Wither by Lauren DeStefano: Essay & Project Ideas

There’s no shortage of food for thought in Lauren DeStefano’s new post-apocalyptic, dystopian novel, Wither. We’ve compiled some essay topics and project ideas to get you started, but the sky’s the limit on this one!

Essay ideas

  • Imagine Rhine’s kidnapping from her brother Rowan’s point of view. How does he discover she’s been taken? What does he do – try to find her, or resign himself to the fact that she’s gone?
  • There are a number of edgy topics in Wither. Pick one and discuss its possible impact on the young adults who read it.
  • The June Beans that both Rose and then Rhine eat seem to have some significance (that Lauren DeStefano would not comment on in her Q&A with us!). Go back and read the sections that mention them. Is there any foreshadowing? What could be their function?
  • Write a journal from Linden’s point of view. Given his alleged limited knowledge about what’s really going on in the house, how would his inner thoughts differ from Rhine’s? What kind of “voice” would you give him? How would he feel about his father?


  • If you’ve had biology, use some of your knowledge about genetics to come up with a theory on why the children of the “Firsts” in Wither die so young. Do some medical research and write it up as a scientific report. Could it really happen? What real-life afflictions/diseases might cause entire generations of people to die at a certain age?
  • Using the map of the wives’ floor created by Simon & Schuster, build a model of one of the girls’ bedrooms. Depending on her personality, what kinds of things would she have in there? Use details from the book.
  • When we interviewed Lizzy Bromley, executive art director for Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, she mentioned all the objects she collected to possibly include in the cover photo. Create a desktop wallpaper using some of these objects that didn’t make it onto the final book cover. Explain why you chose them and their significance.

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