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Struck by Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Struck by Lightning is a YA novel by Glee's Chris Colfer, based on his screenplay for the January 2013 film in which he also stars. It's hilarious, brilliantly satirical, and tragicomically dark as it nails the pure toxicity of high-school culture in a dead-end small town. Those looking for the sweetness and innocent charm of Colfer's middle-grade novel, The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell, should be forewarned that Struck is laced with profanity ("s--t," "f--k," "ass," and more); plus, various characters have sex with other characters, and the adults are, almost without exception, awful people. There's also drinking and teen drug use.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Carson Phillips lives in a dead-end town with his mother, who's spent the last decade getting depressed, drinking, and popping pills. The only thing that's kept Carson sane for 17 years is his lifelong determination to go to Northwestern University and ultimately be editor of The New Yorker. This vision sustains him through a lifetime at the bottom of his peers' pecking order. Then, suddenly, his admission to Northwestern seems to hinge on his ability to publish a literary magazine, and he must get all the classmates who hate him to write for it. What's a boy to do? Blackmail them into it -- and there's plenty of dirt to dish. Narrator/protagonist Carson isn't always the nicest person, but between his flaky absent father, his crazy mother, and his beloved grandmother -- who now has Alzheimer's and doesn't recognize him -- he has a lot to deal with.
Is it any good?
TV star and bestselling middle-grade author Chris Colfer adds to his stature as a multidimensional artist with the snarky, sardonic, profane, poignant STRUCK BY LIGHTNING. The novel brilliantly evokes the sense of being trapped in the wrong place when you know the right place is just within reach. While it cleverly mocks the cultural brain death of Carson's hometown and the toxic nastiness of high school culture, it also raises thought-provoking issues and imparts insights as its hero grows reluctantly wiser.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the culture of their own teens' high school. Is it like the one depicted here? What are the similarities? What other high school stories that you've read or seen in movies ring true to your experience?
Does reading the Struck by Lightning book make you want to see the movie?
How do the characters' contributions to the literary magazine show sides of them that Carson seems not to have noticed?
- Author: Chris Colfer
- Genre: Humor
- Topics: Friendship, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
- Publication date: November 20, 2012
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 15 - 18
- Number of pages: 272
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
Themes & Topics
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.