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The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Boot Camp
y Todd Strasser

Publishing Information: Simon & Schster Books for Young Readers: New York, 2008
ISBN: 9781416908487
: 256 p.
Ages: 13 & Up

How bad can a boot camp really be?  For Garrett, it's his worst nightmare come to life. Will he escape the never-ending behavior modifications of Lake Harmony? 

Book Talk:
What would you do if your parents didn’t like who you chose for a boyfriend/girlfriend? This is true for Garrett. His parents decide to send him to Lake Harmony. Since Garrett is under 18, he has no rights, and they can send him wherever they want. By using torturous physical, emotional, and psychological techniques, Lake Harmony guarantees his parents a changed teen.

“Welcome to TI – Temporary Isolation – where I am forced to lie facedown on the cold concrete floor for twenty-four hours a day ... After a day your chin becomes sore, your neck muscles cramp, and your knees and ribs grow raw from pressing against the hard floor. After two days parts of your body that shouldn’t hurt – your elbows and hips, your lower back – begin to ache ... I can’t escape the sense that I’m lying on the germs, the sweat, the smells of the hundreds who’ve lain here before ... they would expect you to reflect on the error of your ways and see the mistakes you’ve made. But what if you haven’t done anything seriously wrong, what then? ... My parents sent me here because it’s about what they think. And that’s a different story.” (page 30, 31)

Subject Headings & Major Themes:

Emotional Abuse
Family Problems
Interpersonal Relations
Juvenile Delinquency
Prison Boot Camps
Resilience (Personal Quality)
Resistance (Psychology) in Teenage Boys
Social Isolation
Teacher-Student Relationships

Awards & Reviews:
Georgia Peach Book Award Nominee, 2008-2009
New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age, 2008
YALSA Quick Pics for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 2008

Booklist, August 1, 2007, p. 62
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2007
Publishers Weekly
, May 14, 2007, p. 55
School Library Journal, April 1, 2007, p. 148

Discussion Questions and Ideas:

  1. Why are Garrett’s parents paying $4000 a month to send him to Lake Harmony? What do his parents expect from Lake Harmony?
  2. Do you believe the workers at Lake Harmony enjoy what they do to the teenagers? Explain.
  3. How would you feel being left at Lake Harmony for six months with no visits from your family? Do you think this will bother Garrett?
  4. If you were a Level-One, do you think you could be silent for an entire day? Especially at school?
  5. TI - Temporary Isolation - is ruthless. Did Garrett deserve to go there?  \Would any teen or adult deserve that type of treatment?
  6. On pages 32 and 33, we learn a little about what kind of person Garrett’s mom is. Did Garrett deserve to be called “you little brat”?
  7. Do you believe Garrett was a terrible teen? Do you think his parents should have been sent to Lake Harmony instead?
  8. Should Garrett’s teacher, Sabrina, have been held responsible for her part in their relationship?
  9. “You are to obey them (your parents) unconditionally.” (page 41) Do you agree with this statement? Explain.
  10.  The staff has the other kids beat up on kids.  Is this teaching them anything? Why do the kids do it? Are they really brainwashed?
  11.  Does beating up a person change them into a better person?
  12.  “If it only took me two or three days a week to learn what other kids needed five for, why did I have to sit around and be bored?” (page 56) What should schools do for students like Garrett?
  13. What kind of place can Lake Harmony be if parents must sign confidentiality papers? Should that be a hint to parents about how horrific a place it is?
  14. “It’s hard to believe this guy is Lake Harmony’s nurse.”  (page 105) Why does Garrett find it hard to believe this?
  15. After six months at Lake Harmony, Garrett’s parents are allowed to visit. His mother doesn’t show. What does this tell us about her?
  16. “My father urges, ‘Did they hurt you?’  ‘Yes, sir, they did.  But ... I deserved it, sir.’” (page 232) How do you feel when you hear Garrett say these words?

Related Websites:
Author's Website:

Project NoSpank: Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education, Inc.

Anti-WWASP (World-Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools):

Teen Advocates USA

Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse, Inc.

