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Neutral Portfolio

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BC: Zinger | Lilly dies of a pregnancy complication. I guess that shouldn't surprise me. I mean after all, she DID smoke, drink and use cannabis while she was pregnant. But I digress: the REAL reason that I didn't see it coming was that Lilly was one of the main character. Then I realized, If Lilly lived, she would get together with Jonah, and that would cause a love triangle with Simon, which would defy the theme of brotherly love. For the sake of the lesson learned, Lilly is sacrificed.


1: ANTAGONISTS | The main antagonist of "In the Path of Falling Objects" is Mitch, a young man from Texas who, while seeming affable enough with his harmless quirks, is in reality a stone-cold killer who feels nothing but the thrill of the kill.

2: BOOK | In 1970, Jonah and his brother Simon are forced to leave home when their abusive and selfish mother abandons them. They head out from their dilapidated shack on the Texas-New Mexico border with nothing but a bag of dirty clothes, 10 dollars, and an old revolver. Soon into their journey to Arizona, they hitch a ride with Mitch and Lilly, and the trip soon turns into a nightmare.

3: ClIMAX | After kicking Jonah off a bridge and into a river, Lilly and Simon are taken captive by Mitch. Jonah is able to get to shore and is given a ride by a boy named Dalton. After a short recuperation, Jonah and Dalton head into the desert to save Lilly and Simon. However, they have already escaped Mitch and hide out with a war veteran named Walker. Mitch discovers this and has a psychotic break. Jonah and Dalton meet up with the others at Walker's trailer. Mitch attacks the trailer.

4: Description of the Main Characters | Jonah Vickers - Protagonist and sixteen year old middle child of the Vickers family. Jonah is the more level-headed and responsible of the brothers. Simon Vickers – Jonah’s younger brother, fourteen years old and still angry about the hand the universe has played them. His anger makes him both rash and confrontational towards Jonah. Mitch – the main antagonist of the story. From the outside, Mitch seems to be a relaxed, affable young man with a few interesting quirks. However it is quickly revealed that Mitch is a stone-cold butcher in sheep's clothing. Lilly – a sweet, yet enigmatic sixteen-year-old girl who is riding with Mitch.

5: Figurative Language | -Black, filthy, rusted with his own blood, Mitch raises himself up and looks down. pg. 282 -“I curled the blanket beneath Lilly's head, lifting it up; she seemed so wooden, heavy.” pg. 286 -He started squealing and writhing like a pig that was about to get butchered, and I pulled him by the sleeve of his tee shirt and threw him down into the dirt. pg. 61

6: Give an Alternate Ending | Mitch, in his fit of madness, ends up blowing up the trailer. Only Jonah survives. After killing Mitch, Jonah himself goes crazy over feeling responsible for Simon's death, highlighting his tragic flaw of letting himself be weighed down by his perceived responsibility. He ends up EXACTLY LIKE MITCH, a hedonistic killer, to put the guilt out of his head, and becomes the monster he was hunting. Now THAT'S what I call a downer ending.

7: Heart to Heart | Dear Jonah I cannot begin to imagine the psychological trauma that is haunting you as you read this letter. Your journey has been as ugly as it is unimaginable: your mother abandoning you, your brother tormenting you at every step of the way, walking miles in the desert with rotting clothes and piss-warm water, and the ride. It seems like life keeps picking you up just to kick you down again. All I can tell you is that everything you've gone through, every trial and tribulation, has made you stronger.

8: You know Simon now, truly, for the first time in your life, and no event can take that from you. You've rid the world of a madman who would leave a trail of blood god knows how long across the Southwest. But most importantly, you have a family now. People who truly love and will take care of you, not because they're obligated to, not because you've had to earn it, but for the first time, because you have truly good people in your life now. You're not done with problems, life will always try to pull you down, like gravity. But now, you're a little more free, and you can get out of the dust and stand. The best advice I can give? You're free. Take advantage of it. Don't let the events you've gone through hold you back. Take strength from them. Keep up the search for people to care about, people like Dalton and his family. As long as you have friends, you have family. Your chum, Josh

9: Illustration

10: Justify | Frankly, I think most young adult fiction writers are talentless hacks who spew a river of rubbish a mile wide that drowns out more quality focused writers. Andrew Smith is not one of these authors. His world-building is simple and realistic, his characters are unique, believable, and interesting, and his story is both harrowing and enlightening. If you ever want to man up and read something with a little quality put into it, get off the runaway dystopia train and pick up "In the Path of Falling Objects."

11: Know Your Book | 1.Who is Simon and Jonah's brother? Matthew 2.Where is he? Vietnam 3.Whom is the statue in the backseat of the car of? Don Quixote 4.What is Mitch's odd talent? He can count things instantly on sight 5.Where does Dalton live? A camp near an ancient pueblo 6.Which war is Walker a veteran of? The Korean War 7.What special object does Simon find? A meteorite 8.What is the name of the motel that Mitch and the others stay at? The Palms 9.What do the boys do after the showdown at the trailer? They go to Scotty's Mother's house 10.What does the meteorite symbolize? Jonah and Simon's lives: fiery, incoherent, out of control, and in the end, blackened but still together.

12: If there's one thing this book taught me, it's that no matter how senseless, purposeless, and agonizing your life seems, you always have another option. After being abandoned by their mother, losing their brother in the Vietnam War, fighting each other, being held hostage by a sociopath, almost being killed, and after all this STILL having nothing but a pistol and the shirts on their backs, it seems like Jonah and Simon might as well just throw in the towel. In spite of this, they don't. They find a new road to walk down, a road of brotherly love, loyalty, and true family. | Lessons Learned

13: Making Personal Connections | 1. Like Jonah in the book, me and my sister have shared a rocky love hate relationship. 2. I find Jonah to be a very easy character to empathize with. The feelings of unease, anxiety, and being weighted down by responsibility are very clear to me.

