Andrew Smith, Andrew Smith Event, Read-Alongs

Wrap-Up: Stick by Andrew Smith

So, we have come to the end of Book 2 in our Andrew Smith Summer reading plan!  I don’t know about you, but I have had a great experience with both books (In the Path of Falling Objects and Stick) so far.  I’m really looking forward to our August choice, Ghost Medicine, the discussion for which will be hosted over at Not Now, I’m Reading.

I really only have one question this week:  What did YOU think of the book?  Were you surprised by the ending?  How did you feel about Bosten’s situation and about Stick’s determination to find his older brother?  Do you have hope for the boys and their future?

If you’re interested in what I thought, over all, feel free to check out my review.  There will also be a giveaway of our September book, The Marbury Lens, coming soon from Smash Attack Reads, so keep your eyes peeled for that!

See you next week for Discussion 1 of Ghost Medicine!

August: Ghost Medicine (Hosted by Not Now…I’m Reading)

  • 8/4: Chapter 1 – 8
  • 8/11: Chapter 9 – 15
  • 8/18: Chapter 16 – 22
  • 8/25: Chapter 23 – 29
Andrew Smith, Andrew Smith Event, Read-Alongs


Welcome to the Discussion Post for Part 3 (Pages 107-216) of Stick by Andrew Smith.


1.  In the first part of “Next”, we meet three new characters: Aunt Dahlia, Evan and Kim.  These three seem clearly different from those in Bosten & Stick’s home world (even different from the characters who aren’t as crazy as the boys’ parents).  Is Smith drawing some kind of distinction between regions?  Is there something distinctly “Californian” and something distinctly “Washingtonian” about these worlds – and, if so, where do the boys belong?  Wherever it is, do they still belong together? 

2.  Paul & Bosten break-up.  Paul & Bosten get back together.  Paul is gay, then bisexual.  He is with Bosten, then he is with a girl and can’t have that kind of relationship with Bosten ever again.  But, then they get back together.  Is the back-and-forth here believable – why or why not?  Is this normal teenage exploration/confusion?  Does the difficulty do anything (positive or negative) for the story overall?

3.  The boys’ parents split up and, while Stick is staying with Emily, he gets a phone call from his mother.  On the call, she sounds somewhat different – more parental than we have seen her in the past.  Is this an expected change?  We see “Dad’s” rage in full force not much later, so he clearly hasn’t changed, but is it possible that “Mom” might have been molded by Dad?  Or are they both equally brutal, separate or apart?  

4.  And, all hell breaks loose.  Bosten is gone, Stick hits the road to find him & encounters a world of danger.  Willie and April are creepy from the start, and the old cracked-out dudes who want stick to “pay” his way to California are certainly just as disgusting as the boys’ Dad, which begs the question:  Are so many perverts necessary to the success of this plot?  The book is meant to have some shock value, but how believable is it that the boys would each run into pedophiles at nearly every turn?

That’s it for this week!  Looking forward to a great discussion!  Feel free to add anything else you feel is valuable, or ask any other questions you might have yourself, now that we’re two-thirds of the way in… Don’t forget to check back next Saturday, when we will be discussing the end of the book, “Last” (Pages 216-End).

July: Stick (Hosted by Roof Beam Reader)

  • 7/7: First (Part 1): Pages 2-59
  • 7/14: First (Part 2): Pages 60-103
  • 7/21: Next (Part 1): Pages 107-216
  • 7/28: Last (Part 2): Pages 216-292

So, we are coming to the end of Stick.  Up next is Ghost Medicine, which will be hosted in August by Not Now, I’m Reading!

August: Ghost Medicine (Hosted by Not Now…I’m Reading)

  • 8/4: Chapter 1 – 8
  • 8/11: Chapter 9 – 15
  • 8/18: Chapter 16 – 22
  • 8/25: Chapter 23 – 29
Andrew Smith, Andrew Smith Event, Blog Post, Read-Alongs


Welcome to the Discussion Post for Part 1 (Pages 60-103) of Stick by Andrew Smith.


