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Don't get me started on the Bruiser. He was voted "Most Likely to Get the Death Penalty" by the entire school. He's the kid no one knows, no one talks to, and everyone hears disturbing rumors about. So why is my sister, Brontë, dating him? One of these days she's going to take in the wrong stray dog, and it's not going to end well.

My brother has no right to talk about Brewster that way—no right to threaten him. There's a reason why Brewster can't have friends—why he can't care about too many people. Because when he cares about you, things start to happen. Impossible things that can't be explained. I know, because they're happening to me.

Award-winning author Neal Shusterman has crafted a chilling and unforgettable novel about the power of unconditional friendship, the complex gear workings of a family, and the sacrifices we endure for the people we love.

Curriculet Details
73 Questions
75 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in 8th grade, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining point of view, dynamic characters and figurative language. It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos about haiku and foreshadowing. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the subjects of character development, theme, and structure. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

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Homework #6

Notice how Tennyson describes his mother. At first, you assume she isn't alive, but Tennyson reveals that he has dubbed the title for her based on his father's actions.  
What does Tennyson's perspective reveal about his family?  

Homework #7

Based on what you know of Tennyson, do you think he is following his sister or not? 
Explain how Tennyson's perspective sets up the reader's expectation of Bruiser.  

Homework #8

Tennyson states that Bruiser isn't a great guy, but Tennyson is also displaying unfavorable behavior.  
What purpose does Tennyson have in threatening Bruiser? Based on Bruiser's actions, is Tennyson's threat applicable? 
Compare Tennyson's expectation of Bruiser's behavior to how he actually acts. Does Bruiser fulfill Tennyson's assumption or is he forced to act that way? 

Homework #9

Keep track of this message. Brontë's warning can be tracked as an emerging theme for Tennyson.  (This annotation contains a video)

Homework #11

The use of like or as in a comparison is an example of simile. Notice how the description makes Bruiser's scars easy for the reader to imagine.  (This annotation contains a video)
Explain how seeing Bruiser's scars affects Tennyson.  

Homework #12

Tennyson is realizing his assumptions about Bruiser are incorrect and that Bruiser is the victim. 

Homework #13

What motivation does Tennyson have in not revealing the truth about Bruiser to Brontë but rather only a hint? 

Homework #14

Explain Tennyson's purpose in comparing Bruiser to the bull. How does this comparison create compassion for Bruiser's character? 

Homework #15

"Feral child" implies that the boy looks like he was raised in the wild.  
Explain how the description of Bruiser and his brother illustrate their relationship and hardship.  
For Bruiser, Tennyson's interference is not only embarrassing, but also dangerous. Bruiser will have to deal with his uncle eventually.  

Homework #16

Explain how Bruiser's home-life, scars, and nickname connect to develop his character for the reader. Use text evidence to support your response. 
The author's use of imagery not only brings the setting and character to life, but also Tennyson's thoughts and conversations.  (This annotation contains a video)
Notice how Uncle Hoyt's nastiness is also conveyed through his mannerisms and the effect he has on Tennyson. 

Homework #17

What is Tennyson trying not to think about? 

Homework #19

Brontë is referring to Hurricane Katrina.  (This annotation contains a video)
Based on the list of lessons, why is Brontë unprepared to date Bruiser? 

Homework #20

An ibex is a larger version of a goat.  (This annotation contains an image)
Explain how Brontë's point of view enhances the reader's perception of both Bruiser and Tennyson.  

Homework #21

Click to read the full version of "Howl." (This annotation contains a link)
Based on what you know of Bruiser, explain the effect the Ginsberg poems have on him. Why is angry poetry appealing? 
Notice Brontë's change in thinking. Track this idea and note how her character evolves as she hangs with Bruiser.  

Homework #22

What does the reader know about Bruiser that explains why he doesn't want to swim with Brontë? 
Both men and women had to cover up at the beach.  (This annotation contains an image)
Explain how Brontë's point of view affects how the reader perceives Bruiser. Use text evidence to support your response.  
Watch this parody of keelhauling by Horrible Histories to learn more.  (This annotation contains a video)
Do you think Bruiser is hiding something or is telling the truth? Explain your response.  

