New boy at strict Catholic High School, Jerry Renault, is bullied into selling boxes of chocolates for the school's annual fund-raising event. The sadistic headmaster, Brother Leon, and 'The Vigils', a viscious gang of school thugs, make Jerry's life hell when he decides he won't be pushed around anymore.
This book is a great piece of literature. A great piece of literature does not mean it has to be happy or have a happy, resolved ending, or that I even agree with it. But a great piece of literature is well-written, has strong characters, a good plot, makes me think and keeps me engrossed. The Chocolate War succeeded on every front. Although I did not really care for most of the characters, they were still very well done characters.
The book did not have a happy ending. Jerry, who tried to stand up for something, who tried to be different, to disturb the universe got beat up quite badly at the end of the novel. There was not justice for him. What made this book speak to me was that is how life is. Life is not fair. There often is not justice. Those who dare to disturb the universe usually suffer heavily from it.
Jerry Renault does not want to sell chocolates for the school fundraiser.
Information about the author
Robert Cormier, often considered the most important American writer for young adults, authored ten major novels and many short stories over the course of his career. For much of his life he was a newspaper writer for the Fitchburg Sentinel, where he won awards for his human-interest stories. Even after he became able to support his family solely by writing novels, he continued to write for the paper on occasion.
Cormier's four most popular novels The Chocolate War, I Am the Cheese, After the First Death, and Beyond the Chocolate War were often criticized for their sexual imagery and violent content, in addition to their dark subject matter. Several cities and school districts banned the books at various times. Cormier and several critics have pointed out that the unrelenting realism of the stories can actually encourage teens, rather than depressing them. The controversy over Cormier's subject matter has not dissipated, and the books still inspire division among critics and teachers. Each of Cormier's major novels has gone through several printings, and his popularity has not diminished. Two of his novels, The Chocolate War and I Am the Cheese, have been made into films.
psychology. peer pressure.
*What would you do to fit in? *What would you sacrifice to not be a target of bullies?
age 12 and up
Because of the novel's language, the concept of a high school's secret society using intimidation to enforce the cultural norms of the school, and the protagonist's sexual ponderings, it has been the frequent target of censors and appears at number three on the American Library Association's list of the "Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books in 2000-2009." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Chocolate_War
It is best to be prepared for a book challenge before it is challenged. It is important to read the book all the way through and to have read both positive and negative reviews of the book from professionals and teens as well. Be aware of the library’s collection policy. Also check for any awards the book may have won. It would be beneficial to see how other library’s may have handled challenges for this particular book in the past.
I definitely wanted to include a regularly banned book in this database. This title also kept appearing in many of my class readings. I can see why some parents would like to ban this book but I believe it still has an important place in a library collection.