Project Description

Teacher’s Guide

My Life and Death by Alexandra Canarsie

by Susan Heyboer O’Keefe

Everything in fourteen-year-old Allie Canarsie’s life has gone wrong until she finds meaning investigating the circumstances behind a young boy’s unexpected death.

The new town, Nickel Park, where Allie has moved with her mother is a big disappointment. The rented trailer where they live now is cramped and depressing. School is a place to waste time and get in trouble, and friends are nonexistent. Worst of all, she has not heard from her father since he walked out on the family. Feeling cut off from those around her, Allie finds herself drawn to the funerals of strangers. Here among the black-clad, sad-eyed anonymous mourners she feels a sense of belonging.

But Allie’s strange new hobby takes an ominous turn when she becomes preoccupied with the death―and former life―of an adolescent boy named Jimmy Muller. Soon she becomes entangled in the lives of Jimmy’s best friend Dennis and Mr. Muller, the dead boy’s father. Allie’s determination to prove that Jimmy’s death was no accident sets into a motion a chain of events that forever alters her life. As she solves the troubling puzzle of Jimmy’s death, she finds some surprising answers to questions in her own life.

In this provocative and affecting novel for young adults, author Susan Heyboer O’Keefe gives voice to adolescent expressions of isolation and confusion that will resonate with young readers.

Format: Paperback
Price: $7.95
ISBN: 978-1-56145-387-0
Publication Date: 10/1/2006
Page Count: 217
Size: 6 ̎ x 9 ̎
Age Range: 12 – 16
Language: English
Format: eBook
ISBN: 978-1-56145-714-4
Age Range: 12 – 16
Language: English

Purchase this eBook through the following vendors:

Barnes & Noble

AR Level: 4.7
F&P: Y, Gr 6, Genre RF
Lexile: 660L
Themes: Consequences, Family, Friendship, Mystery, Responsibility
BISAC 1: YAF058110 YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Social Themes / Emotions & Feelings
BISAC 2: YAF011000 YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Coming of Age
BISAC 3: YAF058120 YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Social Themes / Friendship


“In her quest, [Allie] discovers not only the truth of Jimmy’s death, but also difficult truths about her own life. Having spent years building up defenses, Allie faces reality with grace and in a way that will appeal to readers. The unexpected twists and turns of the plot as she finds out what home and family really are make this coming-of-age novel a strong first offering for young adults.” ―School Library Journal

“Humor and suspense fill the pages. Allie is an unforgettable, real character. Teenage girls will identify with her smart mouth and lack of self-esteem. This is a definite pageturner for teens.” ―The Book Report


Tayshas High School Reading List ―Texas Library Association, 2003-2004

Arizona Young Readers’ Awards (Nominee, Teen Book Category) ―Arizona State Library Association, 2007

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Meet the Author

Susan Heyboer O’Keefe was the author of more than a dozen books for children, including My Life and Death by Alexandra Canarsie, One Hungry Monster, A Bug from Aunt Tillie, Good Night, God Bless, and Love Me, Love You. You can visit her website here.