They Never Came Back

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In a busy school cafeteria, a teenage girl is confronted by a classmate who questions her identity. He explains to the students who have crowded around that the girl bears an uncanny resemblance to his cousin, who was taken away by social services five years ago. Her parents abandoned her, fleeing the country after being accused of embezzling millions of dollars. The students are intrigued, but the girl shrugs off the attention as a case of mistaken identity. As the days pass, however, the boy refuses to relent and even brings his parents in to back him up. But they are not the only adults involved. An FBI agent who has been working the case these past five years believes that whoever this girl is, she can serve as bait to help the FBI capture the fugitives. In this powerful novel that explores the possibility of mistaken identity, the evils of money and greed, and the heartfelt obligations of family and loyalty, Caroline B. Cooney has once again crafted a page-turner that will resonate with readers.
Curriculet Details
32 Questions
41 Annotations
3 Quizzes

This free digital curriculum for middle school students contains interactive videos exploring similes and metaphors and character traits, as well as annotations describing characterization, explanations of inferences, and connections to other texts. Students will explore the themes of greed and loyalty. The Common Core aligned questions, answers and quizzes in this free online unit will increase student engagement in the book while supporting reading comprehension.

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Chapter 1 - Cathy

Review the two types of characterization described below. In the highlighted text, the characters' actions (indirect characterization) reveal to Cathy and readers that something unnerving or suspenseful is about to happen.  (This annotation contains an image)
Using clues from the text, make an inference as to why Cathy is at Greenwich High School.  
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up? 
As you continue to read, look for reasons why Julianna would have this negative reaction to Cathy.  
Reread the highlighted text before identifying an example of indirect characterization (what can you infer about a character based on their thoughts, words, actions, or interactions with others). Record the example of indirect characterization from the text, and explain what can be inferred from this example about that character.  

Chapter 2 - Murielle

Notice that in Chapter Two, Murielle becomes the primary narrator. Her mother shares that the family will be going on a secret trip to England. Locate England, one of countries that makes up Great Britain, pictured on the map below.  (This annotation contains an image)
Which words best describes Murielle based on the highlighted evidence? 
Watch the video on personification. In the highlighted text, we see this literary device used when the seatbelt "tried to strangle" Murielle.  (This annotation contains a video)
Explain the significance of the last line of Chapter 2.  

Chapter 3 - Cathy

Watch the video on similes and metaphors. In the highlighted text, we see the use of a simile to compare Cathy's thoughts to wild horses using the word "like." How does this simile help you to understand how Cathy is feeling? (This annotation contains a video)
Watch the video on foreshadowing. As you continue to read, you are going to discover the significance of Julianna's words (especially in the last line of the highlighted text).  (This annotation contains a video)
Identify the literary device used to describe the grasses in the highlighted text.  

Chapter 4 - Murielle

Below is the picturesque and tranquil Binney Park in Greenwich, Connecticut, where Murielle lives. Unlike this picture, Murielle is feeling unsettled and is disbelieving that her parents may be on the run from the law! (This annotation contains an image)
Who calls Tommy? 
Notice how the doorbell ringing, shattering the quiet, coupled with Aunt Lois' statement works together to heighten the suspense! 

Chapter 5 - Cathy

Below is a picture of a mansion in Greenwich to help you visualize the setting. However, despite the beautiful and luxurious setting, the Lymans' scandal reminds us that appearances can be deceiving.  (This annotation contains an image)
Reread the highlighted text. Next, choose the statement below that best explains what is meant by "she was the one left holding the bag." 
A hedge fund is where investors' money is pooled together. However, we can tell from the context that there is some sort of scandal surrounding the Lymans' business.  
Do you agree or disagree with Mrs. Tartaglia's highlighted statement? Be sure to explain your answer.  

Chapter 6 - Murielle

Watch the video on imagery below. Which details from the highlighted text help you to visualize the setting? (This annotation contains a video)
What does Murielle do with her secret phone in order to hide it from Mr. Keefer? 

Chapter 7 - Cathy

We can infer from this statement that Julianna and Aiden have taken a lot of responsibility on in their family; their roles sound more like the parents than the children.  
Identify both the type of figurative language used in the highlighted text and its purpose.  
Watch the video on character traits; this video will strengthen your understanding of characterization. In the highlighted text, we can infer that Cathy is dedicated and hard working because she does homework for four to five hours a night.  (This annotation contains a video)
Quiz One 

Chapter 8 - Murielle

Why would it be hard for Murielle to trust people at this point in the story? 
What is the purpose of comparing Murielle's actions to "a golfer whose ball had landed in sand"? 
Below is a picture of a gutter running along the roof and down the side of the house; this picture will help you visualize where the phone has gone. What potential problems do you predict may happen? (This annotation contains an image)
Read the quote below by Mother Theresa. Be prepared to explain how this quote relates to Murielle's situation.  (This annotation contains an image)
In the last annotation, you encountered Mother Theresa's quote, “Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat." Explain one reason why Murielle would agree with this quote, and one reason why she would argue that this quote does not apply to her situation.   

