Ten: Going Away to School

Moving to a new place is one thing; moving to a new place where one’s primary job is to prove oneself takes the challenge to another level. Going away to school takes you away from comfortable routines and familiar dependence on others (whether these have been positive or otherwise), and requires you to discover who you are and how you make your way in the world. The characters in this week’s Ten uncover both strengths and weaknesses within themselves and, in the process, begin to understand their unique places in their respective communities.

Battle Dress by Amy Efaw
Andi leaves her dysfunctional family to go away to college at West Point. While the intensity of military life is a shock, Andi discovers that being required to take on challenges with boldness or face the consequences pushes her beyond the damaging patterns she’s learned at home to a place where she can claim her strengths and offer them confidently for the good of her team.

Mine for Keeps by Jean Little
Sally has spent most of the last few years at a special school where she has received help in handling her cerebral palsy. When her parents decide to bring her home and place her in regular school, Sally is terrified that she won’t be able to manage. With support from her parents in learning to take care of herself, and new friends (and a puppy!) who give Sally a chance to care for others, Sally finds a place for herself in this unfamiliar place called home.

Follow My Leader by James B. GarfieldWhen Jimmy is blinded in an accident, there’s a lot that he needs to learn and relearn in order to do the things that he enjoys. When he agrees to be matched with a guide dog, he is sent to spend a few weeks at a school that will teach him how to interact with his new companion. Though by far the youngest student, Jimmy thrives in this environment, gaining both independence from his classes and encouragement from his interactions with others figuring out how to navigate the world without sight.

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
In Miri’s country, the prince’s wife is chosen from among the girls living in a city indicated by signs. When Miri’s mining village is revealed to be the home of the next princess, all eligible girls are brought down the mountain to participate in a school that will teach them how a proper princess should look, act, and think. With more politics than pink, Princess Academy is popular among both female and male readers.

Bloomability by Sharon Creech
When Dinnie’s family falls apart, she is sent to live with an aunt and uncle who run a boarding school in Switzerland. Despite being sent halfway around the world, Dinnie finds that the experience introduces unaccustomed stability to her life and gives her a chance to make friends and explore her own needs and interests.

Curse of the Blue Tattoo by L.A. Meyer
For Jacky, it’s really more about staying put for school. Having survived her first adventure as a ship’s boy in the Royal Navy, and newly discovered as a girl, Jacky is deposited at a girls’ boarding school in Boston. Never much interested in refinement, Jacky busies herself with singing for coins at the Pig and Whistle, making friends with the servants, and solving the mystery of the untimely death of one of the serving girls.
The second book in the Jacky Faber series.

Out of Shadows by Jason WallaceLooking for opportunities for advancement unavailable in England and awed by the political developments in Zimbabwe, Robert’s father moves his family to Africa in 1983, installing Robert in a boarding school on arrival. With little guidance from adults — and some of that badly twisted by resentment — Robert discovers first hand the evil human beings are capable of doing to one another.

The Daring Game by Kit Pearson
Eliza has always wanted to go to boarding school — to experience the close friendships, formality, and excitement promised by her books. Her parents have promised that she can go when she reaches grade ten, but when they are invited to come and work in Toronto for her grade seven year, Eliza begs to go to Ashdown Academy in Toronto instead. Eliza finds plenty of adventure at Ashdown, most of it led by her roommate, Helen, who invents the Daring Game.

Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson
Ellen moves from England to Austria in the early 1940s to work as a housemother at a progressive boarding school. Surrounded by a cast of bizarre, but somehow largely sympathetic, characters, Ellen’s calm demeanour and love of domesticity help to ground both the novel and the atmosphere of the school. Full of history and romance, art and ideas, this is a beautiful and memorable book for older readers.

Shi-Shi-Etko by Nicola I. Campbell
Shi-Shi-Etko prepares to leave home for a residential school by spending time with different family members. Each reminds her of the heritage that she must hold close while she is away.

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