I did a library talk last night with the fabulous Saundra Mitchell for Teen Read Week. A teacher had brought one of her classes who had all read XVI together for class. The kids (all high school seniors) were engaged, asked lots of thoughtful questions, and had fabulous comments to make. (Can I just say it was the best night ever?!!!) And, one of them explained what the teacher had done with the assignment. They had to read 3 chapters a night and they had questions they had to answer every day. These were not the typical "why did so-and-so do this thing? what's the hidden meaning?" Nope, they were questions more along the line of what do you think this character was thinking when this happened? Did you agree with what he/she did? Etc.
Aside from the fact that several of the kids said XVI was the first book they'd ever read all the way through (how great did THAT make me feel?!!!) -- one thing that was obvious was that even though they all read the same book - it meant different things to each of them! Here are some examples:
1. One girl said a lot of girls she knows are already having sex and she doesn't feel ready to. She really identified with my MC (Nina), since that's Nina's thing -- in a world where being sexual at 16 is the norm, Nina's not ready to do that.
2. One guy identified with the book's portrayal of the police. He even commented that cops had come to his house once after a robbery and they left it in similar shape to how I portrayed Nina's house after the cops searched it.
3. Several of the audience identified with XVI's "Big Brother"-type government portrayal.
So - they all read the same book - but it was definitely individual to each.
Now, this is not a new thing - that the reader reads the book they want to, not necessarily the book the author wrote - but I loved seeing it up-close & personal!
Have you ever read a book and discussed it with someone else who'd read it and you've both come away with different ideas of what the book meant? I wonder...