As much as I enjoyed this tale about a young man who stands up to the hazing in his private school, I found myself wondering if the book is outdated.
The Chocolate War came out in the early 1970's during a time when the Hippie culture was gaining momentum and many young people were questioning mainstream morality. In essence, the story is about the individual standing up against tradition and society. Jerry shows a lot of courage and endures many hardships, but finds his individuality too important to give up.
It is very difficult for me to envision a group of teenagers in 2013 who would, to a person, follow a silly school directive like selling chocolates. In fact, the concept is absurd. From my experiences teaching and raising teens of my own, I simply can't imagine a school that would be able to mandate complete conformity the way this school did. I don't think that readers today would be able to identify with that, either.
Despite this, I found The Chocolate War to be a compelling read. No doubt, it must have quite controversal when it came out due to its language and blunt recognition of teenage sexuality. The characters are compelling, and the situation - while a little absurd - did draw me into the book.