My unit with the ninth graders is centered around The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls' memoir. It's a GREAT book; I definitely recommend it for pleasure reading, but I would also recommend it for a classroom read. The "chapters" are nice and short, which is very ideal for assigning homework (our students get reading quizzes every day, so this book will help them remember the important details from each mini-chapter), and the details Walls includes provides a wonderful foundation for creative writing activities. :~)
I was dubious about teaching a book that isn't "tried and true," but I think the students will enjoy reading the story of a "real person."