An imprint of Penguin Group (USA), Inc.
345 Hudson Street
New York, New York 10014


by Elisa Carbone

What's the story with Akhil Vyas? At first, Becky is convinced that he's the weirdest person on earth when he shows up in her freshman English class. He refuses to sit in a chair, stares at her with his spooky dark eyes, and his skin is covered in scars. But when her best friend Omar begins to befriend him, Becky's revulsion changes to intrigue. Akhil reveals that the National Institutes of Health is studying him, but he can't say why--until something happens that makes him swear Omar and Becky to secrecy. Suddenly Becky isn't sure what's more shocking--Akhil's secret, or the reason why he must reveal it.
THE PACK takes a hard look at school violence: what factors can lead to it, what it feels like to be in the midst of it, what can (and has been) done to prevent it even after it has been set in motion. This book is sure to spark in-depth discussion for young people about how school violence may affect their lives. The questions below are provided to help guide discussions on this important topic.

Book Discussion Questions

1. Which character is the most like you? In what ways?
2. What did you think Akhil's secret was
3. What one thing do you wish Becky, Omar, and Akhil had done that they didn't do? Why?
4. What would you have done if you were in their position?
5. If Becky and Omar had known Kyle in, say, the 6th grade, what do you think they could have done to help Kyle become a better person?
6. Do you think that Kyle's mother and father were partially responsible for making Kyle into the kind of person he was? In what ways?
7. Is there someone in your school, family, or social circle that you could use "wolf communication" with, e.g., trying steady eye contact with a "shoulders back, head up" posture in order to communicate confidence? How do you think this might change your relationship with them?
8. Do you worry about violence in your school?
9. What elements in your school community have caused you to be concerned about violence? What elements in society concern you?
10. Are there programs in your school designed to prevent violence, such as peer mediation? Are there ways for you to become involved, either in existing programs or in helping to set up a new program?

Note: At the end of the book, THE PACK, several websites are listed which offer information on violence warning signs in one's self and others, and things to do to help prevent school and community violence. The information on these sites can provide ample fuel for further discussion.

Additional Educational Resources for THE PACK

Nancy Keene's Booktalk