When Jeff Comes Home
By Catherine Atkins
1. Discuss Jeff’s friendship with Vin. How did they both change by what happened? Is Jeff surprised by how much others were affected too? Do you think the two would have remained best friends had Jeff not been kidnapped? Why?
2. Predict where Jeff, his dad, Charlotte, Brian and Vin will be in five years after the close of the novel. Who will still be most disturbed over the events? Who will heal the best? Why?
3. Why do you think Jeff cannot discuss his abuse with anyone for most of the novel? Who did you think he would open up to? Was this different than who he actually confided in? Who would you confide in? Why?
4. At first, Jeff refuses to cooperate in helping to find and convict Ray. How is this possible? What events cause him to change his mind? Were you sometimes shocked at his behavior?
5. Discuss Jeff’s relationship with his siblings. How are things between Jeff and Charlie? Between Jeff and Brian? Do you think he is better off because of his sibling relationships? How?
6. Jeff feels a wide range of emotions toward his father. Why? Find examples and discuss his reactions to their encounters. His dad obviously went to extraordinary lengths to get him back. How does this make Jeff feel? Is it implied that Jeff’s dad would not have been as vigilant with the other siblings? Do you think that it is really true?
7. Discuss why Jeff retreats to his room (and sleep) even though it disgusts him to find it a museum of who he used to be. Why does his dad discourage him from hiding there? What would you want to find at home after a long absence? Would you be comforted to know that even presents had been bought in your absence? Why?
8. Do you think it was a good idea for Jeff to go back to high school? Were you surprised by the reaction he got? Would it be similar in your own town? Why do you think teens are so cruel to each other when obviously Jeff was a victim of circumstance?
9. Why does Jeff feel such shame when he was the victim of a crime? Is this a common reaction to stress? Do victims often blame themselves? Why? Does this prevent justice from being served? In what types of circumstances?
10. Which scenes were the most disturbing for you? Why? Why do you think the author included them?
Keep a journal as if you are a character in the book. As you read, write brief summaries of your experiences.
Research one of the following topics and write a pamphlet based on your findings:
Missing and Exploited Kids
Teen safety/ what to do if you’re attacked