A young girl meets the new, gorgeous boy in her homeroom class and he finds her to be the best thing he has ever seen. The young girl, who we learn is our protagonist, Scarlett, is immediately enamored with the new boy to the envy of her best friend. Sounds pretty typical YA, but poor Scarlett endured the loss of everything she owned in a fire when she was four years old. With the loss of all things material, she also lost her first four years of memories and this is where I was hooked. It is through the pages of Awake by Natasha Preston that we learn Scarlett was destined for greater things than a mere high school romance. She was to be the sacrifice for a Irish cult, Eternal Light.
We see the classroom relationship evolve into dates, meeting parents and falling in love as Scarlett and Noah plan for their future together. The underlying shadows of Scarlett’s past is what kept me turning the pages. I wanted to see what happened in those first four formative years of her life to get her to this time period of blissful ignorance. Noah starts questioning the missing years; Scarlett starts seeing visions and her part of Eternal Life is slowly unveiled through the answers.
In the Classroom:
Bloom’s Taxonomy was designed to promote and encourage higher levels of learning. A student can be given information, but it is the integration of this knowledge mixed with their own ideology that takes it to a higher level of learning. In Social Studies, grades 6-8, students are expected to “integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts” (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.7.)
Awake shows what power a human being can have over another in their thought process. The ability to brainwash is powerful and we see this skill used by Scarlett’s biological parents in the cult, Eternal Life. It is unclear to Noah what the truth is or what he has been taught to believe. Have your students research a cult and its history. Using visual images, video testimonials and written information, have them “distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment” (CCSS ELA-LITERARCY.RH.6-8.8.)
History offers a multitude of time periods and people who have been a member of a cult. Scarlett and Noah are not alone in their experiences. It was this key piece in Preston’s latest book that kept me reading. It allowed me the opportunity to experience the fear felt by those who do not know the difference between reality and idealism.
Awake by Natasha Preston (Sourcebooks Fire | 9781492618522 | August 4, 2015)