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Life Is Fine by Allison Whittenberg
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Life Is Fine

by Allison Whittenberg

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This book will keep you wondering abou twahts going to happne. You will not want to stop reading. Samara loves this old man and a young one, in some twisted way I wanted her to end up with the older man. THis book is real, its about true life. I love how Allison describes the scenes. I got a little confused with the dialogue. This is the first book I haven't read the end before I read the beginnig. I love teh simiies. I like the poems at the end. AHS/KV
  edspicer | Oct 14, 2009 |
Grade Level: 8th- 12th

Category: Realistic fiction

Read Alouds:
Pages 175-182
Poetry collection. These should be read before the novel and discussed, then again when the title is brought up in the book. They are wonderful references to great poets and really bring a lot more to the story that is not being told with Samara.

Summary: Samara was a young trouble sexually and physically abused teen, until she found poetry. Mr. Brook a sub teacher introduced her to one poem and he suddenly knew her life story by her response. Samara struggled with school and the abuse at home, especially when Mr. Brook went into the hospital and her mom saw her boyfriend hit Samara. She was a strong willed teen, and her power to over come all odds shined through this novel.

Theme: This book carries a heavy theme of taking life as it is, but telling people when something troubles you. Samara, had issues with her moms boyfriends but she never told anyone, she just took life as it was thrown at her. When Mr. Brook as she called him showed her that he cared, she spilled everything out to him. Really life isn’t always gumdrops and jellybeans, and the theme of this story really gave you a feel for it.

Discussion Questions:
1. There is a collection of poems at the back of the novel, Langston Hughes “Life is Fine” is one of them. Upon reading this novel and that poem, do you feel the author took inspiration from the poem and where? Use quotations from each.
2. Samara hid so much from her mother; through the novel find places where the poetry Mr. Brook introduces to her is actually the life she leads.
3. What is Samara’s definition of love, based on her relationships?

Reader Response: This book was a great inspiration for future teachers. Samara really took to the knowledge and compassion for poetry from one sub. It was wonderful to really experience the ideas of children wanting to learn more from other teachers. This book was a emotional journey for both the reader and Samara! ( )
  AMarieRousseau | Jun 22, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385734808, Hardcover)

Life is not fine for Samara Tuttle, but she’s coping. Her overworked mother is distant and cold, and her mother’s boyfriend, Q, attacks Samara when she tries to clean up after his lazy, Funyun-loving self. Samara’s a loner. But all of this changes when Mr. Halbrook arrives at school. Samara’s English teacher takes ill, and in steps Mr. Jerome Halbrook, a suitwearing, blue-eyed African American man who uses Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress” to inspire a spirited discussion about poetry, love, and truth. Soon Samara is borrowing his collections of poetry, and then she can’t stop thinking about Mr. Halbrook. Soon Samara is confiding in him about her less-than-fine past, and dreaming of a different future. But when Mr. Halbrook disappears–and it appears that he may not be all that he seemed–will she be able to picture a future without him?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:10 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

With a neglectful mother who has an abusive, live-in boyfriend, life for fifteen-year-old Samara is not fine, but when a substitute teacher walks into class one day and introduces her to poetry, she starts to view life from a different perspective.

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