Lord of the Flies and The Count of Monte Cristo but ended up going with Lord of the Flies by William Golding.
Though I had heard of the book and recognized the title, it was not until I started reading the book that it hit me that I really did not know a lot about it. I remember my sister that is about two years older talking about reading it for school, but by the time I got to that grade level teachers had changed and it was no longer required. Needless to say, anything that she said about it years and years ago were lost.
From the start I thought to myself that this book is obviously an example of what another language arts teacher in one of my classes called jump and tuck, where the author jumps right in to the action and then tucks in background details as they go along. Thus, with the first pages I was trying to orient myself to see what was going on with the boys and how they ended up on an island without any adults, as well as the historical context of the time. I quickly realized that the boys were from England (again that was one of the details that made me think about how most people who are knowledgeable about the book would have known that, making me realize that aside from the title maybe I did not know anything about the book!).
It does not take the boys long to bond together, setting up a governing system to have order and determine priorities. Nonetheless, this quickly falls apart as various boys have different understandings of what is most important and what should be most highly valued. Reasoning does not always win out and often superficial aspects, such as weight, bear more importance than aspects such as intelligence in deciding who to follow. Throughout the book the sense of order decreases and the madness escalates, leading up to a page-turner toward the ending.
The book has a lot to offer as far as self-identity, making decisions, aspects of being a human, and symbolism. It left me with a lot to think about... I imagine that we will have a deep discussion today of this classic tale at the coffee shop. I am also thinking that this might be an engaging read for an 8th grade boys book club during the school year.