1.  Early in Part 2, Stick compares his mother to two women, first to Emily (comparing their bathrooms) and then to Mrs. Lohman (Stick’s mom with a cigarette & knife in her hands, threatening him about spending time on the phone; and Mrs. Lohman telling him how they would love to have him over anytime.  Then comes Mrs. BuckLey and Stick’s comment: “Something was happening to me. Everything was changing.” Is it important for Stick to realize these distinctions, between his mother and other women?  Do you think women will ultimately play a larger role in his story?

2.  Oh, boy – did Bosten have a secret, or what!?  Did you see this coming?   How is it likely to impact the nature between Bosten and Stick, and the relationship between Bosten (and/or both the boys) and their parents?

3.  Saint Fillan’s Room.  It has to be mentioned – what do we think about this?  We talked last week about the parents being physically abusive, but this room adds a whole new level to it, doesn’t it?  Think about how the boys have to clean it – empty and scrub the pail – after they were beaten in that room and left there in solitude, sometimes for days at a time.  I have to ask again – what’s up Mom & Dad!?

4. At one point in this segment, Stick makes the point: “I wasn’t sure how punching someone would make me feel like having balls made a difference.”  Ironically, later on, he actually does get hit in the balls, hard, and finally stands up for himself by punching the guy in the nose.  Other than this being great irony, what does it say about stick – both his early statement and the fact that he finally stood up for himself?  Could it have anything to do with what Emily said about Stick making fun of himself?

5. Dad. We’re finally beginning to understand. So, it seems when he is drunk, his true nature and problem comes out – but only with Bosten.  Why do you think Dad confuses Stick for Bosten – and, if he hadn’t passed out, do you think Stick saying who he was would have mattered?  Now that Stick knows what’s been happening, and he and Bosten have talked about it, what next?


Don’t forget to check back next Saturday, when we will be discussing Part 2 (Pages 107-216).

July: Stick (Hosted by Roof Beam Reader)

  • 7/7: First (Part 1): Pages 2-59
  • 7/14: First (Part 2): Pages 60-103
  • 7/21: Next (Part 1): Pages 107-216
  • 7/28: Next (Part 2): Pages 216-292

Also, have you entered to win a copy of next month’s Andrew Smith book, Ghost Medicine

Head over to Not Now, I’m Reading for your chance!  The giveaway ends July 14th (today)!

Andrew Smith, Andrew Smith Event, Blog Post, Read-Alongs

Discussion: Stick by Andrew Smith (Part 1)

Welcome to the Discussion Post for Part 1 (Pages 2-59) of Stick by Andrew Smith.

1.  Last month, we read In the Path of Falling Objects which had, as its protagonists, two brothers with quite an interesting relationship.  A third brother, absent from the main story, was also involved. Here again, with Stick, the main characters are brothers.  What do you think of their dynamic so far?  Do you have any expectations for them individually, or for their relationship?

2.  Stark “Stick” McClellan, our main character, is different in a few ways.  First of all, although he is only 13 years old, he is already six feet tall – which is taller than his older brother.  But, even more importantly, he has a physical deformity which impacts his every day life and relationships.  The deformity is mirrored in the prose.  Do you think this effective, so far?  Are there other examples you can think of, from other books, where a main characters’ “something other” is somehow reflected in the book’s prose or structure? 

3.  The brothers seem pretty different  – Bosten is pretty bold, he smokes pot, and seems like an easy-going guy, the kind people like to be around.  Stick, on the other hand, is (understandably) more of an introvert.  He hates even the smell of pot, and doesn’t seem like the biggest risk-taker in the world.  Despite their differences, the brothers seem very close.  Why do you think their relationship is so strong?  Do you get the impression that their bond will survive anything?

4.  Mom and Dad.  They seem to be a pretty good team, themselves. But for different reasons.  Right away, we get an “Us vs. Them” feeling, between the boys and the parents.  When the boys come home late and walk into an onslaught of violence, Stick narrates: “Maybe once per week things exactly like this happened in our house.”  Where do you think the anger comes from?  Are there any hints about some deeper issues, or do you think, as Stick says, this is just the way things are done in their household?

5.  And Emily.  Friend?  More than a friend?  Her words seem to be saying one thing (Friend) but her actions seem to be hinting at a desire for more.  We haven’t seen much, yet, but does this seem like it could be a good thing for Stick?  Would a relationship with Emily be a healthy one?  Or does this seem doomed to fail, from the start?

