Ideas for Learners Promoting Literacy, Inquiry, and Meaningful Learning Experiences
Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie S. Tolan

Book Summary

Jake has been branded as a bad boy, and his last chance rests with the non-traditional, extremely creative, homeschooling Applewhite family. E.D., a middle child in the Applewhite family, is struggling with feeling ordinary in an exceptionally talented family. With so many strong personalities under one roof, can this family pull together for anything?
Surviving the Applewhites book cover
Surviving the Applewhites

Book Review

In alternating chapters, Jake and E.D. struggle to define themselves against a background of eccentric personalities. E.D. desperately wants to be more than she thinks she is, while Jake isn't convince he should ever try anything again. Although the cast is a bit kooky, both Jake and E.D. are relatable to many readers. E.D.'s perspective is more realistic, and although Jake's character has more interesting potential, he ultimately works most as a catalyst for E.D.'s change. The message that everyone has something valuable to give is an important one to examine. This book might be better used as a writing mentor text for students, or in small-group discussions for groups interested in its themes and topics; it's not a title that typically grabs students during independent reading.
left quotation mark

Invisible, that's what she was. The invisible Applewhite. It was too much. She wanted out of this family."  p.68

Topics and Themes for this book:

  • Basketball
  • Zen Principles
  • Romance
  • Honesty
  • Growing Up; Defining Yourself
  • Family Relationships

Discussion Questions for this book:

The best discussion questions, of course, are generated by and contemplated by readers. These questions are designed to avoid major spoilers about the book, and to provide a starting point for teachers, parents, and student reading groups.

**Questions coming soon**

If you liked this book, you might also like . . .

The Swap book cover
The Swap
Absolutely Almost book cover
Absolutely Almost
Geek Girl book cover
Geek Girl