Shattering Glass

Shattering Glass

by Gail Giles

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Shattering Glass by Gail Giles

"Simon Glass was easy to hate. . . . I guess, really we each hated him for a different reason, but we didn't realize it until the day we killed him."
Fat, clumsy Simon Glass is a nerd, a loser who occupies the lowest rung on the high school social ladder. Everyone picks on him—until Rob Haynes shows up. Rob, a transfer student with charisma to spare, immediately becomes the undisputed leader of the senior class. And he has plans for Simon.
Rob enlists the help of his crew—wealthy, intellectual Young, ladies' man Bob, and sweet, athletic Coop—in a mission: turn sniveling Simon from total freak to would-be prom king. But as Simon rises to the top of the social ranks, he shows a new confidence and a devious side that power-hungry Rob did not anticipate. And when Simon uncovers a dangerous secret, events darken. The result is disquieting, bone-chilling . . . and brutal.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250060006
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication date: 01/06/2015
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 278,652
Product dimensions: 5.46(w) x 8.15(h) x 0.69(d)
Age Range: 12 - 18 Years

About the Author

Gail Giles has written many acclaimed YA novels, including Shattering Glass and Dead Girls Don't Write Letters. A native Texan, Gail has lived in Chicago and Alaska. She is now living back in Texas with her husband, two dogs, and three cats.

Reading Group Guide

A Reading Group Guide to

Shattering Glass
By Gail Giles

About the Book

Simon Glass was easy to hate. I never knew exactly why, there was too much to pick from. I guess, really, we each hated him for a different reason, but we didn’t realize it until the day we killed him.

Fat, clumsy Simon was a dweeb, there was no doubt about it, with his pocket protector jammed with pens, his shirt tucked into his underwear, and his irritating habit of swiping at his nose. Everybody made him the butt of their jokes, especially Lance, who had been head guy at Brazos Vale High School until Rob showed up. But now Rob is the leader, along with his posse—rich and intellectual Young, good-looking Bob, and sweet dumb Coop, the star linebacker. Rob has a deep need to prove his power, and so when he enlists the three of them in the seemingly impossible job of Making Simon Popular, they all get involved in the transformation. They take him to the mall for the right clothes and a hair styling; they teach him how to act. Soon the whole school is noticing that being nice to Simon is the way to get close to Rob.

But then the project—and the book—turns dark, as Simon begins to show a devious side, a talent for hacking into the school computer, and a tendency to do what the others can’t—defy Rob. Each of the other three are held in bondage by “something missing,” a hidden empty place at the center, that makes them vulnerable to Rob’s manipulation. But Rob, too, has a terrible secret, and when Simon uncovers it, Young finds that he is linked to Rob in a net of obligation, even to the point of giving up the girl he loves so that Simon can appear at the dance with the perfect date. The web tightens, and the story moves inexorably to the dark equipment room where the complex interlocking motivations of these five will explode into a bloody catharsis.

With this first young adult novel, Gail Giles takes her place among the great writers of the genre, in a story that moves from a seemingly light and engaging premise to a revelation of the dark places of the heart. Giles’s ear for the adolescent male voice is flawless, and her dialogue is tight, contemporary, and often very funny. With compassion and insight, she weaves understanding for six fully developed characters into a seamless tapestry. The structure of the novel is brilliantly original, using a device that layers the present and the future, giving a double dimension to the events of the narrative and pulling the reader forward with hints and questions. Profound moral themes of social guilt, the abuse of power, and the immorality of exclusion emerge naturally from the action, but never weigh down the strong forward pull of the story in this enthralling and startling novel.

Discussion Topics

1. The title of this novel is, of course, a grim pun. But beyond that, how does the phrase “shattering glass” (or “shattering Glass”) describe the action? What are the qualities of something that is shattered, rather than just broken? What might happen to someone who is near a shattering?

2. Shattering Glass shares a theme, as well as several other points of similarity, with two masterworks: The Lord of the Flies by William Golding and The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier. If you have read either or both of these novels, compare the opening sentence of The Chocolate War to the opening words of Shattering Glass; the murdered outcast Simon in The Lord of the Flies to Gail Giles’s Simon, or the violent conclusions of all three. Do they agree about the consequences of following an amoral but charismatic leader? How do they differ?

3. Young notices that Simon has “skin like the underside of a toad,” a vivid example of Gail Giles’s use of figurative language. What other striking metaphors and similes does she use to describe Simon’s eyebrows? The way Rob wears his confidence? Lance’s usefulness? The Goths and tweakers hanging on the edges of the action? The clerk at the driver’s license bureau? Rob’s controlled rage just before the murder?

