The Chocolate War
This is the most realistic book that I have read about high school in a long time. While it is much more violent than what I experienced, it really spoke to the cruel way that children handle each other. Most of the time kids don’t really understand the consequences of their choices and being so wrapped up in themselves, they often lead or leave other kids to disaster. That’s what this book was about. It speaks to the importance of fitting in and conforming to the expectations of their peers. It speaks to the way that bullies gain power and the important fact that there is more than one kind of bully out there. This book had a simple story to tell, but it did so in a very powerful way. By moving through the perspectives of various boys, it allowed the reader to experience the same events in startling different ways. Looking through the eyes of the boy who tried to do something different and then switching to the eyes of the boy who feels that he failed him and then to the eyes of the boy struggling to maintain power. Each gave the same story, but their perspective changed the context of the events in very powerful ways. I found that with each boy, I could relate to the feelings that they were struggling with. Who doesn’t want to make their own way in this world? Who doesn’t want to have control over life? Who doesn’t feel ashamed when they feel powerless to help a struggling friend? This book presents the terrible power of peer pressure that even adults are not immune to. The way that one person can exert their will over others. The last thing this book shows us is the terrible face of the mob, the way that people can easily get caught up in the wave of emotion and all thinking will slide away. This is a dark book that looks closely at the parts of humanity that are in the shadows. The fears, the manipulation, the pressures, the violence, the desperation, the loneliness and the despair that are in each of us. I can see why this is a book that teacher have kids read and I agree with their choice. It is a book that sheds light on the price that is paid with our cruelty, not only for our victims but for ourselves.