Swallowing Stones

Swallowing Stones

by Joyce McDonald

Hardcover

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385323093
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 09/08/1997
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.81(w) x 8.58(h) x 0.96(d)
Lexile: 820L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Joyce McDonald is the author of several critically acclaimed young adult and middle-grade novels, including Shades of Simon Gray, an Edgar Allan Poe Award nominee and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, and Devil on My Heels, nominated for five state awards. She is also a poet and is on the faculty of the low-residency MFA in writing program at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. She lives in Forks Township, Pennsylvania, with her husband. Visit Joyce at joycemcdonald.net and on Twitter at @JoyceMcDonald46.

Read an Excerpt

It was all true, then. The nightmare was real. Michael could no longer pretend, as he sometimes did, that there was a chance he hadn't fired that fatal shot. The bullet had come from somewhere in his neighborhood. The chances of someone else in such a small area shooting off a gun around noon on that same day were probably one in a million. He had spent weeks trying to get used to the idea that he had committed this hideous act. But always, somewhere, there had been hope. A bullet traveling a mile or more through the air could have come from as far away as the next town over. There had always been the outside chance that someone else had fired a gun into the air that Fourth of July afternoon. Now that chance no longer existed.

Reading Group Guide

1. Discuss how the accidental death of Charlie Ward may still be considered manslaughter.

2. Contrast Michael and Joe. Why does Michael maintain his friendship with Joe when everyone else has written him off? Discuss why Michael allows Joe to talk him into burying the rifle. How does Michael feel betrayed by Joe at different points in the novel?

3. Describe Amy Ruggerio’s role in the novel. How do people perceive her character? How is she hurt by these perceptions? Why does Joe smash her car? Discuss why Michael is so intrigued by Amy. Talk about Michael’s feelings when he learns that Amy had seen him with the rifle. Why has she kept this secret? How does she help Michael face the truth?

4. Both Jenna Ward and Amy Ruggerio harbor guilt for accidents they aren’t responsible for. Discuss how this guilt shapes Amy’s personality. What does Amy teach Jenna about grief? How does guilt create a bond between Jenna and her mother?

5. Discuss how the death of her father affects the relationship between Jenna and her boyfriend, Jason. Why is she so frightened by him? How does the accidental shooting influence Michael’s relationship with his girlfriend, Darcy? Why does he want her to be the one to end the relationship? Jenna wishes that relationships could be worked out like math problems, but knows there are just too many variables. Discuss the variables in the various relationships in the novel.

6. Cite evidence that Mr. MacKenzie might suspect that his son is involved in the shooting accident. Discuss why Mr. MacKenzie needs to believe that Joe is the one who fired the gun. Role-play a scene where Michael confesses the shooting to his father.

7. Why does Michael feel the need to watch Jenna Ward’s house? How might his actions be considered a form of stalking? Discuss why Michael goes to the ghost tree. How does his trip to the ghost tree take courage? Discuss the role of the ghost tree in Jenna’s healing process.

8. What are the stones that Michael MacKenzie must swallow? Discuss what stones he must swallow in the future. What lessons can teenagers learn from Michael’s unfortunate experiences?

Prepared by Pat Scales, Director of Library Services, the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, Greenville.

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Swallowing Stones 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I originally found this book on my school library's free book rack. I thouroughly enjoyed this book and have read it multiple times, of course now it's one of my top favorite books. But, after having it all to myself for a few years, I decided to donate it to the public library where I live. I smile every time I see it missing from the shelf there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book sucks
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book had a bad storyline and was not interesting. It was quite boring and did not exctie me at all. I actually looked forward to the end just so it would be over, though I must admit there were some OK parts of the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Who keeps telling me to sto.Op?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great book, I would reccomend it. The storyline was great, would have prefered a better ending though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this in one night and i couldn't but my nook down. This book defentially has abunch of lessons in itand can teach u how to deal with tough relationships not that everyone who has read this book has , you know, shot someone
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was picking through my old english teachers¿ library of teen novels, when I came across the book Swallowing Stones. I thought wow, what a title, what in the world could swallowing stones mean? I started reading the back of the book, and I was instantly pulled into it. I was compelled to find out the meaning of the title. I wanted to read it right then.
Swallowing Stones fits into the category of a fictional mystery. I love the books that make you think about what will happen next, the ones that are suspenseful. You can¿t put them down! I would definitely recommend the book to any mystery fanatics; you won¿t be disappointed by this thrilling piece.
I¿m not an active reader, but I was surprised to find myself reading the book every night. Joyce McDonald creates a character that everyone can relate to; Michael is an average young teenager like many high school students. He is getting ready to drive, he¿s intelligent, and he¿s pretty popular. Until one day, when Michael is faced with the fact that he is a murderer. He has no idea that his foolish action on Independence day could lead to the death of an innocent person. No one knows except his best friend Joe, who witnessed the shooting. The reader wants to find out if they can pull of the secret that will scar them for life if anyone finds out about it. It makes you want to keep reading to find out.
Swallowing stones was recommended to me, and now I am recommending it to you. I encourage teens between the ages of twelve and seventeen years old who are looking for a quick interesting story to read to read Swallowing Stones. The book starts off great, and it definitely ends great. The book focuses on problems that teens deal with everyday, ranging from dating to consequences you will face because of your actions.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i had to read this book for school. it was amazing & would b a book i would read for pleasure . the storyline is amazing & very elaborate .everyone who likes a good,easy to follow book should read this!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was so good I read it in 2 days!! I just couldent put it down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book Swallowing Stones was one of my best books I have ever read. Normally the books don't jump out at me like this. But ever time I put the book down siad, 'I wonder what happens next.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
YEAHHHHHHHH
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why does the author leave the reader hanging like that!!??
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Idk
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stop
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So I don't read books often, except when extra credit is offered in Language class for participating in the book club. This was one of our books. i couldn't put it down. It is a great book....until the ending. That was one of the worst endings to a book i have ever read. Such a let down. If you have a mind that has to know exactly what happens. I wouldn't reccomend this book. Great book....Until the last page.
MegaC1993 More than 1 year ago
This book was very interesting. I had to read it for english class, but I'm glad I read it. It had a lot of suspense. Which made it so you couldn't stop reading it. It also had a great moral to it. I would recommend this book to everyone especially teens that have guns and hunt a lot.