The Chocolate War is an older book. It was published in 1974, almost 40 years ago. It was one of the first young adult books that received a lot of attention, most of it negative. In fact, it has been on the top list of most censored books for years.

The story takes place in a private school and revolves around a school gang, the Vigils, who bully classmates into doing pranks like unscrewing the class furniture so it all collapses the next day.

The school decides to have a chocolate sale as a fundraiser, and Jerry is instructed by the Vigil’s leader, Archie, that he is not to sell chocolate for ten days.  The teacher, Brother Leon, knows of the Vigils and their pranks and waits for the ten days to be up. On day eleven, however, to everyone’s surprise, Jerry still refuses to sell the chocolate.  He’s had it with the Vigils and decides to follow the slogan on a poster in his locker that reads:

 “Do I dare disturb the universe?”

Jerry does just that, but with major consequences…the bloody kind, the kind that leaves you hopeless. Was it worth it in the end?

Even though this book is older, I hope you still give it a chance. I hadn’t read it in years, and rereading it recently made me realize that bullying has existed probably forever.  What I found disturbing, besides the bullying, is Brother Leon’s turning a blind eye to what’s going on right in front of him. Is the money from the Chocolate sales what’s really so important to him????

Sadly, the story could easily take place in any high school today.

Find The Chocolate War at your library.

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier