I would be thrilled to be a part of your book group or classroom, however you see fit. Literature classes, creative writing classes, book clubs, small groups, big assemblies, in person (even if you’re not local, feel free to get in touch – I love traveling), via email or Skype or however it makes sense. Let’s get in touch!
Contact me: lthollandgmail.com
or my publisher: author.appearancessimonandschuster.com
In a typical classroom presentation (of any grade level, but particularly junior high and high school), I talk about becoming a writer and share my own writing process. I include a writing exercise tailored to the level of the students and which often focuses on a specific craft element (a sense of place, characterization, etc.) that they’ve noticed in my book. Then the students and I talk about their writing, my writing, and about ways to nurture their creative sensibilities. I leave plenty of time for questions, and I often show them a bit of my current novel-in-progress as well.
I can also tailor a presentation or discussion to focus more thematically – particularly on elements of ethnic identity, cultural history, and family communication – which are intrinsic to my novel. Please use the questions below to get a better sense of discussion entry points.
Discussion Guide for
The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong
- Throughout the novel, Vee is often sarcastic – sometimes to be funny, sometimes defensively, and sometimes to avoid having to deal with the truth. When does his sarcasm have negative consequences, and how does he respond? How should he respond?
- Vee is fascinated with archaeology because he likes unearthing bits of the past and using them to understand different worlds and cultures. How does this interest correspond to his search for his own family history? In what ways is he “digging” to find his own identity?
- Vee struggles to communicate with his parents and often decides to remain silent rather than share his confusing emotions. As his problems deepen, he feels trapped in his silence. Which is the greater transgression – lying by omission, or telling an uncomfortable truth? Where else in the novel does this issue surface?
- When Vee claims to be a victim of racist insults, his dad unsympathetically remarks, “You decided it was a convenient place to take out your frustrations. If you had laughed, he’d have lost advantage.” Is Vee’s father insensitive, or is he giving good advice?
- In discussing the background of the novel, Holland notes that high school students face incredible pressure to conform and fit in, and many look to their ethnicity to help define themselves. Do you think ethnic identity is an issue on high school campuses today? If so, how do people of mixed race, like Vee, find a place to belong? What are the potential positives and negatives of allowing your ethnicity to define your self-identity?
- Vee loves history but is easily frustrated with its ambiguous moral lessons. How would Vee define the terms “enemy” and “friend,” in the context of his own life as well as in his study of history?
- Both Vee and Steffie use rumors to bully Riley. What is their motivation for doing this? How does Vee finally achieve some resolution with Riley, and do you envision Steffie ever doing so?
- Madison and Adele are very different, yet Vee is attracted to each of them. How does Vee’s interest reveal facets of his own personality, and does he ultimately make wise decisions regarding his love life?
- Characters in stories often undergo transformative journeys. Does Vee’s trip to China fit in this category? In what ways is his external journey a metaphor for an internal one? Does he need to go to China to learn about himself?
- How does this novel compare to other books you’ve read about teenagers? Are the ideas and discoveries in this book best suited for a teen audience, or are the insights also applicable to adult readers?