Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Walking Naked

"I watched Perdita as I was packing my bag. She was smart. I had never thought of her as being smart. I hadn't thought about her at all, really. I was in all the top classes and Perdita wasn't in any of them. I wondered why that was. Walking towards the door, I noticed the piece of paper that Perdita had thrown away. I stopped, picked it up, and unrolled it. Perdita had written:
Supercicilous: Megan Tuw and her friends."

Title: walking naked

Author: Alyssa Brugman

ISBN: 0-385-73115-9

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Copyright: 2002

Plot Summary: Walking Naked begins with Megan and her friend Candice being thrown out of class for talking, which soon results in Megan receiving a week's worth of detention. At detention, which is hosted by a variety of teachers, Megan bumps into Perdita Wiguiggan, the girl who everyone calls a Freak due to her appearance and odd behavior. Perdita's intelligence, apparent even in the mindless exercises one teacher proscribes, and blatantly obvious when they are told to make up words and poems, intrigues Megan, even as her still odd behavior and leering actions still push her away. While Megan is busy in detention she misses her group meetings with the other girls, distancing herself from the group. When Candice starts a campaign for a nude protest run, Megan finds the idea ridiculous and refuses to participate. Instead, Megan starts spending time with Perdita, sneaking around the forbidden library, sword-fighting in the forest, and skipping school to visit a college campus to listen to a professor lecture. Megan slowly realizes that Perdita's home life is very different from her own, with her two deeply-in-love parents, that Perdita is adopted and she is hunting for her real parents. Soon, the clique learns of Megan's friendship with Perdita and Megan is forced to make a decision: Perdita the Freak, or her best friends.

Critical Evaluation: The plot was the most outstanding thing about Brugman's novel, as it deviates from other popularity and brand name novels by taking a drastic turn to the worst and showing how it impacts everyone else in that situation. Along the same lines, having the main character waver as Megan does, without having any input on Perdita and her thought process (unlike the popular Clique series in which readers hear from both the popular Massie and the new girl Claire), is a unique choice that lead to a very different and easily distinguished novel. Megan's point of view and the decisions that she makes within the novel are difficult to agree with, especially as she is so steeped in her clique culture, but as Perdita slowly becomes more human to her, Megan becomes more human to her readers. The use of literature and analyzing symbols along with the quoted poems and poem excerpts are intriguing and also add a twist to the novel. The theme of analyzing poetry relates to looking past physical appearance and behavior to the people within.

Reader's Annotation: Megan is your typical clique girl who believes the school revolves around her and her friends and being able to ridicule the girl they call the Freak, Perdita Wiguiggan. When detention throws Megan and Perdita together, Megan soon realizes that Perdita is just as vulnerable a human as she.

Information About the Author: Alyssa Brugman is an Australian born and raised author who has won multiple literary awards for her young adult novels. Brugman has also tutored Aboriginal children, taught management, accounting and marketing, worked for a home improvement company and worked in public relations.
Brugman's books are Finding Grace, Walking Naked, and Being Bindy. Read more about Brugman at her website.

Genre: Fiction; Friendship; Cliques; Self-Perception; Suicide

Curriculum Ties N/A

Booktalking Ideas:
  • Walking Naked challenges the idea of popularity in school, with Megan Tuw as the narrator as she participates mindlessly with her clique of friends in bullying the Freak, Perdita Wiguiggan. It's only when Megan is thrown into detention with Perdita when she realizes how smart the other girl is and how differently she thinks. Soon, Megan wants to find out more about the mystery girl who is so hated at school.
  • Have you ever been bullied? Or bullied someone else? Walking Naked is a story about girls bullying other girls and how it affects both parties. Megan starts off as a typical popular girl who wants to get straight As and spend time with her friends, especially her best friend Candice. Whenever they see Perdita the Freak, they chant her nickname and leap away to avoid bumping into her. As if she were contagious. It's only when Megan starts spending time with Perdita that she realizes what her words and actions are doing to the other girl.
Reading Level: Freshman+

Challenge Issues:
  • While Megan is not a sympathetic character for the majority of the novel, her relationship with Perdita is painted in a realistic fashion, containing both the curiosity and horror that Megan has towards the other girl. The ending is a warning of readers who can relate to both girls and who have had to deal with similar issues.
Why This Book?: Victorian Premier's Literary Award (shortlisted)

Reference Page:
Brugman, A. (2002). Walking naked. New York: Delacorte Press.

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