A Text Study with Paired Passages that will haunt your heart

This wasn’t my typical spring break. This year I spent most every waking hour either snuggling a tiny new grand baby or chasing her 17 month old sister. Grandmother heaven. Especially since my daughter and my only grandchildren live 1300 miles away from my home in Texas.

I spent my late evenings reading a handful of books from my towering TBR pile. Two have left scars on my heart. And as I look at my beautiful and innocent granddaughters, I pray: “Please protect these babies.”

The girls in these books were not so blessed. Both suffered abuse and heartache. I know it’s fiction. I get that it’s not real. But the haunting images so artfully crafted by these authors have shaped my thinking in ways that I’d never considered. My compassion swells for those trapped in darkness and fear.

And I hope I can serve as rescuer to anyone who needs a person to trust. I know many students come to school hurting, hungry, hopeless. If only we can offer solace and provide peace, comfort, safety. If only we can help them fight their way to light and love, and help them be the actors in their own inspiring stories instead of always being acted upon–

My students will want to read these books, so I will chat about them and share these passages.  They are rich enough for text study and I’m sure will inspire some insightful conversation.

from My Book of Life by Angel by Martine Leavitt p122

Skills Focus:  tone, symbolism, hyperbole, metaphor

The worst thing was

Serena ending up being stolen

by someone else’s story–

just a character in his story,

and the ending she wanted to have

got him instead,

just a part of his stupid story . . .

that was the worst thing of all.

I threw up again,

maybe with a chunk of heart,

and Call came in and I said,

do you see any bits of heart in there?

He said, you’re losing it,

said, this could all be over in a minute

if you take your candy,

and I forgot to answer because I was thinking,

he can’t have her anymore,

I’m writing a new end to her story,

I’m taking Serena’s story back.

Question:  Explain how the author uses the word story in this poem?

 from Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman p40

Skills Focus:  tone, details, euphemism, diction


The metal flash of a pair of wire strippers, the unexpected shine on a Phillips head, these things cause the same fear in me, the same gut-tightening, ass-puckering panic as the midnight gleam of a switchblade. Chain locks have the same effect. And lightbulbs. You can find all of these at your local hardware store.

Sometimes Carol goes with Tony to Guido’s Pizza and leaves me at Ace. Tony is her boyfriend and he says having a six-year-old around all the time cramps their style, but I don’t like him anyway, be cue when I’m with them he either hogs the Close Encounters game or he hogs Carola and I never get a chance at either one.

Ace smells like orate hand cleaner and WD-40, and I pretend not to hear the adult talk that passes across the counter between the men of the town about certain women of the town as they pay the Hardware Man for their wood screws and drill bits. I also pretend like I never have to go potty. Because I don’t need help, but the Hardware Man will want to help me anyway. And when he helps me, the lights go out.

Question:  Explain how the author creates a tone of dread.

Paired passages question:  Explain how the passages are similar.


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One thought on “A Text Study with Paired Passages that will haunt your heart

  1. shanakarnes March 17, 2014 at 9:02 am Reply

    I loved seeing your photos with your grandbabies! I am so glad you got to see them both! And I love that your visit and your reading inspired this awesome lesson. I just added MY BOOK OF LIFE BY ANGEL to my library, and I’d love to do this lesson by pairing it with SPEAK, PUSH, CRANK, ROOM, or any other text I have that has similar themes.

    The reason those kinds of intense texts appeal to our students is exactly the reason that they resonated with you…it’s fiction, yes, but it’s crafted in such a way that it FEELS real, and we can imagine it happening to someone we love. I like that you’ve hit the nail on the head with that description, because sometimes my students feel uneasy about being fascinated by those kinds of books…this will help me help them understand their interest. Thanks for posting! 🙂


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