The Real Deal: Young Adult Book Club

Story of a Girl April 18, 2009

Filed under: Story of a Girl — librarylaura23 @ 4:01 am
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Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr When she was only thirteen, Deanna Lambert became involved with her older brother’s friend Tommy. Tommy was seventeen at the time and Deanna thought he was gorgeous. Within a few weeks, Tommy starts picking up Deanna and driving to the local make-out spot in town. They start doing much more than make out, and sex becomes a regular occurrence even though Deanna is so young.

One day, Deanna’s father finds them having sex in Tommy’s car. He tells Tommy never to see Deanna again. Tommy ends up sharing this story with others, and it turns into gossip and rumors about Deanna.

Everyone thinks it was all Deanna’s idea, that she’s a “slut” at thirteen.

Two years later, Deanna’s reputation still follows her around. Her father will barely look at her. Her classmates still spread rumors about her. She doesn’t have the confidence to flirt with guys because she worries what they think about her.

When she receives a summer job at a pizza shop in town, she finds out that Tommy will be her co-worker all summer. She must come to terms with the regret of what happened and try to forgive him for the rumors he spread about her.

Discussion Questions:

Do you think rumors and reputations can change the way people act and feel about themselves?

What do you think the benefits and drawbacks are to living in a small town like Pacifica?

Why do you think Deanna’s relationship with her father has changed so much the past two years? Why hasn’t her relationship with her mother changed as much?

Why do you think Deanna’s co-worker Michael is so nice to her?

Why do you think Deanna changes her opinion of Tommy?

Awards

National Book Award Finalist

ALA Best Book for Young Adults

Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers

IRA Honor Book

Capitol Choices Book

Utah Book Award Finalist

Other Works

Novels

* Sweethearts (2008)
* Once Was Lost (2009)

Essays

* Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?, edited by Marissa Walsh, 2008

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Head Case April 15, 2009

Filed under: Head Case — librarylaura23 @ 1:20 am
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Head Case by Sarah AronsonThis book tells the story of Frank Marder, a seventeen year old quadriplegic. Frank was a typical high school guy, into sports and girls, until the day of his injury, the day that he becomes, as he says, “a head.” He says that he is “a head” because he cannot feel anything below the neck at all. He used to be an independent teenager. Now he needs help with the most basic tasks, from eating to simply rolling over in bed.

Frank got injured when he drove drunk. On the way home from a party with his girlfriend Meredith, he got into an accident in which he crashed into a pedestrian and then lost control of the car and hit a tree. Meredith and the pedestrian died. Frank must deal with their deaths as well as his paralysis.

On the Internet, someone has started a site about the accident with a comments section. Many people who comment think that Frank is an evil murderer. Then Frank sees some postings from a person who posts as “Anonymous.” This person seems to understand what Frank is going through. Who is “Anonymous?” Will just a little bit of support give Frank the courage he needs to move on?

Discussion Questions:

Why do you think Frank’s relationship with his best friend Harry changed after the accident?

Do you agree with the people on the Internet that Frank should serve time in jail? Or do you agree with his attorney, that being paralyzed is punishment enough?

Who do you think the anonymous poster might be?

Frank says that he did not love Meredith. Do you think the situation or his feelings now would be different if he had?

Why do you think Frank agree to speak at his high school even though he knows what others think about him?

Awards

American Library Association Quick Picks for Young Adults

 

Feathered

Feathered by Laura KasischkeMichelle and Anne have been best friends since childhood, although they are very different. Michelle is very shy; her one unusual skill being that she is a beautiful singer, a skill that comes from her father, one her mother chose at a sperm bank because of his musical ability and intelligence. Anne is a typical teenager who befriends Terri, a teenager more like herself, outgoing and interested in boys.

Over spring break, they go to Cancun; only two girls will return from this trip. Anne and Michelle meet Anders, an interesting European, who takes them on a tour of the Mayan ruin of Chichen Itza. Michelle’s shy nature opens up at the top of the beautiful ruin, and she connects strongly with Anders, who she views as a father figure.

But, Anne is creeped out by his talk of Mayan culture, all the death, rebirth and violence. Instead of going back to the hotel with Anders, Anne insists they go back with three boys she has just met, who say they are from Illinois as well.

This choice thrusts Michelle into the wilds of the Yucatan jungle, with dreams of the feathered Mayan god, Quetzalcoatl and Anne back in the States regretting her decision about Anders.

Discussion Questions:

Michelle and Anne seem to be very different, but they also have some important similarities. What are they? What place does Terri take in their friendship? What does she represent to Anne?