14: Narration | "In the Path of Falling Objects" is mainly told in a 1st person account by Jonah. However, the story occasionally shifts to the viewpoint of other characters, including Simon and even Mitch. Ingenuously, Mitch refers to himself in 3rd person whenever the story is told through his eyes, to denote his shattered psyche and complete lack of empathy.

15: Walker was a quiet, simple, and wise man, who sacrificed his health for his nation and the nation of South Korea, and his life for the lives of four children whom he had never set eyes on before his final day. He did not go gentle into that good night. May he rest in peace. | Obituary

16: Jonah is second oldest brother in the Vickers family, if one could call it a family. His father is in prison for drug-related crimes and his mother is abusive and abandons Jonah and Simon shortly before the book begins. Jonah, because of the fact that his mother would not care for him and Simon, the fact that his brother Matthew is gone in Vietnam, and that he is now the oldest sibling left at home, feels an intense responsibility for Simon. He's intensely moral, stating that even in the face of starvation, he and Simon had never stolen. | Protagonist

17: Quotes | -"This," Mitch said, "is likely to become a serious complication." -pg. 93 This quote, in context, should put a chill down your spine. The gravity of the situation that he's commenting on is terrifying, and such a calm, logical quote coming from a madman like Mitch makes it all the more creepy. -"We're here. In Arizona. Look what it got us, Jonah," Simon said. "Let's go home, Jonah. You need to give up on Matthew. On everything. Let's go home." -pg. 288 This is such a powerful moment in the novel, the epiphany that Jonah needs to hear. It's always great to see characters get the wake-up slap they need.

18: The brothers discover Matthew's fate after a visit with Scotty's mother, and decide to live with Dalton and his family at their camp, abandoning the idea to get back together with their dad. | Resolution

19: Sensory Details | "Smoke and grits spout through the back of Chief's head, through the greasy black hair. At first he looks startled, like he's about to bust out laughing when the bullet smashes the same bottle he's just taken his final drink from. Mitch puts the gun into his jeans and hangs his shirttail over it. He takes a drag from the cigarette. and listens to the sound of the whiskey dripping down onto the floor, the fluttering of Chief's hands on the wet tiles." -piss kid "In the Path of Falling Objects" doesn't have a lot of long scenery descriptions in it. This is one of them, and God is it visceral or what? You can almost feel bits of Chiefs brain all over your hands and face. It really sets the tone.

20: Mitch's Top 5 Songs | 1. Happiness is a Warm Gun The title is Mitch's philosophy. Enough said. 2. Like a Rolling Stone Mitch's obsessive hatred of Lilly is overwhelming, and this song articulates his resentment. 3. Paint it Black Mitch looks inside himself and sees his heart is blacks. 4. Break on Through This song's lyrics are of both debauchery and insanity, and Mitch enjoys both. 5. We're of to See the Wizard Mitch likes singing this to himself early in the book. Can't argue with the word of God right?

21: Undercover Mission | -Andrew Smith's older brother Patrick fought in the Vietnam War -Smith has said he is most similar to the character Simon -Smith's first job was as a columnist for a newspaper in Southern California. In fact, he was paid by the inches of copy he wrote.

22: 1. You need some help with that sociopathy? Seems like the right thing to do. Hey, I'm an altruist. 2. Can I buy you're car? It's a '69 Lincoln convertible. Like what Kennedy was shot in. Of course I'm gonna try to buy it. 3. Can I buy your statue? Don Quixote is a boss. 4. What are your Top 5 Songs? I want to make sure I got them right. 5. Do you have your gun on you? If he says yes, I'll know to leave, ASAP | Visit Your Favorite Character

23: WHY? | There are so many things driving the characters in this book. Fear, anger, the thirst for freedom, wanton hedonism, and violent insanity. But I believe the most important thing to MOST of the characters, and the theme of the story, is the search for peace. Lilly is looking for inner piece, and is running from her past of sexual abuse. Jonah and Simon are looking for peace in life, for a family that actually loves them, be it outside themselves or between each other. The challenges of journey are what best signify its meaning. The whole theme of the trip is chaos. Mitch personifies this chaos through his insanity. The fact that Jonah and Simon have nowhere, and even the setting, further supports this. What's more uncertain, more anxiety-producing, more aimless, than the desert?

24: Xenophobia | Matthew, Simon and Jonah's brother in Vietnam, experiences feelings of xenophobia many times (and for good reason). He refuses to eat Vietnamese food because many soldiers had suffered food poisoning from it. He is suspicious of the locals and tells in his letters that many of them have robbed soldiers. He repeatedly describes the entire country of Vietnam as alien, with its lack of seasonal change and constant rain.

25: You Get to Choose | I decided to try to figure out the nature of Mitch's insanity. From what we see in the book, we know three important details about Mitch 1.He subitizes uncontrollably 2.He protects his perceived property with extreme jealousy 3.He gets a rush out of killing and is utterly oblivious to the consequences From this, I believe that Mitch is an obsessive-compulsive sociopath. Extreme forms of categorizing the environment around you (including uncontrollable counting) are common symptoms of OCD. His incredible protectiveness of his property (and what he THINKS is his property) is a form of environmental control that also points to OCD. Mitch's inability to empathize with others, and the pleasure he derives from harming others, are clear indicators of severe sociopathy.

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  • Title: Neutral Portfolio
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