What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this book examines the harsh world of high school in an easy-to-read format that works well to lead reluctant readers into passionate discussion. The narrators chronicle events leading up to a planned school attack. There's lots of sensitive material here, but reading about the struggles of other kids can teach teens to empathize with those who are different from themselves.
What's the story?
Fifteen high-school students tell their stories in a series of free-verse poems. They chronicle the events, large and small, leading up to an attack on the school planned by one of them. They are bully and victim, white supremacist and African-American, anorexic, anarchist, jock, and more. They rebel and conform, rant and plead, preen and worry. But only one will do anything about the attack that all can see coming.
Is it any good?
Though all the different voices can get a bit confusing, the types a bit clichéd, and the ending a bit too easy, the author shows how the mundane, everyday concerns of teens can be more important to them than the disaster looming before their eyes. The characters may not be developed, but their voices and concerns are often real, and raw, and there's a lot of meaning packed into a few words.
Almost any of these short, simple poems, chosen at random, could be a discussion starter between parent and teen, or teacher and class. Cumulatively they give teens much to think and talk about.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about the free verse format. How would the story be different if it had been told in narrative? Or from one character's perspective?
Do the characters seem stereotypical, or do you recognize any of these voices from your
school? Do you identify with any of them?