Wednesday, June 20, 2012


OrchardsTitle: Orchards
Author: Holly Thompson
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication Date: February, 2011
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction-Multicultural/Novel-in-Verse
Summary: After a classmate of Kana's commits suicide, Kana wonders if she is partially responsible as her and her friends were not kind to Ruth and since her death Kana has learned a lot about her. To help her get through her grief and away from the situation, Kana, half Japanese half Jewish, is sent to stay in her mother's small home village in Japan. Here Kana works in the orange groves and finds peace within the orchards. Though at times she feels out of place or that her grandmother is being too tough, she begins to heal. 
What I Think: When a novel in verse is written well, it can have such an emotional presence and this book is one that is and does. This book not only deals with grief, it deals with being conscious of your actions and being responsible for your words. Kana, being an 8th grader, says that the words were only words, but to Ruth, the words hurt her so much she didn't feel like she could live anymore. This intense novel, filled with beautiful moments (and some funny ones) keeps you emotionally attached throughout the whole novel. 
Read Together: Grades 7 to 9  
Read Alone: Grades 7 to 11
Read With: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, Dear Bully edited by Megan Kelley Hall, Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol
Snatch of Text: "Chapter 1: Because of You
One week after
you stuffed a coil of rope 
into your backpack
and walked uphill into
Osgoods' orchard
where blooms were still closed fists

my father looked up 
summer airfares
to Tokyo

I protested
it wasn't my fault
I didn't do anything! 

my mother hissed and made the call 
to her older sister
my aunt
in Shizuoka

nothing would change 
their minds." (p. 1-3) 

"when you started talking
to Jake Osgood
who Lisa liked
who Lisa hoped to go out with
who Lisa had enlisted all of our help
all winter
to get

when you and Jake 
just sat down on the 
sidewalk and
leaned back against the school wall
     and laughed
     and shrugged
     and just talked casual
          like you were best friends - 

what did you expect?" (p. 37)

Also check out page 72 & 200
Mentor Text for: Novel in verse, Setting, Free verse
Writing Prompts: Do you think that Kana and the other girls's bullying pushed Ruth to suicide? What could Ruth have done instead?; Research bipolar disorder. What are some ways that Ruth could have gotten help for her disorder?; How can you stop bullying in your school?  
Topics Covered: Cross curricular- Physics, Suicide, Bullying, Identity, Ancestors, Family, Culture, Heritage, Hard work, Bipolar Disorder, Clique, Responsibility
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