“The Circle” Chosen as 2018 “United We Read” Novel

The Circle Novel Cover

The Circle Novel Cover

Matt Stavalone and Nasirah Calloway

After months of debate and discussion, the Reading Committee has come to the decision to name Dave Eggers’ The Circle as the school’s summer reading book. The decision was between The Circle, as previously mentioned, Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime, an autobiographical comedy relating to his South-African Childhood, and We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart.

Born a Crime, by late-night comedian Trevor Noah was a fascinating read, and quickly became a #1 New York Times Bestseller. It would eventually be named one of the best books of 2017 by multiple sources, including the New York Times and NPR. The “comical” autobiography, as it is considered by many, is about Trevor Noah growing up under a strictly religious mother in a post-segregated South Africa. In South Africa during Trevor Noah’s childhood, being an interracial child was considered a crime. He would often be attacked by many for being “born a crime”, hence the title. While the story is considered very intriguing by everyone on the committee, Mr. Charles Kind, head of the English and Language department, believes that “…it does take a while for the book to get into action. But once it does, it’s a real page turner.”

What didn’t help the story to get picked was how well it relates to the students. At the end of the day, it didn’t seem like any student would be able to relate to Trevor Noah’s story as well as The Circle. “We didn’t think Trevor Noah’s story would relate to the students as well as The Circle, being that it is a novel that is mainly about social media and the dangers of social media… They felt that the students would relate to that as well as the other novels.”

E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars, while it became a very good read for senior Maddy Thompson, ended up as the second of the three finalists for the summer reading book. Yet the downfall of the story, like Trevor Noah’s autobiography, was due to the fact that the students couldn’t relate to it all that well. “I didn’t choose We Were Liars because it took a long time to get in to. It wasn’t very interesting at first because it starts off with a spoiled, rich white girl who’s depressed. We [the Reading Committee] were all like ‘Wow. I can’t really relate to this.’… Overall, though, I didn’t choose the book because it just wasn’t relatable to any of the students the way The Circle is.

Dave Eggars’ The Circle is a novel that pertains to social media and the dangers behind it. The novel ended up being chosen due to the similarities it could hold with today’s social, in the idea where social media is dominant. “I liked The Circle because it’s really about technology, and I feel like it applies to every teenager now. In the book, it talks about how technology and the social interactions we have with technology takes away from person-to-person interactions. I feel like that’s way more relatable than the other stories.”

While the Reading Committee was able to mutually agree to name The Circle the summer reading novel, there was uncertainty about some aspects of the book. The first problem that some people were conscious about was the length of the novel. It’s nearly 500 pages, which is the longest summer reading novel in a while. “492 pages,” says ELA head Charles Kind. “I’m sure that there are people who will be able to focus all the way through, but I still get nervous to see if some people are able to handle all of that, on top of some of the scenes.”

This statement by Mr. Kind brings up the second controversial point. Within the novel holds a graphic sexual scene between two characters. Mr. Kind wasn’t sure if there are kids coming in who could be sensitive to the topic. “There’s a gratuitous sex scene. While that shouldn’t be the reason of the outcome, as a father of an incoming 9th grader, I’m worried. But I guess we’ll have to cross that bridge when it comes.”

Overall, despite the doubt from some people on the decision, The Circle should be an exciting read for the students over the summer.