Book review: The Wave

As some of you may know, I like to read the books my children have been assigned to read at school so we can talk about them. This weekend my 7th grader brought home, The Wave by Todd Strasser. The book is based on a history teacher’s class experiment in 1969.

Originally published in 1981, the novel is potently relevant for today’s political and social climate. It delves into the dangers of power and the paradigm shifts that so easily occur when left unchecked. It focuses not just on the effects on the students, but also the initial motivation and struggle of the teacher who initiates the experiment.

Though written for a younger audience, it is as age appropriately disturbing as any adult might find after reading about the Milgram experiment conducted at Princeton University in the early 1960s. Similarly, both discuss the intoxicating nature of power and the dangers associated with creating a situation where people can be considered “other.”

While I knew of the premise of the novel and had a rough idea about it long before I read it yesterday, it was no less gripping.

This is an excellent read for both young and old alike and a marvelous way to get a conversation started about how our knowledge of history can inform our present.

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