Crash by Jerry Spinelli Discussion Questions

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

''Crash'' is a young-adult novel about an aggressive athlete who learns to define his own expectations for himself. These discussion questions can help your students work through this story.


Crash is a 1996 young-adult novel by Jerry Spinelli, in which a young, aggressive athlete learns to see himself beyond the assumptions and expectations others have placed upon him. It's a compelling story that opens lots of room for discussion. These questions can help guide your students through a class discussion on the characters, plot, and themes of the novel. These questions are designed for middle schoolers but can be adapted to different age levels.

Questions About Characters and Plot

  • Who is the main protagonist in Crash? How are we introduced to Crash Coogan? What are some of the first things we learn about him? How would you describe Crash's personality at the start of the book?
  • Who is Penn Webb? How are we introduced to Penn? What was your first impression of Penn? What was Crash's first impression of Penn? How would you describe Penn's personality?
  • In one sentence, describe the plot of Crash. What is this story about? What is the central conflict? How is that conflict established? How it is developed throughout the story?
  • What do you think are the three most important moments in the plot of this book? What moments do the most to move the plot along, change the stakes, or change our characters? Why these three moments?
  • What is the climax of this story? How does the conflict come to a head? How is it resolved? What did you think of this resolution? Did it make sense to you?

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