4. The extraordinary device of the quotes at the beginning of each chapter are like those “scenes from next week’s episode” on TV. They tell us what’s going to happen (or has already happened) but not when or why or how. Then the narrative lets us watch events moving in that direction. These are the voices of people who already know the whole story. They pull us along with questions, surprises, insights from new points of view, foreshadowing of things to come. What is the event about which all these various voices are speaking? When does it take place? How does this future knowledge affect your feelings toward the characters' hopes and fears?

5. Rather than being grateful when Rob shows that he intends to bring him out of geekdom, Simon immediately suspects Rob’s motives. “What’s in this for you?” he asks suspiciously. Blair Crews says, “Simon, though, he let Rob show him how to dress and behave, but he never lost himself in Rob.” Why is he not taken in by Rob, as the others are? Why is able to be the only one to defy Rob?

6. Young hates Simon from the first, for reasons he doesn’t quite understand. When Simon gives him just the right gift—an expensive blank journal—he reacts with resentment instead of pleasure. Why does he feel this way? “Glass was my fun house mirror,” he says. What is there about Young that makes him see Simon as a distorted image of himself? At the beginning, he also says, “We each hated him for a different reason.” Is this true? Later, Young accuses Simon of always needing to have permission. Who is Young really talking about?

7. Rob manipulates people so he can feel powerful, and their response is of little interest to him as long as they do his will. Simon, however, manipulates people out of vengeance, and their pain is the whole point. If innocent bystanders like Alice also get hurt, it is of no consequence to him. What is there about Alice that should have made him especially sympathetic toward her? Why does that work in exactly the opposite way?

8. Why is it so hard for Young to ask Ronna out? What is there in his past that undermines his male confidence? If Rob hadn’t pushed him, would he ever have gotten up the nerve? Why is it Ronna that Rob chooses to give to Young? What is it about his feelings for Rob that obligates Young to agree to give Ronna away even though he loves her?

9. The tender sensuality and poignancy of the love scenes between Young and Ronna are the material of poetry. Try your hand at writing a poem, either from Ronna’s or Young’s point of view, about their first date, their lovemaking, their breakup, or Ronna’s heartbreaking question: “Is this the very best day I’ll ever have?”

10. Young, Coop, and Bob each have a different basic weakness—an empty place or something missing—and a related secret that they must preserve at all costs. What are these weaknesses and secrets, and how does the need to keep them hidden make each one vulnerable?

11. Young and Rob are also linked by a secret in their pasts. Why does Young trust Rob with this secret? When Rob gives Young reassurance about his self-doubt, who else is he trying to reassure? If his words can “patch the hole” in Young, why can’t he heal himself? When Young discovers Rob’s secret, how does this knowledge obligate him to Rob? What one word from Lance makes it necessary for Rob to annihilate him? Why?

12. “Ronna told me this was all about fathers,” says her dad. Take another look at the brief vignettes that show each boy interacting with his father. Coop reveals that “Young and I both made Rob into a substitute father. We couldn’t deal with the ones we’d been given. And Rob made us feel like successful sons.” What is the central fear “all about fathers” that haunts each of the members of Rob’s posse? How does this fear motivate their actions?

13. “Anyone who is the alpha wolf takes over,” says Blair Crews. “Rob came in and just took over the lead.” Why do groups need an “Alpha wolf?" How do such leaders get the job? Are most people more comfortable having decisions made for them? Why?

14. Getting Simon elected Class Favorite, says Rob, is a way “to put things right. In my head, kind of.” Why is it more satisfying for him to make Simon Class Favorite than to be elected Class Favorite himself? Why is this goal so supremely important to him? What empty place in him does it fill? Rob says that Lance suffers more in becoming an outcast than Simon, because Lance has had popularity and lost it. What has Rob possessed and then lost?

15. The Class Favorites election is a traditional custom at Brazos Vale High School. What do you think of such a competition? Is it healthy? Does it cause more pain than happiness? Why do teens (and other human beings) enjoy ranking each other like this?

16. "There was a cold center in Rob where his heart should have been,” remembers his girlfriend, Blair Crews. Rob explains clearly that in rescuing Simon, he’s not acting out of compassion, but because the mob, in its rejection of Simon, has taken the control Rob wants to keep for himself. What deeper levels of sadism are revealed by his treatment of the frog? Are the events in his past enough to explain such intense pleasure in cruelty? Would he have been a coldhearted manipulator even if he had had a normal childhood?

17. Some of what Rob does is good—saving Simon from geekhood, comforting Young’s fears about his sexual identity, offering friendly attention to everyone at school. Yet we know all of this comes from his intense need for power. Is a good act done for the wrong reasons poisoned? On the other hand, is a bad act done for good reasons—like Simon taking the ACT to help Coop—justified by its intention?

