Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Surviving the Applewhites” as Want to Read:
Surviving the Applewhites
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Surviving the Applewhites

(Applewhites #1)

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  11,158 ratings  ·  744 reviews
Jake Semple is a scary kid. Word has it that he burned down his old school and then was kicked out of every other school in his home state. Only weeks into September, the middle school in Traybridge, North Carolina, has thrown him out, too. Now there's only one place left that will take him -- a home school run by the most outrageous, forgetful, chaotic, quarrelsome family ...more
Paperback, School Market Edition, 216 pages
Published December 1st 2002 by Scholastic, Inc. (first published August 6th 2002)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Surviving the Applewhites, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Fionnula Enright if your talking about goodreads then thats because goodreads is for rateing them you can't read a book of of it at least as far as i know
if your talking about goodreads then thats because goodreads is for rateing them you can't read a book of of it at least as far as i know

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,158 ratings  ·  744 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Surviving the Applewhites
Mar 21, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Seriously I could not have expected a less realistic representation of the metamorphosis of a teenage foster child. I wanted to shake the author and ask her why a teenage boy abandoned by both parents as well as booted out by his grandfather had no REAL issues with trust, attachment, or authority. Seriously even the best of the best kids are going to have a MUCH harder time than represented here. The thought process of Jake when thinking about his life and choices just seemed way too simplistic. ...more
I read this in my quest to read every children's book featuring modern homeschooled characters (there are shockingly few out there). It's a fun story about a homeschooling family that takes in a rebellious boy who has been expelled from school for getting into too much trouble. The story is about how the boy relaxes into his new situation and finds the freedom to discover himself in the midst of it.

The book relies on the stereotype of homeschoolers as eccentric, artsy types, but they're not too
Apr 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My goodness, reading this with my son was definitely something. Having read this as a child myself I was very happy my son decided to read it himself, but let's say he didnt get some of the references lmao, I guess you gatta be a 90s kid. ...more
Aug 25, 2011 rated it it was ok
When reading a Newbery book, I generally enter into the experience with higher expectations than I have for most other books. That gold or silver medal on the cover, letting me know that the ALA Newbery committee for that year considered the novel I'm holding in my hands to be worthy of mention alongside such classics as Charlotte's Web, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and Number the Stars, is perhaps the most important external sign I look for in the books that I read.

Oct 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book has genuinely changed my life more than once. I first read it in the fourth or fifth grade, and fell in love with E.D., who has become a more accurate portrayal of myself since then. I turned to this book whenever I was upset, or excited, or confused, and somehow, rationally or not, it always provided. I literally finished an essay about it last week, and I am now a junior in high school.

The most definitive moment when it touched my life directly was when a kid very, very similar to J
Ms. Darcy
I admit I have not read this book in years, but I remember it being one of my favorite books when I was younger. I still get really excited whenever I see a Great Spangled Fritillery. As a homeschooler myself, I thought the Applewhite family was a hilarious. Yes, they are all completely over the top and absurd, but I think they are better done than most characters you will find in books targeting at this same age group.

What also really appealed to me for this book is that the youngest kid, I fo
Aug 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit over the top, but full of heart and tons of fun, this is the story of an apparently incorrigible middle-school delinquent and the artistic, eccentric family who might just bring him around. Jake Semple has been kicked out of every school in Rhode Island, and sent to North Carolina to live with his grandfather. After being expelled from yet another school, Jake finds himself taken in by the Applewhites, a sprawling family of artists with a disorganized homeschool and just one highly organiz ...more
Lisa Rathbun
Aug 11, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
For me, this was forgettable. The characters are weirdly self-absorbed but also all amazingly come together to help put on a play at the end. The kids work unrealistically hard on their homeschooling, instead of goofing off listening to music or playing video games all day, which I think they might tend to do realistically if they had as little adult supervision as they did in this book. I liked E.D., but by the end the focus on her seemed to just drop; I missed her perspective at the end. It se ...more
Aug 16, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: story, elem
When I wasn't very far into this (60 pages or so) it already bored me. The characters were flat stereotypes and I got no sense of their interior lives, despite lots of telling-rather-than-showing on Tolan's part. Furthermore, I work with four-year-olds, and that ain't a four-year-old. Especially not one raised in a chaotic environment of adult narcissists who do not engage with the child.

