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4.4 27
by Diana López

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A heartfelt novel about the disturbing "choking game" trend -- and one girl's struggle for self-acceptance.

If she could -- if her parents would let her -- eighth-grader Windy would change everything about herself. She'd get highlights in her hair, a new wardrobe; she'd wear makeup. But nothing ever changes. The mean girls at school are still mean, and Windy's


A heartfelt novel about the disturbing "choking game" trend -- and one girl's struggle for self-acceptance.

If she could -- if her parents would let her -- eighth-grader Windy would change everything about herself. She'd get highlights in her hair, a new wardrobe; she'd wear makeup. But nothing ever changes. The mean girls at school are still mean, and Windy's best friend Elena is still more interested in making up words than talking about boys.

And then one day, Windy gets the change she's been looking for. New girl Nina -- impossibly cool, confident, and not afraid of anyone -- starts hanging out with Windy! Nina even wants to be "breath sisters." Windy isn't sure what that means, exactly, but she knows she wants to find out. It sounds even better than a BFF.

Windy is right, at first. Being a breath sister gains her a whole new set of friends, girls she feels closer to and cooler with than anyone else. But her inclusion in the new crowd comes at a dangerous price. Windy wants to change everything about her life ... but is she really willing to give up everything in the process?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Windy longs to be part of the "in crowd," so she is thrilled when pretty, confident Nina transfers to her middle school and takes an interest in her. But the popular new girl has a dangerous secret: she likes playing the choking game, in which a girl strangles a friend until she passes out. "That's what makes us breath sisters—we put our lives in each other's hands. Can you think of a better way to prove your friendship?" Nina asks Windy. The game is not only about trust but also, Windy learns, about getting high from oxygen deprivation, and Nina soon has many girls participating. Windy is conflicted, but plays along until things go too far. López (Confetti Girl), a former middle school teacher writing from personal experience, weaves facts about the choking game into her story and includes a list of online resources. Secondary story lines add little, but readers will relate to Windy's struggle, which is honestly related. An educational, issue-driven read that could be a useful discussion starter. Ages 12�up. Agent: Stefanie Von Borstel, Full Circle Literary. (July)
From the Publisher

“Diana López has written a novel that is sure to touch readers with its simplicity and sincerity. A beautiful story that is as important as it is moving.” – Heather Hepler, author of The Cupcake Queen

“Surprisingly real.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Urgent and necessary … a realistic portrait about the pressures of belonging.” – El Paso Times

