Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Dark Side

Choi, John (Author)
Lorimer 2016. 168 pages
First published: 2016
Series: Sidestreets
ISBN: 9781459411524 (paperback)
9781459411531 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel
Book genre: Realistic

Text Elements:

characterization, conflict, point of view

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Emerson Yeung is conscientious and hard-working but despite all his efforts, his parents have always been harsh with him. Now his smartphone has been stolen and used to send hate messages and the police think he did it. But online and real-life encounters with Max, a girl with troubles bigger than his own, help Emerson see how precious life is.

Feelings of powerlessness and frustration at being unheard are expressed through simple and direct language: “My bedroom.… It’s right next to my parents’ room and they have no issues with barging into mine whenever they feel like it.” A family culture of unaffectionate communication establishes reasons for deep-seated depression: “I suck.” A humorous touch lightens the suicidal thinking. Upon finding another would-be suicide on the bridge, Emerson asks himself, “Give this person her space … and just wait my turn? Should I offer to help? With the research I’ve done, I feel like a bit of an expert.”

Themes of empathy and self-determination are conveyed through a second act that includes counselling, coping strategies and an action-packed sequence in which Emerson retrieves his stolen phone: “How ironic it would be if I did die now after all.” In the end, honest communication and healthy relationships are emphasized as he realizes the value of communication: “Before today, I would never have thought to talk to anyone about these things.” An author’s note includes the number for Kids Help Phone.

  •  

    In the opening chapters, we meet Emerson and his parents. Discuss how their values differ and whether this is typical for teens and their parents. Emerson’s parents are immigrants. Do you think that contributes to his problems?

  •  

    In small reading groups, discuss how Emerson changes through the course of the story. Explore how his experiences lead to those changes.

  •  

    Read about the Kids Help Phone in the author's note. Research this organization and create flyers or posters to increase awareness of this support service.

  •  

    With a partner, write (5-10) things teens can do to deal with stress and pressure or when they feel very depressed. Draw a Venn diagram and insert your answers into the “stress/pressure” circle and the “very depressed” circle. What goes into the common area?

  •  

    As you read, take note of a few words or expressions you are a not familiar with. Guess their meaning from the context and confirm by consulting a resource.

  •  

    Draw a new cover page for the novel. Be prepared to explain your illustration and its components.

  • To communicate appropriately
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To use information
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Personal Development
  • Social Sciences