Could I predict the plot? You bet. Did I care about what happens to these characters? Heck no. I don't feel
Mar 04, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ummmmmm... was there a point to this book? Because it didn't seem like it. First of all, Jake wasn't even that bad. I'm sorry, but he wasn't. He smoked for like the first few chapters and then gave it up because everyone kept stomping on his cigarettes (Wouldn't a bad kid have done it anyway in secret?). He swore at first but then that got less and less as the book went on. And if he was really bad enough to burn down a school wouldn't he have like hit the dog or Destiny if they were really both ...more
Jan 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cute message, predictable plot, and stereotyped characters, but I still enjoyed it. Quick read for Battle of the Books at the junior high.
Dec 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Scribd text and audiobook.
Synopsis: "The side-splittingly funny Newbery Honor Book about a rebellious boy who is sent to a home-schooling program run by one family—the creative, kooky, loud, and loving Applewhites! Jake Semple is notorious. Rumor has it he managed to get kicked out of every school in Rhode Island, and actually burned the last one down to the ground.

Only one place will take him now, and that's a home school run by the Applewhites, a chaotic and hilarious family of artists: poet L
Michael Fitzgerald
Disappointing and definitely not worthy of its Honor. The book loses its focus about halfway through and becomes a farce. The "deep" philosophical messages are shallow and laughable: "Education is an adventurous quest for the meaning of life, involving an ability to think things through." Really? That word salad is the best you could come up with? Characters are caricatures: the Indian guru, the domineering stage mother, the painfully introverted creative teen, the prima donna ballerina, the ult ...more
Jake Stemple is considered one of the ultimate bad boys. He's been kicked out of every school he's ever attended. Then he ends up at Wit's End. Wit's End is where the Applewhite family lives. The Applewhite children are all home schooled and Jake's grandfather has decided that Jake will be joining them. Jake moves in with the Applewhites and realizes that they are all crazy artists, but he is eventually sucked in and joins the family for a massive project that will take everyone's skills.

I liked
North Carolina! woo!
I think that's what originally sparked my interest in the book.
The book was well written, though rather predictable. It was subtle where it needed to be, explicit where it worked, and well rounded in it's characters. The use of flipping between E.D.'s and Jake's perspectives was very effective with clean breaks in between. There were a few places that I hoped for more expansion and exploration and the goat's role seemed to cut itself short. But overall, I thoroughly enjoyed
Nola Redd
Apr 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my daughter's favorite names, perhaps because she goes by the same initials of the female lead. I enjoy it, it's a light read that makes me take another look at how our family chooses to homeschool. The characters are quirky and fun. I've seen criticism that Jake's family problems should leave him more "hardened" than he is, but, after some consideration, I don't think that necessarily pans out. As one reviewer noted, "His parents are in prison for selling pot, it's not like they' ...more
Sep 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't expecting to really like this book when I started it; the thought of another troubled-teen-turned-around book annoyed me. The back cover begins by saying, "Jake Semple is a scary kid. Word has it that he burned down his old school and then was kicked out of every other school in his home state." He is then sent to be home-schooled by the Applewhite family in North Carolina, where the students (consisting only of the family and Jake) are given creative license to learn according to their ...more
Loretta Marchize
So you know when you read a book and you can't stop reading it, even though it's just a kid's book, and when you finish you just sigh because it was amazing? This was one of those books.
The Applewhites, all their differences, and unique traits were all very memorable, as were the 'adopted Applewhites,' Jake, Jeremy, and later the Aunt's geru or whatever he was. (i don't remember)
(view spoiler)
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Stick a juvenile delinquent into a home school run by a bunch of talented art family members and you've got a fun read. It describes a school environment that I wish I had and little bit like my kids had. I really liked this book even if it had problems. It doesn't dive to deep into any feelings that Jake might have about being abandoned, being dumped into a school of art freaks, any trouble he might have adjusting etc. etc. etc. (the list just keeps going)