Homework #23

Explain what Brontë means by this statement.   
Brontë is also facing truths about herself through her bond with Bruiser. Yet, is that enough to keep her interested? 
Tennyson's message hints at the future and Brontë is confused by his statement. (This annotation contains a video)

Homework #24

Based on the description of Tennyson and Bronte's parents, explain what conflict the family may face. Use text evidence to support your response.  

Homework #25

Notice Brontë's description of her mother. What could be causing the empty sound of her voice? 
Why are Bruiser and Tennyson not interested in the tri-tip roast? 

Homework #26

Explain how Brontë's comparison to the atomic bomb being dropped illustrates the severity of what is happening to her family.  

Homework #27

Do you think Bruiser truly doesn't care about Brontë or is he protecting himself from actually caring for her? 

Homework #28

Explain how Bruiser may have been negatively impacted by witnessing Brontë's family meltdown.  
Bruiser has a terrible home life. Taking on Brontë's family drama may be too much for him.  
Quiz 1 (Homework 1-28) 

Homework #29

How does this statement connect with Brontë frustration with Bruiser for leaving dinner so quickly? Use text evidence to support your response.  
Note another emerging theme. Brontë expresses the power of emotion and shared feelings. From those basic human needs comes the motivation to connect to others.  
This explains the scars all over Bruiser's body. 
How is Bruiser's decision to stay away from people related to his ability? 

Homework #31

Notice how Bruiser's chapter is set up like a poem. The text reflects his perspective and personality.  (This annotation contains a video)
Explain the effect Brontë has on Bruiser and how it has changed his perspective of his gift.  

Homework #32

Based on this statement readers are aware that Cody cannot feel _______. 
Bruiser is keeping himself safe through his anger and not letting anyone in.  

Homework #33

This is a haiku. A haiku is a three lined poem that follows a consonant pattern of 5, 7, 5 for each line.  (This annotation contains a video)
Bruiser has trained himself to keep people away, but what do these lines reveal about his real needs? 

Homework #34

Explain Bruiser's reasoning in accepting the pain that may come from being friends with Tennyson versus the pain he would face on his own.  

Homework #35

Tennyson is not aware of why he isn't sore.  

Homework #36

Notice how Bruiser has fully embraced both Tennyson and Brontë. Not only is Bruiser risking physical harm but he must also deal with being caught.  (This annotation contains a video)
Explain what Bruiser means by this statement. What is he revealing about his uncle? 

Homework #38

How is Cody's perspective different from Bruiser's? How does this change in view enhance the story? 
Note that Bruiser is not always aware of the pain he will feel. When Cody jumped off the roof, Bruiser was not prepared for the pain of a broken bone.  
Cody can feel pain until Bruiser comes home. Note the fear Cody is expressing about his uncle.  
Analyze the effect Bruiser has on Uncle Hoyt. Explain how worrying about Bruiser and Cody is more complicated for Uncle Hoyt.  
Based on what you know, explain Uncle Hoyt's motivation to keep Bruiser at home. Use text evidence to support your response.  
Uncle Hoyt's actions are too subtle for Cody to understand. Uncle Hoyt deliberately hurt Bruiser by burning the cigarette into his arm.  

Homework #40

Why has Tennyson been playing so well recently? 
Notice that Tennyson is calling Bruiser by his real name.  (This annotation contains a video)
Compare Bruiser's intentions for helping Tennyson to Tennyson's realization and reaction to the help.  
Tennyson's reaction illustrates character traits that the reader is not aware of. Although he wants to win and be popular, he only wants to do it on his terms. 

Homework #41

Why is Brontë happy with Tennyson's irritation? 

Homework #42

What other emotions could Tennyson have felt? Combined with his parents separation, being cared for by Bruiser may add a new emotional piece to Tennyson's thinking.  

Homework #43

Explain what Tennyson is missing about Cody's comment and why Bruiser stops to listen.  
Notice the change in Tennyson's attitude and general happiness. Keep track of these feelings. 

