MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Reading guide for Just In Case by Meg Rosoff

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Just In Case

by Meg Rosoff

Just In Case by Meg Rosoff X
Just In Case by Meg Rosoff
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2006, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2008, 256 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

Introduction

David Case is a fifteen-year-old boy on the verge of adulthood—and on the verge of a nervous breakdown. After his younger brother nearly falls from an open window, David becomes acutely aware of his own mortality and the haphazard nature of fate.

Certain that fate has something truly horrible in store for him, David goes about changing his identity in an attempt to trick fate, and avoid the suffering and unhappiness that is his destiny. He changes his name to Justin, buys an outlandish new wardrobe, and takes up a new hobby in his attempt to escape the doom or fortune of David Case. What David doesn't realize, however, is that Justin Case comes with his own set of predicaments and freak happenings.

Just in Case is a coming-of-age novel for teenagers and adults alike, for anyone concerned with the path of his or her life and its ramifications. It forces us to think about the consequences of our actions, the connection between seemingly random events, and the effects of friendship, love, and tragedy.


Discussion Questions

  1. Just in Case has been called a work of magical realism—one in which the fantastic (thoughts, feelings, dreams) and the pragmatic (action and speech) are combined to create a more complete and authentic sense of reality. Toddler Charlie "speaks" eloquently to his older brother; Peter and Dorothea and Anne can "see" Boy, Justin's imaginary dog; and Fate is an omniscient narrator and character of the novel. Discuss whether these elements provide a more authentic sense of reality than a hardboiled depiction of Justin's psychological crisis might have done.
  2. Fatalism is the belief that all events are predetermined by the events that happened before them, and there is no possible alteration of the events in one's life. This book not only deals with the subject of fate, but also makes Fate a sentient being who narrates Justin's story and interacts with Justin at various points in the plot. What do you believe Rosoff is saying to us about the fatalist viewpoint?
  3. Charlie nearly falls out of an open window, and instead of reflecting on almost losing Charlie, David worries about how his own life could have changed if he hadn't caught his brother and stopped him from falling. Discuss how David's narrow perception is age-appropriate, and how we see these qualities alter and change as the novel progresses. How does Agnes provide an element of irony to David/Justin's solipsism?
  4. When Justin meets Agnes she helps him find the right clothes for his new identity—bizarre combinations that he never would have attempted as David. Agnes herself dresses outlandishly. How does the element of garments fit into the thematic development of the story, and what do they symbolize?
  5. How many other "visual" elements (or episodes) in this novel reinforce the subject of perception? What is Rosoff saying about the value of perception through characters like Peter and Dorothea, who can "see" Boy, and characters like Agnes or Justin's mother, who are reluctant to acknowledge the dog's existence?
  6. What parallels exist between characters in the novel? How are Agnes and Dorothea similar? What can we infer about age and/or gender by comparing Ivan and Justin, Agnes and Dorothea, Justin and Agnes, or Peter and Justin?
  7. After the plane hits the Luton airport, the relationship between Agnes and Justin shifts. Discuss their different ways of coping with the disaster—what does it reveal about their characters? Is Agnes, at this point, a sympathetic character or an antagonist? What does her photography and fashion exhibit suggest about her method of coping with hardship? What is significant about its difference from Justin's way of coping with hardship?
  8. Agnes' photography and fashion exhibit serves as a turning point in the plot in various ways, but how in particular does it show significant change in Justin? What is unusual and important about the way he reacts when he learns of Ivan's death outside the exhibit? What does it show us about Justin's evolving sense of perspective about fate and its consequences?
  9. Compare and contrast the significance of the following: 1) Agnes, Peter, and Justin's trip to the seashore and 2) Justin's nighttime encounter/altercation with the vixen and Alice the rabbit. What important information is revealed to us about the characters in each of these scenes? What kind of metaphors and/or allegory do we find in these parts of the novel?
  10. Evaluate the novel's ending. Is it satisfying? Appropriate? Realistic? How does it act as both a resolution to the book and support for the book's theme?


Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Plume. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for a year or $39 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Book of Longings
    The Book of Longings
    by Sue Monk Kidd
    The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd follows the life of Ana, a woman born in the Galilean city of ...
  • Book Jacket: Master Class
    Master Class
    by Christina Dalcher
    Christina Dalcher's Master Class shows America sleepwalking into a perfectionist eventuality not ...
  • Book Jacket: How to Pronounce Knife
    How to Pronounce Knife
    by Souvankham Thammavongsa
    Many examples of immigrant fiction dedicate a portion of their storytelling to exploring details of ...
  • Book Jacket: The Easy Part of Impossible
    The Easy Part of Impossible
    by Sarah Tomp
    Teenager Ria Williams is a skilled diver. She is on track to compete at the Olympic level, but ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Daughter of the Reich
    by Louise Fein

    A spellbinding story of impossible love set against the backdrop of the Nazi regime.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Prisoner's Wife
    by Maggie Brookes

    Inspired by the true story of a courageous young woman who enters a Nazi POW camp to be with the man she loves.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Paris Hours
by Alex George

One day in the City of Light. One night in search of lost time.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win The House on Fripp Island

The House on Fripp Island
by Rebecca Kauffman

A taut, page-turning novel of secrets and strife.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

B I T T Water

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.