Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

The first-person narration of A Place Apart is provided by Victoria Finch, a sensitive and somewhat vulnerable thirteen-year-old. After her father’s sudden death, Victoria and her mother must move to New Oxford. The dreariness of the new house, the need to adjust socially, and the death of her father make Victoria’s outlook bleak and confused. As a freshman, she becomes best friends with Elizabeth Marx. Soon after, she meets Hugh Todd, a junior from a rich family whose mysterious aura fascinates Victoria: “I never thought as much about another human being as I thought about him.” Hugh takes an interest in some scenes that Victoria has written about her father’s death and decides that she should expand them into a full-length work, which he will direct as next year’s senior play—the first senior play to be a student’s work. Victoria is fascinated and frightened by this prospect, but she realizes that she cannot say no to Hugh. One day, Hugh draws Victoria into a game of throwing stones and shouting; although Victoria realizes how easily she can be controlled by Hugh, her infatuation with him continues.

During the summer, Hugh goes away and Victoria becomes closer to Elizabeth, although she thinks of Hugh constantly. Victoria knows that she cannot speak of Hugh to her friend because Elizabeth does not like or trust him. Victoria’s mother begins a relationship with a new man, which makes Victoria think of her father more than ever. With a week and a half left until school begins,...

(The entire section is 621 words.)

Setting

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

A Place Apart is set in New Bedford, a small community whose downtown is dying because businesses have moved to a mall on the...

(The entire section is 102 words.)

Literary Qualities

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The first-person account reveals the inner struggle Victoria has with her search for self and a place to belong. Fox makes use of flashbacks...

(The entire section is 49 words.)

Social Sensitivity

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Fox's theme of the search for self and meaning in life is a fact of life for contemporary young people. In a society that seems topsy-turvy...

(The entire section is 126 words.)

Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. The story begins in a flashback. What is a flashback? How does it contribute to your understanding of the story?

2. Paula Fox...

(The entire section is 543 words.)

Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Victoria's mother smokes. Victoria and her Uncle Phil both try to get her to stop. Research the effects of smoking and second hand smoke...

(The entire section is 245 words.)

Related Titles / Adaptations

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Fox writes about absent fathers in The Moonlight Man, where Catherine's father is absent from the family because of divorce; in How...

(The entire section is 60 words.)

For Further Reference

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Commire, Anne, ed. Something About the Author. Volume 60. Detroit: Gale Research, 1990. Includes a biographical sketch of Fox, a...

(The entire section is 238 words.)