For Ages: 12 and up
  • 1
Del's lived in Los Angeles for seventeen years, bouncing among foster homes. Smart, sharp-tongued, and a master mimic, she's fed up with her world and with being Del. So she's changing her name and leaving both herself and L.A. behind -- until her escape lands her in an all-day traffic jam.
Fast-forward eight years. It's opening night for the one-woman show Del has written and is starring in -- a show called Breakout about a Los Angeles traffic jam.
As the novel flashes between Del's present and future, we get a backstage pass into this young playwright's psyche, watching her life being transformed into art, heartache into comedy, solitude into connection. And, finally, anger giving way to acceptance.
  • Simon Pulse | 
  • 144 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780689871894 | 
  • February 2005 | 
  • Grades 7 and up
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Reading Group Guide

A Simon Pulse Guide for Reading Groups

By Paul Fleischman
About the Book
After a childhood spent in foster homes, seventeen-year-old Audelia "Del" Thigpen has finally done it -- she's broken free, leaving Los Angeles behind and heading toward a new life in a place far, far away. But Del's plan hits a snag when she gets stuck in a traffic jam on her way out of town. In Breakout, Paul Fleischman introduces us to a young woman determined to make it on her own terms, and as the story alternates between the scene unfolding on the freeway and the staging of Del's one-woman play eight years later, we witness her inspiring transformation.
Discussion Topics
1. Del describes herself as an outsider. Often, she says she feels uncomfortable in her own skin. Why? What specific events or circumstances have caused Del to feel this way? What does she do to make herself feel, and appear, less like an outsider -- to fit in? Can you identify a time in your life when you felt like Del? What, if anything, did you do to fit in? How would you respond if a friend or family member told you he or she felt like an outsider and was trying to fit in?
2. Growing up in Los Angeles, in a series of foster homes, Del finds different ways of coping with difficult circumstances. Give examples. Are her coping mechanisms positive or negative, constructive or self-destructive? In what ways? If you were friends with Del, or an adult couns see more

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