- Analyze Melinda’s reaction to the first day of high school and why her fears seem more intense than that of others. Analyze why she says, “I am Outcast.”
- Examine the meanings of the “clans” and the prevalence of high school cliques. Why do we sometimes not like people who are really good at things, like sports, music, art, or school? Is this fair? Are adults like this?
- Discuss the “first ten lies they tell you in high school.” Compare with your first day. So you think Melinda’s assumption that they are “lies” is valid?
- Examine Melinda’s characterization of the teachers. What do these descriptions reflect?
- Discuss Mr. Freeman’s approach to teaching art. Have you had similar experiences in classes with this type of teaching style?
- Discuss Melinda’s home life. How does communication break down in Melinda’s family? What could each person do to improve it? If you were a parent, how would communication be in your family?
- Discuss the interaction between Melinda and Heather. Are they friends? What brings them together?
- Are we sometimes different people on the outside than we are in the inside? How? Why is this true, do you think?
- Discuss Melinda’s decline, including physical symptoms.
- Analyze the social studies “debate” and its aftermath. Note who challenges the teacher and the position each person takes. How do you feel about this type of debate? Is the teacher right or wrong? Do students have a right to challenge a teacher?
- Who is a “real” American? What do you think of Mr. Neck’s opinion? Going by his definition, are some of you not really Americans?
- Discuss the Thanksgiving dinner for Melinda’s family and why this is significant.
- Analyze Melinda’s statement about her parents, “I bet they’d be divorced by now if I hadn’t been born.” What does this reflect about her self esteem?
- Examine Melinda’s references to her secret and what this reveals about her relationship with her parents. What do you think happened at the party?
- Discuss Melinda’s athletic ability, her attitude toward being on the basketball team, and the comparison she makes between basketball and life.
- Analyze the deterioration of the relationship between Melinda and Heather. Why is it that people sometimes like us more when they can get something out of us? Are the Marthas good friends to Heather? Why or why not?
- What should we value in other people? What qualities are important in a person? What do you usually notice first about people? Does that really matter?
- Examine Melinda’s reference to IT. Pages 85-86 & 89-90
- Discuss the school conference with Melinda’s parents and the aftermath. What do you think about Melinda’s suicide attempt? Was it real? What does it indicate? What do you think about her mother’s reaction?
- Discuss what precipitates Melinda’s skipping school and what she does.
- Was being a child better than being a teenager? In what ways? In what ways is it better to be older? Why is it hard to be in between childhood and adulthood?
- Analyze the reference to the symbols in The Scarlet Letter and how Melinda would adapt the letter “A.”
- Discuss the dissolution of Melinda and Heather’s friendship and the effect it has on Melinda. What is the meaning of friendship?
- Analyze the events and effects of Valentine’s Day on Melinda and the aftermath.
- Melinda wishes her science teacher would teach them about love and betrayal instead of about the birds and the bees. Where do we learn about things like that? Can we learn about love from a book? Explain?
- Discuss what happens when Melinda is placed in In-School Suspension. How would you react to this situation?
- Analyze Mr. Freeman’s effect on Melinda, inside and outside the art class. Do you agree with his statement, “When people don’t express themselves, they die one piece at a time.”
- Mr. Freeman tells his class, “You must walk alone to find your soul.” What does this mean? Is it true? What is a soul?
- Mr. Freeman also says that “art is about making mistakes and learning from them.” What else is like this? Explain.
- Examine Melinda’s self-image and her survival techniques after Heather’s rejection.
- Examine Melinda’s revelation about the night of the party and its residual effect on her.
- Discuss the evolvement of the name of the Merryweather High mascot and the debate over each name.
- What draws Melinda and Ivy together?
- Do you agree or disagree with “Ten More Lies…” Why?
- Describe Melinda’s inner turmoil when she discovers Rachel is dating Andy. What should she have done? Did she do the right thing?
- What is the symbolism of Mr. Freeman’s statement, “…trees are flexible, so they don’t snap. Scar it, give it a twisted branch-perfect trees don’t exist…Be the tree” (p. 153).
- How does Melinda begin to assert herself and find her voice?
- What happens when Melinda decides to talk to Rachel?
- What do the entries under Melinda’s initial graffiti in the bathroom reveal?
- What is the correlation between Mr. Sordino’s treatment and explanation of the diseased tree with Melinda’s “survival?”
- What happens at the Prom?
- What is the resolution to the story?