Black Box

By: Julie Schumacher

Dora and Elena are as different as two sisters can be. Dora's tall and theatrical; Elena is short and practical. "It was as if, growing up, Dora had occupied a certain space and developed a certain kind of personality," Elena says, "and I had taken what was left over. On a barometer, Dora was a storm on the horizon; I was the needle that always pointed to steady." But after Dora is admitted to the local hospital following a suicide attempt, Elena finds it increasingly difficult to remain the family's "steady Eddie." Author's Note. Resources.

ISBN: 9780385905237

JLG Release: Nov 2008


Sensitive Areas: Attempted suicide, Drug abuse, Language,
Topics: Psychiatric wards , Security procedures , Depression , Therapists , Medication , Parents , Overdoses , Hospital orderlies , Classmates , Coded messages , Recipes , Cutting as self-abuse , Responsibility , Trust , Secrets , Lies , Suicide , Recovery , Friends

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Awards & Honors

2009 ALA Best Books for Young Adults; 2009 ALA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers

Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Book List*, The Horn Book Guide, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly*, School Library Journal*, Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)

Horn Book

Elena watches her beloved older sister Dora struggle with a deep depression from which Elena, for once, cannot save her. Can Elena best help Dora by keeping her secrets, or by exposing them? Focusing on the sisters' tight relationship and the family's fractured dynamic, this powerful novel presents a raw, intimate look at fraught topics including i Elena watches her beloved older sister Dora struggle with a deep depression from which Elena, for once, cannot save her. Can Elena best help Dora by keeping her secrets, or by exposing them? Focusing on the sisters' tight relationship and the family's fractured dynamic, this powerful novel presents a raw, intimate look at fraught topics including institutionalization and antidepressants for teens.

Junior Library Guild

“How did my sister fall through a hole in her life and into some other life below? I’m not sure how it happened. Sometimes I still have trouble believing that it happened at all.” Black Box never answers Elena’s question; Julie Schumacher understands that a simple answer would be impossible and wisely chooses to focus not on depressi “How did my sister fall through a hole in her life and into some other life below? I’m not sure how it happened. Sometimes I still have trouble believing that it happened at all.” Black Box never answers Elena’s question; Julie Schumacher understands that a simple answer would be impossible and wisely chooses to focus not on depression’s causes, but on its effects—particularly on family life.

Elena’s first method of coping with Dora’s depression is denial. Eventually, though, this gives way to another extreme, and Elena makes it her personal mission to understand Dora’s medications and treatment options. Their mother, on the other hand, insists that they keep Dora’s condition private—another form of denial, and one which makes Elena’s situation even more overwhelming and lonely.

Even as the characters in Black Box sway and buckle under the weight of Dora’s depression, Schumacher’s short chapters keep the book moving forward at a brisk, lively pace. Elena’s burgeoning romance with a neighborhood boy helps balance out the family drama.

Many books address the subject of depression, but Black Box stands out from the crowd as an uncommonly smart, honest offering—one that privileges difficult questions over easy answers.

Book Details

ISBN

9780385905237

First Release

November 2008

Genre

Fiction.

Dewey Classification

F

Trim Size

5 1/2" x 8 1/4"

Page Count

176

Accelerated Reader

Level 4.1; Points: 4;

Scholastic Reading Counts

Level 3.4; Points: 10;

Lexile

Level 600L

Format

Print Book

Edition

-

Publisher

Delacorte

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Attempted suicide, Drug abuse, Language,

Topics

Psychiatric wards, Security procedures, Depression, Therapists, Medication, Parents, Overdoses, Hospital orderlies, Classmates, Coded messages, Recipes, Cutting as self-abuse, Responsibility, Trust, Secrets, Lies, Suicide, Recovery, Friends,

Standard MARC Record

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Cover Art

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