Stories of Cultural Integration and Conflict

The titles below are from the 9th grade CP Outside Reading List #1 - Stories of Cultural Integration and Conflict. 

Most of the characters in these novels represent various cultures or encounter cultures different from their own.  These characters experience many conflicts as they decide where their true values lie and how their individuality fits with their cultural identity.

Click on the title or book type (HC = Hard Cover, pb = paperback)  to check for availability or to place a reservation.  Titles in italics are popular choices.

Finding my voice / Marie G. Lee  

Protagonist Ellen Sung feels like she is leading a double life.  At home, she is an obedient daughter to her strict, Vietnamese, father who is a doctor and expects her to study Science at Harvard like her older sister.  At school, although she experiences racism from her white peers and teachers, she also develops a relationship with a blonde football star.  Ellen has a lot of secrets from her family and the story is about the conflicts this creates.

A step from heaven / An Na, available in HC or pb

This is a story about Young Ju, a young girl whose family emigrates from Korea when she is four years old.  Life is not easy for this family, and the story illustrates the family’s hardships and how each member of the family deals with tough times.  Young Ju’s father is especially troubled and angry, and becomes more of a problem as the story continues.  In the end, Young Ju learns a lot about standing up for herself.

Behind the mountains / by Edwidge Danticat

Celiane is a young girl from Haiti who tells a very powerful story about leaving Haiti, a country she loves, and attending American schools for the first time.  As Celiane learns about life in America, she watches her older brother struggle to find a place and her parents struggle to get by.  The characters are all very real and the story is very interesting.  This book is tough to put down.

When I was Puerto Rican : [a memoir] / Esmeralda Santiago

This is a great story both about a life in Puerto Rico and about assimilation into American culture.   Esmeralda has seven siblings and parents who fight all the time but all of them still truly love each other.  Esmeralda relates her experiences with such honesty that any one who chooses to read this book will learn a lot.

Buried onions / Gary Soto

This is a story about Mexican-American Eddie, who, at age 19, is trying to make good choices while living in the tough neighborhood of Fresno, California.  Eddie has to try to cope with his cousin’s murder without himself becoming violent, as well as to maintain hope in a city that he thinks is designed to make people sad.

Local news : stories / Gary Soto; available in HC or pb

This book is an amazing collection of short stories about Mexican-American youth in the central valley of California.  This text draws on situations that students of Belmont High School can easily relate to, despite cultural differences.  (Not a good choice for the term 4 ORB essay)

Pacific crossing / Gary Soto

A fourteen-year-old Mexican American, named Lincoln Mendoza, spends a summer with a host family in Japan, encountering an array of new experiences.  This text demonstrates the ease of making new friends in various cultural climates when one refuses ethnocentricity.

The clay marble / Minfong Ho

As a family flees the advance of Khmer Rouge soldiers in Cambodia, they become separated in the chaos.  Students may question, at this point, the importance an influence of family.

Revolutions of the heart / Marsha Qualey

Cory must cope with family tragedy and small-town prejudice when she falls in love with a Native American boy.  This book begs students to ask whether or not they should follow their heart or the crowd.

I am Regina / Sally M. Keehn

This novel is based on a true story of an eleven-year-old girl captured by a Native American tribe in 1755.  Regina Leininger was forced to adjust to a harsh life of hunger, disease and mistreatment until she was identified as a white captive in 1763.  Her tombstone is located near present-day Stouchsburg, PA.

The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian / by Sherman Alexie ; art by Ellen Forney

Junior is a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Born with a variety of medical problems, he is picked on by everyone but his best friend. Determined to receive a good education, Junior leaves the rez to attend an all-white school in the neighboring farm town where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Despite being condemned as a traitor to his people and enduring great tragedies, Junior attacks life with wit and humor and discovers a strength inside of himself that he never knew existed.