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A Reading Group Guide to Dime
By E. R. Frank About the Book
Fourteen-year-old Dime wants a home where she is safe and cared for—and free to read as much as she wants. But when her foster mother keeps making her miss school to babysit, Dime goes looking for somewhere better. She’s lured in by Daddy, a pimp with a stable of young prostitutes. Dime wants desperately to believe that Daddy loves her. By the time she sees through him, she doesn’t know how to escape. Giving up hope of ever having a good life, Dime resolves to help a girl younger than she is, regardless of the danger. Prereading Questions
What would you do as a teenager if you had no family and no money? Discussion Questions
1. Describe the settings of the novel, including the road trip. How important is setting to the story? What would the impact be if the story were set in a different large urban area?
2. Give specific details about the apartment and discuss how Daddy uses the spaces in it to reward and punish the girls. What does Dime value in the apartment?
3. Dime, who loves to read, makes many references to books. What role do children’s books play in the narrative? Which novels are important to her and why? If you’re familiar with one of the novels she mentions, talk about its significance in the story. Discuss why reading and the library are so important to Dime.
4. Describe Dime, how she changes in the story, and what causes those changes. What are her memories of being young and why do they matter? What role does school play in her life? What losses does she suffer in the story?
5. Discuss Dime’s foster situation with Janelle and what prompted Dime to leave. How did Janelle’s treatment of Dime change over the years? In what ways was it not safe for Dime at Janelle’s?
6. Daddy manipulates Dime and the rest of the girls. What words and actions does he use with Dime at first to get her to stay? How does his approach change when he wants her to work as a prostitute? Discuss why she finally sees through him.
7. Compare Daddy’s treatment of Dime to how he treats the other girls. Discuss the role of sex, jealousy, and violence in how he controls the girls.
8. Dime blames herself for “choosing” Daddy and a life of prostitution. She says, “I didn’t want to have to be a ho anymore. But I chose it, so now that’s all there was for me.” Using examples from the narrative, explain why she believes it was her choice. In your opinion, is that all that’s left for her? Discuss what her other options, if any, might be.
9. What is L.A.’s relationship with Dime, Brandy, and Lollipop? Cite evidence from the text that provides clues to her background and analyze how that affects her actions. Describe how she changes over the course of the novel.
10. Describe Brandy, her background, and why she is grateful to Daddy. What do Brandy and Dime have in common? How are they different? Point to scenes that show how they feel about each other.
11. Daddy and the girls, who are called wifeys, form a distortion of a real family. Analyze the theme of family and belonging in this novel. What does Daddy’s household, harmful as it is, offer that resembles a family? What are the girls’ experiences with families in the past?
12. How does the introduction of Lollipop into the group propel the plot forward? Describe her background and how she ends up with them. How does her presence motivate Dime to take action?
13. Discuss why Dime is so determined to save the baby. What do you think the rescue symbolizes to her? What are Dime’s plans, how does she prepare for them, and how well does she execute them to save the baby? Talk about what the consequences of the baby disappearing might have been on Lollipop and Brandy.
14. This novel explores power and its abuse on various levels including the rules on the street about how prostitutes interact with pimps. Describe “reckless eyeballing,” explain why Whippet slaps Dime, and discuss what purpose rules like this one serve for the pimps.
15. The issues of child sexual abuse and prostitution are interwoven in the lives of the girls in this novel. Describe the role sexual abuse played in the earlier life of each girl. In what ways did the sexual abuse make it easier for Daddy to turn the girls into prostitutes?
16. Dime quotes from To Kill a Mockingbird
about courage. Discuss the theme of courage in Dime.
How does the quote apply to Dime’s life and actions?
17. The prologue and various chapters throughout the book focus on the note that Dime is trying to write. Why does the author structure the story like this rather than in straight chronological order? Why does she repeat most of Chapter One in Chapter Twenty-Eight? Discuss the effect of the novel’s structure in terms of suspense and emotional impact.
18. The prologue and opening chapters also foreshadow much of the later action and give hints about the characters. Find specific examples of this, including Dime’s reference to suicide, and relate them to what happens later in the book.
19. Dime plays with the idea of who should be writing the note, based in part on the narrator in The Book Thief.
Compare the voices that she tries out and how effective they are. Discuss the one-line note that she ends up writing and how it ties into the rest of the book.
20. A continuing metaphor throughout the book has to do with heat and cold that Dime feels inside. Find examples of this, such as the reference to a volcano, and trace how the metaphor changes in the course of the story. Analyze how effective the images are in conveying Dime’s emotions.
21. After her first time as a prostitute, Dime says that “There hadn’t been any tunnel or light or angels singing, but I know that I had died.” Discuss what she means and why the author chose that metaphor and the details she uses. What is the relationship of that passage comment to the final paragraph of the book, just labeled “Dime”?
22. Discuss what happens to Dime on the bridge at the end of the book. Based on her previous actions and her strength of character, speculate about what might have happened to her after she found the business card in her coat.
23. Find places in the text where Dime deceives herself about Daddy’s intentions yet reveals enough in her narrative that the reader knows she’s wrong. How does the author convey both Dime’s self-deception and the real situation? After reality sets in, Dime says, “I was fuzzy on a lot of things.” How is this fuzziness reflected in her narration? Activities Figurative Language
Consider the figurative language listed below and find other examples in the text. What comparisons are being made and what effect do they have on the reader? Analyze the figures of speech to see what general categories they draw from, like nature or music.
—a poison eating their souls from the inside out
—looked like a little girl
—puffing up like a pillow
—holding her like a baby
—like the electric shock from the bad outlet
—as if I was in chains
—like watching it happening on TV to someone else
—my brain was like a silhouette of itself
—like a tortoise without a shell or a boat without an anchor
—like she was a goddamn queen
—eyeing laser beams
—oozed like rain dribbling down a wall The Language of “the Life”
Visit the website of Shared Hope International, listed at the back of Dime,
and examine the glossary of terms there (http://sharedhope.org/learn/traffickingterms/). Compare the language listed to the vocabulary that E. R. Frank uses in the novel like stable, wifey, track, date,
and so on. Analyze the literal and metaphorical meanings of the words and phrases, including how many of them have references to family life. Fiction Meets Real Life
The website for Rights4Girls has a one-page fact sheet with statistics about sex trafficking in the US (http://www.rights4girls.org/#!statistics/c4s0) Have students compare and contrast the information on the fact sheet with the situations described in Dime.
Have them create a simple graphic organizer with two columns and as many rows as they need, with the Rights4Girls facts on one side and details from Dime
on the other. To extend the assignment, have students write essays about how the author incorporated real-life information into her narrative. Legislative Action
The nonprofit Polaris, which works to end sex trafficking, provides a lot of information about state policies and laws on the subject (http://www.polarisproject.org/what-we-do/policy-advocacy). Have each student choose a state and research the current and proposed laws, covered in several website sections including “State Ratings,” which has downloadable reports about every state. Students should report their findings to the class. As a group, discuss Polaris’s ten-category system for rating the states and why each category matters in combatting human trafficking. Guide written by Kathleen Odean, a former school librarian and Chair of the 2002 Newbery Award Committee. She gives professional development workshops on books for young people and is the author of
Great Books for Girls and
Great Books about Things Kids Love. This guide, written to align with the Common Core State Standards (www.corestandards.org) has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.