International Survivors Action Committee

Dogface by Jeff Garigliano, 2008
Hard Time by Julian F. Thompson, 2003
Holes by Louis Sachar, 1998
In the Company of Crazies by Nora Baskin Raleigh, 2006
Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles, 2007
Shock Point by April Henry, 2006
The Silenced by James DeVita, 2007
The Silent Room by Walter Sorrells, 2006
Sisters in Sanity by Gayle Forman, 2007
Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen, 2001
Wish Riders by Patrick Jennings, 2006

Other Books by the Author:
Angel Dust Blues, 1978
Friends Till the End, 1981
Rock 'n' Roll Nights, 1982
Workin' for Peanuts, 1983
The Complete Computer Popularity Program, 1984
A Very Touch Subject, 1985
The Mall from Outer Space, 1987
The Accident, 1988
The Family Man, 1988
Beyond the Reef, 1989
Home Alone, 1991
The Diving Bell, 1992
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, 1992
The Beverly Hillbillies, 1993
Free Willy, 1993
The Good Son, 1993
Help! I'm Trapped in My Teacher's Body, 1993
Rookie of the Year, 1993
Summer's Promise, 1993
Help! I'm Trapped in the First Day of School, 1994
Miracle on 34th Street, 1994
The Pagemaaster, 1994
Peter Pan, 1994
Please Don't Be Mine, Julie Valentine
, 1994
Richie Rich, 1994
Street Fighter, 1994
Tall Tale: The Unbelievable Adventures of Pecos Bill, 1994
Walt Disney's Lady and the Tramp, 1994
Abe Llincoln for Class President!, 1995
The Amazing Panda Adventure, 1995
Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home, 1995
Help! I'm Trapped in Obedience School, 1995
How I Changed My Life, 1995
Howl-a-ween, 1995
Jumanji, 1995
Man of the House, 1995
Wordsworth and the Cold Cut Catastrophe
, 1995
Wordsworth and the Kibble Kidnapping, 1995
Wordsworth and the Mail-Order Meatloaf Mess, 1995
Wordsworth and teh Roast Beef Romance, 1995
The Boys in the Band, 1996
Girl Gives Birth to Own Prom Date, 1996
Help! I'm Trapped in My Gym Teacher's Body, 1996
Hey, Dad, Get a Life, 1996
Playing for Love, 1996
Wordsworth and the Lip-Smacking Licorice Love Affair, 1996
Wordsworth and the Tasty Treat Trick, 1996
Chopped-Up Birdy's Feet, 1997
Free Willy 3: The Rescue, 1997
Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts, 1997
Help! I'm Trapped in My Sister's Body, 1997
Help! I'm Trapped in Obedience School Again, 1997
Help! I'm Trapped in Santa's Body, 1997
Help! I'm Trapped in the First Day of Summer Camp, 1997
Mutilated Monkey Meat, 1997
Grizzly Attack, 1998
Help! I'm Trapped in a Movie Star's Body, 1998
Help! I'm Trapped in an Alien's Body, 1998
Help! I'm Trapped in My Principal's Body, 1998
How I Spent My Last Night on Earth, 1998
Kidnap Kids, 1998
Shark Bite, 1998
Buzzard's Feast
, 1999
Gator Prey, 1999
Help! I'm Trapped in My Lunch Lady's Body, 1999
Here Comes Heavenly, 1999
Star Wars, Episode I Journal: Anakin Skywalker, 1999
Y2K-9: The Dog Who Saved the World, 1999
Don't Get Caught Driving the School Bus, 2000
Give a Boy a Gun, 2000 (2001 RITBA Nominee and Winner)
Help! I'm Trapped in a Vampire's Body, 2000
Pastabilities, 2000
Don't Get Caught in the Girls Locker Room, 2001
Don't Get Caught in the Teacher's Lounge, 2001
Don't Get Caught in the Lunch Lady's Hairnet, 2001
Help! I'm Trapped in a Supermodel's Body, 2001
Con-fidence, 2002
Thief of Dreams, 2003
Cut Back, 2004
Impact Zone: Take Off, 2004
Impact Zone: Cut Back, 2004
Impact Zone: Close Out, 2005
Can’t Get There from Here, 2005 (2006 RITBA Nominee)
The Accident, 2006
Con-fidence, 2006
Is that a Sick Cat in your Backpack, 2007
Is that a Dead Dog in your Locker, 2008
How I Created my Perfect Prom Date, 2008

About the Author:
Todd Strasser was born on May 5, 1950 on Long Island. In school, he liked science, but he wasn’t very good at English.  He never thought he’d be a writer as an adult. 

He went to college for pre-med, but found that he was enjoying writing more and more. This had him make the decision to take time off from college in order to really think about what he wanted to do. When he returned to Beloit College, he decided to focus on writing. During his last semester, he began to write his first novel, Angel Dust Blues. It took him six years of writing and rewriting before it was finished. It was published in 1978.

After college, he continued to write. In order to support himself, he worked in a public relations office, a newspaper office, an advertising agency, and owned a fortune cookie company until he was able to write full-time. He has written over 120 novels and has won many prestigious awards.
| ©2004 - Rhode Island Teen Book Award Committee | Aaron Coutu, Chair