The novel is replete with beautiful and terrifying descriptions of ancient Mayan culture. In what ways does this history repeat itself in the story of Michelle? What do you think of Ander’s descriptions of Mayan history? Would you react like Anne or Michelle to these stories? Why?

An important theme of the novel centers on Michelle’s absent father and how this affects Michelle. What do you think about her mother’s decision to go to a sperm bank? How does it affect Michelle as a child and as a teenager?

Ander’s character is intriguing and mysterious and he has a powerful effect on Michelle. Discuss how Michelle reacts to him. Why does this anger Anne so much? How does Anders prove himself as a trustworthy person? What role do you think he will play in Michelle’s life when he comes to stay in Illinois after Michelle has been found? Describe if you think that Ander is an impediment or helpful to her recovery.

Anne’s angry speech to Michelle on the way back to the hotel is brutally honest, but also indicates problems in their friendship. What are these problems? How do Michelle’s unsolved issues regarding her father affect her friendship with Anne?

Other Works

Poetry

* Wild Brides (1992)
* Housekeeping in a Dream (1995)
* Fire & Flower (1998)
* What It Wasn’t (2002)
* Dance and Disappear (2002)
* Gardening in the Dark (2004)
* The Bad Teacher (2005)
* Lilies Without (2007)

Novels

* Suspicious River (1997)
* White Bird in a Blizzard (1999)
* The Life Before Her Eyes (2002)
* Boy Heaven (2007)
* Be Mine (2007)
* Feathered (2008)

 

Wintergirls

Filed under: Wintergirls — librarylaura23 @ 12:44 am
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Wintergirls by Laurie Halse AndersonEighteen-year-old Lia has been living with her father, stepmother, and stepsister for a few months, since returning from rehabilitation for anorexia.

One morning at breakfast, Lia’s stepmother tells Lia some bad news.

Lia’s friend Cassie was found dead in a motel room last night. Lia and Cassie had struggled with eating disorders together.

Cassie was bulimic. They had wanted to be thinner than everyone else, and called themselves wintergirls because of the way they could balance between life and death. For the past few months, Lia and Cassie hadn’t been as close because Cassie, while going through recovery, blamed Lia for her disorder.

They hadn’t had a chance to make up, and now Cassie is dead. When Lia checks her cell phone, she realizes that Cassie called her the night of her death. In fact, she called 33 times.

Lia struggles with the guilt that perhaps she could have saved her friend, and the sadness of her death.

These feelings bring on a full relapse of her anorexia. As Lia gets more and more involved with her disease and its rituals, she begins to see visions of Cassie, cheering her along in her quest for thinness.

Discussion Questions

Why do you think teenage girls feel pressure to look a certain way? Where did Lia feel that type of pressure?

As Lia’s life becomes more and more wrapped up in her anorexia, what are some things that keep her connected to real life?

What does it mean to be a wintergirl?

Describe some of the problems in Lia’s life that could have led to her anorexia.

Why do you think Lia felt so connected to Elijah, the man who lived at the motel?

Why do you think Anderson chose to write the book using different fonts, crossed-out words, counting, and even blank pages?

Other Works

* Speak (1999)

* Fever 1793 (2000)

* Catalyst (2002)

* Prom (2005)

* Twisted (2007)

* Chains (2008)

 

My Life as a Rhombus April 11, 2009

Filed under: My Life As A Rhombus — librarylaura23 @ 10:42 pm
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My Life as a Rhombus by Varian JohnsonRhonda has a somewhat troubled past, but is completely focused on her tutoring and getting accepted to the college of her dreams.

Then, she has to start tutoring Sarah, who belongs to the popular crowd and the type of people Rhonda has sworn to never hang out with again.To make it worse (or better?) Sarah’s brother David is very cute and Rhonda has a crush on him.

Rhonda notices some things about Sarah that she herself went through and finally asks Sarah if she is pregnant.Through this shared bond, the two girls become friends. However, there is some turmoil between them.

Plus, David and Rhonda find out they like each other and start dating, but Rhonda’s past keeps cropping up when she has to deal with emotions and how she not only feels about David, but about other boys.

While having these boy issues, she also must somehow come to terms with her father and her feelings about him and his reaction to her pregnancy. How will she deal with David, Sarah, her friends, her father, and her own feelings about her past?

Discussion Questions:

Boys are mentioned throughout the story and have a significant impact on events. At school, they seemed lumped together into one category. How are these boys different? What are the reactions of David, Christopher, Johnnie to the news of Sarah or Rhonda’s pregnancy/abortion?A

After Rhonda’s abortion, her life changes. Her friends are very protective of her. In Sarah’s situation, she cannot tell any of her friends, not even her brother for a while.