But I found the premise interesting, th
Ms. Foley
Oct 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This a story about a juvenile deliquent boy who is sent to live with a very unusual and artistic family instead of being put into jail. In some ways, he finds it harder than actually being in jail. It's about fitting in by not fitting in and being true to yourself. There's a lot in the story about putting on a play, so if you are into drama, you would probably like this story. ...more
Dec 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have just re-read this book. I was looking for another story to base a musical on, and this is not it, but I did find that I enjoyed the book again. It is a bit wacky and over the top, but it is good hearted and speaks to my interest in stories where kids find their way through some adolescent confusion to discover more about themselves.
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids
Light and enjoyable. Wacky artsy family runs creative homeschool for their kids and takes on a "bad kid" from the big city. Dad tackles directing The Sound of Music for the local community theatre, everyone gets involved, including the family's only well-organized, non-artsy kid and the city boy. Easy to predict how it will all come out, but it's fun to go along for the ride. ...more
For the genre and age group this book was written for, I'd give this a 3. I believe it had a great moral lesson; everyone is needed and everyone has their personal strengths. Cute book, but a more suitable read for my 10 year old. ...more
Mar 27, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This one had its moments, but, overall, it was a dud.
raevyn {rae}
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Slightly predictable at some points, but still exceeded my expectations!!
Elena L
Dec 05, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I strongly do not recommend this book to readers who don't like dull and predictable plots. I've read the first 5 chapters and I knew what was going to happen next. This book is one of the most boring and repetitive books I have ever read. This book is about a "bad boy" named Jake Semple who got dropped into a homeschooling program by the Applewhites. There are so many characters that it's hard to follow. Each character has their everyday problems and there isn't a big conflict throughout the st ...more
I love this author. She has written at least two books that still haunt me years later (which I seriously cannot find copies of to buy and I have been hunting). I went into this thinking it didn't look quite as good as her other works. It might be written for a slightly younger audience than her other YA. This is much more middle-grade fiction.

I felt very meh about this one. I enjoyed it. It has pleasant pacing and entertaining moments. The plot doesn't grab very much though.
It relies a little
David Slater
The setup: a teen delinquent is given one last chance to avoid juvie at a home school run by a madcap family of artists, the Applewhites. While the book's leisurely-paced charm is undeniable, so are its various flaws. First, the quirky cast of characters are straight from stock (distracted writer, kooky vegetarian New Ager, drama-queen...dramatist), though young readers are not likely to know or care. Much more significant is that the setup is revealed to be a contrivance, as the swearing, smoki ...more
Oct 29, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Surviving the Applewhites is possibly the driest book that I have ever read, or will read. This book is about a bad boy, Jake Semple, who was determined to remain the bad boy t every school he went to. Jake had pulled the last straw after burning down his school in the city. His social worker and grandfather sent him to the creative academy, the Applewhites homeschool. From this point on Jake and E.D., the second oldet daughter in the Applewhite family, switch off perspectives every other chapte ...more
Daisy Paquet
Apr 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
{3.5 } This book was... interesting. We have a love/hate relationship. Give me a moment while I try to collect my thoughts.


sadly, my friends, the list ends there.

I guess I'm weird but the characters all made me WANT TO PULL MY HAIR OUT. There was like 0% communication in this book, which I guess was kind of the point, but still.
Also: the beginning was... boring.

I'm sorry, but it is true. It was also hard to
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Hope Was Here
  • Pictures of Hollis Woods
  • Feathers
  • Joey Pigza Loses Control (Joey Pigza, #2)
  • Our Only May Amelia (May Amelia, #1)
  • Penny from Heaven
  • The Dreamer
  • The Great Unexpected
  • Jacob Have I Loved
  • Love, Ruby Lavender
  • Show Way
  • Becoming Naomi León
  • A Long Way from Chicago (A Long Way from Chicago, #1)
  • The View from Saturday
  • Cosmic
  • Everything on a Waffle (Coal Harbour #1)
  • Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat (Emmy, #1)
  • Gone-Away Lake
See similar books…
Stephanie S. Tolan's earliest memories involve books. Those that were read to her and those she read to herself, often late at night with a flashlight under the covers. She always thought there was a special magic in the little black marks on paper that could turn into whole worlds and real people. Born in Ohio and raised in Wisconsin, she wrote her first story in the fourth grade. It was thrillin ...more

Other books in the series

Applewhites (3 books)
  • Applewhites at Wit's End (Applewhites, #2)
  • Applewhites Coast to Coast (Applewhites #3)

Related Articles

  Jenny Lawson is the funniest person you know. And if you don’t know her, just read one of her books and she becomes the funniest person you...
88 likes · 17 comments