Reading Guide

Louder Than Words Reading Guide

WARNING: The questions may contain spoilers

1.     A constant theme of Louder Than Words is how opposite words and actions can be and how difficult it can be to choose between them when assessing friend or foe. What are some of the examples of this you recall from the novel?
2.     Louder Than Words touches on several troubling or weighty subjects; what are they? Do you think they are presented in an appropriate and/or impactful way? How so?
3.     Despite the dark circumstances of Ellen's life, there are also some comic lines or moments. What were some of your favorites and what do you think those lines, moments or scenes revealed about the characters?
4.     Ellen often focuses on the actions--or lack thereof--of bystanders to bullying. Are bystanders who do or say nothing guilty of bullying too or are they also victims? Have you ever witnessed bullying and if so what thoughts went through your head? Why is bullying so hard to stop? What steps has your community taken to prevent bullying? How effective have they been?
5.     Gracie is one of Ellen's antagonists, yet Ellen tells us they used to be friends before Gracie's mother decided bad karma was contagious. Have you ever had a friend turn on or abandon you because of something outside of your control? What did you do about it?
6.     Many of the adults in Louder Than Words behave horribly--Ellen's mother, Mr. Hamer, Gracie's mother, the gym teacher--and betray Ellen's trust.  Have you ever been betrayed by an authority figure and if so, how did it shape your ability to trust others in similar positions?
7.     If Louder Than Words were told from Rex's point of view, how different do you think your perception of Ellen would be?
8.     Why do you think Ellen didn't even tell her brother about Mr. Hamer's attempted seduction? Have you ever had an experience you decided to keep to yourself? How did not telling affect you?
9.     Teachers having affairs with high school students is not an uncommon event. Has this ever happened in your community? What were the reactions?
10. Ellen's unrequited love is sometimes painful to experience from her point of view, yet at the end she discovers her perception has been flawed. Why do you think she was so detached from seeing the possibilities? Have you ever had experiences or feelings like hers and if so, how did you move past them?
11. Ellen's weak self-confidence and body image are frequently in the spotlight. How can society do a better job instilling confidence in young girls and empower them to not suffer in silence?
12. What do you think the author wanted you to learn from Louder Than Words?

According to a text analyzer of Don't Ask, Don't Tell...

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J. D. Salinger

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