PERSONAL ESSAY QUESTIONS
for class discussion or writing
Write about a friend like Lucy and about a friend like Candy. Write a scene in which you are interacting with each. Try to bring out the character of those relationships through the dialogue.
Read the passage about Lizzy in the chapter “My Father’s Bath.” Write about a friend you were really comfortable with.
Recall the incident with the eggs, or Sara’s experience at the skating rink in the chapter “Dutchies.” Have you ever felt threatened by other kids? Write about it.
Think about all of Sara’s difficult social encounters. Write about your most socially miserable or embarrassing moment.
Write about one of your happiest moments. Think of Sara’s relief on discovering Charlotte in Bethesda, her exhilaration on the playing field with Will Suzuki or her discovery of Japan.
Write about a place you loved or felt completely at home.
Read the passage about Sara’s friend Gabrielle in the chapter “Nicole.” Write about an unusual friend you’ve had, perhaps a person you were surprised you liked.
Write about a time you felt un-done, when life seemed topsy-turvy, or when you didn’t recognize yourself.
Think about Sara’s craving to be like Candy. Write about a friend you wanted or want to be like. “If I were…I’d…” Write a scene that shows what that friend is like and what you are like. Then reflect upon it.
Think of Sara on the playground in Holland: the day she called Molly a hick. Write about a time you betrayed a friend, and reflect on why you did it.
Consider Sara’s longing for a twin. Describe your twin. What would she be like?
Sara loves wooden shoes, haiku, and adventures like hiking in the Borneo jungle. She is a devoted friend, and dreams of becoming an anthropologist. One of the hardest things for her is speaking up in groups. What are your distinctive qualities? What are your strengths and the things that are harder for you? Thinking of your strengths, what would you like people to say about you?
What is the importance of having someone like you—or not?
What is most important in life? Friends, mastery, family love, steadiness? Take Sara’s life as a jumping-off point.
Have you ever had a teacher like Mr. Oates, or one like Sara’s art teacher at Sidwell Friends School? What do you think about each? Write about them.
SEE ALSO DISCUSSION QUESTIONS/WRITING PROMPTS ABOUT THE COLD WAR IN THE HISTORY TEACHERS INSTRUCTIONAL GUIDE .