Lists of Nominees
Documents to Print

Discussion Module

Heart on My Sleeve
Ellen Wittlinger

Publishing Information: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: New York, 2004
ISBN: 0689849974/06849990 (PB)
: 224 p.
Ages: 14 & Up

From the end of high school to the beginning of college, Chloe and Julian deal with major life changes and explore their feelings for each other through emails, letters, and a visit.

Subject Headings & Major Themes:

Coming of Age
Creative Writing
Curriculum Connections:
Family Relationships
First Impressions
Teen Relationships

Awards & Reviews:
ALA Notable Children's Books, 2005
Governor General's Literary Award, 2005
Michael L. Printz Honor Book, 2005
School Library Journal Best Books, 2004
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 2005
YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 2005

BookList, July 1, 2004, p. 1838
School Library Journal, July 2004, p.1831

Discussion Questions and Ideas:

  1. How do you feel about the format of this book? Explain.
  2. How does this title relate to events and/or characters in the novel?
  3. How does a person end a possible romantic relationship and still remain friends?
  4. When you first meet someone, how do you form a first impression? What is most important to you? How accurate are you most of the time?
  5. In the world of IMs and e-mails, how do people really communicate in the written form and present the true self? Talk about editing ideas so they read what they want to believe through the written word as Chloe and Julian do.
  6. Discuss Chloe's reaction to Bill's comments when he heard that Genevieve is a lesbian.   How did Chloe herself react to the same news? How justified is Chloe's reaction to Bill?
  7. How can a person prepare family members to hear news they may not want to hear or understand?
  8. Discuss the acceptance or non-acceptance of homosexuality. Cite evidence.
  9. Some topics may be just too personal for e-mail. What might some of those topics be?
  10. You probably found Chloe and Genevieve's parents' views on some topics quite amusing. Discuss incidents of narrow-mindedness that you have encountered. How have you tried to enlighten such people?
  11. What do parents have to do to achieve good communication with their children? What to children have to do to achieve good communication with their parents?
  12. Staying close to high school friend during the college years when you are separated is difficult at best. What are some measures you might take to maintain those close high school ties?
  13. What can best prepare students for moving from a sheltered high school environment to a college campus?
  14. What skills does a person have to have to weather those first few months at college and away from home and friends?
  15. Julian struggles through the contests to be able to afford college. Chloe's parents will pay for her college education. How could each situation be a positive and a negative?
  16. Chloe's mother reveals her relationship secret toward the end of the book, and all the while the reader feels that she and her husband have a wonderful relationship. Discuss different relationships. What makes them work? What makes them fail? What is the perfect relationship?
  17. Which works better ... focusing on one person whom you really like but is far away or creating a relationship with a person who lives closer but is not quite what you want? Explain.
  18. What could Chloe do to establish a better relationship with her parents? What could Genevieve do?
  19. Where do you see the author in this book?
  20. Does this book have a realistic ending? Is it a satisfying one for you? Why or why not? Would you like to rewrite the ending of this book? What would your ending be?

Related Websites:
Ellen Wittlinger Website -

Parent/teen Relationships

Teen Relationships


The Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot, 2002
True Confessions of a Heartless Girl
by Martha Brooks, 2003
by Judy Blume,
by P.J. Peterson & Ivy Ruckman, 2004  
by Lauren Myracle, 2004
The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty, 2004

Other Books by the Author:
Lombardo's Law, 1993
Noticing Paradise, 1995
Hard Love, 1999 (2001 RITBA Nominee)
Gracie's Girl, 2000
What's in a Name, 2000
Razzle, 2001 (2002 RITBA Nominee)
The Long Night of Leo and Bree, 2002
Zigzag, 2003
Sandpiper, 2005

About the Author:
Ellen Wittlinger was born in Belleville, IL, in 1948. Her parents owned a small grocery store which was attached to their home. She has no siblings.   After attending college, she moved to Oregon and then attended a writing school in Massachusetts where she still lives today with her family. After working as a children's librarian, she began to write books for teens. She loves animals, traveling, taking pictures, gardening and admiring what she has accomplished in the garden, dancing, and the color red.

| ©2004 - Rhode Island Teen Book Award Committee | Aaron Coutu, Chair