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Avi's novel for Young Adults is indeed structured differently from most novels. It is partially written in what is called "epistolary style," that is, through letters both to and from the novel's protagonist, Phillip Malloy. In addition to letters, Avi creates a diary for Phillip, and selections of this diary are included as well, such as this excerpt from Chapter 9: "I realized two things that make me want to puke. Track practice starts tomorrow and I’m not on the team."
The other unusual (for a novel) things Avi includes are transcripts and newspaper articles. Here is an portion of one of those transcripts from Phillip's appearance on "The Jake Barlow Talkshow":
JAKE BARLOW: Then there's the president, who's said he would be an education president. But he's got his work cut out for him. I'm telling you because here's a bit of a story, bit of a story, that came in over the wires. Don't know if you saw this. Let me read it to you. Now, listen up! This is America. I mean it! WLRB asking you--Jack Barlow asking you--what you think of this. Now, remember, I'm not making this up. None of it. I'm reading it!
"KICKED OUT OF SCHOOL FOR PATRIOTISM."
Right. You heard me correct. "KICKED OUT OF SCHOOL FOR PATRIOTISM." But you ain't heard nothing yet. Listen to this!
"Harrison, New Hampshire."
And here is an excerpt Avi includes from a school memo:
TO: MRS. GLORIA HARLAND, CHAIRMAN, SCHOOL BOARD
FROM: DR. A. SEYMOUR
RE: SUSPENSION OF PHILIP MALLOY
1. It is the practice in all Harrison schools that each and every morning--during homeroom period--the national anthem is played over the announcement system. It is part of our general ongoing program of support for traditional American values.
2. At such times all students are asked to "Please all rise and stand at respectful, silent attention. . . ." In past years our desire for a dignified moment of patriotism has been firmly maintained. At no time in the history of this program has any disturbance been recorded.
3. On March 28, March 29, and March 30, Philip Malloy deliberately caused a disturbance in his homeroom class (Margaret Narwin, a teacher of twenty years' standing) by singing the national anthem in a loud, raucous, disrespectful fashion, thereby drawing attention to himself and away from the words. There are strong indications that he was acting out some personal animosity toward the teacher in question for reasons unknown. His school performance has been inferior. (It has been suggested that there may be problems in the home arena. Please note, however, that the law requires schools to keep such personal information confidential.)
By including these different perspectives, Avi is able to transcend the traditional narrative structure of a novel and provide a near-realistic presentation of Phillip's, his school's, and his community's, dilemma.
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