Review (Plus): “Need” by Joelle Charbonneau

Bookshelf Blurb: After I read this I had to take a break for several days before picking up another book. The story crept into every aspect of my life and made me second guess every tweet, Snapchat, and Facebook post I made. What do I need? I need to stay alive and away from social media.

Need_JoelleCharbonneau_9780544416697_b7f3bAmerica’s Review:

There are books that stay with you days, months and sometimes the rest of your life. I am a vivacious reader and find that most times I remember the gist of a book, but not always the minute details found within its numerous pages. With this being said, I must say that Joelle Charbonneau’s NEED has seeped into the very soul of my being. I will no longer consider the Internet a friendly environment for anyone I even remotely care about. It is a scary void of unknowns and can creep into the most innocent of lives.

A social media site has entered into the lives of Wisconsin’s Nottawa High School students. It is a place where members invite members and NEEDs are obtained. It’s a simple website: It merely asks you what do you NEED?

It defines needs versus wants. It has clearly stated rules and regulations—the fine print with a large box you check before even reading the details because you just want to move on to the next screen. We’ve all done it. Who reads the terms? Who actually scrolls through all the legal jargon? No one–especially when you can get a new iPhone, a laptop, or even a kidney. This is what Kaylee Dunham needs for her brother to live–a new kidney.

This is Kaylee’s story, but is told from the perspective of multiple NHS students as they explain what they require  and the justification behind what they are doing in order to get what they NEED. The uncomplicated NEED website spirals out of control as membership starts to decline, the NEEDs rise and the demands are met. The website is clear in stating it is the decision of the person to accept the fulfillment request–nothing is given for free. When Kaylee turns to the authorities for guidance the site is conveniently down, making her look the part of the fool.

As innocent as this website looks, the death toll starts to rise. Innocent lives are lost due to the denial of the self-proclaimed innocents. Over one winter break the lives of the NHS students are shattered because of social media. The questions Kaylee must answer are who is behind NEED and what she must do in order to take it down before the site destroys more lives.

In the classroom:

This book does not provide depth of discussion for the elements of a story, but NEED provides a myriad of current and present situations our students deal with every day. Cyber-bullying, peer pressure, suicide and relationships are all issues NEED homes in on that make students feel compelled to complete their tasks in order to achieve what they feel is a NEED pertinent to their life.

Childnet, a non-profit group organized to educate and inform parents of safe uses of the Internet, says 96% of children ages 11-19 use some form of Internet communication tool on a daily basis–this isn’t necessarily a computer, but could be a cell phone. Most of these children and young adults spend a minimum of 1.5 hours daily on social media sites. More statistics on bullying can be found at http://www.antibullyingpro.com/blog/2015/4/7/facts-on-bullying

NEED, although a work of fiction, is an ever-present reality. In the high school classroom–across the subjects–students are asked to use the Internet to write research papers, complete homework assignments and oftentimes even go to Facebook to see what the teacher has posted for an assignment. The Internet has infiltrated our lives, and for most of us we assume everything is safe.f it isn’t, our children would come to us, right? Not so.

In an assignment with your students, teach them about safe websites. Teach them about easywhois.com. This is a fabulous resource I used throughout my years in the classroom. to learn who a website’s author is and about first and secondary sources.This is also great knowledge to possess as you enter into the world of college. Anyone can have a blog and anyone can post something to the Internet. The worst part:nothing on the Internet ever goes completely away. There is always a ghost image that can come back to haunt you. Students are naive to this fact. Students are naive in thinking a ‘simple post’ won’t cause harm, as seen repeatedly in the tasks completed by students on NEED. No task is without a repercussion.

Teach your students the difference between being positive and negative in both posts and text messages. I have students text me about assignments, and it’s amazing how they address me in a text message. Don’t allow your students to become complacent with their grammar or their respect. Teach them the difference. Your lesson on cyber etiquette may be a lifesaver one day.

College and Career Readiness (CCR) Anchor Standards are achieved in the above lesson plan as well as CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.1


NEED by Joelle Charbonneau (HMH Books for Young Readers | 9780544416697 | November 3, 2015)

America Grelinger

America Grelinger doesn’t mind if you call her Ms. America. It makes her head swell and she loves the title. America is a former English teacher and has a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction, now retired to raise two crazy little boys who think the funniest thing on the planet is to burp and toot… which is why she reads. Because it’s cheaper than counseling. Amy and her husband live with those two crazy little boys in Floyds Knobs, Indiana.