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Zig Zag

Module 4: Realistic Fiction/SLIS 5420


Wittlinger, Ellen. (2003). Zig Zag. New York: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers.


Robin’s boyfriend has graduated from high school and they only have the summer left to spend together before he goes away to college.  Robin is deeply in love with Chris and feels like she can’t survive without him. Unfortunately, plans for the summer change suddenly when Chris’s wealthy parents present him with his graduation gift – the summer in Italy in an exchange program.  Robin is depressed and angry. and she feels betrayed.  Initially when her aunt aske if she could accompany her on a roadtrip to help babysit her cousins, Robin wasn’t very interested.  When it turns out Chris is leaving (and her aunt will take Robin to Arizona on the trip so that she can see her estranged father), Robin decides to give it a try.  What ensues is more than a roadtrip.  Robin’s bratty cousins and aunt are still reeling in their own ways from the death of their father and husband. Everyone on the journey must navigate their own griefs, and help each other to emerge from their problems as stronger and better people.  Robin discovers that she might have a different future then she had planned, and the journey she takes is a discovery of self that allows her to grow and grow up some, and maybe let Chris go. This honest book is true to life and gives the reader encouragement and hope to stand on her or his own and become the strong and unique individual they can become without being preachy or inauthentic.  Written in a voice that is appealing and natural, Zig Zag is a book about the journey towards self.


“Zigzag” uses a classic literary theme: a journey that represents not only actually traveling but an inward development and coming of age. However Ellen Wittlinger uses this potentially cliché theme in a way that renders completely interesting and remarkably unique. The characters in “Zigzag” are designed with love and their varying strengths and weakness are well balanced in the novels grand scheme. I enjoyed “Zigzag” for its fresh depictions and beautiful words. I recommend this novel for a journey that you won’t forget.

Nathan, K.P. (2002, February) Review of Zig ZagInkweaver Review.  Retrieved from


Zig Zag would be a great book to use in a high school class for readers’ choice – books for book reports or projects.  An idea for a high school project would be to have the students use popular books like Zig Zag and create a presentation (such as Power Point) for the class instead of a traditional book report.  The presentation would address certain assigned questions and outline the plot, theme, and characters.  Students in the class could then ask the reader questions (possibly chosen from a list of possible questions) to get the reader’s insight into writing style, characterization, why he or she liked the book, drawbacks, flaws, great moments, etc.  This book would also be great for a booktalk with other Wittlinger books for teens.


About mary's summer bookshelf

I'm studying to be a librarian at the University of North Texas and loving it. This blog is a class project and the first one I've ever written. The world of children's literature is diverse and rich. This class is opening up many worlds for me to traverse - I am a total YA fan now.

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