In the Lake of the Woods
by Tim O’Brien

From RSD community reviewers:

"O’Brien writes a compelling story, and he knows how to use devices such as repetition, pacing, and foreshadowing to good effect. However, the book is also incredibly vulgar and gruesome. If I hadn’t been reviewing the book, I would have set it aside at page 5 and never returned.

1)Tone – Rage. This is an incendiary book to place in a classroom where teens are grappling with the issue of school shootings and crimes committed by teenagers. It only feed the fires of rage that are already burning, without offering assistance.

2)Themes: Lack of truth, hope and meaning in life. For teenagers who are feeling hopeless, this book offers no answers and sends a deadly message. ‘Life and choice are meaningless anyway.’

3)A distorted view of love and sex. In addition to an unhealthy relationship presented as love (where courtship is replaced by stalking), the book abounds in sex both ordinary and perverted. Readers are also given an extensive demonstration of the use of sexual vulgarities and insults.

4)Confusing fact and fiction. Even sophisticated, alert readers will struggle with the way O'Brien has deliberately blurred the distinction between fact and fiction. Students should struggle with the complexities of Vietnam, but this book does not make a positive contribution to understanding the war.

5)Reliance on the sordid and sensational turns an important subject into a tabloid journalism.

This is not literature, and not suitable for reading and discussing by high school students."

One of the seven novels challenged for classroom use by community reviewers.

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