Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Off the Grid

Choyce, Lesley (Author)
Orca 2015. 114 pages
First published: 2015
Series: Orca Soundings
ISBN: 9781459809260 (paperback)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel
Book genre: Realistic

Text Elements:

characterization, dialogue, point of view, setting

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:

Before his birth, Cody’s parents left the trappings of civilization and moved to the forest. Living in the woods and being homeschooled have taught Cody many things—his survival skills are finely honed. When Cody’s father is diagnosed with cancer, a move to the city leaves the teenager utterly disoriented. The urban jungle feels like “the worst kind of wilderness.” After getting on a bully’s bad side while defending a schoolmate, Cody faces an assault charge. But Cody comes to realize that his survival skills are transferable: when you’re lost in the woods, don’t panic. Stay put and take stock.

We see the urban strangeness through Cody’s eyes, and with him we realize that everyone feels isolated in some way: Alexis feels like an outsider in her own home; DeMarco, a young gay black man, is no stranger to feeling left out; Ernest (“Ernest by name but not by nature”) is a homeless alcoholic, perpetually on the margins of mainstream society.

Some of Cody’s awkward discoveries could be comical: he has never seen a cellphone before; he is happily agape at seeing so many young women in one place; when he is thirsty, he simply drinks out of a public decorative fountain, puzzled when passersby give him odd looks.

The novel is redolent of the deep loneliness of this displaced family and, ultimately, of compassion and hope.

  •  Think about what it means to live off the grid. How is living in the wilderness different from how you live?
  •  Discuss how it feels to be in a new situation. What is it like to feel lost and not fit in? What can make this experience more positive?
  •  Consider the relationship between Cody and Ernest, how they supported each other and how they changed over time. Write a dialogue they might have if they were to meet in the future.
  •  

    Using teacher-selected resources, research the meaning of off the grid and homelessness. What are the differences and similarities? How common are these experiences in Canada?

  •  

    Discuss the meaning of this quote (page 11): “My dad said that if everyone lived like we lived, it would solve most of the problems of the world.” Do you agree or disagree? Summarize your opinion in writing.

  •  

    Select two characters in the novel who showed change and growth. Do a character study for each and focus on their emotional journey. With whom did you relate the most and why?

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To use information
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Personal Development