A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Stephen King's Carrie is a classic novel of the supernatural, about a troubled teen with telekinetic powers who takes revenge on those who've bullied her. Carrie White is humiliated when she gets her first period in a high school shower, and the other girls throw tampons at her. Carrie's mother is a religious fanatic who spouts scripture while locking Carrie away in a closet. The language in the book can be rough. "F--k," "s--t," "c--t," and "c--ksucker" are used a few times each, as are "damn," "hell," and "bitch." The climax of the novel is especially violent, with scenes of high school kids being burned to death and electrocuted. Two sex scenes are notable: a gentle one between a longtime couple and a more violent one that turns sadistic. Chamberlain's "town drunk" witnesses the devastation at the novel's climax. Readers may want to check out the original 1976 film adaptation or the 2013 remake.
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What's the story?
Everyone in the small Maine town of Chamberlain thinks Carrie White is odd, perhaps even worthy of their contempt. Her mother is a scary and abusive religious fanatic, and the teen has no friends. But Carrie is able to move objects with her mind, and after she's humiliated during gym class, her psychic powers ratchet up a notch or two. When she's invited to the prom by the most popular boy in school, she thinks it might be another joke on her. She and the residents of Chamberlain, however, have no idea what's in store for them on that fateful night.
Is it any good?
A modern classic of the supernatural, this slim, straight-ahead thriller has served as a template for countless inferior imitations. It's still the real deal, though: sharply observed, solidly constructed, and suspenseful despite the narrative's sense of inevitability.
Author Stephen King employs (fictional) newspaper reports, court transcripts, and personal memoirs to lend a sense of realism to the outlandish proceedings, and that strategy, in addition to the author's ability to create credible, sympathetic characters, works splendidly.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it feels like to be a social outsider. Why are kids sometimes mean to others who are different from them? What is the meaning of the term "scapegoat"?
Why do you think Carrie is considered a horror classic? What other supernatural stories have you read and liked?
What can be done to prevent bullying? How should schools intervene when someone complains that he or she is being bullied?
- Author: Stephen King
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Anchor Books
- Publication date: July 26, 1974
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 304
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: October 8, 2019
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