Acceleration

By: 

Graham McNamee

Number of Pages: 

210

Minimum grade level: 

7th

What is the most boring summer job you can think of? Duncan thinks he has the world's most boring summer job, working for the lost and found department of the Toronto Transit Commission. From 9 to 5, Monday through Friday, Duncan has to work in the basement of a subway station, searching the shelves for items that people have lost on the bus or the subway. He spends hours looking through piles of umbrellas, eyeglasses, cell phones and books. Then one day Duncan finds a book in the lost and found, and his job is not boring anymore. It's not a regular book, but more of a journal or notebook, filled with writing. Duncan is shocked as he begins to read about the writer's experiments with animal abuse and arson. Then the writer talks about following women on the subway. Duncan becomes obsessed with the diary. He's convinced the psycho who wrote the diary, whom he calls Roach, is going to hurt one of the women he wrote about. He tries to give the diary to the police, but they aren't interested. Can Duncan find out who Roach is before it's too late?

Discussion questions

Spoiler alert! Some of the questions contain key elements of the plot. Do not read if you don't want to know what happens!

  1. Why do you think the title of the book is Acceleration? Can you think of several ways things accelerate in the story?
  2. Can you think of some ways that the author has used symbolism in his story? For example, why is Duncan's job located in the sub-sub basement? Why does Vinny have a crippled arm?
  3. Why is Duncan friends with two such different people as Wayne and Vinny? How does each of them help him find the Roach?
  4. Why don't the police believe Duncan when he shows them the diary? Should he have told them the truth after his confrontation with the Roach? Why or why not?
  5. Why doesn't Duncan approach the girl, Cherry, that he identifies as one of the Roach's targets?
  6. Knowing what Vinny discovers about serial killers in his research, do you understand why Roach does what he does?
  7. Why does Duncan's boss, Jacob, "fit" the job in the Lost and Found?
  8. How does this experience change Duncan? Does he have different relationships with his parents, his friends, his former girlfriend?
  9. Put yourself in Duncan's place. What would you have done?

If you liked this book, try

  • Kissing the Rain by Kevin Brooks
  • Tenderness by Robert Cormier
  • They Broke the Law, You Be the Judge: True Cases of Teen Crime by Thomas A. Jacobs
  • The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci
  • Blood Trail by Nancy Springer

Snacks

Dairy Queen sundaes

Some of this guide was reproduced from the Rhode Island Teen Book Award website.

Created in part with funds granted by the Oregon State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.