Ohio State University A Tribe Apart Book Discussion Questions

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Book Discussion Questions for A Tribe Apart

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Book: A Tribe Apart: A Journey Into the Heart of American Adolescence

Author: Patricia Hersch

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Directions: You have 15 questions to answer. Please answer these in full sentences, using quotes from book. If you are using an electronic version of the book, your citations can link to the chapter number instead of the page number. (Answer questions directly, use quotes as support for answer)

(questions 1-15)

What attributes do you believe most adults would ascribe to teenagers today? Make a list of at least 10 attributes.

On what basis do you feel most adults make these assumptions about teens? Where do they get their information (interactions, media depictions, memories, etc). How does this confirm their beliefs?

How does the book’s prologue Alone function as one of the book’s central themes? What contributes t the solitude of the teenagers profiled? How does it differ from student to student? What is different about the loneliness of teenagers in 2018? How should adults in communities work to address the matter of teenaged loneliness?

Three important risks that teens face across generations include: STDs and pregnancy from unprotected sexual activity, dropping out of school, and substance abuse. All three of these risks have the potential to lead to criminal activity. Explain how these risks are a part of the landscape of juvenile delinquency.

Often, we value works of nonfiction for their dispassionate treatment of the subjects. Subjectivity, however, seems inescapable. What sort of objectivity does Hersch achieve in her work? In what ways does the author’s character and beliefs surface in her writing? Does her perspective create a set of beliefs for the reader? Explain why or why not.

What does each individual profile reveal about the role of families, schools, and friendship play in shaping an adolescent’s character? Give examples of how each of the following affects the characters in the story: family, school, friendship.

While crises and dramatic moments tend to receive attention in the lives of teens in the media, how are teen lives shaped by the quieter experiences of their daily lives? Do you think that crises have more impact or the experiences of daily living?

Rebellion appears as an important lost outlet for the teens in this book, and teens in today’s society given the absence of adults and clear boundaries of conduct. What is the result of such an absence? What then fills that void? Is a return to clear definitions of ethical and moral behavior possible in 2018? Why or why not? Explain what social factors are at play when considering your answer.

What is the relationship between adult morality and teen morality, in your perception? How is morality of today’s youth affected by the perceived morality of political leaders?

Sometimes we are tempted to dismiss stories such as those in A Tribe Apart as anomalous. What prevents us from accepting these stories as representative of the majority of teens?

What does A Tribe Apart reveal about the role that music, film and media play in the shaping of youth perspectives on sex and other “doorways” into the adult world? Consider television programming today – give an example of a program that has great influence over teens and has the potential to encourage behaviors that lead to delinquency.

What portrait of adults emerges from your reading of A Tribe Apart? How are the adults complicit in the experiences and choices made by the 8 youth?

What part of the book resonates most with your understanding of the adolescent experience? Is there a particular teen whose story you connect with more? How so?

A Tribe Apart raises a red in looking at the dangerous lack of dialogue between teenagers and adults. Propose possibilities for undoing this disconnect. What is the role of the individual in initiating such change?

What connection do you perceive between the risks taken by the teens in the book and the escalating violence in schools throughout the country today? Are the students killing students a tribe apart from the teens depicted in the book? Or are they the same?

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