Joyce Carol Oates is a well-known contemporary American author who has just recently started writing YA (or NA) novels. You can follow her on Twitter here: (This annotation contains a link)
Which literary device is used throughout this paragraph?
Writers sometimes use asterisks in words that may cause offense to the reader (usually swear words). Why does Merissa self-censor here, do you think?
The highlighted section is an example of
Here is a picture of the Dude in "The Big Lebowski" (1998). (This annotation contains an image)
Describe the relationship Merissa has with her father as we know it so far. What is significant about the fact that she calls him "Daddy" still?
Most of the adults are taken aback by Tink's nickname. Why do you think this is? What does the name "Tink" mean to you?
What is the main source of Merissa's discomfort with her mother?
Cutting is a very serious condition in which a person self-harms for myriad reasons. Merissa seems to cut as a way of exerting control of her life, as well as a coping mechanism. (This annotation contains a link)
Why might Merissa feel guilty about her good fortune?
Merissa's sense of worth is directly tied to her father's love and approval. The relationships we have with our parents can influence our future relationships. (This annotation contains a link)
How does Merissa persona have two sides? What is the duality of her character?
It might be an overstatement to say that ALL of the girls felt this way, but it is hard to refute that most teenage girls (and boys) feel an extreme amount of pressure to look a certain way - almost to the point of obsession. (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Merissa's father disapprove of crying?
The movie "Soapdish" (1991) parodied this kind of melodrama quite humorously. (This annotation contains a video)
Identify the type of narrative point of view in this story. What is the effect on the reader?
Sarcasm is a form of verbal irony. This is when what is said is the opposite of what is meant in a pointedly humorous way. (This annotation contains a video)
All of the following forms of imagery are used to describe Tink's mother in this paragraph EXCEPT
Merissa is silent, but she is only catching parts of what her father is saying. Take note of the POV here. What do you think she wants to ask him?
Why was it hard to know what to believe about Tink?
Have you ever felt the pressure of getting "perfect" grades? Who or what is putting the pressure on Merissa?
Merissa's explanation of the horse race is a(n)
Merissa is confused by the paradoxical (self-contradictory) expectations her father places on her.
In what ways is Merissa a performer, not unlike Tink?
Can you trust the narrator of this story, or would you consider him/her an unreliable narrator? (This annotation contains a link)
Elizabeth was one of Jane Austen's favorite characters. She famously wrote, "I must confess that I think her as delightful a character as ever appeared in print, and how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know". (This annotation contains a link)
Why might Merissa be particularly uncomfortable with this class discussion?
What does the fact that Merissa does not want to be friends with anyone who was not in "Tink, Inc." imply?
This is the second time Merissa has used the metaphor of a prize-winning horse in regards to how her parents see her. What do you think is the significance of this? (This annotation contains an image)
Compare Merissa to another character in a book that you have read.
Satire is a technique employed by writers to expose and criticize foolishness and corruption of an individual or a society by using humor, irony, exaggeration or ridicule. It intends to improve humanity by criticizing its follies and foibles.
How does this represent a shift in characterization for Merissa?
What has changed? Before she valued the privacy of her actions, but now she revels in the public aspect of her downward turn.
How does Merissa view Anita's interest in her?
In hindsight, Tink's behavior coincides with the signs of someone who might attempt suicide. Check out the link below to learn more about the warning signs of suicide. (This annotation contains a link)
What has happened to "Tink, Inc." since her death?
Part of the allure for Merissa is that her scars are a secret, yet she also likes that her out of the ordinary behavior and attitude are on public view. This is representative of how Merissa is conflicted.
How is a "wildfire" an apt comparison to gossip?
What do you think the final lines of this chapter mean? Is this foreshadowing?
What might account for Merissa's admiration of Blade Runner?
What is your reaction to Merissa's treatment of her mother?
What role does technology (namely, the internet, but also texting, etc.) have in the story?
Do you think that Merissa's mother even believes what she is saying, or doth she protest too much? (This annotation contains an image)
The highlighted section is an example of which literary device?
Merissa is looking for reasons to be annoyed with her father, but she has a point - not only is this morally wasteful, but also environmentally wasteful. (This annotation contains an image)
The highlighted statement is an example of which literary element?
Not surprisingly, there is a reality show about people (young women) who believe their lives are like a Lifetime Movie. Do you think Merissa's life fits the bill? (This annotation contains an image)
Predict what you think Merissa's father's news is. What makes you think this?
In many ways, Merissa is infantilized through her language ("daddy"), her confusion, and through the way her father talks to her. Consider whether or not you think Merissa matures by the end of the conversation she has with her father.
How would you describe the tone of this section?
This is reminiscent of the 'shoulder angels' and 'shoulder devils' that were once popular in cartoons -- in this case Tink is acting as Merissa's conscience. (This annotation contains a video)
What does it mean that Tink is just "there"? Do you believe they are having real encounters with Tink's spirit, or is it wishful thinking?
This section is told as a flashback. Watch the video below to learn more about flashback. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on this paragraph, we can infer that
Cartoonist Saul Steinberg said that "Trying to define humor is one of the definitions of humor." What do you think of Tink's 'secret' of humor? Who is the one who is amused in her scenario?
How would you describe Tink based on the first impressions of her friends?
Method acting is "a form of acting where the actor mystically ‘becomes’ the character or tries to somehow literally live the character in life." This style of acting evolved from Stanislavsky, and was further developed by Elia Kazan and Lee Strasberg. (This annotation contains a video)
Contrast this Merissa with the Merissa we came to know in the first part of this book.
A dining hall at Oxford (This annotation contains an image)
What does this philosophy of Tink's reveal about her?
