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Upper School Summer Reading
The goal for Worcester Academy’s Summer Reading program concerns both enjoyment and enrichment for our students. We want you to read for pleasure, pursue topics of interest, discover new passions, and broaden your thinking. Additionally, we hope that you find some intellectual community in sharing books and ideas with teachers and peers alike.
All Upper School Students must complete the following 3 activities.
1. Read Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram, the Upper School Community Read.
2. Read an independent reading book of their choice.
3. Complete 1 of the following activities:
- Listen to a list of curated podcasts (linked below).
- Read one of 5 books (listed below).
See below for more details.
Upper School Community Summer Read (2021)
Darius the Great Is Not Okay by
Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He's a Fractional Persian--half, his mom's side--and his first-ever trip to Iran is about to change his life. Darius has never really fit in at home, and he's sure things are going to be the same in Iran. His clinical depression doesn't exactly help matters, and trying to explain his medication to his grandparents only makes things harder. Then Darius meets Sohrab, the boy next door, and everything changes. Soon, they're spending their days together, playing soccer, eating faludeh, and talking for hours on a secret rooftop overlooking the city's skyline. Sohrab calls him Darioush--the original Persian version of his name--and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he's Darioush to Sohrab.
2021 Summer Reading
For the Independent Read, students can read any book they wish. Use the tabs above to view suggestions from students and faculty and choose a book from this list or any book you want to read.
For the Independent Read, students should respond to the book in one of the following ways:
- Write a review of the book
- Keep a reading journal
- Write a letter to a character, the book's author, or a friend about the book
- Present a book talk for advisory
Independent reading selections will be discussed in advisory in September and all students are expected to turn in one of the above options for each book to their advisor. Each response should be around 250 words.
For the Choice Activity, students can either read 1 of the 5 books listed below or listen to the curated podcast list linked below.
Listen to the curated podcasts in this Summer 2021 playlist.
OR read 1 of these books:
A Pho Love Story by
If Bao Nguyen had to describe himself, he'd say he was a rock. Steady and strong, but not particularly interesting. His grades are average, his social status unremarkable. He works at his parents' pho restaurant, and even there, he is his parents' fifth favorite employee. Not ideal. If Linh Mai had to describe herself, she'd say she was a firecracker. Stable when unlit, but full of potential for joy and fire. She loves art and dreams pursuing a career in it. The only problem? Her parents rely on her in ways they're not willing to admit, including working practically full-time at her family's pho restaurant. For years, the Mais and the Nguyens have been at odds, having owned competing, neighboring pho restaurants. Bao and Linh, who've avoided each other for most of their lives, both suspect that the feud stems from feelings much deeper than friendly competition. But then a chance encounter brings Linh and Bao in the same vicinity despite their best efforts and sparks fly, leading them both to wonder what took so long for them to connect. But then, of course, they immediately remember. Can Linh and Bao find love in the midst of feuding families and complicated histories?
Everything Sad Is Untrue by
At the front of a middle school classroom in Oklahoma, a boy named Khosrou (whom everyone calls 'Daniel') stands, trying to tell a story. His story. But no one believes a word he says. To them he is a dark-skinned, hairy-armed boy with a big butt whose lunch smells funny; who makes things up and talks about poop too much. But Khosrou's stories, stretching back years, and decades, and centuries, are beautiful, and terrifying, from the moment his family fled Iran in the middle of the night with the secret police moments behind them, back to the sad, cement refugee camps of Italy ... and further back to the fields near the river Aras, where rain-soaked flowers bled red like the yolk of sunset burst over everything, and further back still to the Jasmine-scented city of Isfahan. We bounce between a school bus of kids armed with paper clip missiles and spitballs to the heroines and heroes of Khosrou's family's past, who ate pastries that made people weep and cry 'Akh, Tamar!' and touched carpets woven with precious gems. Like Scheherazade in a hostile classroom, Daniel weaves a tale to save his own life: to stake his claim to the truth. And it is (a true story). It is Daniel's.
The Cousins by
Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each another, and they've never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they're surprised . . . and curious. Their parents are all clear on one point--not going is not an option. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother's good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it's immediately clear that she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious--and dark--their family's past is. The entire Story family has secrets. Whatever pulled them apart years ago isn't over--and this summer, the cousins will learn everything.
Patron Saints of Nothing by
Jay Reguero plans to spend the last semester of his senior year playing video games before heading to the University of Michigan in the fall. But when he discovers that his Filipino cousin Jun was murdered as part of President Duterte's war on drugs, and no one in the family wants to talk about what happened, Jay travels to the Philippines to find out the real story. Hoping to uncover more about Jun and the events that led to his death, Jay is forced to reckon with the many sides of his cousin before he can face the whole horrible truth -- and the part he played in it.
You Should See Me in a Crown by
Liz Lighty has always believed she's too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it's okay -- Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz's plans come crashing down . . . until she's reminded of her school's scholarship for prom king and queen. There's nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she's willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She's smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?
Mildred H. McEvoy Library at Worcester Academy | 81 Providence Street | Worcester, MA 01604