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Booklist: Social Class

December 21st, 2007 (08:59 pm)

Current Mood: okay
Current Song: Little Hands by Duncan Sheik

When you go about your daily business, do you think about your social class? If you are fairly comfortable (or uncomfortable) with your home life and your daily routine, you might not -- and the main characters in your books might not talk about it either. Have you noticed that?

Sometimes, having, making, or losing money is THE plot of a story. Sometimes, it is a quick line or a description of someone's outfit, home, or priorities informs readers of a character's social status.

Some books to consider:
Click on the title for my full-length book review.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: The first book to introduce me to "old money versus new money" - and one of my favorite books of all time.

The Fortunes of Indigo Skye by Deb Caletti: An 18-year-old waitress comes into money unexpectedly and it changes her life as well as that of her family.

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr: This well-written novel deals with subjects such as shame, forgiveness and family. It also offers an incredible depiction of small-town life.

Shelter by Beth Cooley: After her father dies and leaves his family in terrible debt, 15-year-old Lucy must leave her private school and move into a shelter with her little brother and mother.

Before, After, and Somebody In Between by Jeannine Garsee: Martha goes from a dangerous neighborhood and school to a new life with an affluent family and a posh school.

Some real-life things to consider:
Would you place yourself in the upper class, the middle class, or the lower class?
Do you wish you were in another social class? Why or why not?
How do the classes differ in your mind?
How are classes structured in other countries? How have they changed over the years?
Have any books made you reconsider class structure and your own status?

Feel free to leave comments and other recommended books below.

External Links:

Historical examples of social classes at Wikipedia

This booklist was prompted by a post at The YA YA YAs.


Posted by: mandabach (mandabach)
Posted at: December 22nd, 2007 07:30 am (UTC)

THE OUTSIDERS, of course is hugely about social class, though I never got used to saying Soc like it was the first syllable of social. For me, it will always be pronounced SOCK.

I'm reading Faulkner's SANCTUARY again right now, and noticing the social class clash between Temple Drake/Gowan and the crowd at Goodwin's backwoods bootlegger house. It's the contrast between a judge's daughter who is on college "probation" and has been called a whore and a woman who actually was one to raise money to pay a lawyer to get her husband out of prison.

Real life: I had a student transfer from a rough neighborhood in _____ to my suburban school. She could not relate to the chilly cool of most of our Wonderbread kids. One thing she told me was that the families of her Mexican friends treated her like family, while in her new neighborhood . . . not so much.

Things seem much more complicated today, class-wise, than they were when & where I was a teenager. Same as compared to Hinton's OK.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: December 22nd, 2007 07:16 pm (UTC)

Thanks for the feedback.

Posted by: Barbara Caridad Ferrer (ex_fashioni)
Posted at: December 22nd, 2007 12:44 pm (UTC)

HEARTBREAK HOTEL- Anne Rivers Siddons

Talks about not only class distinctions in the South just as the Civil Rights movement was gaining momentum, but it's also a fascinating glimpse into the social structures and mores that existed within a Southern university and within the Greek system.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: December 22nd, 2007 07:11 pm (UTC)

Thanks for the recommendation!

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: December 22nd, 2007 03:47 pm (UTC)
TadMack says:

Ooh, good question. I often think about class in books I read, because YA is where discussions like that can still happen, and teen and MG years are where people aren't afraid to think hard about why they're rejected by certain groups, and if those gaps between them are uncrossable. Good post.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: December 22nd, 2007 07:03 pm (UTC)
Re: TadMack says:

Thanks! Agreed. People often take their home life for granted if it's good and sometimes unsurmountable if it's bad. That upsets me.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: December 22nd, 2007 06:57 pm (UTC)

I loved Coe Booth's "Tyrell" because it put me in the midst of a world that was as foreign to me as another country. It was eye-opening.

Interesting post.


Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: December 22nd, 2007 07:04 pm (UTC)

That I still have to read.

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: December 24th, 2007 08:07 pm (UTC)

Read the book before you see any of the film adaptations. :)

Posted by: the three of clubs (heatherbird)
Posted at: January 10th, 2008 09:43 pm (UTC)
art -- reading girl

social class really struck me as an issue in Laurie Halse Anderson's Prom. The MC was definitely working-class, and, unlike many of her peers in the world of YA lit, didn't have plans to go to college nor is it assumed that she would.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: January 10th, 2008 09:58 pm (UTC)

YES! That is very suitable for this list / subject matter. Thank you!

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