Ideas for Learners Promoting Literacy, Inquiry, and Meaningful Learning Experiences
The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman by Meg Worlitzer
 

Book Summary

Three students with different struggles and backgrounds meet and compete in a high-stakes Scrabble tournament.

Hoping Nate will avenge his former tournament loss, Nate's father constantly pressures Nate to win at all costs.

April's family rushes from sports practice to game to match for her siblings, and no one has a lot of time for her interest in words or her competition preparation.

Duncan has recently discovered a minor super power - he can "read" words with his fingers, without needing to look with his eyes. An unscrupulous friend thinks this is a great talent for Scrabble matches, so Duncan joins the school Scrabble squad and learns how to play the game.
 
The FIngertips of Duncan Dorfman book cover
The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman

Book Review

I like stories about exceptional people with ethical quandaries, and this book offers exactly that. I'm not convinced it has a wide audience, but the people who find it and love it are likely to be protective about it. It's another book offering word love to readers through the pretense of the story, but they are preparing for a Scrabble competition, so it is forgivable. The interesting part of this story is not the contest itself, but the intensity of preparation, and the choices we make when we want something desperately - maybe for good reasons, or maybe for bad ones.

Topics and Themes for this book:

 
  • Scrabble Tournament; Words
  • Ethics in Competition
 
  • Ambition; Drive
  • Making Ethical Choices; Considering the Needs of Others
  • 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**

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