The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2016

Mariner: Houghton Harcourt. (Best American). Oct. 2016. 432p. ed. by . ISBN 9780544812116. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9780544812185. LIT
OrangeReviewStarKudos to the youth editorial board who selected the 25 unique entries for the 15th annual publication that includes an interview with the president of the United States, a book review, Pulitzer Prize-nominated investigative journalism, as well as poetry, stories, and essays. While the chosen pieces stand on their own, the reward for readers is amplified with the understanding that high school students brandished their passion for reading and writing to comb through literary journals and magazines to identify the pieces that best illustrate modern history. Michele Scott's "How I Became a Prison Gardener" reveals how she studied, observed, and tended to plants while in a California women's correctional facility. The excerpt from Adrian Tomine's graphic novel Killing and Dying demonstrates a student's introduction to stand-up comedy. Molly Brodak's "Bandit" tells of a young girl's relationship with her father who robs banks. Rebecca Makkai's "The Miracle Years of Little Fork" details the death of a circus elephant.
VERDICT This exceptional collection shines for two reasons: the quality of the selections and the insight of the students of 826 National, a nonprofit organization that helps youth ages six through 18 pursue their creative and expository writing skills.
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