Jimi & Me
By Jaime Adoff
About the book:
After his father is murdered, Keith and his mom are forced to move from Brooklyn, New York to Hollow Falls, Ohio. He’s the only one at school with an Afro, a wardrobe out of the ‘60’s and a zealous appreciation of Jimi Hendrix, the greatest guitarist who ever lived. Through the storm of his tragic loss, Keith begins to see a few rays of happiness- especially when the beautiful Veronica, long blond hair falling everywhere, looks his way.
About this guide:
This guide includes discussion questions and projects intended to extend the use of the novel into classrooms, book clubs, and literature circles. It should promote discussion on the themes of the novel including loss, racism, betrayal, family relationships, friendship and forgiveness.
About the author:
Jaime Adoff is the author of two critically acclaimed books for young adults: The Song Shoots Out of My Mouth and Names Will Never Hurt Me. He is the son of late Newbery Award-winning author Virginia Hamilton and renowned poet Arnold Adoff.
Discussion Guide Questions:
- Discuss Keith’s relationship with his father. How does what he learns about his father change the way he feels about him? Would you have a similar reaction?
- What do you think perpetuates racist behavior like that of Powers and Coles? Would this happen in any location? Is it a lack of education and ignorance? Stupidity only? Can these attitudes ever be eradicated completely? How?
- What do you think it would be like to be in such a completely foreign environment as Keith is in Hollow Springs? Should Keith do anything to fit in more or is it futile anyway?
- Keith’s mom calls his dad a monster after she learns the truth and does not want to mark or honor his life anymore. Do you think this is a fair reaction or not?
- Why do you think the author, Jaime Adoff, writes in this spare, elegant format for his novel? What does this add to the story? What can you learn about your own writing by studying it?
- Discuss Keith’s friendship with Veronica. How does she show herself to be a true friend? Do you think their friendship will grow into something else? Why or why not?
- Compare Aunt Berny and Keith’s mom. How do they react differently to the news about Keith’s dad? Who do you think Keith will be more like when he’s an adult- the ever-optimistic Aunt Berny or his mom? What can he learn from both of these women? What do you think would have happened to Keith and his mom if Aunt Berny were not in the picture?
- Keith is influenced greatly by the music and lyrics of the great guitar player Jimi Hendrix. Whose music influences you most and why? Is there a current artist who you believe will have such a lasting impact on the music industry? Support your answer.
- Jaime Adoff’s writing is full of imagery and lyrical phrases. For example: “My heart getting caught in a car door. / Slammed shut/all ripped up/and I can’t/get it free.” Find and share your favorite lines from the novel. Why did you choose this section?
- Compare the lives of Jimi and Keith. Who had the better relationship with their father? Who knew him best? Did he love one more than the other? Which son? Use examples from the book to support your position.
Research the life and work of Jimi Hendrix. Listen to his music, read his lyrics and write a brief journal about what you learned.
Keith suffers from panic disorder in the novel. Research this debilitating disorder and the treatments that are available for it.
Create a piece of collage inspired by the book- use images from magazines, newspapers, the internet or create your own. Layer color, words, and images until there is no blank space on a standard sheet of paper, then mount on a larger colored piece.