Tolan, S. S. (2002). Surviving the Applewhites. New York: Harper.
Fiction ; Adolescent issues, home schooling, bad habits, family life, foster care, drama/theater, friends, & confidence/self-esteem
Lexile : 820
Interest : Grades 6th-8th
Genre & Themes
Jake Semple has an axe to grind with just about everybody. Now foster care has placed him with the Applewhite family. A family that if FULL of eccentric and interesting people, or in Jake's eyes...weird. "Surviving the Applewhites" tells the story of Jake's acclimation to the Applewhite family as well as the Applewhite's acclimation to Jake Semple. The story is full of situations in which teenagers can relate ...dealing with a bratty brother, being asked to do something you don't want to do, believing in yourself, taking risks, & being tolerant of others. Jake has an ultimatum to face - learn to live with the Applewhites or be sent to Juvenile Hall.
"Surviving the Applewhites" is a fun read for teenagers. It also gives teens opportunities for making connections with to their own lives as well as experience what other's think and feel.
I have been teaching/reading "Surviving the Applewhites" with my seventh graders for over a decade. The book is timeless - it doesn't seem to get "old". My students continue to find ways to relate to the book. Whether it be a character or a situation, there are many opportunities for readers to make a connection to the book
As a teacher, I love the format of the book. There are two narrators in the book, Jake Semple and E.D. Applewhite. The narrators take turns telling the story by alternating chapters. The book is ideal for teaching point of view and discussing differing perspectives. It is also a great book for teaching characterization...things like "round" and "flat" & "static" and "flat" characters. This is a great read for large or small groups. I highly recommend this book to any middle school or junior high English instructor.