Homework #45

Explain how Uncle Hoyt's obligation to protect Bruiser is related to how Bruiser sees himself. 
This statement highlights Cody's innocence and inexperience.  
How is Uncle Hoyt's anger related to his responsibility for raising Cody and Bruiser? 
Bruiser will feel Cody's pain and understand the punishment when he arrives home.  
Think of how a person's natural reaction would be to curl up and protect his or her body. Cody can be limp because he isn't feeling pain but he is also not giving Uncle Hoyt the pleasure of a reaction.  
Do you think Uncle Hoyt is beating Cody as a lesson for Cody or to hurt Bruiser? Explain your response.  

Homework #47

Why would change if Bruiser could fight back? What would happen if he fought with someone he cared about? 
Why would Bruiser be angry with himself for his uncle's actions? 
Uncle Hoyt is only sorry after he has exhausted himself into realizing what he is doing.  
Explain how Uncle Hoyt's grasp of his actions relates to how he treats the boys when he is sober. What would change if Uncle Hoyt remembered the beatings? 
Bruiser's injuries hold power over Uncle Hoyt because they __________. 
Do you think Bruiser has ever confronted his uncle after a fight or is this their routine each time? 

Homework #50

Explain the importance of Brontë's influence on Bruiser. How has his character evolved since meeting her? 
Notice how thoughtful Brontë is in her planning. None of her motives are selfish.  

Homework #51

Revealing the truth is dangerous for Bruiser, but his ability to hide what is going on is falling apart.  
How does this statement connect to Bruiser revealing the truth to the police? 
Brontë allows herself to trust Bruiser just as he has for her.  

Homework #53

Why do you suppose Uncle Hoyt has never hit Bruiser?  
What causes Bruiser to be so interwoven with his uncle? Is there something more to their bond that the reader is not aware of? Use text evidence to support your response.  
Bruiser's pain is expressed in such a beautiful manner. "Beaten like a blunt boot," is an example of alliteration.  (This annotation contains a video)
How does Bruiser's inability to fight back empower his uncle? 
Note the change in Bruiser's thinking. Will his fight for his own life be enough? 
This is a huge turning point for Bruiser. Not only is he fighting for his life, but he is also releasing any care or responsibility for his uncle's. 

Homework #55

What do all the assumptions reveal about how Bruiser and Cody are viewed by their community? 
What would motivate Bruiser to keep quiet and hide from his friends and peers? 
Tennyson does not give his sister enough credit. She too is clever and poised to get what she wants.  

Homework #56

Notice how Tennyson has added "God rest his soul" when speaking about his father. When and why did we see this earlier?  
What is motivating Tennyson to help Brontë convince their parents to take in Bruiser and Cody? 
Quiz 2 (Homework 29-56) 

Homework #57

This is a great example of personification. Personification is when an inanimate object is described with human characteristics.  (This annotation contains a video)
Explain the significance of this statement as it connects to both Tennyson and Bruiser.  
In becoming an emancipated minor, Bronte would become legally responsible for herself. 

Homework #58

How does this statement illustrate the quality of life Bruiser anticipated when considering living with a foster family.  
Tennyson was correct in thinking that Bruiser and Cody would distract his parents into acting semi-normal again.  
Explain how Tennyson's lapse in vocabulary choice illustrates the tension at the dinner table. 

Homework #59

Analyze the effect Bruiser's ability has on his potential for a happy life. Use text evidence to support your response.  
This is a momentous response because it changes the dynamic of how Bruiser presents himself to Tennyson's family. By caring for them Bruiser is making himself vulnerable.  

Homework #60

Explain the double meaning of this statement. What does the reader understand about Tennyson's feelings that he might not be aware of? 

Homework #61

Notice the major change in Tennyson's thinking. He has moved on from using Bruiser's ability for his own gain to realizing the danger in revealing the truth.  
Explain the risk Tennyson is taking in order to protect Bruiser.  

Homework #62

This is a photo of a storm cell. Tennyson is comparing the possibility of a lawsuit to the formation of a devastating storm.  (This annotation contains an image)
What is Cody looking for?  

