Middle School to Young Adult Books

Theme: Backwards, Forwards, Or From A New Angle

Only Revolutions - (ISBN: 978-0375713903)

by Mark Danielewski

This novel is a story about teens Sam and Hailey, boyfriend and girlfriend. The book is printed on two sides--one side tells the story from Hailey's point of view; reverse the book and you get Sam's perspective (literally). The format looks strange when you first open the book and notice half of the printing is upside down! The writing consists of a set of images and graphics rather than using the traditional narrative style. Try writing a similar diary with a friend, each using half of the page to create juxtaposing reflections.

Rats Saw God - (ISBN: 978-1416938972)

by Rob Thomas

Steve, while writing a required make-up essay, goes back into his own life and looks at things backwards to try to understand how he ended up where he did. Thoughtful for an adolescent, Steve uses humor and looks at the people and events in his life to come to terms with his father and with what he has created for himself. Do you have anywhere special that you write events (good and bad) from your life?

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes - (ISBN: 978-0060094898)

by Chris Crutcher

An overweight boy, Eric, and a disfigured girl, Sarah, become friends due to their sharing physical limitations and past failures. Although Eric could be on the road to getting into shape, he curtails his future success in order to try and reach Sarah. His backpedaling and his mission turn out to be more complicated than expected when Sarah’s condition and mindset seem to regress. Find out how he manages to go forward although caught in the backward spin. Have you ever had to overcome an obstacle in your life (physical or other)?

The Time Machine - (ISBN: 978-0765351982)

by H.G. Wells

This classic is probably the forerunner of many of today’s young adult time travel books. Told in flashbacks about the future, the storyteller in the novel describes his future adventures to a rapt group of friends. How does this book differ from some of today’s young adult adventures?

Variant - (ISBN: 978-0062026088)

by Robison Wells

Benson realizes he must escape the new school where he thought he would find his future. Instead, its repressive rules and haunting secrets seem to be pulling him into a spinning quagmire that requires all his resources to get out. If you enjoy a fast paced mystery in which not all questions get answered (look for the sequel for more answers!), try entering Benson’s world. Which unanswered question intrigued you the most?

Blood Red Road - (ISBN: 1442429984)

by Moira Young

Flowers for Algernon - (ISBN: 978-0156030304)

by Daniel Keyes

Monster - (ISBN: 978-0064407311)

by Walter Dean Myers

Activities for this Theme

Make a backward timeline. Instead of having the left side begin in the past, have it be the present, and trace your events from the past back through the ages. Use an online tool such as the timeline creator found at Knight Lab. 

Take a picture of yourself and print it out the normal way. Then reverse it by printing the negative with the right side on the left, and look at it side by side with the typical view. You will find that your face is not really symmetrical.

Try making Rorschach-style beads: