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That's Not a Feeling
by Dan Josefson

Published: 2012-10-02
Paperback : 358 pages
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Benjamin arrives with his parents for a tour of Roaring Orchards, a therapeutic boarding school tucked away in upstate New York. Suddenly, his parents are gone and Benjamin learns that he is there to stay. Sixteen years old, a two-time failed suicide, Benjamin must navigate his way through...
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Introduction

Benjamin arrives with his parents for a tour of Roaring Orchards, a therapeutic boarding school tucked away in upstate New York. Suddenly, his parents are gone and Benjamin learns that he is there to stay. Sixteen years old, a two-time failed suicide, Benjamin must navigate his way through a new world of morning meds, popped privileges, candor meetings and cartoon brunches--all run by adults who themselves have yet to really come of age.
 
The only person who comprehends the school's many rules and rituals is Aubrey, the founder and headmaster. Fragile, brilliant, and prone to rage, he is as likely to use his authority to reward students as to punish them. But when Aubrey falls ill, life at the school begins to unravel. Benjamin has no one to rely on but the other students, especially Tidbit, an intriguing but untrustworthy girl with a "self-afflicting personality." More and more, Benjamin thinks about running away from Roaring Orchards--but he feels an equal need to know just what it is he would be leaving behind.

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Excerpt

Prologue

Upsate New York, late August

No one noticed the evening’s approach until the long shadows cast by the mountains began to merge in the grass. Alternative Boys stood on the Dirt Pile, digging away at it with their shovels and tossing the dirt toward the adjacent woods. Only when Roger woke to the growing darkness did he order the boys down and tell them to hurry back to the Mansion for supper. I’m losing it, he thought, and rubbed his face with his hands. He followed as the boys crossed Route 294 in a clump and then stretched out into a loose line to pass through the school’s iron gate. The gate hung between two stone pillars; on the right pillar a sign read, THE ROARING ORCHARDS SCHOOL FOR TROUBLED TEENS, WEBITUCK, NY. The Mansion they headed toward was built on a slight eminence, and sat in an angle of light. Most of the boys rested the shovels on their shoulders or dragged them rasping along the gravel driveway. William Kay and Andrew Pudding soon fell behind; they were swinging their shovels at each other like swords. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. Early in the book, Aubrey says "They all stay except the ones that don't." Why do so many stay at Roaring Orchards when it's so easy to leave?

2. What is Benjamin's attitude toward the school as he's looking back? Has his way of thinking changed since he was a student? Why does he return to the school years after having left?

3. There are several inanimate representations of people or animals in the book: dolls, masks, and puppets. What purpose do these serve? What feeling(s) do you get when they are described?

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