18. It has been said that for evil to win out, all that has to happen is for the good people to do nothing. By following Rob unquestioningly, the boys allow his need for power and control to take them to a terrible end. But there are a number of places in the story where they could have resisted if they had listened to their consciences, small decisions that add up. Where are some of those turning points, those moments when they could have said no, for Young? For Coop?

19. Young fantasizes about killing Simon, and wonders “how it must feel to let loose, to allow the darkness trapped inside you out to run rampant.” Why, then, is he the only one to stand back during the murder? And why is he the only one willing to take the responsibility of paying for the crime? Is someone who allows a terrible deed as guilty as those who commit it?

20. A novel usually consists of a long rising action, then a climactic scene that brings the conflict to a confrontation, followed by a final section that resolves it all. In Shattering Glass, Gail Giles ends the book immediately after the climactic scene. What is there about the way this novel is structured that makes this possible? How do we already know what happened afterward? Is this ending satisfying, in spite of being so abrupt?

21. In the future Young will write a successful book and sign his royalties over to the injured Coop. What do we know about the subject of that book, and its format?

Internet Resources on Bullying & Peer Pressure

Raven Days: Surviving Middle School, Junior High, and High School as a Hunted Outsider
A great teen-friendly website with helpful advice, news, and heartfelt stories from those who have been or are being bullied.

National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center
Authoritative articles on bullying and many aspects of school violence, with excellent links.

About the Author

Gail Giles (pronounced "jiles," rhymes with "miles") is a native Texan, has lived in Chicago, and now makes her home in Anchorage, Alaska, where last winter, she says, she couldn’t leave her house for two days because “a moose hunkered down in the driveway and we couldn’t get the car out of the garage.”

I imagine the isolation in Alaska in good for your writing.
It is. You can’t do anything else but sit down and write when it’s minus 40; you can’t even breathe the air outside.

I know Shattering Glass is your first young adult novel, but have you written any other books?

Well, I’ve written many, but I’ve published only one other—Breath of the Dragon. It’s set in Thailand, for seven-to-eleven-year-olds. It was based on the story of a girl in my class in Texas. I taught English there for nineteen years—remedial reading for ninth graders, and at the other end of the spectrum, creative writing and speed reading for the advanced seniors. It was Schizophrenia City!

How and when did you begin writing?

I always wanted to write—a nun started me writing when I was in elementary school. I wrote all the way through college, but never showed it to anybody. When I finally got brave enough to submit manuscripts to publishers, it was a long time before I got a novel accepted. With Shattering Glass, other editors wanted a neatly tied-up ending, but Deborah Brodie at Roaring Brook Press accepted the book. Then she guided me through months of revisions and more rounds of polishing, until we were satisfied with the level of morality that balanced the violence. I love to be edited; I get new ideas and it makes the book better. ?

This book is so evocative of The Chocolate War, and intriguingly enough, many editors also wanted Robert Cormier to change the ending before the book was accepted.

Interesting! He’s the master, that’s all there is, and I’ve read all of his books. I always used to say that he was the only one who could get away with leaving that very open ending. But the book that most influenced Shattering Glass was The Lord of the Flies.

Guide written by Patty Campbell, a longtime critic, librarian, editor, writer, and teacher in the field of young adult literature. She has won the Grolier Award from the American Library Association and the ALAN Award from the Assembly on Adolescent Literature of the National Council of Teachers of English, both given for distinction in the service of young adults and reading.

Originally published by Roaring Book Press, 2002. Used by permission.

This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.

