- Age Range: 12 and up
- Grade Level: 7 and up
- School & Library Binding: 272 pages
- Publisher: Turtleback Books (August 1, 1986)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0881033219
- ISBN-13: 978-0881033212
- Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 4.4 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.9 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 438 customer reviews
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#9,796,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #1250 in Books > Children's Books > Growing Up & Facts of Life > Friendship, Social Skills & School Life > Peer Pressure
- #20838 in Books > Children's Books > Growing Up & Facts of Life > Friendship, Social Skills & School Life > School
- #45273 in Books > Teens > Literature & Fiction > Social & Family Issues
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The Chocolate War (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) School & Library Binding – August 1, 1986
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This is among the most realistic portrayals of life you will come across; meaning the individual who refuses to get in line will be subject to attack, cruelty, and injustice.
Many have called this a dark book; many ask why can't this book offer more hope?
I can only answer that the hero in this book puts everything on the line - everything! And he risks it all for an idea - the idea that the individual matters.
If that doesn't give you hope, then try something else.
It was enough to put me off chocolate, and anyone who knows me knows I love the stuff! We raised money at our high school (another Catholic boys school) to help the legal defenses of one of our own who was unjustly imprisoned for smuggling drugs across international borders. In this book, Jerry Renault stands alone against a tide of evil greater than any ever amassed in history, and several have read the book as an allegory for the conquering wave of Hitler and the Nazi party across Europe in the 1930s, while Brother Leon and Archie Costello stand in for Hitler and Mussolini. The book's title has these echoes, and also those of the Vietnam War, still raging while Cormier labored on his novel. Others have contrasted the world of Archie (the "Assigner" of Trinity's secret society, the "Vigils," with the world of Archie and Jughead at Riverdale High, and suggesting that maybe private school, for all its cachet, isn't as good an education as the one meted out by Principal Weatherbee and Miss Grundy.
The Chocolate War is also thick with sexuality and violence. Some of its action was taken by Cormier from the existing school classics To Sir with Love and The Blackboard Jungle (for example, the famous "destruction of room 19"" in The Chocolate War has its beginnings back in To Sir with Love, when the teacher on his first day of school leans on his desk and finds it collapsing sunder his touch) and those books had dark elements, but in none of them was a student photographed whacking off in the boys room and blackmailed about it, the linchpin of the action in the Cormier book. Jerry starts throwing up in his mouth when assailed as a "fairy" by Emile, ironically enough one who finds himself getting aroused when wrestling or tackling an opponent. Everyone's sort of dissociated from his feelings. Adolescence is a time to flex one's mental and physical muscles and there's a lot of flexing going on, and it never stops being grim. Maybe the book might have improved had there been one little ray of light, if only for contrast's sake, so if someone asked me for a good book to read about a private boys' school I might suggest instead the superlative A GOOD SCHOOL by Richard Yates, but this one isn't to be sneered at, even its silly parts.