We Can Work It Out
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Publication Date: January 27th, 2015
Genre/Format: Contemporary Realistic Fiction/Novel
GoodReads Summary: When Penny Lane started The Lonely Hearts Club, the goal was simple: to show that girls didn’t need to define themselves by how guys look at them, and didn’t have to value boyfriends over everything else. Penny thought she’d be an outcast for life…but then the club became far more popular than she ever imagined it would be.
But what happens when the girl who never thought she’d date a good guy suddenly finds herself dating a great one? She doesn’t need a boyfriend… but she wants it to work out with this particular boyfriend. And he wants it to work out with her.
Only, things keep getting in the way. Feelings keep getting hurt. Words keep getting misunderstood.
Penny Lane worked hard to declare her independence. Now she needs to figure out what to do with it — and how to balance what she wants with what everyone else wants. In We Can Work It Out, Elizabeth Eulberg returns to the world of her first novel, The Lonely Hearts Club, and gets to the heart of how hard relationships can be… and why they are sometimes worth all the drama and comedy they create.
What I Think: Elizabeth Eulberg packs some important lessons into We Can Work it Out while weaving a great story and not seeming didactic at all. It's easy to see how Penny Lane gets caught up in wanting to spend time with her friends and the club and at the same time with her boyfriend, Ryan. It is so not easy to balance everything - at any age. As I go through revisions, I've found that I peel back new layers of each of my characters with every pass. Getting to the core of a character and to the real raw stakes of a story isn't easy. Elizabeth does this and it's worth paying attention to and pointing out to students.
As a mentor text, Elizabeth captures her characters and their dialogue in such a natural way. I would encourage students to look at how dialogue is placed between thoughts and actions so that readers feel as though they are in the moment with the characters. If students get caught up with telling, it's easy to teach strategies for showing instead of telling. But if you have too much showing, then you need to balance that with dialogue, in my opinion. It's possible to show but be telling at the same time if you don't put the reader in the moment and add in some dialogue. Dialogue easily brings a scene to life and helps the reader understand how the characters are interacting with each other. Getting dialogue just right isn't easy, you have to capture your characters in their words, adjusting for their personality in the words they speak.
Read Together: Grades 8 - 12
Read Alone: Grades 8 - 12
Read With: The Lonely Hearts Club and other books by Elizabeth Eulberg, The Moon and More and others by Sarah Dessen, To All the boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han, Isla and the Happily Ever After and others by Stephanie Perkins
Snatch of Text:
"It was amazing how quickly things could change." (p. 1)
"My head was still cloudy by the time I reached my locker at lunchtime. I was so lost in my mind that I was ignoring the one person I was trying to be more thoughtful of." (p. 56)
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you had to be honest with someone about something that was hard to tell them about.
Topics Covered: Family, Friendship, Love, Relationships, Balance, Honesty
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