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May 10th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | High School | 2017-2018 High School | February

Radical by E.M. Kokie. Candlewick Press, 2016

Bex, 15, is distrustful of the government and knows that Lucy, in town for the summer to visit her grandparents, wouldn’t understand why Bex goes to Clearview. So she says nothing about the shooting club/survival training center near her rural Michigan home as they fall for each other. For Bex, who isn’t out, dating Lucy is unexpected, uncertain, sweet, and thrilling, until a police stop illuminates the huge gap in how the two young women see the world. Bex is also growing uneasy about her older brother Mark’s involvement with a group of young men at Clearview who defy the rules, intent on causing trouble. Mark’s behavior toward Bex becomes threatening and violent before government agents arrest the young men for plotting to use explosives. Bex is arrested, too, and doesn’t believe she can trust anyone in the system, including her well- meaning, court-appointed lawyer. Some of her fears about the system are not unfounded, and her mother is pressuring her to take the fall for Mark because she’s a minor facing lesser consequences. Bex, her brother, and her parents are all singular individuals in a struggling family dynamic. The leadership and most members of Clearview are also wholly believable in this unusually nuanced novel showing degrees of extremism. A thoughtful, at times passionate coming out story is woven into this insightful look at how Bex’s thinking has been shaped, and is shifting by story’s end.   © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What assumptions did you make about the cover of this book? (Even before reading it!)
  2. Do you think Bex’s views are radical? Did your opinion change throughout the book?
  3. Why do you think Lucy made the decisions she did? What do you think motivated Lucy’s decisions?

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