A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dead to You is told from the perspective of a 16-year-old boy who has spent the last few years living on the streets, and his language can get raw. That said, the situation in which he and his family find themselves offers an unusual perspective from which teens can look at their own lives and gain a few insights, particularly when it comes to appreciating things they might take for granted about their day-to-day existence. There's also some kissing/making out, as well as antagonism between brothers.
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What's the story?
Nine years ago, 7-year-old Ethan De Wilde walked into a stranger's car and disappeared. Now, miraculously, he and his family are reunited. But the adjustment is made much harder by the fact that, while he remembers a nomadic existence with his prostitute \"mom,\" the group home she dumped him at, and the homeless life he had after he ran away, he can't remember anything about his past life with his real family. And his brother, who witnessed the abduction, views Ethan with frank hatred.
Is it any good?
Lisa McMann has a well-deserved reputation for engaging young readers with irresistible plot hooks, as well as for creating appealing characters and dramatic situations that keep them interested. (See her great title for younger readers, The Unwanteds).
While the characters here are a little thin and stereotypical at times, they serve the purpose of moving the plot along and keeping the reader wondering what happens next, right up to the reality-altering ending. In the process, seeing normal family life through the eyes of a teen who's never experienced it, kids may get a new perspective on why their own parents do the weird things they do.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether they were surprised by Dead to You's ending? If you weren't surprised, what incidents earlier in the story led you to think things would turn out this way?
What happens now? To the De Wildes, to Ethan, to Cami? Some people think there should be a sequel -- do you?
There are many thousands of kids who live homeless on their own or with irresponsible parents. What do you know about their lives and how different they are from yours?
Do you know any families in which a family member came back after a long absence? How did it affect the family?
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