Can’t wait to see what you all think of this one, so far!  I’ll reply with my own answers in a few days, after others have a chance to say what they think. 

Don’t forget to check back next Saturday, when we will be discussing Part 2 (Pages 60-103).

Also, have you entered to win a copy of next month’s Andrew Smith book,Ghost Medicine?  Head over to Not Now, I’m Reading for your chance!  The giveaway ends July 14th!

Andrew Smith, Andrew Smith Event, Read-Alongs, Uncategorized

July Read-Along: Stick by Andrew Smith

Hello, People and Things!

Today is July 1st – Which means it is time to start reading the next book in our Andrew Smith summer read-along schedule!  Our selection for July is Stick – and I will be hosting this time around!  I absolutely loved this book – so I’m looking forward to reading it again and posting discussion questions each Saturday.  

If you haven’t already registered for the event, please check out the information below, which explains how to join!  There are Giveaways and other events associated with Andrew Smith Saturdays (as if the AWESOME books weren’t enough!) – so I do hope you’ll come along for the ride! 

Discussion Plan for July: Stick (Hosted by Roof Beam Reader)

  • 7/7: First (Part 1): Pages 2-59
  • 7/14: First (Part 2): Pages 60-103
  • 7/21: Next (Part 1): Pages 107-216
  • 7/28: Next (Part 2): Pages 216-292

Our Andrew Smith book choice for August is Ghost Medicine and there’s a Giveaway copy being offered by Not Now, I’m Reading!  One lucky participant will win a copy of the book – so be sure to register and then head over to Not Now, I’m Reading for your chance!


You must register for this event and participate in order to be eligible for prizes.

Register Here.

Where to Buy Stick:

The Book Depository

Barnes and Noble

2012 Challenges, Andrew Smith, Andrew Smith Event, Blog Post, Blog Tour, Catherine Ryan Hyde, Don't Miss It Monday, Giveaway, Giveaway Hop, Giveaways, Victorian Celebration

Don’t Miss It Monday!

Hi, Folks!

I’m not typically one for monthly or weekly “recap” posts, but there is SO MUCH happening at this month and this summer, that I thought it would be a good idea to put it all together in one post and remind everyone about what’s going on.  I’m including some major events that are taking place here at, as well as some big events hosted elsewhere, but in which I’m participating (I think many of you might want to get involved in these as well!). 

Andrew Smith Summer Event

Register for the Event HERE.

Enter to win a copy of July’s book, Stick, HERE.

Participate in Week 1 Discussion of In the Path of Falling Objects HERE.

Why Join?: Andrew Smith’s books are CRAZY good and terribly under-appreciated. Giveaways, interviews, guest posts, group discussions, and more!

Catherine Ryan Hyde Event

Hosted by: Roof Beam Reader & Shooting Stars Mag.

Sign-Up to Join the Pay It Forward Giveaway Hop HERE (Closes June 20th; Event June 23-30).

Why Join?: This event is all about showing appreciation to our blog readers/subscribers, by giving away some of our favorite things!

Purchase a Book or Spread the Word to Win Awesome Prize Packs HERE (Deadline June 23rd).

Why Participate?: The author is amazing and the prize packages are crazy!

A Victorian Celebration (June & July)

Hosted By: Allie of A Literary Odyssey.

Register to Participate HERE.

Why Join?: Lots of great giveaways, guest posts, etc. Plus, tons of good reading!

Enter to win a copy of North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell HERE (Ends June 8th).

Books I Plan to Read:

Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte, The Autobiography of Mark Twain by Mark Twain, The Haunted House by Charles Dickens, Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell, and The Warden by Anthony Trollope (Plus Middlemarch by George Eliot and The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens, if I have time).

Other Items of Note

Join the Literary Blog Hop HERE (Closes June 20th; Event June 23-27). Hosted by Leeswammes.

Random Acts of Kindness June Event HERE. Hosted by Book Soulmates.

