Freshman and Freshman Honors Reading

The Freshman Summer Reading letter contains complete information about the program, assignments, and reading selections. (*underlined portion is linked to a pdf of the letter)

Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama
The daughter of a Chinese mother and a Japanese father, Tsukiyama uses the Japanese invasion of China during the late 1930s as a somber backdrop for her unusual story about a 20-year-old Chinese painter named Stephen who is sent to his family's summer home in a Japanese coastal village to recover from a bout with tuberculosis. Here he is cared for by Matsu, a reticent housekeeper and a master gardener. Over the course of a remarkable year, Stephen learns Matsu's secret and gains not only physical strength, but also profound spiritual insight. Matsu is a samurai of the soul, a man devoted to doing good and finding beauty in a cruel and arbitrary world, and Stephen is a noble student, learning to appreciate Matsu's generous and nurturing way of life and to love Matsu's soul mate, gentle Sachi, a woman afflicted with leprosy.  (Review adapted from Amazon)

Ms. Tsukiyama will be on campus to speak with the freshmen on September 23.

The Odyssey of KP2: An Orphan Seal and a Marine Biologist’s Fight to Save a Species by Terrie M. Williams (ND Reads)
With clear-headed prose and bared-heart honesty, Terrie Williams shares the plight of a charismatic monk seal and his extremely endangered kin. Behind the saltwater glamour and the exotic locales, marine conservation is a daunting brew of politics and protests, joy and heartache, death threats and $30,000 electric bills. Terrie M. Williams is the director of the Marine Mammal Physiology Project at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a co-creator of the Center for Ocean Health. She was named one of the Fifty Most Important Women in Science by Discover magazine and lives in Soquel, California. (Review adapted from

Note: This is a Notre Dame Reads book, which means that all students, faculty and administration will read this book for the 2015 - 2016 school year.

The ND Reads program includes an author talk and community events to continue the discussion begun in the classroom setting. You have dynamic conversations to look forward to next year.

Dr. Terrie Williams will join us on campus on October 28th.

© Notre Dame High School • 596 S. Second Street, San Jose, CA 95112 • phone: (408) 294.1113 • fax: (408) 293.9779Site Map