by Emily Moss
Discussions related to the school-wide summer reading book, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, are set for Thursday in the auditorium and will be organized by grade level, with sophomores attending A-block, seniors attending B-block, freshmen attending D-block and juniors attending E-block, according to the One School, One Book 2014 website.
Students who have frees the day of the event will be allowed to attend any one of the four blocks, and it is optional that these students sign up for their preferred block on the website, according to special education teacher Lisa Goldthwaite, a co-chair of this year’s One School, One Book committee. Teachers of multi-grade classes may also sign up on the website, said Goldthwaite.
The structure of the discussions will remain the same from block to block, though the content may vary depending on the questions that students and faculty ask, according to Goldthwaite and special education teacher Peter Cavanagh, also a co-chair of the One School, One Book committee.
The book is narrated by a nine-year-old boy with Asperger’s syndrome who loses his father on 9/11, and throughout the book, the boy travels across the city in hopes of solving a mystery related to his father’s death.
Panelists during the One School, One Book event will share personal and professional connections to central themes in the book, including the historical context of 9/11, coping with grief and loss, and the effects of Asperger’s Syndrome, according to Cavanagh and Goldthwaite.
“We need to think about how we grieve and move forward as individuals and as a community,” said Cavanagh and Goldthwaite, adding that they feel the book is one “that everyone can connect with on some level.”
Cavanagh and Goldthwaite added that their main goal for One School, One Book is “to make it a meaningful book for the people who read it and a meaningful day and experience.”
While many students agree that the book brings up relevant and meaningful issues, others find it difficult to identify with the plotline and perspective of the book.
Sophomore Kristyn Stoia said, “I think it’s one of those books where there’s something in it that’s for everybody. It’s a very versatile book.”
Sophomore Christina Cong, similarly, noted that the book was overall a good choice for school-wide summer reading.
“The book is a beautiful story of the journey of healing, though some parts of it were really sad,” said Cong. “I felt that the ideas of loss, grief, and family were well conveyed through capturing the subtleties of human emotions.”
Many students, however, were deterred by the the young age of the narrator and the seemingly unfamiliar storyline.
Freshmen Einat Gavish and Jasmine Liu said they thought the subject matter in the book “would relate to a couple kids, but not most.”
“It’s from the perspective of a nine-year-old boy, so it’s not really relatable,” said Gavish. She added, “I think it should have been more about high school, teenagers, and growing up.”
Cavanagh and Goldthwaite also noted that the subject matter discussed in the book and by the panelists could be potentially difficult for some students and that counseling will be available throughout the day.
“We want to be supportive of any and all difficulties it may bring up,” said Cavanagh.
Cavanagh and Goldthwaite added that they thought it was important that the book they chose be “physically accessible” to students. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is available in print, on tape, and as a commercial movie. In addition, a reader’s guide, developed by Special Education teacher Amy McMahon, as well as a complete curriculum are available online to teachers to “pursue as they please.”