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Review – Review: The Chocolate War

June 21, 2014

The Chocolate War

Trinity School relies on fundraisers to keep itself afloat and, this year, Brother Leon is nervous because he has gone out on a limb by ordering twice as much chocolate and doubling each boy’s quota to fifty boxes.

The Vigils, a secret society at the school, has ordered Jerry Renault to refuse to sell the chocolates for ten days.  Brother Leon is quite upset about his refusal but calms down when he’s told that Jerry will eventually come around.

But, after the ten days are over, Jerry still refuses to sell the chocolate, angering Brother Leon and The Vigils, both of whom want revenge.

Somehow I missed The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier when it was first published in 1974 and I’m glad I’ve finally read it.  I thought the story was compelling and thought provoking and wished I had someone to discuss it with.  It’s a great book for book clubs and the version I read includes questions and notes in the back.

I thought the storyline was terrific and enjoyed the peek into prep school life.  There are a couple power struggles going on – one between the members of The Vigils and another between The Vigils and Brother Leon.  Things appear fine on the surface but everyone is scheming for a better position in the hierarchy of the school.  When Jerry bucks the status quo he has to pay.

There are quite a few characters in the book, but only a handful are well developed so it’s easy to keep them apart.  I found the members of The Vigils and their mob mentality particularly fascinating.

There were a few things in The Chocolate War that felt a little dated but that didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the book.  There is also some cruelty as well as language and sexual references in the book so it’s probably not for the youngest YA readers.

kid konnection newI will link this up to Booking Mama’s Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site tomorrow.

Review copy provided by Random House.  I am an Indiebound Affliate.
17 Comments leave one →
  1. Beth F permalink
    June 21, 2014 6:19 am

    This is totally new to me! Sounds like a good one to recommend to my young friends. Plus I always like prep school stories.

  2. June 21, 2014 7:46 am

    I know this one gets assigned to kids almost every year but I have always been afraid to read it because I have heard it is upsetting!

  3. June 21, 2014 9:55 am

    Interesting. I’ve always heard of this title, but never really knew what it was about.

  4. Patty permalink
    June 21, 2014 11:58 am

    Wow…what made you seek this one out? It sounds interesting…really.

  5. June 21, 2014 12:07 pm

    I listened to this one on audio last October for Banned Book Week. Crazy listen but I am glad to say I have experienced it.

  6. June 21, 2014 12:23 pm

    This is the first I have heard of this book and it sounds pretty interesting. Thanks for the review!

  7. June 21, 2014 7:36 pm

    This was one of those books that continually got name-dropped in my graduate school adolescent lit classes. I tried reading it a few years ago, but I couldn’t get into it. I’m glad to know you enjoyed it, and I’ll definitely try again.

  8. June 22, 2014 1:04 pm

    Kathy, I’ve been interested in reading this book for a while now. Thanks for another terrific review!

  9. June 22, 2014 2:40 pm

    I have not read this in ages…since i was in school

  10. June 22, 2014 6:00 pm

    I may have read this one but I honestly don’t remember.

  11. June 23, 2014 12:55 am

    I’ve seen this title before, but didn’t really know what the book was about. It sounds like a book worth reading. Thanks for reminding me of it, Kathy!

  12. June 23, 2014 6:45 am

    I read this 3 years ago, and remember it feeling important and powerful, but don’t remember details now. My blog post from the time.

  13. June 23, 2014 7:24 pm

    I read this years ago and really liked it. I don’t remember too much about it—not enough to discuss with. (that’s the trouble with age!)

  14. June 24, 2014 9:48 am

    I read this before I started blogging and then watched the movie, it was good, but they changed things (of course!). ALthough it is dated, which seems like most things pre-social media these days, it still had such authenticity for any teen. Glad you liked it too.

  15. bookingmama permalink
    June 24, 2014 3:10 pm

    I missed this one too but it sounds fantastic. I know it’s a classic!

  16. swright9 permalink
    June 25, 2014 11:33 pm

    I know this one is a popular classic but I need to read it too! Would like to.

  17. June 27, 2014 10:38 pm

    this one is on my classics list to read! so glad it doesn’t disappoint!

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