Eighth grader Daniel Hernandez from Hillsboro, Oregon recommends…

Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie S. Tolan

Have you ever met a kid who was so bad that he got kicked out every school he went to and was forced to go to some weird school of arts that he has never heard of? Well, if you haven’t you will want to read this story by Stephanie S. Tolin. It’s the story that keeps you guessing, you never know what’s going to happen next. I don’t really read type of story, but something about the characters seemed to make the storyline better than usual.

So the kid’s name was Jake Semple and he got sent to this creative academy and when he got there, he noticed it wasn’t like any school he’s gone to before. It was at this place called Wit’s End. There were so many buildings: a furniture gallery, studio, goat compound, and a creative academy. One of the girls there named E.D. did not like Jake at all; it was because of his attitude, the way he dressed, and all the things she heard he did. Jake also did not like E.D. because she wanted to be all perfect and organized all the time and that made Jake want to annoy her more.

E.D.’s father is putting up a play production of The Sound of Music and he already had all the parts out except two, everything was going smoothly. But the board director of the play decided to cancel the show because E.D’s father wouldn’t cast the board director’s daughter. No play means no production or stage and news reporters were going to be there with their stations. So he decided to make a stage and direct the play at their very own Wit’s End. One day he hears Jake singing and notices he has a spectacular voice and he wanted Jake to play Rolf (the part they were missing) in the production. This accomplishment makes Jake see life more positively.

I really liked this book because of the way the author described the main characters’ personalities, appearance, and how they changed. For example, Jake was being a naïve, ignorant, stubborn teen always getting his way, with spiky gelled up scarlet hair, loose black clothing and, lots of piercings. He changes into a well-minded, clean looking boy with a new look on life. E.D. starts out a scruffy girl, very well-organized, and longing for order. She has short hair, loose shirt and pants. She changes into a well- developed listener and instructor and that helps her get through the final struggle at the end of the book.

I also enjoyed it because of the author’s writing style of using quotes and symbols to get to the main message of the story. Some of my favorite quotes in this novel are “Passion is necessary to all of life.” I liked this because it’s true, you can’t enjoy life with a negative look on things. Another quote I thought was great was: “Everything works for the highest good,” and I think this means if you’re a good person that does good things it will all come back to you. The main message of the story was expressed through the cycle of a butterfly meaning that everyone has a chance to change and they can.

During the time I was reading this book, it actually has been an enjoyable book to read. The reasons for you to read are if you like a book that the main characters’ personalities change throughout the story (dynamic). Also that the author’s writing style expresses messages through symbols, that teach you the meaning of life. Ultimately, this was by far one of my favorite books because of all the strange and wacky characters that all seem to make the storyline work better.


Several of Daniel’s classmates have also allowed us to publish reviews of what they’re currently reading.  And for recommendations from kids of all ages, check out our Kids Recommend section.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: