Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie Tolan

Published: 2002

Genre: YA fiction

Length: 216 pages

Setting: Traybridge, NC, present day

Interest: I had seen it reviewed on The Hub and was interested because it was about a homeschooling family. I started reading it because we were chilling out in the children’s section of the Seattle library and I needed something to read. Luckily, they had this on the shelf. I didn’t finish it that day, but I was able to check it out of my local library and finish it.

Summary: Jake is a problem child who’s come to live with his grandfather. When the public school throws him out, Jake is enrolled in a nearby homeschool “academy” made up of the Applewhite family. Everyone in the Applewhite family is an artistic genius (except E.D., who is Jake’s age). After a rough initial transition, Jake eventually finds himeself enjoying the Applewhites. A production of The Sound of Music brings the whole family together to get everything done. Turns out, Jake can sing and E.D.’s penchant for lists and organization keeps everyone on schedule.

Final thoughts: An enjoyable, quick read. There are some stereotypes of homeschooling (everyone in the family is a genius; it’s a large family) but not others (they aren’t homeschooling for religious reasons). They are an unschooling family, so Jake is completely confused about what he’s supposed to do with himself when no one is providing him with curriculum. He manages to find a niche for himself, after floundering for a bit. I also loved how all of his “bad boy” looks got a “that’s nice, dear” response from the Applewhites and he started to realized how much of his persona was put on for effect instead of because he enjoyed it.

Title comes from: Jake has to survive living with the Applewhites

Reading challenges fulfilled: 60/100 in my Finally to 100 Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!


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