Andrew Smith, Book Review, Brothers, Coming-of-Age, Family, Gay Lit, Giveaway, Giveaway Hop, Giveaways, GLBT, Monthly Review, Young Adult

Review: Stick by Andrew Smith

Stick by Andrew Smith
Final Verdict: 3.75 out of 4.0
YTD: 23

4 – Plot/Story is interesting/believable and impactful

Andrew Smith’s Stick is a powerful story about love and brotherhood.  Not since Brothers by Ted van Lieshout has there been such a touching, personal, and believable story about the bond between teenage brothers.  Stark (Stick) and his elder brother Bosten both have their individual burdens to bear, but they also must both fight the same battle against an abusive father and an unkind, dispassionate mother.  The main character, Stick, was born with a facial disfigurement, which has left him scarred physically and emotionally for most of his life.  It has caused him to believe that he is a disappointment to his parents (possibly true) and an embarrassment to his brother.  Just as Stick is coming-of-age, learning who he is (including how to handle himself around girls and women), he finds out that his brother, his idol, is gay.  Stick handles the revelation well, standing by his brother despite his own doubts and confusions, but the boys’ parents are not as understanding.  The fall out at home is too much, and both boys take off, separately – Bosten disappearing, and Stick gone to search for him.  Each of the brothers is forced to deal with distinct horrors while on the road, alone, both hoping to finally find a home, which turns out simply to be each other.

4 – Characters extraordinarily developed.

Andrew Smith’s characters are simply beautiful, even the horrid ones.  Characterization and character development are clearly strengths for this writer.  Stick and Bosten are impressively wrought:  their weaknesses are at times frustrating, as they should be, and their strengths shine through.   The way they develop simultaneously independent of one another, as well as together as a pair, adds a great level of complexity and interest to the story as a whole.  The minor characters, such as the boys’ friends, Emily, the Twins, Aunt Dahlia, Mr. and Mrs. McClellan, Paul and even the tertiary characters like Willie and the Truck Driver all have unique personalities and interact with the boys in genuine ways, so as to advance the plot fluidly and with purpose.  Little if anything seems out-of-place, all of the characters seem necessary and unquestionably purposeful to the story.

4 – Extraordinary Prose/Style, enhancing the Story.

The second great strength for this book (and writer) is the prose –it is fluid, interesting, and meaningful.  There is much creative liberty taken with the book’s form and structure, which can sometimes be irritating (and which, admittedly, caused doubts in this reader at first); however, the structure breaks and style choices ultimately served the larger purpose of reflecting the mood of the story and its main character.  It was nearly impossible to put this book down, largely because the story was so interesting and the characters were endearing, but also because the prose progressed the story and its characters masterfully, from day-to-day, scene-to-scene.  The dialogue was well-written, the description was simple but effective, appropriate for the genre.

Additional Elements: Setting, Symbols/Motifs, Resolution, etc.
3 – Additional elements are present and cohesive to the Story.

Two weaker spots in the story, for me, include the deeper, darker revelation about the nature of Bosten’s relationship with his and Stick’s father, and the book’s final resolution.  The former turns out to fit into a stereotypical “explanation” cliché, played out often in stories of this kind; however, in Stick, it is, at least, more subtle and not an all-encompassing “why” to Bosten’s state of being.  The latter issue, the resolution, is not a disappointment in terms of vision, but more so in execution.  The descent to which Bosten falls, after leaving home, seems quite far in such a short time, and for one with such strength of character.  Also, his return to “home,” given where he ended up, seemed almost easy or simple.  Either of these parts of the resolution could work, I think, given more time – the ending just felt a bit rushed, though it did not dissuade from the overall quality of the book, nor was it a disappointment in general; in fact, where the boys ultimately end up was a great and welcome relief, appropriate to their natures and journeys.  The larger themes of family, independence, fear, self-empowerment, and growth are all well-executed and come about in realistic fashion.

Suggested Reading for:
Age Level: High School +

Interest: Dysfunctional Families, Brothers, Friendship, Coming-of-Age, Gay Youth, Drug Culture

Notable Quotes:

“’It’s better, I think, to have a “best friend” than a girlfriend,’ Dahlia said.  ‘Girlfriends are your friends because they’re girls.  But best friends are people you can share everything with and not be afraid they’ll leave you with less.’”



*Note – This review pertains to an Advanced Reader’s Copy, graciously sent to me by Andrew’s publisher at Feiwel and Friends, and imprint of Macmillan, at Andrew’s request. The book will be available to all on October11th, 2011.