What would your reaction be to finding out a friend of yours is pregnant? Which character do you identify with because of how they reacted to the pregnancy/abortion?

Why is college so important to Rhonda? Why is it important to her father? Are they similar or does Rhonda and her father have different reasons why college is important?

How does Rhonda escape stress and the pressures around her. What do you do to relieve stress and get away from the pressures in your life?

Other Works

A Red Polka Dot in a World Full of Plaid (2005)

 

Thirteen Reasons Why

Filed under: Thirteen Reasons Why — librarylaura23 @ 9:51 pm
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Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Clay Jensen received a package in the mail with no return address on it and inside discovers a series of tapes. He plays the tapes and realizes that the girl he liked is talking.

The only problem: she committed suicide a few weeks ago. She starts out the first tape stating: “I hope you’re ready, because I’m about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you’re listening to these tapes, you’re one of the reasons why.”

Clay cannot believe he is one of the reasons. He starts listening to the tapes and finds out how thirteen individuals contributed to the death of Hannah Baker.

Clay walks through the city, reliving her most traumatic moments while Hannah describes each individual. He also starts recalling all the times that he spent with Hannah trying to figure out what he could have done to contribute to her death.

He wants to understand why he is one of the thirteen reasons why. Clay doesn’t know how to feel about the individuals on the tape anymore. Should he pass on the tapes to the next individual or stop the cycle?

Discussion Questions:

Who do you consider most at fault for Hannah Baker’s suicide? Why?

Why would Hannah send the tapes to Clay Jensen? What does she hope to accomplish by sending it to him?

Besides Clay, are there any other people who received the tapes that you believe did not deserve it?

Do you think her suicide could have been prevented? How? By whom?

How would you feel about creating the tapes? How would you react to receiving them?

Awards

Florida Teen Reads

ALA Best Books for Young Adult

Commonwealth Club of California Book Awards

South Carolina Young Adult Book Award Nominee

 

The Rules of Survival

Filed under: The Rules of Survival — librarylaura23 @ 9:47 pm
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The Rules of Survival by Nancy WerlinThe Rules of Survival is told in first-person as a letter to his youngest sister, Matthew recounts his childhood and what exactly the Rules of Survival are when living with an abusive, unpredictable and mentally ill mother.

The “Rules of Survival” include incessant vigilance and awareness of where of his sister Callie, and his baby stepsister Emmy are and learning that “fear isn’t actually a bad thing…It warns you to pay attention, because you’re in danger.”

Matthew’s terror is palpable in the novel and his despair as he comes to realie that the adults in his life, Murdoch, his mother’s former boyfriend, who knows what Nikki is like, and his own father, will not protect him or his innocent, terrified younger siblings from their mother’s violence and irrationality.

Nancy Werlin creates a taut thriller with Matthew’s narrative, after all the reader only knows what Matthew knows as he lives precariously on the edge of violence.

What we learn, and what Matthew learns, is that the adults in his life do have power, and will cause a drastic change in his and his sisters situation, but what we learn is the price that everybody will have to pay for freedom from abuse.

Discussion Questions:

What are the ways that Matthew, Callie and Emmy survive in their dangerous situation?

In what ways did their mother, Nikki, try to deal with her illness, how did she fail or succeed?

The adults in the Walsh childrens lives seem powerless to help them, but at the end of the novel, they reveal a plan. Why do you think the adults kept this plan a secret? How did it affect the Walsh children when they thought that their Aunt Bobbie, Murdoch, Matthew, and Callie’s father were powerless to help them?

Discuss how the Walsh children lives were similar to the lives of the POW in the movie they watched with Murdoch? How were they different? In what ways were they prisoners?

Discuss Nikki and her sister, Bobbie’s relationship as young women and as adults. What did Nikki gain from tormenting her sister? How did this early manipulating behavior repeat itself in Nikki’s relationship with her children?

AWARDS:

A 2006 National Book Award finalist, Young People’s Literature

A Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist.

An ALA Best Books for Young Adults: Top Ten Choice.

An ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Teen Readers.

A School Library Journal Best Book of 2006.

A Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Book of 2006.

A Voya Review “Perfect 10” for 2006.

Other Works

* Are You Alone on Purpose? (1994)

* The Killer’s Cousin (1998)

* Locked Inside (2000)

* Black Mirror (2001)

* Double Helix (2004)

* Impossible (2008)