October 2011 Issue
September 16, 2011

Check it out: Appointment in Samarra

Author: by John O'Hara (1934)
Source: NYSUT United

Recommended by: Kathy Fester, NYLA member and former school librarian at Southside High School, where she was a member of the Rockville Centre Teachers Association.

Suitable for: High school students

Why I chose it: This novel has a frank depiction of "middle America" during Prohibition Era and the Jazz Age, showing the fall of an upper-class middle-aged man within a few critical days. O'Hara is easy to read, has great character development, and shows today's high school students that what they are often curious about (peers, sex, drinking) was common to their great-grandparents' era.

What I like best: The book is easy to discuss, with its written portrayals of class, society, family structures, unions, coal-mining, speak-easy life, mention of radio and news of the time. Note that O'Hara's books present mature topics including, sexuality, addiction, violence and gangs, using the slang and language of that period. Once students start reading this author (best known for his book "Butterfield 8"), they will continue!

How teachers can use this book: It is perfect for cross-curricular English/ social studies for this time period of American history in the 20th century. Readers can visit the John O'Hara Society at http://oharasociety.blogspot.com. Also, check out http://www.libraries.psu.

"Check it Out" features books recommended to teachers and parents by school librarians.