Think about this for a moment. What kinds of things/favors would be difficult to ask someone you love for? Why?
Why were people envious of their relationship with Tink?
Tink uses figurative language to explain mathematical and scientific concepts. This is representative of her unconventional thinking.
What is significant about the fact that Tink enjoys photography, but will not allow her own photo to be taken? What might her reasoning be?
What might account for Tink's hatred of authority? What kind of childhood did she have? There is a long list of child stars who lead troubled lives after they leave show business. Click the link below to read about troubled child stars. (This annotation contains a link)
Hannah saying 'gamma goblin' when she really means 'hemoglobin' is an example of what device?
Who is speaking here? How do you account for the shift to first person narration?
As more information is revealed, what seems to have been wrong with Tink?
In 'Through the Looking-Glass', Humpty Dumpty wears a cravat that was given to him as an UNBIRTHDAY present. (This annotation contains an image)
What is uncharacteristic about Tink's worry over Chloe's mom?
Hindsight is 20/20. After the fact, they would see the signs that Tink was going to kill herself.
Who was wearing a Guerrilla Girl shirt earlier in the book?
The narrator probably means a street urchin, not a sea urchin. Why is this detail included, do you think? (This annotation contains an image)
Who is narrating this chapter? How do you know?
Is this an ironic statement? Does Tink's behavior have nuance?
Why would her friends be so upset over Tink's obituary?
Nadia seems to be following Tink's advice in the wake of her death, but should she? What are the possible consequences of Nadia professing her love to her teacher?
How much should we believe about Nadia's perception of Kessler? Should we trust her judgment, especially in regard to how he feels about her?
It is quite possible the Nadia was unknowingly drugged at a party. The typical drugs used by predators on women don't always result in blackouts; they can also just make the taker lose her inhibitions. (This annotation contains an image)
How has Merissa changed since part one of the book?
Nadia has mentioned this bumper sticker a few times. Why do you thinks she is somewhat fixated on this detail about Mr. Kessler? (This annotation contains an image)
How would you characterize Nadia's actions here?
Think about the imagery used by Nadia here. What does an oncoming storm symbolize for Nadia? (This annotation contains an image)
How might Nadia's home life influence her feelings and actions. What do we know about her family so far?
What is funny about this statement? Is Nadia being serious about this (and her overall feelings for Mr. Kessler)?
What do the metaphors Nadia uses to describe her feelings have in common?
Why do you think 'cute' is in italics? is it a bad thing?
What is authenticity? Do you find the characters in this story to be authentic? Explain.
Below is an image of a Lynx kitten. (This annotation contains an image)
On what specific point does Nadia feel an affinity with Tink?
Consider why Mr. Kessler might feel alarm at Nadia's attention.
Compare Nadia's desire for approval from Mr. Kessler with Merissa's need for approval from her father.
Like Merissa, Nadia tends to speak and act younger than her age. It could be said that this recurring motif is an allusion to the character of Lolita in Nabokov's novel.
Why is it significant that Nadia chooses to compare the females in Renoir paintings to bimbos?
Your carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases you emit as a result of your habits and way of life. (This annotation contains an image)
How is the 'future' a theme in this story?
Does the term "geek" still have a derisive edge to it? (This annotation contains an image)
What is Nadia's behavior indicative of?
Consider all of the words that have been abbreviated using asterisks. What do they have in common?
Why does Nadia call Tink's act 'brave'?
A time machine may very well be outside of the realm of possibility, but physicists claim that time travel occurs often - just not in the way that you might think. (This annotation contains a video)
What might Nadia want to revisit through time travel or hypnosis?
What does Nadia hope to convey with this act of girlishness?
PTSD is a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. You can learn more about PTSD by clicking on the link below.
(This annotation contains a link)
How could such uncertainty contribute to Nadia's current behavior and relationships with others?
Impulsive texting can be a problem. Nadia might have trusted Chloe, but once information is out there it is hard to contain. (This annotation contains a link)
How does Nadia's taking the painting fit with her recent behavior?
Kandinsky painted two 'Improvisations' in 1912. This one is 'Improvisation 28' (1912). (This annotation contains an image)
Why might Nadia want to save the lynx kitten and take care of it?
This is Kandinsky's 'Improvisation 26' (1912). (This annotation contains an image)
Refer back to Nadia's description of the painting she gave to Mr. Kessler. Which one of Kandinsky's paintings from 1912 do you think she took? Explain your answer.
This extends and combines the imagery she used earlier to describe the tumult that she feels. Why do you think she hears this now?
The fact that Nadia's father says that Mr. Kessler had a corrupting influence on her is an example of
Recall that Mr. Kessler was very uncomfortable with his exchange with Nadia, probably for this very reason. Someone could easily misconstrue the nature of their relationship, just as Mr. Stillinger does.
How would you characterize the tone of Mr. Kessler's responses to the headmaster?
Consider the way that Nadia's parents treat/view expensive and precious items. How does this extend to their treatment of Nadia?
What literary device is this an example of?
Does the text in italics have more than one meaning? 'Where' is her mommy?
Merissa admits to not knowing Nadia very well, so why is she so emotional over her situation?
It's difficult to nail down high school social hierarchies and the effect and duration of gossip and bullying. The fluidity of such things makes predictability extremely difficult. (This annotation contains a link)
How does this represent a turning point for Nadia?
Merissa seems to own her successes more than she did in the first part of the book. She has come to terms with the expectations people have of her, and is using this to her advantage here.
Nadia seems to have become stronger and more self-assured, but how is this plan also a bit childish and naive?
What details about Tink now make sense?
Has this knowledge changed your opinion of Tink at all?