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The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

Get Your Nose in a Book: A Fall Reading Guide

Get+Your+Nose+in+a+Book%3A+A+Fall+Reading+Guide

The leaves are falling and the temperatures are dropping, which means it’s the perfect time to get cozy with a good book. Stop by your local library or bookstore and pick up one of these novels for this fall season!

“How will we ever get out of this labyrinth of suffering?” John Green’s coming-of-age novel, Looking For Alaska, follows the story of sixteen-year-old Miles Halter as he leaves his dull life in Florida to seek the “Great Perhaps,” or the meaning of one’s existence. When he arrives at the far-from-ordinary Culver Creek Boarding School, he is thrown into an unfamiliar world of creativity and adventure. There, he meets Alaska Young–the gorgeous, clever, self-destructive, and endlessly fascinating Alaska Young. With her enigmatic aura, she immediately entices Miles. However, her commitment to her existing boyfriend prevents him from romantically pursuing her. Miles settles for his place in the friend zone until a tragedy occurs, which changes their relationship permanently.  Readers witness Miles attempting to recover from this harrowing event and navigating through his lost sense of identity, suffering, and heartbreak. 

Getting lost in one’s imagination is a common coping mechanism after suffering from traumatic experiences. In Ian McEwan’s Atonement, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis uses her playwriting as a way for her to escape the world around her as she navigates the disarray of World War II. Her obsessive personality is solely satisfied through writing fictional stories, as “writing stories not only involved secrecy, it also [gives] her all the pleasures of miniaturization.” However, this vivid imagination leads Briony to cause a calamity in the relationship between her sister, Cecilia, and a servant, Robbie Turner, which forever changes their lives. As Briony is faced with the consequences of her actions, the story dives into the themes of guilt, tragedy, relationships, and forgiveness through the lens of a clueless child. McEwan utilizes Atonement to exhibit a perspective on literature as a whole. The New York Observer describes this novel as “Magical… A love story, a war story, and a story about stories, and so it hits the heart, the guts, and the brain.”

Albert Camus’s classic existential novella The Stranger explores what he terms “the nakedness of man faced with the absurd.” Camus dives into an intricate character study of an atypical protagonist, Meursault, while providing an enthralling analysis of the concept of absurdism, or the feeling of absurdity when regarding one’s existence. Set in French Algeria, the novel opens with Meursault’s mother’s death, as referenced in the famous opening line, “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know.” This pivotal moment sets the tone for Meursault’s detached and apathetic nature, which is emphasized by his lack of emotion regarding his mother’s death. Meursault tolerates being alive; he does not live. He wants nothing, values nothing, and as a result, nothing affects him. Throughout The Stranger, Camus explores Meursault’s self-isolation and indifference, which further intensify the themes of absurdism, complexities of human nature, and deviation from social expectations that are present in the story.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara follows the lives of four college friends—Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, an ambitious artist; Malcolm, an unfulfilled architect; and Jude, a brilliant lawyer—as they try to stay afloat in the tumultuous streets of New York City. The novel gradually shifts to unveil Jude’s internal narrative and traumatic past, one marked by unspeakable abuse and immense pain. A Little Life explores heavy topics including the lasting effects of abuse, the difficulties of recovery, and the intricate bonds of friendship through a haunting and vulnerable narrative. Yanagihara’s prose is both lyrical and fearlessly raw, allowing readers to understand each character on an emotional and emphatic level, feeling their joys, suffering, and resilience. The Washington Post described the novel as being “Drawn in extraordinary detail by incantatory prose…Affecting and transcendent.”

Any of these four books would be a perfect read to finish off this season. Happy fall!

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About the Contributors
Olivia Kee, Guest Writer
Olivia Kee ('25) is excited to be a Guest Writer for The Echo this year! She enjoys writing pieces about current events and student life. In her free time, she enjoys cheerleading, dancing, and listening to music.
Gain Lim, Guest Writer
Gain Lim ('25) is excited to write for The Echo this year! She is interested in writing pieces on student life, current events, and films. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, listening to music, and playing sports.