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The Lottery by Beth Goobie
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The Lottery

by Beth Goobie

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When frade ten student, Sal is chosen by Saskatoon Collegiate's Shadow Council to win the Lottery, she is set up for year of victimization and shunning by the entire student body. Having survived the grieving process after the death of her father, she is stronger than she, or any of the Shadow Council, thinks. Her relationship with her brother deepens when she discovers his secret and she comes to grips with the conflicted emotions she feels about being a victim who has to obey all the S.C.'s wishes. Goobie builds tension effectively and while there is an occasional use of profanity, it is not gratuitous. Like Sal, my stomach alternated between feeling like I'd swallowed Javex or Drano as the increasingly nasty "tortures" are handed out by the senior students of Shadow Council. Effectively, Willis, the president of S.C. proves to be likeable, but complicit in the culture that allows for an annual scapegoating of one student. ( )
  cmcvittie | Jul 13, 2010 |
This book takes the concept of Shirley Jackson's short story of the same name and places it in a high school setting--like Jackson's short, The Lottery raises questions about why society needs a victim. The protagonist is Sal, a fifteen-year-old third clarinettist and this year's Shadow Council lottery winner: the dud of the year. Nobody will speak to her or acknowledge her existence except the mysterious Shadow Council, an elite group ruling the school with fear.

I enjoyed the concept of this book and the interplay between Sal and the other characters. There was an interesting motif of the musical duet called "Inside the Question"--the song written by the president of the Shadow Council and practiced in secret with Sal--and this gave the tense and haunting story some extra symbolic layers. I liked the way even the worst of the Shadow Council was a complex character who says, "I look in the mirror and my face gets further and further away..."

The novel has a way of feeling not quite contemporary--nods to The Chocolate War and A Separate Peace give it a sort of timeless feel to it. Sal's character is generally strong and funny, even when she is playing the docile victim.

I do think the book possibly tries to tackle too many things at once--the plotline about Sal's guilt about her father's car crash, the autistic girl, the wheelchair-bound friend who first betrays her and then is redeemed, and especially the issue with her former best friend's brother--and it's sort of like there isn't enough space in the book to adequately explore and resolve all of these. Still, the book was engaging from beginning to end, with strong prose and interesting conflicts. ( )
  elissajanine | Mar 15, 2010 |
I thought I would enjoy this book, the premise seemed interesting and very pertinent to teens. It is about high school mind games, bullying and popularity. The story was slow and predictable. The ending did not tie up any loose ends, the book just stopped without a feeling of closure. ( )
  kdemott | Feb 7, 2010 |
Have not finished this book yet but the story is as follows so far...
Sally's high school is ruled by a secret socirty called the Shadow Council, and at the beginning of each year chooses a winner of the lottery - someone who will be shunned and ignored by the rest of the school as they become a slave for the Shadow Council. Book opens with Sal receiving the scroll in her clarinet case and trying to ignore it but then more and more appear....

Then next bit is from the blurb,
"She faces the worst year of her life. Humiliated and isolated, her friends desert her and teachers turn a blind eye. But when the Shadow Council's demands turn increasingly sinister, Sally begins to suspect that it is more than bad luck against her..."
  nicsreads | Sep 13, 2007 |
While most people voluntarily enter lotteries and hope they’ll win, the students in Saskatoon Collegiate annually become involuntary entrants in a lottery that they desperately hope to lose. The Lottery is conducted by the Shadow Council, a secret-from-teachers, invitation-only group of the school’s most popular and influential senior students. This year’s winner is 15 year-old Sal Hanson. Referred to as the lottery ‘victim’ by Shadow, Sal is told, ‘We’ll assign you duties, and you’ll perform them’. Sal is also to be shunned by all the students in the school, even her best friends. Apart from the pain of isolation, Sal does not find her tasks to be too demanding, but her attitude changes completely when one of Shadow’s members uses Shadow’s power in a personally vindictive manner and Sal is forced to become involved in the public humiliation of a very overweight student. Following this act, Sal recognizes that ‘she was now an inextricable part of Shadow, a direct accomplice to their malice and filth’. That recognition initiates Sal’s own actions directed at disturbing the Shadow universe.

In addition to these problems, Sal is trying to come to terms with what she believes was her fault in her father’s car-accident death which occurred when she was eight.

This is a compelling story, which is difficult to put down. Anyone who has been bullied by an individual or by an institution will gain insights into what has happened to them, and hopefully other readers will gain a feeling of empathy for the victims of bullying and an understanding of peer pressure. Highly recommended

Allen Unwin

13+ A compulsive psychological thriller, The Lottery is a powerful exploration of bullying and peer pressure. Each year the Shadow Council, (9 of the most popular students at Saskatoon Collegiate), hold a lottery, choosing the name of a student to be 'The dud for the year'. Sally Hanson, a 15-year-old who plays third clarinet in the school orchestra, is this year's victim and she faces a miserable year as slave of the Shadow Council. She is totally ostracised from the whole student body, with all her friends forbidden to talk to her or face suffering at the hands of the Council. She is devastated when she realises that even her best friends, Kimmie Busatto and Brydan Wallace have deserted her and she is left with only the members of the Shadow Council talking to her. Sally initially does the Council's bidding but its increasingly vicious attacks on people like the overweight Diane Kruisselbrink and vulnerable Chris Busatto lead her to attempt to expose the Council's power.

There are many themes that could be used for class discussion in this novel. Goobie acknowledges Robert Cormier's The Chocolate War in her dedication and has one of her minor characters, Chris Busatto, reading it. It could be used in conjunction with it if studying as a class. The author pulls no punches in this novel: Chris ends up in hospital as a result of the Council initiated bullying, after attempting to stand up to them.

Characters are well drawn, and the reader gains a real insight into how it feels to be alienated from the student body, while showing the worth of autistic Tauni and overweight Diane. Even Willis Cass, the Shadow Council president, is shown as a complex character who says he has no friends. There is no happy ever after ending, although Goobie clearly shows the importance of resisting peer pressure and how even one friend can make a huge difference in the life of the victim.

Readers will enjoy the music thread throughout the book. The author has Sal, her main character using music as a means of release. She dances to the Waters' CD in her basement, and finds that playing the clarinet brings her some refuge as she tries to overcome the despair at being the Lottery's victim and her father's suicide.

This is a compelling story, which is difficult to put down. Anyone who has been bullied by an individual or by an institution will gain insights into what has happened to them, and hopefully other readers will gain a feeling of empathy for the victims of bullying and an understanding of peer pressure. Highly recommended ( )
  tsheko | Sep 7, 2007 |
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15-year-old Sally Hanson's school is secretly ruled by a group of students known as the 'Shadow Council'. At the beginning of every school year, the Shadow Council hold The Lottery, an infamous ritual in which a student is chosen to be the year's 'victim' - a person who is shunned by the entire school and forced to obey the Shadow Council's every wish. This year Sally is the Shadow Council's victim - and she is about to face the worst year of her life. Resistance is futile and loyal friends are ignoring her. However, Sally has been hiding a horrifying secret - a secret that threatens to overwhelm her as the betrayal and psychological torture grows.… (more)

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