the Confirmity Edition.
We are not all the same. And sometimes I think people forget that, and forget to imagine people complexly due to preoccupations with fitting in. So the five books on the shelf this week deal with how adolescents try to conform, choose not to conform, or are forced to conform.
First on the shelf this week is Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. Stargirl is the antithesis of Mica High’s quiet colorless community, and this community finds her fascinating. And then they don’t anymore and make fun of her for everything that makes her different, and everything they celebrated about her. Leo, her boy whose heart she stole attempts to convince her to conform to normality to make the bullying stop.
Second on the shelf is Butter by Erin Jade Lange. What does it mean to be popular? What does popularity really look like? Butter is a teenager who happens to be obese, and because of this, he’s alienated from his peers. In Butter’s despair, he decides to harness the power of the Internet for a morbid final hurrah, of sorts. Instead of being pitied or ignored as he expected, his classmates rally around him and encourage his endeavor, making bets about whether or not Butter will follow through. Now I realize I didn’t tell you what he put on the internet and what he planned to do. I’ll let you read it for yourself to find that out.
Next up is Boot Camp by Todd Strasser. There is a secret prison system for teenagers in the United States. No one knows how many of these prisons, or boot camps, exist. You don’t have to be convicted or even charged with a crime to be sent to one of these boot camps. Within these boot camps, their goal is to take defiant or unruly teens and force them to conform. Turn them into respectful, obedient teens by any means necessary. And this is what Garrett finds out first hand.
Fourth is The Misfits by James Howe. By nature, misfits aren’t conformers. The Misfits are four friends who have been picked on for various reasons, Addie because she’s tall and smart, Joe because he’s gay, Skeezie who looks like he comes out of the 1950s and Bobby because he’s fat. These four band together to form a third party to run for school elections, called the No-Name Party, committed to ending name calling in school.
Last on our shelf this week is Flygirl by Sherri L Smith. During World War II, only White women could serve as Airforce Service Pilots. And Ida Mae Jones is Black. Except that she’s so light skinned that if someone didn’t already know she was black, she could pass for White. Joining the Women Airforce Service Pilots means making a choice, a choice to pass for white that means she can never see her family again.
So that’s five books on confomring: Stargirl, Butter, Boot Camp, The Misfits and Flygirl.
And that’s it for this episode. For the Feature Shelf archives and show notes, both video and podcast, or to request your own Feature Shelf check out thebooksupplier.com/featureshelf. You can also send me requests on Facebook or Twitter at thebooksupplier (all one word) or an email at thebooksupplier at gmail dot com.
I’m going to leave you there now, dear readers. Thanks for listening to Feature Shelf #21: The Conformity Edition. As always, I am the supplier wishing you happy reading. Don’t forget to be awesome.