Author: Patricia Reilly Giff
Publisher: Dell Yearling
Audience: Ages 11–14
Summary: Hollis Woods is a 12 year old foster child who has lived in so many foster homes that she has lost count. Hollis is also an artist who chronicles her life in her drawings. The reader slowly discovers that the way Hollis views herself is not reality and that she is her own worst enemy. Gradually, through the love of two very different families, Hollis begins to see herself through their eyes so that she can accept the love they are offering and truly become part of a family.
Literary Elements at work in the story: The story is told through the point of view of Hollis, the main character. The story is also told with an alternating chapter technique that moves the reader back and forth between Hollis’ time with the Reagans’ and with Jose. The author wants the reader to recognize how the two stories intertwine to “heal” Hollis. The theme of the story is the human yearning for a place to belong and the human tendency to be self critical. Hollis’s eyes as an artist lead us through her life as she draws each of her situations.
Perspective on genderracecultureeconomicability: The focus is one of a teenager perspective which is very self involved. Although readers may not be foster children themselves they will identify with Hollis’s need to belong. Pre teens and teens will also find themselves identifying with Hollis’ teenage ‘angst” and self doubt.
Scripture: John 17:23
Theology: Our worthiness is not a result of our own achievements or failures. The gift of God’s love transcends all of our earthly acts and our identity as a member of God’s family, loved by Him, is an identity we can trust and rest in. Just as Hollis had to learn to see herself through other’s eyes and to recognize her own worthiness before she could allow her own happiness, we too must recognize our own identity as a child of God. Once we can recognize our identity as God’s beloved children, we can focus on serving Him and resting in the knowledge that we are loved members of His family no matter what happens here on earth.
Faith Talk Questions:
- What are some of the situations that form Hollis’s self identity?
- What are some situations that you have encountered that have formed your opinion of yourself?
- Do you have a friend who thinks of herself differently than you see her or him? Why?
- What is it about the Regan’s that starts to break through Hollis’ self protective shell?
- Why does Hollis run away?
- What or who ends up changing things for Hollis?
- How do you think God views us? Do you think He is on our side and loving or is He a God who punishes and looks for our failings?
- Do you think we think of ourselves in the same way that God sees us? Why or why not?
- How would things be different if we did?
Review prepared by Inger Manchester, MDiv, Entering cohort Fall 2006
pictures of hollis woods by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.