Zach's Lie


Roland Smith

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Minimum grade level: 


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. Zach has to give up his whole life when he enters the Witness Protection Program. What do you think he missed most? What would you miss most if you had to do the same thing?
  2. Zach is shocked to find out about his father's involvement in illegal activities. Should Zach have known about his dad's shady activities? How much do you know about your parents' jobs?
  3. Zach has to conceal his old identity from everyone he meets in his new life. Is this difficult for him to do? Is it hard because he has to always be on guard against slipping up and disclosing something about his past (like his sister's real name or his real home town), or because he wants to confide in someone, but isn't allowed to? What aspect of keeping that secret would be harder for you - remembering not to slip up, or having to conceal your past from those you become close to?
  4. When Uncle Don tells Zach that people Zach's age are often the ones who endanger their families by blowing their cover, Zach says, "This made me mad. Everyone thinks I'm the one who's going to slip up." Who does slip up? How? What role does Peter have in their discovery?
  5. Zach's imaginary friend, Commander IF, had been out of Zach's life for a while - until the move to Elko. Why does he resurface? What role does he play for Zach and in the events prior to Zach's discovery?
  6. When students at Zach's school get in trouble, they are sent to the custodian's office to hit a punching bag. Do you think that would work well? What do you do when you get angry?
  7. When Zach goes to the sheep herding camp with Catalin, he asks, "How could he get to know someone if he couldn't talk about himself?" Is he able to get to know Catalin? How?
  8. Darrell tells Zach about the three E's of Elko - Everyone knows Everything about Everybody. Does it turn out to be true? What are some good and bad things about living in an insulated environment like that?
  9. Sam is much more than a custodian at Zach's school. What other roles does he fill for the school? What role does he play in Zach's life?
  10. Zach keeps a journal - do you? What purpose do you think his journals served for him?
  11. At the end of the book, Zach's family is reunited with his father. How do you think Zach feels about seeing his dad again? Angry? Relieved? Excited? How do you think his mother and sister might feel? How would you feel if you were in Zach's shoes?
  12. The author uses the technique of starting each chapter with part of one of Zach's journal entries, then flashing back to the event in the entry or to another happening in Zach's life. Did you like this way of starting out chapters? Was it effective?

If you like this book, try

  • Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
  • Sasquatch by Roland Smith
  • The Unprotected Witness by James Stevenson

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