MINP: January #2: Connect With the Protagonist/Conflict

Connect with the Protagonist and the Conflict

First & Then, by Emma Mills, is a realistic fiction novel about Devon Tennyson. Devon goes to parties, does homework, and hangs out with friends like any other normal senior. Things start to take an unexpected turn in her life as the year goes on, though. She is hopelessly in love with her best friends, Cas, but he doesn’t seem to take a hint. Her cousin suddenly moves in with her and her family and now they are “siblings.” She surprisingly becomes friends with the best football player at the school who nobody else seems to be able to figure out.

At the beginning of the book, Devon is at the Road-to-College Club and is showing the counselor, Mrs. Wentworth, her college essay. The only problem is that she didn’t put any thought into her essay and didn’t really expect to. Throughout the book, she struggles with trying to improve her college resume so that she can get into her dream college: Reeding College. She volunteers as a TA, joins the school paper, and searches for help from the best student she knows.

“‘Devon, I really need you to take this seriously.’


I just couldn’t find it in my heart to do that.


‘But it reads like you wrote it during a commercial break.’

I took offense to that. I wrote it during at least four commercial breaks.

‘How much thought did you really give this?'” (Mills, p. 2)

I can connect with Devon because although I am not a senior preparing for college, I am an eight grader preparing for high school. I have gone through similar conversations as she had with my mom about the essays that I had written for honors next year. I had also struggled a bit with writing my essay because I didn’t really know what to write about.

Mills, Emma. First & Then. New York: Henry Holt, 2015. Print.


MINP: January #1: Dust City

Dust City

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Dust City, by Robert Paul Weston, is set in a fantasy world filled with foxes, ravens, wolves, goblins, and homonids who live and interact with each other. The main character, Henry, is a wolf who lives at the St. Remus Home for Wayward Youth. His father is a murderer who was sentenced to life in prison and his mother was killed by a truck carrying fairy dust. Unlike the other wolves there, especially their leader, Roy, Henry doesn’t like to hang out with the pack and race and act mean. Instead, he likes to hang out with his roommate, Jack, who is a homonid. On the outside, Henry looks like a teenager who, besides being outcast from his pack, is normal. In the text conversations above, you can see that he seems like a normal kid. He has a text conversations with Jack, his best friend, Roy, his “enemy,” and Fiona, who he likes.

On the inside, though, Henry has all sorts of things going on. In his text conversation with his shrink, Doc, he talks about having nightmares. He is haunted by the terrible story of his father’s murder every night and dreads that some part of him might become like his father.

“The dream is the same every time. The details shift from night to night – the depth of the darkness, the distance from the road to the cottage, the way the wind blows – but everything that matters is the same. I’m always some amalgam of my father and me.” (Weston, p.91)

His dream is always about his father’s murder, when he killed a grandmother and her young granddaughter. The only difference is that in his dream, he is the one killing them and in the end, he ends up being hurt and tortured himself. His dream is his worst fear – that he will turn into his father. You can also tell from his texts with his dad that he doesn’t think very highly of him and that he really doesn’t know what to say to him.

Also, in his conversation with the Doc, they also talk about his fear of fairy dust. His mother was killed by a truck that was carrying fairy dust and ever since then, he had been scared to come near it.

At first glance, Henry may seem like a normal, well-adjusted teen, but he is far from that.

Weston, Robert Paul. Dust City. New York: Penguin Group, 2010. Print.