Young adult literature is not always about feeling good. It is also about seeking the truth, and stretching the boundaries of thought and belief. Maybe it makes us see things in a new light, making us sad, happy, frightened, excited or miserable.
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier is not about the warm and fuzzy side of life. This story portrays a side of life and people we would rather not know or think about. It was written in 1974 about Jerry a freshman who is angry and sad. He tries out for the football team while trying to fit into high school. The students at Trinity are primarily from working class families so money is tight. To help with the budget, the school holds an annual chocolate sale.
Archie is a member of the the Vigils, which in many ways controls the school or at least the students. He enjoys being mean and assigns Jerry to refuse the selling of chocolates, which raises havoc with the school.
Cormier did not write this story to make its readers comfortable or happy but portrays a reality. Books like the Chocolate War may help us to better understand this dark side of life and hopefully give us some insight to deal with it when we experience it firsthand.