When I sat my Leaving Cert, English was one of my favourite subjects. Not only did I love the creative writing side (which I don’t feel we did enough of, by the way) I really loved our comparative study. For this, you studied the themes and worlds of three separate pieces of media (for us, we did a film, a book and a play, but you can do whatever you wished.)
The full list of texts you can possibly study for the Leaving Certificate English exam is pretty long, but there are some books I think deserve to be at least considered. Quite a few of them will be YA-focused books, but you can make such compelling arguments from them. Team it up with a movie you love that has roughly the same theme, and you’ve got the basis of your answer.
Asking For It by Louise O Neill
Consent is a huge speaking point at the moment, and Louise’s second YA book is one of the best books tackling this issue I’ve ever read. It focuses on a young girl from a town in west Cork who is victim of a horrific sexual assault, and the aftermath of the incident on her, her abuser and her family. It’s definitely a conversation starter.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Black Lives Matter movement has been huge in the US and across the world, and Angie Thomas’ debut novel is an incredible account of one girl’s experience with the movement. Starr is a fantastic protagonist, and her colliding worlds is the perfect setting for her story. THUG is a fantastic portrayal of race and police brutality, and a must read for any student.
Simon vs the Homo Sapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Your teenhood can be a wholly confusing time, and trying to figure out your sexuality is just one of the headaches it can bring. Simon is a book which can really make that time a bit easier. When you read about someone going through the same experiences as you are, it really draws you into the book and the story a lot more.
Clean by Juno Dawson
It might be a controversial opinion, but I don’t think we should shy away from talking to teens about drugs and addiction. If they can learn the downsides to drug use, the struggles with addiction, and life in rehab, it might deter them from a life of drug use and abuse. It’s also a look at abusive relationships, strained family relationships, and mending relationships. How many teens you know don’t need advice in at least one of those areas?
Charlotte’s Web by E B White
Charlotte’s Web is a children’s classic, and there’s a very good reason it’s still as renowed almost 60 years after it was first published. It teaches acceptance and understanding of others, humility, compassion, and its overall message of hope is an inspiring one. It’s a book that will live on for years to come, and with a writing style as beautiful as its message.
Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
Samira’s debut novel is a wonderful story teaching us about tolerance in a world so overcome with hatred. It’s an absolutely stunning debut novel which tackles Islamophobia, familial duty, and ambition.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
There can’t be many teens who haven’t been affected by death or bereaved in some way. Patrick Ness overtook the writing of A Monster Calls when its original author, Siobhán Dowd, passed away after a battle with cancer. It makes the book even more poignant. It deals with bereavement and the acceptance of death, and it may be a comfort to students who have lost a loved one in the past.
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
WWII was a huge part of Europe’s history in the 20th Century, and in my history class we covered it quite well. But, it’s always good to get a feel of life from many different sides. The facts we learned in history class could easily have been matched with the fictional recount of Liesl’s life in her new home in Molching. Here, we saw how the war affected the daily lives of people, as well as had some smattering of facts throughout.