The Lottery – Beth Goobie

The Lottery is a gripping story of Sal Hansen, the current  ‘dud of the year’ in her  high school.  The leading group in her school the Celts is  front for the Shadow Council.  The Shadow Council terrorize members of the school community to maintain its status as the most influential group in the school community.  Teachers and administrative staff are oblivious to the activities of the Shadow Council.  The Council picks one student each year to do their bidding.  The rest of the school is required to shun the lottery winner – the dud of the year.  Anyone who does not comply is hurt or humiliated as the Council sees fit.

The most difficult part of the process for Sal is the loss of her closest friends.  She is supported by her brother and his best friend as she tries to navigate her way through the oppression.  The president of the Shadow Council is also troubled by his role in the whole process and quietly befriends Sal.

The complex and haunting nature of the story draws in the reader and propels the story forward.  I was struck by the location of the story, in my own home town.  The imaginary high school was shaped in my imagination into my own high school.  The ideas in this novel can lead into wonderful discussion about social dynamics, the nature of bullying, tough choices, isolation.  Each of the characters surrounding Sal have issues which would open windows or provide mirrors for students – the high functioning student with autism, the wheelchair bound student with double leg amputation, the student struggling with obesity, the student with mental illness.

I enjoyed this story.  It is somehow both realistic and exaggerated to an extreme.  The story is both hopeful and dreadful.  It is a book that I found much easier to take than Boy O’Boy, yet hits some similar tragic issues.  Beth Goobie infuses her protagonist with strength and must believe in the power of the individual to change their community.  This hope for change is what rings through in an otherwise bleak story.



Filed under children's lit, curriculum, library, literacy

14 responses to “The Lottery – Beth Goobie

  1. Jorge Carrillo-Galvez

    i love your books and right now my whole classroom is reading it great novel Beth

  2. I’m glad you love the book. It is riveting. Your comment makes me feel like you are talking to Beth the author, who I am not but she is from Saskatoon. I’d like to say I can pass it along but I’ve never met Beth Goobie. Still Saskatoon is not a huge city, it is possible. Thanks for dropping in.


  3. Jonae

    I am reading this book for a grade 9 novel study and at first I was a little confused but I found myself gripped and couldn’t put it down. I thought the characters were are so well developed. I have to ask which student you’re talking about with the mental illness. Your sumary was really helpfull thank you

  4. Sorry Jonae, I last read it in June and I can’t remember which student I was thinking of. I’ll try to take another peak and get back to you.

  5. Tiffany

    The character both of you are thinking of it Tauni Morrison, who is Autistic. I just finished reading this book about a month ago in my English class. I agree that its a wonderful read. Anyone who bashes this book obviously didn’t read it right.

  6. chad

    this book was horrible. I did it for my ISU and it was just crap. To much unneeded information and the ending was horrible.

  7. sam

    This book was stupid

  8. Kolby Day

    i really dont get the point of this book, like what is the author trying to get at here ? like really oh yeah peer pressure is big i know but it just doesnt really make anysence so im gonna give this book a 1.5 out of 10 haha hahaha ahah! 🙂 just jokes everybody have a dart ill give it a 5.5 holy just all mean but peace out people of the world …

  9. Mina

    does anyone relate this book to “the wall” by pink floyd? apparently beth goobie loved that album. we’re reading this book in our class and our teacher loves stopping the book at certain parts and getting us to listen to one of the song from “the wall”. surprisingly, there are some songs on the album that mesh with parts of the book. coincidence? apparently not…

  10. gosh i really hate this book.
    my teacher is making us do a 2500 words essay about teen bullying and peer pressure in the book.
    waaah, i want to kill myself. -,-

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