Amelia W.’s Letter-Essay #3: The Compound

Dear classmates,                                                                                                                                                                 11/17/16

Recently, I finished reading The Compound, a 245-page Dystopian Realistic fiction novel by S.A. Bodeen. S.A. Bodeen graduated from UW-River Falls with a degree in Secondary Ed. She also went to Tanzania with her husband to join the Peace Corps. S.A. Bodeen also wrote the popular novel, The Raft. The Compound has received many awards including the Honorable Mention and Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults.

Earlier this year I read The Raft, which I thought was very good. This got me excited for when S.A. Bodeen would come to our school to visit. Her visit, introduced me to The Compound which many people have said it was a great book. Also, my friend reccomended it to me. For both of these reasons, I decided to give The Compound a try.

In the novel, the narrator Eli and his family are camping when fire breaks loose. They are informed by their father that it was a nuclear war, and that they would have to stay in an underground compound for 15 years until the war was over. Sadly, Eli’s twin brother Eddy, and Grandmother were mistakenly left behind. Eli never really questioned anything about the Compound until the sixth year of being there. Were people alive outside of the compound? Why was his dad so secretive about his office? Would they run out of food?  He got increasingly suspicious when he got an internet connection on his laptop. Was there no nuclear war at all?

This book reminded me of the movie, 10 Cloverfield Lane which is about a girl who gets into a car accident and wakes up in a compound. She is put into the compound because of a chemical attack in the air. The most obvious similarity between The Compound and 10 Cloverfield Lane, is that both of the main characters have to stay in a compound for a long period of time. Also, in both the “disaster” never occured, and someone was keeping them in the compound.

I’d say the theme of this book is to have courage. Throughout the whole book, especially the end, Eli is doing whatever he can to survive. He also protects his family in anyway he can. One particular example of this is when Eli stands up to his father about the lies he’s told (pg. 163). This is important because he does not know what his father will do, but still has the courage to stand up for his whole family. Another example of this, is the end of the book, when the compound is about to explode and Eli goes back in to tell his family to run (pg. 232). This shows courage, because Eli risked his life to save his family.

I liked the way the author brought back the dad when it looked like he was going to die. Without it, there would not of been enough action, and it would be much easier for the family to get out of the compound. It also makes the reader think that they are not going to get out of the compound. This last minute conflict, makes the reader think of a show down, just like in movies.

I was interested in this passage after Eli dreams about Turducken and remembers something. S.A. Bodeen writes:

“Eddy and I were eight. Dad ordered a dozen turduckens to feed the guests at our annual Christmas Eve dinner. Christmas mornings were just for family. But the night before was reserved for the hordes of people Dad had worked with over the year. And, being a Rex Yanakakis shindig, the main course had to be something unusual. No run-of-the-mill turkey or ham or goose for my father.” (pg. 101)

What I love about this passage, is that it highlights the author’s craft of using signposts. In particular, memory moments. While reading The Compound I noticed lots and lots of memory moments scattered throughout the book. This is important, because it keeps the book interesting, since all the characters are doing is staying in the compound. I also noticed how detailed the author is in these memory examples. For an example, when S.A. Bodeen included when Eli’s family celebrates Christmas. This makes sure the reader fully understands the passage.  The Compound is a 9 out of 10.


Amelia Wasco



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3 thoughts on “Amelia W.’s Letter-Essay #3: The Compound

  1. Dear Amelia

    Your letter essay was full of details. I like the qout you put in and how you explaned what this realtes to the book. The letter essay inspired me to read the book


  2. Amelia,

    First off, Great job! I liked how you quoted a part of the book. It showed how much you liked/understood the passage. Also, I liked how much detail you gave about S.A. Bodeen’s background. It helped me understand her more.

    Mia Prizio

  3. Dear Amelia,
    Let me start off by saying wonderful job! You letter essay was really well written and I gained a new insight on this book that I never thought of while I read this book. I especially loved how you included the tough questions Eli was thinking as he was in the compound, it really helped get you point across! I also liked your comparison between the movie “10 Cloverfield Lane” and “The Compound.” I think you did an excellent job and therefore I have no further questions. Keep up the good work!
    – Amelia Burrell

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