By Ned Vizzini
- The novel opens with the sentence: “It’s so hard to talk when you
want to kill yourself.” How does this set the tone for the entire novel?
What exactly does the narrator mean by this? Should you take this
kind of language seriously?
- What does Craig describe as his “Tentacles”? What types of things
qualify as Tentacles? Do all teens have them? Why or why not? What
are the opposite of Tentacles? Why are the Tentacles only temporary?
- When do you think Craig’s slide into depression begins? Do you think it is when he started attending the demanding high school, or is his near obsession with getting in the beginning of his decline? Defend your answer.
- What did Craig enjoy creating when he was young? Why did he always crumple them up when he completed them? What does that show you about his personality and his intelligence? Do you think all people have some kind of gift?
- What symptoms show that Craig’s depression is really serious? Is he able to function amid the demands of normal life? In what areas does he really have trouble? How would you feel if you had these symptoms? What would you do? To whom would you turn for help?
- Describe the voice that Craig hears inside himself. Do you thin this voice, the voice of an alter ego, is a good influence on his behavior? Why or why not? Why doesn’t he admit that he hears this voice? Do you think everyone has this type of dialogue with themselves or not?
- Who is Aaron? Do you think he is a good friend for Craig? What types of things do they do together? What divides the two? Do you think Aaron is a true friend? Why or why not? What defines a true friend?
- Reconstruct the steps that lead to Craig’s decision to chec himself into the hospital. How might things have turned out differently? What options was he considering? Do you, like his mom, think he is brave? What reasons does he use to convince himself not to commit suicide?
- What’s it like in Six North? Why is the physical description so important to Craig? What are the activities he is expected to participate in? Why? Do you think it would be frightening to be there? Does Craig seem frightened?
- Describe Craig’s relationship with his family. Do you think it is a typical relationship? Is he lucky to have such supportive parents and a sister who adores him? Do you think his story would be different if this were not his family? How can teens overcome a less than ideal family structure if they, too, are depressed?
- Compare Nia to Noelle. How are they similar? How are they different? Which do you think is better for Craig? Do you think they have a chance on the outside? Why or why not? Do you think Craig is ready for any kind of relationship?
- What do you think is the turning point for Craig? How does he decide to participate in his own recovery? What perspectives does he gain in the psychiatric ward that he couldn’t get in the rea world?
- How does Craig change by the end of the novel? Do you think he will always battle depression, or will he someday be completely cured? Predict what Craig will be doing in five years. In ten.
- What did you learn by reading Craig’s story? Do you think teens today suffer more from depression and other psychological disorders, than teenagers from previous generations or they are just diagnosed more often? How can you tell if someone needs help? How does someone who is depressed get the help they need?
- Do you find the ending of the novel hopeful? What creates hopeful ending? Why do you think so many young adult novels lack hope? Do we, as humans, need hope to survive? How can we build it?
For more information:
Author Ned Vizzini’s website: http://www.nedvizzini.com/
Copywright MIRAMAX BOOKS HYPERION
114 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10011
Visit us at www.hyperionteens.com