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Shattering Glass 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 82 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Simon Glass is a chubby, awkward nerd who everyone hates. He is always being made fun of by the other students. Things change when a new student, Rob Haynes comes around. Rob wants to turn Simon into the popular ¿prom king¿. With the help of Young, Bob, and Coop, other boys at school, Simon rises to the top of all the social classes. He begins to have complete confidence in himself, makes many new friends, and approaches good opportunities that he never would of had before. The other boys start to become jealous over Simon. However, he unravels a personality that no one expected. For example, he hacks the school computers to change personal information of others. With all of the self-happiness and confidence, he discovers a dark, and brutal secret that changes everything. Shattering Glass would receive five stars, and everyone will love it! Readers can¿t put it down. This book had many new twists and surprises that kept getting better. The whole concept of turning a nerd, into the most popular guy at school was very interesting and entertaining to read. It also changes the way you may think of other social classes. At the end of the book, the final secret was very surprising and suspenseful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read many good books but never have I liked a book so much where I wrote a review on my own time. This book just might be one of the best books I have ever read. I told my sister and cousin about this book. Very well written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gail Giles is a great author. She has such a way of foreshadowing that makes you curious and on the edge of your seat. She also makes the characters relatable. Shattering Glass is a great realistic fiction book that tells how power can become unmanageable when used by  someone who is immoral and/or immature. The story is told through the perspective of a high school boy named Young. Simon Glass is  one of the main characters who is the school wide pinata. Simon is always being made fun of and teased because he is chubby and smart. But Rob, Young's friend and one of the most attractive and popular boys, wants to turn Simon around and make him the most  popular kid in school. Robs plan works wonderfully until everything goes horribly wrong at the end. After reading this book, you will want to  re-assess your friends. Young couldn't have been more right when he said "Simon Glass was easy to hate. I never knew exactly why, there was just too much to pick from. I guess, really, we each hated him for a different reason, but we didn't realize it until the day we killed him."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book!! It totally kept me on my toes. The ending omg!! I'm not going to ruin it for the ppl that will read this so i am just going to say its a must read!! GET THE BOOK!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
hailey_transou More than 1 year ago
Simon Glass is a chubby kid that everyone hates in high school. He's made fun of everyday by other students. But then Rob comes and helps change Simons look and Bob,Lance, and Coop help Rob make this happen. But when Simon becomes cool and people begin to  like Simon, Rob gets jealous because people are begininng to like Simon. Simon begins to fell confinidente with himself and makes  more friends that he thought would never happen. Simon has a dark secret that changes everything and the group of boys made a  mistake that they didn't think that they thought would never happen. 
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Audrey-Everett More than 1 year ago
While in my English class, we chose to read this fiction novel. I didn't really comprehend most of it because of all my absences. But all i really know is that Simon Glass was a nerd who was fat and clumsy. He was somewhat a loser and everybody hated him. Everybody picks on him, until Rob Haynes shows up. Rob was a transfer student and became popular in the school, and decided to help Simon out... or rather have other plans for him... (HINT: somebody gets murdered!) (this story was okay, but not as the usual of the others i recommended for you.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was remarkable! I loved it from beginning to end! I would recommend it to anyone! It is so insightful and very powerful. It can change your views perhaps on social life at school, but overall it is thrilling and you WILL be suprised. I read it a few months ago actually, but it is unforgettable! Gail Giles is genius! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Notjustphysical More than 1 year ago
This book shows glass as one thing but in the end another its sad how it all ends but the ride is fun.
readerteacherlady More than 1 year ago
The beginning of each chapter starts with a police interview with a person who may have had something to do with the crime, which helps unfold different aspects of the story. It bounces from that police interrogation to what happened five years prior, so that part could confuse a reader not expecting it or someone who is not patient/curious enought to figure out what's going on. There is a tough topic for guys that is subtly revealed in this story. It takes a very "typical" teen movie topic (re-making a nerd) and twists it into a psychological thriller. I highly recommend!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is an amazing book. Gail Giles really out did herself on this one. It shows depth, emotion, and voice. It's something you want to read over and over again. I think this book outshines all the other books Gail Giles has written. It's like a romantic, suspenseful, thriller!
CM More than 1 year ago
This book was very intriguing and mysterious. The way this novel was written helped me better undertand and visualize every situation. Eventough the author tells us the ending in the very first paragraph of this novel, it is still very unexpected when it finaly comes. I recomend this book to all audiences. I loved it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Could you ever imagine hatig a person so much, that someday you might end up killing him/her?? In the book Shattering Glass by Gail Giles it actually happens. This is a realistic teen fiction novel. Simon Glass is a nerd, a loser and on the the lowest part of the high school social ladder. People pick on him so much-until Rob Haynes shows up. Rob, a transfer student and the senior class leader has plans in store for Simon. Rob gets help from his crew-Young, Coop, Bob with a mission: to turn Simon from freak to would-be Prom King. But Simon rises to the top of his game, showing confidence and a devious side that power hungry Rob doesn't like. And when Simon decides to tell a dangerous secret, events begin to darken. The result is a bone-chiling, unexpected,...brutal ending. I liked the book alot, there is so much suspense. Gail Giles lives in Alaska with her husband, two dogs, three cats, and some wild moose that stay every now and then. The author for Young Adults selection and Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers selection, her books have been nominated both in 2003, in ALA Teens Top Ten selection, for Shattering Glass and Dead Girls Don't Write Letters. Overall, I would give this book an eight out of ten.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a great book! It was very entertaining and suspenseful, eventhough it tells you the end in the first paragraph. It makes you think about your role in life. Make sure you read the blurbs at the beginning of each paragraph, or else you wont get what happens.