Our first quarter Buddy Read for the 24 in 2024 Book Challenge is in the books! I hope you enjoyed Alone by Megan E. Freeman as much as I did. As promised, I'm posting a few discussion questions here and on Bookstagram @staceywritesandreads. However, my answers will only be posted here on the blog where I have enough writing space. Please feel free to comment and give me your thoughts on the book.
About the Book
When twelve-year-old Maddie hatches a scheme for a secret sleepover with her two best friends, she ends up waking up to a nightmare. She’s alone- left behind in a town that has been mysteriously evacuated and abandoned.
With no one to rely on, no power, and no working phone lines or internet access, Maddie slowly learns to survive on her own. Her only companions are a Rottweiler named George and all the books she can read. After a rough start, Maddie learns to trust her own ingenuity and invents clever ways to survive in a place that has been deserted and forgotten.
As months pass, she escapes natural disasters, looters, and wild animals. But Maddie’s most formidable enemy is the crushing loneliness she faces every day. Can Maddie’s stubborn will to survive carry her through the most frightening experience of her life?
2 Fun Facts about Alone
As an author, this fun fact amazes me. It would be daunting to rewrite an entire book in a different tense, POV, and format, but I'm so glad Freeman did. The story, when written in verse, packs a punch and makes it feel more personal, urgent, and sparse. This is my go-to book recommendation for kids who haven't discovered the magic of books- YET!
Bam! I was hooked from the moment I read this opening quote! (As if I wasn't already hooked by its beautiful cover! LOL.) Plus, I'm a sucker when authors reference other books in their work. I feel it gives me insight into what inspires them and maybe a glimpse into their reading jams.
4 Discussion Questions
Now, onward to the discussion questions. I gathered most of these questions from the author's, Megan E. Freeman, website.
What are the benefits of books in verse? What is your opinion about this style of storytelling?
Why did Maddie take on the responsibility of George? What made him a good companion?
When Maddie’s house burns down, she must decide what to save. She asks what meaning any of it has if no one ever comes back. Can you answer this question for her?
When Maddie helps her brother write about the biggest struggles of survival in the Island of the Blue Dolphins, she thinks it is food & shelter. What do you think she would say after her experience?
2 Bonus Questions
At the beginning of the book, Maddie longs for freedom, especially from her family. What do you think her thoughts on freedom are after this experience?
What do you think is the draw of survival-type books?
My Answers to the Discussion Questions
1.What are the benefits of books in verse? What is your opinion about this style of storytelling?
Ummmm, I'm in love! As a teacher, it is my favorite format to read aloud to students. The pace is quick & it draws them in right from the start. As a reader, I love all the white space on the page, the importance of each word, and the poetry of it all. I'm always amazed at how vividly the story comes to life in my imagination with a fraction of the adjectives to describe it.
If you have any book in verse recs, please share. I want more!
2. Why did Maddie take on the responsibility of George? What made him a good companion?
Maddie not only needs someone to talk to, but she also needs someone to respond to her. George allowed her (and the author) to verbalize her thoughts. I couldn't imagine going 3 years without the warmth of a living soul and George gave her a sense that she wasn't desperately alone. I think George was vital to her survival and sanity.
If Maddie couldn't have a human companion, then a dog is the next best thing. Plus, George was a rottweiler offering her strength, protection, and comfort.
3. When Maddie’s house burns down, she must decide what to save. She asks what meaning any of it has if no one ever comes back. Can you answer this question for her?
This part was so insightful and made me stop and think. After someone suffers a fire, they always say things don't matter, and the most important thing is that everyone got out alive. In this case, however, I felt it was vital for Maddie to save some important, personal family items. Saving these items signified she still had hope of being reunited with her family and would remind her to go on.
4. When Maddie helps her brother write about the biggest struggles of survival in the Island of the Blue Dolphins, she thinks it is food & shelter. What do you think she would say after her experience?
At times, finding food, water, and shelter would be a struggle; but in that struggle is the comfort of being productive. However, the emotional toll of isolation would be constant and at times unbearable when the end of it was unknown or worse, believed to be never-ending. There is no solution for isolation. The person must endure it.
2 Bonus Questions
1.At the beginning of the book, Maddie longs for freedom, especially from her family. What do you think her thoughts on freedom are after this experience?
The old adage, be careful what you wish for applies here. Freedom is always sacrificed to some degree when we choose to share our lives. Compromises must be made, rules must be in place, and sacrifices will be expected, but the power and necessity of human connection becomes abundantly clear when it is lost.
Maddie is the typical teenager at the beginning of the story, but her love for her family is still felt underneath her complaints and thoughts. By the end of the story, she's 3 years older (and probably wiser than most), and an experience like this is going to give her perspective and maturity. I bet she will be a bit more careful with her words as well as more patient, empathetic, and appreciative of her family- how could she not be?
2. What do you think is the draw of survival-type books?
I love survival stories! It is so easy to place myself in the MC's shoes and I'm thinking throughout the whole story What would I do? Could I survive in this situation? Would I go crazy? Would I freak out? I think it's an interesting premise and I'm here for it.
Before I leave you, I want to share a quote that Megan E. Freeman paraphrased in an interview I watched her give on YouTube. I thought it summed up beautifully the power of books in verse.
If you're looking for other books in verse to read, I highly recommend Crossover by Kwame Alexander & Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds.
February's Book of the Month
Of course, I had to pick a romance book for February! Here's the Amazon synopsis:
You may never stop loving the one you lost. But you can still find love again.
Kate is a bit of a mess. Two years after losing her young husband Cameron, she’s grieving, solo parenting, working like mad at her university fundraising job, always dropping the ball—and yet clinging to her sense of humor. As she heals and reflects, she begins to see her boss in a new light and realizes how much he's been there for her through it all.
Her husband's first note captured her heart. Will the last note set it free?
The Last Love Note will make you laugh, cry, and renew your faith in the resilience of the human heart—and in love itself.
#24in2024BookChallenge prompts The Last Love Note could fulfill:
A book by an indie Author. (This is the prompt I'm scratching off.)
A book you picked because of its cover.
A book recommended by a friend.
A book of your favorite color.
A book in your favorite genre.
April's Buddy Read
I hope your reading in 2024 is off to a great start! I'm 5 books deep & have been happy with my selections so far. If you're stuck, I loved The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare (an inspirational story set in Nigeria) and Cult and Run by Kelly MacPherson (a witty, quirky mystery full of fun and laughs).
Happy reading, friends!