Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Penguin Group
Publication Date: 2004
Genre/Format: Teen Issues-Fiction/Novel
Summary: Caitlin isn't sure what to think when her older sister, Cass, leaves home unexpectedly. She joins cheerleading with her best friend, Rina, which gives her mother something to take her mind off of Cass's disappearance. Rina also has plans for Caitlin to be dating one of the high school football players when she meets Rogerson Biscoe. Rogerson is a bad boy and everyone warns Caitlin about him, but he easily has Caitlin enamored with him. At first, their relationship is great, but before Caitlin knows it, she finds herself victim to his physical abuse without anyone to realize the trouble she is in.
What I Think: This is one of the most profound YA books I have read in a long time. Dessen does an amazing job at building the characters and drawing the reader into Caitlin's life. Having never been in an abusive relationship before, I have often wondered how people stay in relationships, or go back to relationships that are abusive. This book helped me gain some perspective into that conundrum. As a reader, I loved Rogerson Biscoe! He's mysterious and sexy at the same time as being fun and smart, with a brain-ful of trivia facts. It's easy to see how Caitlin falls in love with him, and then why she continues to love him after he starts to hit her. It doesn't make sense that he hits her and it's so easy to remember when their relationship was great. I kept wanting to like Rogerson even when he was hitting her. I realize that doesn't make any sense, and that's when I also had some understanding of what a person might be feeling when they are in an abusive relationship.
I'm hesitant to say this, but this book had me making a connection with Teen Mom, the show on MTV about four teen mothers and their lives. There is one couple who grew up in abusive situations and the girl can be physically and verbally abusive to her boyfriend/ex-boyfriend/fiance/ex-fiance. On one show, she talked about how she whites-out and doesn't have a clear understanding of what she's doing when she gets physically abusive. Dessen mentions this in the book and I had never heard of that before. Similarly, we get a tiny glimpse into Rogerson's relationship with his dad and how that influences his relationship with Caitlin.
I think any middle school or high school reader of teen issues would devour this book. It is well-written and such a thought-provoking book.
Read Together: 7 - 12
Read Alone: 8 - 12
Read With: Someone Like You or other books by Sarah Dessen; What My Mother Doesn't Know and other books by Sonya Sones; Lush and other books by Natasha Friend; A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive and other books in the series by Dave Pelzer; Non-Fiction about physical abuse or relationships
Snatch of Text:
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Making Inferences, Visualizing, Author's Purpose
Writing Strategies to Practice: Expository, Characterization
Writing Prompts: Research different types of abuse, then choose one and explain characteristics of that type of abuse and what a person can do if he or she finds himself in an abusive relationship - create a brochure to display your research.
Topics Covered: Family, Friendship, Love, Reputation, Sisters, Photography, Physical Abuse
Translated to Spanish: No