Homework #64

Notice Cody's inability to understand danger. Note how he has been affected by Bruiser's ability to always get him out of trouble.  
Explain the negative impact of Bruiser's ability on Cody's sense of the world. How has Bruiser's ability become an antagonistic force for Cody? 
Explain the importance of this realization for Cody. How does this idea affect his actions and thinking? 

Homework #66

Notice the comments that change the direction of the reader's thinking. What purpose does Brontë have in adding this idea? 

Homework #67

Brontë doesn't realize the burden friendship is for Bruiser. His life may be changing but it might not be a positive change.  

Homework #68

Notice the heaviness of Bruiser's physical and emotional expression. His exhaustion changes the the mood in which the reader feels the story.  (This annotation contains a video)
Explain the significance of Brontë's compassion for Bruiser and her perspective of Uncle Hoyt's death.  

Homework #70

Do you really think Tennyson cares about Katrina being at the game or is there another underlying factor that is bothering him? 
Why is Tennyson's mood suddenly so positive? 

Homework #71

Notice the change in Tennyson with Cody around. Tennyson is used to getting his way, but Cody's innocence makes Tennyson second guess himself. 

Homework #72

This is a huge turning point for Tennyson's character. For all his scheming, his plan doesn't actually work.  

Homework #73

Notice the new perspective of Bruiser's ability as Tennyson uses it as ammo against Brontë. 
Explain what Cody means by saying the emotions need to find a way out.  
What does Tennyson's inability to accept the responsibility of his emotions reveal about his character? Use text evidence to support your response.  

Homework #75

Brontë isn't seeing the expected behaviors because Bruiser has already absorbed them. 
Brontë brings up great questions in this statement. These questions relate to the theme as well.  (This annotation contains a video)

Homework #76

Bruiser's ability is also fully embedded in the marital problems Brontë's parents face. Explain the significance of Bruiser's presence in the household and how he is changing the course of their story.  
Notice how Bruiser's presence has become a blanket of security for Brontë's family. What will happen when he leaves?  
Compare Brontë's perspective of curing a stomachache to the severity of what Bruiser is actually feeling. What does she not understand? 

Homework #77

Uncle Hoyt understood the burden Bruiser carried and tried to protect him. From an outsider's perspective, Uncle Hoyt is seen as a cruel man, but his intentions were to help Bruiser.  

Homework #78

Explain how the removal of emotion and tension impacts Brontë's family.  
Recall Brontë's mention of living with blinders on earlier in the novel. This statement illustrates how Bruiser has become her blinders.  

Homework #79

Explain how this statement illustrates Brontë's understanding of the implications of Bruiser's presence in her house.  

Homework #81

Notice the inner conflict Bruiser faces in regard to his ability.  (This annotation contains a video)
Compare Bruiser's intention in caring for someone to his perspective of the intended outcome. Use text evidence to support your response.  
Notice how Bruiser acknowledges the changes in Tennyson's character and the underlying conflict as Tennyson needs Bruiser in order to maintain it.  
"A certain disquiet/A distinct desperation," is an example of _________. 
Notice how different forms of poetry are embedded into Bruiser's chapters. The contrast of structures adds depth to his perspective.  
Explain the effect of life with Uncle Hoyt and the kindness shown by Brontë has come together to form Bruiser's fate.  

Homework #82

Notice the joy that Bruiser has in this moment.  

Homework #84

Compare Bruiser's acceptance and purpose in saving Brontë to Tennyson's guilt and anger.  
Notice this major change in thinking for Tennyson. This is a great example of how Tennyson's character has evolved. 
Explain how accepting your own emotional and mental responsibility is illustrated through Tennyson's actions and a way to save Bruiser. 

Homework #85

How does this statement relate to Bruiser's impact on how Cody was raised? 
This is a huge turning point for both Tennyson and Brontë. This statement also illustrates another theme as the kids learn to accept the challenges they face.  

Homework #86

Quiz 3 (Homework 57-86) 
Explain how accepting their parents divorce fits as the last piece needed in order for Bruiser to wake up. 
Bruiser can finally exist as his own person and not worry about absorbing the pain of those he cares about. Tennyson, Brontë, and Cody are all ready to fight for their feelings.