Last week I picked up a young-adult novel and didn't put it down until I finished it four hours later. This is not normal for me. But neither is the book.
Audacity, by Melanie Crowder, incorporates everything I love about literature into a relevant novel for teenagers. Here are five reasons your high-school students need to read this novel today:
1. Relevant Themes of Courage, Difficult Decisions, and Standing Up for Others
Although this novel is set in the early twentieth century, its themes are spot-on for teenagers in 2015. Clara, the protagonist, continually pushes herself out of her comfort zone -- even giving up some of her own dreams -- in order to speak out against her co-workers' mistreatment and inequality in the workplace. These themes spawn excellent discussion questions: "Which is more important -- the process or the outcome?" "Who or what has the greatest influence on the decisions you make?" "Which factors can hold people back from pursuing their dreams?" The possibilities are endless.
2. Free Verse
This may initially deter some young readers, but Crowder's free-verse writing style is perfect for teenagers with short attention spans. Each "chapter" takes only one-three minutes to read, which helps readers find the main point quickly and accurately. Besides, many teenagers have little to no experience with modern poetry, and Audacity provides an excellent example of this writing style without the seemingly irrelevant subject matter of some older authors.
3. Stunning Figurative Language
I have never been this blown away by an author's use of crisp, clean imagery. Both physical and abstract images came to life as I read Crowder's verses, and the many similes and metaphors stopped me in my tracks -- I had to re-read many lines simply because they were too good to read just once! For students learning figurative language in the classroom, this novel can provide excellent examples of integrated literary devices.
4. Historical Context
Equality can be difficult to discuss in many classrooms with its heated debates and current events. Audacity's early twentieth-century setting helps to place distance between its events and students' emotions, while still addressing this sensitive issue. Clara Lemlich, the novel's protagonist, was a real-life women's-rights activist, and this novel gives students a better picture of her life and mission as they wrestle with the complications of equality today.
5. Female Protagonist
Clara Lemlich is one of the greatest female role models of the early twentieth century, but her courage and selflessness are worthy of emulation by both male and female teenagers. Let's hear it for powerful women of history!
I loved this book more than I have loved a book in a long time, and I am so excited that books of this quality are still being added to the market. Have you read the book? Let me know what you thought in the comments section below!