Summary and book reviews of If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period

by Gennifer Choldenko

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2007, 224 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2009, 224 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jo Perry

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Book Summary

Two worlds collide in one compelling story set in a suburban American middle-school. Kirsten's world is crumbling. Her parents are barely speaking to one another and her best friend has come under the spell of the queen bee Brianna. Walker's goal is to survive the new very white private school his mom has sent him to because she thinks he's going to screw up like his cousin. Ages 12+.

Two kids. Two lives.

For Kirsten the world is crumbling. Her parents are barely speaking to one another and her best friend has come under the spell of the queen bee Brianna. Only Kirsten's younger science-geek sister is on her side.

For Walker the goal is to survive the new very white private school his mom has sent him to because she thinks he's going to screw up like his cousin.

"Don't have to worry, Momma, before I go bad I'll let you know, send a Hallmark card ready made for the occasion...on the eve your son messes up."

But Walk is a good kid. So is his new friend, Matteo, though no one knows why Matteo will do absolutely anything that hot blond Brianna asks of him.

Two worlds collide in one compelling story. Then suddenly Kirsten discovers something that shakes them to their core...

"You knew all along," Walk says.

"No, I didn't."

"You're lying. You found out and then you told the whole world..."

Two
Walk

C'mon!" Walk yells back to the big white girl Kirsta? Kristal? Whatever her name is.

He races down the hall and kills the stairs. His feet are burning; doors, lockers, kids are flying by.

He knows where the class is because he and his momma, Sylvia, walked the schedule last week. He can't be late. Not on the first day.

The bell rings.

He's late.

Walk slides into an empty seat Matteo saved for him. Matteo is the only kid he knows here.

The girl is behind him breathing like somebody better dial 9-1-1.

The old guy up there with the belly and the long hair? Must be Balderis, the history teacher. The man's all red like a pimple—even his ears and his nose are red. He opens his mouth like he's going for the slaughter, then shuts it again, shakes his head, takes a deep breath, and starts over. "Your name is?"

Sweat pours down Walk's back. "Walker Jones."

"And yours?" Balderis looks at the girl.

"Kirsten ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Discussion Questions

  1. When Kirsten’s mom lets Kirsten out at the drop-off, what does Kirsten’s mom do that surprises Kirsten?
  2. Why did Kirsten and Walk have to go to school on a Saturday?
  3. Who stands up for Kirsten when she is accused of stealing Balderis’s wallet? Why do you think this person takes Kirsten’s side?
  4. Why is Sylvia worried about Jamal? What does Walk think Jamal is selling?
  5. What is Matteo’s secret? Why do you think he keeps this information to himself?
  6. What does Brianna say at the open house that is so hurtful to Walk? Why is it hurtful?
  7. If you had been Kirsten, would you have helped Matteo? If so, how?
  8. Is Mrs. McKenna helpful in dealing with Kirsten and her weight ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The novel's focus is decidedly internal rather than external, and the reader lives inside twelve year old heads for the duration. But Choldenko's unwavering interior focus isn't gimmickry: it illuminates her young characters' imperfect knowledge of the world and of themselves, and reflects the self-absorption typical and probably necessary to their growth.   (Reviewed by Jo Perry).

Full Review Members Only (478 words).

Media Reviews

VOYA

The novel touches on racism, eating disorders, and bullying, and one cannot help but feel that it would have been more memorable and compelling had Choldenko aged her characters a few years and let Kirsten tell the story in its entirety.

The Washington Post - Elizabeth Ward

[Choldenko] has a spiky wit, an empathetic eye for kids' foibles and fears, an ear for their distinctive voices and an impressive range…While it treats issues of race, class and marital discord fearlessly, it's also one of the funniest they'll read this year.

Kirkus Reviews

This will appeal to a wide range of middle-school readers and would make a great book-club or classroom discussion.

Publishers Weekly

The issues raised are spot-on for this age group .... . (an) under-the-microscope examination of the often cruel, always dramatic dynamics of junior high.

Reader Reviews

~no name

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period
Really interesting. I love this book; it had great detail, and I love how the characters were different and the "twist" in the "end".

GG

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period
I love this book very much. There is a lot of drama!

bobbi heckel

if a tree falls at lunch period
I really like this book. The book had the details and I heard about what Kirstens life was like because my sister is the exact same way.

Emister

If a tree falls at lunch period
Well... It was an FANTASTIC book. Once I started reading this book I just couldn't put it down. it was full of what an average teenager might go through in life. I think that once people start reading this author's books that they will not be able to...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Eating Disorders

Does Kirsten eat too much and for all the wrong reasons? According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating are becoming increasingly prevalent throughout western countries. According to US estimates from the National Institute of Mental Health, between 5-10 million girls and women and 1 million boys and men suffer from eating disorders or other associated dietary conditions. On average, about 0.5 to 3.7% of girls and women develop anorexia nervosa, and about 1.1 to 4.2% develop bulimia nervosa. About 0.5% of those with anorexia die each ...

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