68 pages 2 hours read

Robert Cormier

After The First Death

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 1979

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Teacher Introduction

After the First Death

  • Genre: Fiction; young adult thriller
  • Originally Published: 1979
  • Reading Level/Interest: Lexile 740L; grades 8-12
  • Structure/Length: 12 parts; approximately 240 pages; approximately 6 hours, 18 minutes on audio
  • Protagonist/Central Conflict: A hostage situation orchestrated by a group of terrorists unfolds on a bus filled with children. Central characters include Kate, a teenager who agreed to drive the bus that day for her uncle, the usual driver, who was ill; and Ben, son of the military leader opposing the terrorists, who takes on the role of emissary for his father. The novel explores fear, power, manipulation, and the moral choices made in extreme circumstances.
  • Potential Sensitivity Issues: Terrorism; violence; moral dilemmas; death, including that of children; suicide; suicidal ideation

Robert Cormier, Author

  • Bio: Born in 1935; American author known for his contributions to young adult literature that address complex and controversial themes; often explored the darker aspects of human behavior and challenged readers to consider moral and ethical questions
  • Other Works: The Chocolate War (1974); I Am the Cheese (1977); The Bumblebee Flies Anyway (1983); We All Fall Down (1991) 
  • Awards: Margaret A. Edwards Award (in recognition of The Chocolate War, I Am the Cheese, and After the First Death; 1991)

CENTRAL THEMES connected and noted throughout this Teaching Guide:

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