Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B

Toten, Teresa (Author)
Doubleday Canada 2013. 264 pages
First published: 2013
ISBN: 9780385678346 (paperback)
9780385678353 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel
Book genre: Realistic

Text Elements:

characterization, conflict, dialogue, figurative language, 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:

Lively and deeply empathetic writing makes the theme of struggling for mental health both fascinating and fun. Fifteen-year-old Adam’s sensitivity and compassion are balanced by a keen eye and sharp wit—while keeping true to the voice of a teenage boy: “Even Robyn chimed in on that one but she swore she wasn’t purging. Purging? What the hell? She’d been a puker?”

Dramatic themes arising from the Group’s variety of “Primary presenting compulsions” will be recognized by all. Who hasn’t felt an inflated sense of personal responsibility for loved ones, tried to shut down unproductive thinking, or wanted to be a hero for others rather than doing the work of saving themselves?

A satisfying cast of characters provide the inspiration, support—and pressure—to help Adam on his road to stability. There is hulking, silent Thor (“The Thors of this world tend not to make it through, Adam”), best friend Ben Stone (“‘Are you still nuts?’ ‘Nutser. You still fat?’ ‘F-a-t-t-e-r!’”), his similarly afflicted half-brother Sweetie (“Adam made the lemon peels … but I bossed”), and many more. A crisis at his mother’s house, precipitated by her drinking and hoarding, finally leads her to receive help—and Adam to let himself off the hook. This is a warm-hearted, fun-loving look at one very special kid’s first steps toward growing up.

  •  While the story focuses on the experiences of Adam Spencer Ross, it is told in the third person. This type of narration gives a sense of detachment while providing the reader with a broader narrative perspective.
  •  

    In a literature or book club group, discuss how the relationship between Adam and Robyn unfolds. Consider the way this relationship compares to others found in texts and through lived experience.

  •  

    This book could be one of a text set for literature circles or for the immersion into text that is part of a production process centred on a relevant topic or issue.

  •  

    Do some research on obsessive-compulsive disorder and share your findings in a small group. Discuss whether you have (or have had) habits, routines or rituals that you do because they “just feel right.” Do you believe most people have such habits?

  •  As you read, note the ways Adam helps each member of the support group. Do they help him equally in return?
  •  

    Using Adam’s voice, write Robyn an email telling her you want to get back together. Explain why you have changed your mind and be clear about the future and where your relationship will go.

  • To cooperate with others
  • To use information
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Personal Development
  • Social Sciences