Thursday, July 25, 2013

Teen Book Club July - The Year of the Gadfly

We had an excellent Teen Book Club meeting last night!  We started out discussing the book.  Here are the discussion questions we used~

1. What did you think of the book, general impressions?
2. In the beginning of the book the author uses phrases like "The seat belt held me like a straitjack" (pg5) and "The place screamed asylum more than school." (pg8)  She also describes the houses in Nye as "in various stages of decay and abandonment." (pg5)  What kind of mood did these images create for the opening scenes?  How did this influence your reading experience?
3. In addition to speaking to the specter of Edward Murrow, Iris spends time imagining the lives of Lily and Dalia.  What do you think this focus tells us about her worldview?  What does it tell you about Iris as a character and her development over the course of the book?
4. Mr. Kaplan wants to teach students to be "extremophiles."  What inspiration does Iris find in her teacher?  What does it mean to be an extremophile?  Do you think any of the characters could be described as extemophiles?
5. Hazel talks with Iris about Socrates and his role as a gadfly (pg90).  Iris considers herself a gadfly, but what does she mean by this?  Do you think Hazel had motivations to bring it up?  How do you think it relates to the title of the book?
6. When Iris is kidnapped by the four students in pig masks, one tells her "Just because something looks sinister doesn't mean it is." (pg137)  Was Prisom's Party sinister?  Does the phrase relate to any other events in the book?
7. At one point Edward Murrow says to Iris "There is no Edward R. Murrow.  There is only the myth of him." (pg285)  What does he mean by this?  What does this change Iris?  Why do you think Iris was imagining ERM in the first place?
8. There are a number of twists, turns, and surprises in the climax of the book.  Was there one that shocked you of effected you the most?  Why?
9. The author uses different points of view and time periods in the novel.  Did you like one more than the other?  Do you think this technique added to your experience of the book or took away from it?
10. Final thoughts and ratings!

We then had an awesome Skype chat with the author, Jennifer Miller!  We spoke to her for nearly 40 minutes (more than we were supposed to!) and the book club members had lots of really great questions for her.  Such a fabulous experience I don't even know how to write about it here.  She was great!

We then sat back down and did our ratings and final thoughts.

Clare - 7.5/10 - A little slow moving but on the whole it had a very interesting storyline and impressive vocabulary.
Catherine - 8/10 - I was really pulled in by the writing style.  Although at times slow it was worth it because it was slow for a reason.
Melanie - 8/10 - Liked the mystery aspect and the words really flowed together.
MissG - 8/10 - Had trouble getting into it at first but really glad I stuck with it because when everything came together and was revealed I loved it.

THEN (yes we had a really long meeting this month!)  We voted on the books for the next several months.  Here's what we decided:

September - The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
October - Zom-B by Darren Shan
November - Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac
December - Stardust by Neil Gaiman (we're going to read the book, then watch the movie at our TBC meeting, then discuss both!)

Our book for August is...

Reduced to begging and thievery in the streets of London, a thirteen-year-old orphan disguises herself as a boy and connives her way onto a British warship set for high sea adventure in search of pirates. Life as a ship's boy aboard HMS Dolphin is a dream come true for Jacky Faber. Gone are the days of scavenging for food and fighting for survival on the streets of eighteenth-century London. Instead, Jacky is becoming a skilled and respected sailor as the crew pursues pirates on the high seas. There's only one problem: Jacky is a girl. And she must use every bit of her spirit, wit, and courage to keep the crew from discovering her secret.

We will be meeting to discuss Bloody Jack on Tuesday, August 27th at 6:30.  Copies of the book are available at the front desk.

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