Children's Literature - Janice DeLong
Eighth-grader Windy sees herself as a GP, one of the "general public," in social evaluation by her peers, and wants more than almost anything to belong to the "in-crowd." Having a BFF like Elena who cares little or nothing about what others think of her really does not help, and perhaps it is even a road block to the direction Windy wants to go. With her braces, glasses, and naturally too-curly hair, acceptance into the upper level seems out of reach until Nina breezes into school. The insults and snubs from the bullying "with it" girls do not touch Nina and she mysteriously takes Windy under her wing. As might be expected, soon the two girls are excluding Elena. Although Windy misses Elena, she feels that she has finally arrived when, with Nina's coaching, she begins to get the attention of the guy of her dreams. The pinnacle of happiness is reached when she and Nina go shopping together, even buying matching scarves. Then, Nina introduces Windy to the concept of "breath sisters." Secrecy, lying, and a dangerous addiction follow in the wake of this new relationship. This compelling novel should be on the shelf of every middle school, high school, and public library. Although publishers recommend marketing this title to children as young as eight, this reviewer finds that age too young for some of the disturbing scenes. Diana Lopez has moved into chilling waters with a message for teens, parents, guidance counselors, and school nurses. The conclusion packs a punch that will not soon be forgotten, as realistic as it is unexpected. Bravo Lopez! Reviewer: Janice DeLong
VOYA - Karen Jensen
Windy would like to change everything about herself: her hair, her glasses, and her position as a part of the GP (general population) in her middle school. Nina comes blowing in like a storm; she is mysterious, beautiful, and confident, and speaks of being a "breath sister." As Windy draws closer to Nina, she learns that Nina plays something called the choking game. She says it is about trust, but in reality, it is a dangerous way to get high. Soon, Windy finds herself under Nina's spell and questions everything about who she is and the people around her. In the end, Windy realizes that who she was and what she had was not too bad after all—a point made even more clear when Nina's life is forever changed when the choking game goes too far. Choke was inspired when the author, a former middle school teacher, noticed that her students were coming in with bloodshot eyes. At first, she thought they were doing drugs but she later learned that they were involved in a game known by many names, most notably, the choking game. In the choking game, teens choke self or others until they pass out and they awaken with a buzzy, high feeling. Windy is a naive, insecure character with a strong mother figure and an awkward, but fully-developed, best friend. Nina is the romanticized "it girl" who turns out to be a troubled girl and a bad influence. Many teens will relate to Windy and her inner voice as she struggles to navigate middle school, friendship, and self. At times the voice of the novel is somewhat didactic and it is clear that this is a YA novel with an intended message. It does not resonate as fully, nor is it as richly nuanced, as other problem novels such as Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (Penguin, 2009/Voya April 2009)or Cut by Patricia McCormick (Boyds Mills Press, 2000/Voya February 2001), but it does get its point across while still being a fairly entertaining read and tackles a topic not covered much in teen literature. Reviewer: Karen Jensen
School Library Journal
Gr 6�8—Eighth-grader Windy isn't in the in crowd or the out crowd at her socially stratified San Antonio school; rather, she is relegated to the "general public" with the other nondescript students. Her friend Elena is happy to pursue her own interests (from figure skating to science experiments) without worrying about what others think, but Windy longs to climb the social ladder. She sees her chance when Nina, the cool new girl, befriends her. The girls bond over crushes and trips to the mall, but although Nina initially seems like a positive influence, raising Windy's confidence and encouraging her to stand up for herself, she eventually convinces Windy to become her "breath sister." This involves playing the choking game, in which one participant chokes the other until he or she passes out, achieving a sort of dizzy high in the process. Parts of Choke read like an afterschool special, and this lack of subtlety may be off-putting for more mature readers. However, the book does raise important issues, and many readers will sympathize with Windy as an everygirl who must make difficult decisions in the midst of intense social pressure.—Gesse Stark-Smith, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR
Kirkus Reviews
A tale of friendship and trust intersects with a problem novel about dangerous behaviors among middle schoolers. Windy Soto is solidly GP: "general public." She's neither a loner nor popular, neither a brain nor a failure, and she spends her days happily making Top Five… lists. When charismatic new girl Nina appears and completely upends the school's social hierarchy, Windy sees her chance to jump into the in-crowd. Brushing off her dorky and lovable best friend, Windy joins Nina at lunch tables and secret bathroom conferences. Nina invites Windy to be her "breath sister," surely Windy's ticket to the in-crowd at last. But being a breath sister requires Windy be willing to play the choking game--a.k.a. "sleeper hold" and "suffocation roulette"--and she comes to realize with horror that the scarves Nina always wears around her neck cover the bruises from this dreadful pastime. Tragedy strikes, and a character is left disabled. In the absence of alternate representations of disability, this damage--portrayed lavishly through the eyes of more virtuous characters--turns disability into punishment for bad behavior. What had been a touching story of honesty and self-discovery devolves in the final pages into an over-the-top public-service announcement, and Windy's final Top Five… list reads like a brochure from the school nurse. Though pegged by the publisher for ages 12 and up, both writing style and Windy's age argue for a preteen audience. Surprisingly real, until the mawkish Afterschool Special finale. (author's note, resources) (Fiction. 9-11)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)
640L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 15 Years

Meet the Author

Diana López is the author of Confetti Girl. She was a middle school teacher for more than a decade, and saw firsthand the disturbing "choking game" trend. Currently, Diana teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Houston in Victoria, Texas. For more information about Diana and her books, visit her online at www.dianalopezbooks.com.

