Just in Case
By Matt Berman,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Complex, intense story is OK for mature teens.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Teems will enjoy reading this compelling book and having debates about the idea of fate: Are our lives governed by fate? Or do we have free will? If we're worried about the bad stuff that could happen to us at any moment, do we then miss out on all the good stuff in our lives? Teen fans may also be inspired to read the author's other breathtaking book, How I Live Now.
This book plays with some provoking ideas about the role fate plays in our lives. If we're worried about the bad stuff that could happen to us at any moment, do we then miss out on all the good stuff in our lives?
Positive Role Models
David/Justin is a troubled teen filled with so much yearning, need, and misery, but readers will appreciate the hard-fought lessons he ultimately learns. They will also love his wise baby brother who longs "to offer advice on how David could regain his footing."
Violence & Scariness
A plane crashes into a terminal -- many deaths, injuries, and dismemberment. A man is run over and killed by a car.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sexual references and fantasies. The main teen character has sex, not described.
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A variety of moderate slurs -- "dickhead" and the like.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens smoke and drink. British term "fag" used for cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there are sexual references and fantasies here, and the main character, a very troubled teen, has sex (not described). There are accidents in which people are killed, and moderate slurs are used. But teens who are mature enough for the content and the ideas here will enjoy reading this compelling book and having debates about the idea of fate: Are our lives governed by fate? Or do we have free will? If we're worried about the bad stuff that could happen to us at any moment, do we then miss out on all the good stuff in our lives? Teen fans may also be inspired to read the author's other breathtaking book, How I Live Now.
Where to Read
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What's the Story?
On the day David Case just barely saves his toddler brother Charlie from tumbling out of a high window his world is radically changed. He realizes that nothing is certain, that a single second can destroy a family. He "became mired in what if." He decides that he is doomed, that Fate is out to get him. He's right. Fate, as narrator, describes how David tries to escape him: changing his name to Justin and altering his clothes and activities and personality, all in the forlorn hope of escaping Fate's notice. Though his old friend Peter, new friend Agnes, and even Charlie are all concerned about him and try to help, he sinks deeper into depression, drops out of school, and leaves home. But Fate is watching, and waiting.
Is It Any Good?
This heartfelt, witty, multilayered, thoughtful, clever, and above all, compassionate sophomore effort from the author of How I Live Now is dazzling. Every character, major and minor (well, except for the adults) is a brilliant and deeply appealing creation. There's Charlie, one of the most fascinating 1-year-olds in literature, whose almost nonexistent vocabulary hides deep thought, compassion, and understanding that is, somehow, still childlike. And Peter, whose serenity and grace David both loves and envies.
And then there's David/Justin, whose yearning, need, and misery flirt with, but never cross over into, tedium; who can't see the love that surrounds him; and who, though so perceptive, understands less than everyone else. Even Fate has a sort of edgy compassion for his victims here. Using Fate as a narrator -- which could easily have been gimmicky -- instead comes across as absolutely integral, and it's done with clever subtlety.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the author's choice to use Fate as a narrator. The Book Thief was narrated by Death and The Lovely Bones by a dead child....can you think of other books with unusual narrators? Why do you think the author made the choice in this book?
This book is written by the same author who wrote How I Live Now. Both books, while well-reviewed, feature some intense material. What makes a book appropriate for a young adult audience, instead of for an adult one? The publisher recommended this book for 14 and up (as did Common Sense Media) -- do you think that's the right age?
- Author: Meg Rosoff
- Genre: Literary Fiction
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Random House
- Publication date: March 11, 2007
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 14
- Number of pages: 243
- Award: ALA Best and Notable Books
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
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