“Surviving the Applewhites” – How Do We Characterize Others Based On Appearance?

Book Review: Surviving the Applewhites
By Stephanie S. Tolan

Spoiler Alert!


Jake Semple is notorious. Rumor has it he burned down his old school and got kicked out of every school in his home state.

Only one place will take him now, and that’s a home school run by the Applewhites, a chaotic and hilarious family of artists. The only one who doesn’t fit the Applewhite mold is E.D.—a smart, sensible girl who immediately clashes with the unruly Jake.

Jake thinks surviving this one will be a breeze . . . but is he really as tough or as bad as he seems?

(Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

Humor must be one of the hardest things to write, and particularly for tweens. Too often humor degenerates into something crude and vulgar. Humor in Surviving the Applewhites is dependent upon an improbable set of events and people, more indicative of a farce and left me laughing.

Tolan deftly delivers a moral lesson without being preachy. Jake has been misjudged by everyone because of his appearance. He is fully aware of what his clothes say and tries to use it to dissuade the Applewhite’s kindness. Only E.D. sees Jake as trouble, but she is also categorizing herself as a misfit within her family. Many would judge the Applewhite’s to be eccentric if you were being kind, and crazy if you want to be accurate. Each person comes to value themselves in the book and it’s interesting to see how Jake no longer has to maintain an image of being trouble because he is comfortable.

I highly recommend this book, for children if read to them and tweens to read to themselves.

4 out of 5 stars
4 star

– Michelle

If you like this book try Schooled by Gordon Korman.


About Tales Untangled

I am a mother of four children and have a passion for reading. I love sharing my treasury of books with my kids. I also do experiments in cooking which includes such things as Indian Tandoori Chicken slow cooked in a tagine. Weekly I get together with friends and go to yoga for a bit of mommy time. Some may find me quirky, I prefer to think I am one of a kind.
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