Chapter 9 - Cathy

Which character trait best describes Cathy based on the highlighted simile? 
It is now clear that Cathy and Murielle are the same person; however, Cathy has obviously chosen to bury Murielle within herself. Will she admit to being Murielle? What does she hope to accomplish by hiding? 
An allusion in literature is an indirect reference to a person, place, event, or literary or artistic work. Here, there is an allusion to "the Magi," who brought gifts to baby Jesus to celebrate his birth.  
Give at least one example of how Murielle has "submerged" herself to become Cathy?  
Watch the video on internal and external conflict. Which type of conflict can be inferred from the highlighted text? (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter 10 - Murielle

What is Murielle's main physical symptom that is a result of her frightening situation? 
How would you feel if you were one of these four children listening to this foster mother? 
Notice how the "torrential pounding rain" seems to mirror Murielle's situation. Figuratively, she is in the storm created by her parents' betrayal. Literally, she understands that the rain will sever her connection with her parents because it will cause the cell phone to no longer work.  

Chapter 11 - Cathy

Which of the following best summarizes what the backpack symbolizes for Cathy based on the simile used in the highlighted text? 
What can you infer about how Cathy views her parents?  
Which lesson does Cathy decide to take? 
Grief and regret are a developing themes or central ideas in this novel. Read the poem "But Not Forgotten" by Dorothy Parker below. Look for similarities and differences between the poem and this novel.  (This annotation contains an image)
In Dorothy Parker’s poem, “But Not Forgotten,” she says, “I think, no matter where you stray, / That I shall go with you a way.”  Explain how these lines from the poem help you to understand the central ideas of remembrance or loss in They Never Came Back. Be sure to incorporate at least one specific example from the novel into your explanation. 

Chapter 12 - Murielle

Which two types of figurative language are used in the highlighted text? 
Listed below are the Ten Commandments. Which of these have Murielle's parents broken? (This annotation contains an image)
Use the dictionary function to look up "covet." Give an example of what Murielle might covet and what her parents covet. Be sure give an example for each character from the text to support your answer.  
Watch the movie trailer for Louisa May Alcott's novel "Little Women." How does the March family differ from Murielle's own family? (This annotation contains a video)
Compare and contrast Murielle's parents (Cade and Rory) to her her new foster parents (Dad Bob and Marmee). Be sure to give at least one similarity and one difference.  

Chapter 13 - Cathy

We can infer from Lois Petrak's speech that she feels immense guilt over what happened to Murielle. This leads us to understand that some of the central ideas explored in this novel are consequences and guilt.  
Which detail does not contribute to creating an overall atmosphere of anxiety? 
Do you agree or disagree with Cathy's assertion that "Important people register in your brain... forever"? 

Chapter 14 - Murielle

What is the primary purpose of the highlighted flashback? 
The counselor's statement is humorous to readers because he wrongly assumes that Cathy is in a similar situation as many other kids her age.  
Quiz Two 

Chapter 15 - The Double

Watch the video below on tone and mood. In the highlighted text, Cathy's description of her fear creates a mood of sympathy in readers. What is the tone? (This annotation contains a video)
Which word best describes Cathy based in the highlighted text? 
Pay attention to this observation as it becomes more important later in this novel. 
Notice how the highlighted text reveals that Murielle/Cathy is struggling internally with her own identity. Who will she ultimately choose to be? 

Chapter 16 - Cathy

Contrast Cathy and Spencer's take of the FBI showing up at Greenwich High. Be sure to explain each character's point of view.  
From the highlighted text, we can infer that Tommy is sure that Murielle and Cathy are one and the same.  
Which word would not be used to describe how Cathy/Murielle feels about the plan revealed in the highlighted text?  

Chapter 17 - Murielle

Murielle comes to the profound realization in this moment about her parents. Do you think Murielle should forgive them? 
In the Bible, it says that "For the love of money is the root of all evil." Using details from this novel, explain why this biblical statement is either true or false.  

Chapter 18 - Murielle

Notice that Murielle's description, "She felt as if she had emerged from prison," helps us to understand that she feels a sense of freedom. 
According to the text, why did Aunt Lois not go to prison? 
Watch the video about how characters develop below. Here we are reminded that Murielle is just a teenager, even though she is dealing with very heavy or serious issues.  (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter 19 - Murielle

Why is Marmee upset? 
What do you think Ava plans to really do with the pictures? 
MySpace is a social networking site. How might using a social networking site play into Ava's scheme? 
Explain how the highlighted text contributes to a reader's sense of suspense. 

Chapter 20 - Murielle

In the first highlighted paragraph, we see Murielle come to an important decision that she wants to be herself and no longer hide. However, do you believe that Ava's discovery of Rory and Cade will threaten Murielle's resolve? 
Which type of figurative language is used to convey Murielle's anticipation in the following, "It seemed to her that she waited another five years"? 
Watch the video on point of view. For the majority of this novel, the story has alternated between Murielle and Cathy's point of view. Here, we notice a switch in the point of view as we hear what Spencer is thinking. Could this be because Murielle has resolved to be herself instead of Cathy? (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter 21 - Murielle

Murielle asks herself, "How much do I love them [her parents]? How much do I love justice?" She ultimately chooses to warn them by typing "Run." Do you agree or disagree with Murielle's decision. Be sure to explain your answer.  
Notice how the line "The lost was found" brings to mind biblical sayings like the parable of the Prodigal Son, where a wayward son is welcomed home by his father (pictured in the painting by Rembrandt below). (This annotation contains an image)
Quiz Three