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Choke 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After i finish this book i was sad. I cant belive people do the choking game in real life. This story was wonderful! I love it. But it sad that Nina, a beautiful girl thats great at drumbs and is happy......plays the choking game. She says its safe. But she a finds out... tht its not at all. So thats how u become breath sisters. I dont know what people injoy in this game! I encourage people NOT to play the choking game. It can be very dangerous. U can get brain damage or die from it. Nina in the book almost died from it. She got very bad brain damage and cant walk or talk right. She cant do alot of things she used to be able to do. She needs alot of help know. I just count help thibk how terrible that would be! So please never try te choking game. U can become addicted to it. And can push it so far u can kill ur self. Dont do te choking game!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so good i love it so far please dont tell tje ending havent got there yet i a. 11 and ibam reading tjis book so really kids under10 shouldnt read it or they might try the games love the book so much!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is absolutly my new favorite book. It talks about the dangers on being so desperate to fit, the confusion of middle school, and is very moving. I reconmend this book to everyone who is having trouble realizing that they are special
BlkosinerBookBlog More than 1 year ago
I totally related with Windy. Not in the popular crowd, but not really completely on the outside crowd either. On that edge and wanting to change so many things about yourself. I also related with the feeling of doing things I didn't necessarily want to but it sounded cool because a new friend thought it was fun. I felt for Nina. She really stood up for Windy and Elena, which warmed me to her, but I could tell that something wasn't quite right with her. I just wondered what was brewing under the surface, and Diana Lopez peeled back her layers slowly. Obviously she has the problem with the choking game, but you have to wonder what her motivations were. Elana is the best friend that is awesome. She is so nerdy and that completely appeals to me, as does her loyalty and ability to forgive. I also really appreciated the idea of finding yourself and looking for what you love and how to incorporate that into your career. We got to see it with Windy and her relationship with her parents as well as in her own life, working at the nursing home with Mrs. Vargas. By the way, I appreciated so much the well written and close family relationships as well as the presence of Mrs. Vargas, Windy's adopt a granny. Diana Lopez writes with fluidity that got me lost in Windy's story and feeling for her as I read about her self discovery and journey into the dangerous. She also handles such a difficult subject with finesse. The ending is heartbreaking but a wake up call, and I couldn't really expect much different, although she did surprise me some by the end results. Bottom line: Important subject, handled well. Great MG read that can appeal to older readers as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SOOO SAD AT THE END ... almost made me cry Everything is good but the end was ad :(
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am 11 and I totally understand the context and vocabulary being used. I have read a similar book called "perfect" that is just like this. Maybe would like to check out this book if you liked this book because have the same conflict of "fitting in" with the crowd, even though you have to do dangerous things to do it. Personally, I would not do what windy did just to fit in with the cool girls.
alexa3458 More than 1 year ago
I have not read this book but I will tell any teen who has that this is NOT a game! I lost my 13 yr. old daughter to this in 2007.  'Friends' who want to do this with you are NOT friends. It CAN kill you and eventually it WILL kill you! The memory of the night I found my daughter will haunt me forever. She would have been 21 this year. I thank Ms. Lopez for writing this book. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can someone lend me this book?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story told is in and of itself incredible and bring to life on of th meny things that we have in our modern day societu chosen to neglect. This is teen must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book it teaches you a lot the end is a tiny bit sad but its the bomb please read it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is very inspering and intresting.If i were to buy this i would. And thank you for letting me read this beloved book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this is such an awesome book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book opens yoir eyes ti what people will do to quench their feelings. Its terrible that the choking game is based on a true story but is very informational and easy to understand. A different kind of read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
WHAT THE HECK IS 'the choking game'??? Somebody PLEASE tell! I AM DYING TO KNOW.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very good book and it also a got the ge group they were going for tp read it! Most people my age dont enjoy reading, but I do so I recommended this book to my friends and they really liked it, surprisingly! Hopefully you have a second part to this book, I really want to learn more about Windy and Nina
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Choke was an excellent story. Although at times it might be a little disturbing there was an excellent plot which was made into an excellent story. I have never read a book about the plot or heard of the plot so it was a very original plot. I loved the story and woukd definetly recomend
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I want to read the rest
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What happened at ending?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm 12 and I loved the book! It was really good, it kept me up all night reading!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing. Definately not for kids under the age of 12! It is action packed and exciting on every page! I would sugget this book to girls ages 12+
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What happened?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great book to open your eyes about frienship and the dangers and seriousness of the game