Cover image for Multiple choice
Multiple choice
Tashjian, Janet.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Holt, 1999.
Physical Description:
186 pages ; 22 cm
Monica, a fourteen-year-old perfectionist and word game expert, tries to break free from all of the suffocating rules in her life by creating a game for living called Multiple Choice.
Reading Level:
830 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.9 5.0 28593.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 6.6 10 Quiz: 17272 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



For as long as Monica Devon can remember, she has been two things: a whiz at making anagrams, and a perfectionist who spends most of her time obsessing about saying and doing the right thing. Now at fourteen, Monica's compulsive habits have spiraled out of control. Seeing no other way out, she creates Multiple Choice, a roulette word game that will force spontaneity into her life, and, she hopes, free her from her obsessions. It seems so easy - create a list of options, choose a Scrabble tile, and carry out the act. At first the game is exciting and somewhat liberating. But soon it starts to go devastatingly wrong. Fortunately for Monica, help is closer than she thinks.With a distinctive voice full of both humor and realism and a mastery of detail, Janet Tashjian reveals marked insight into the dark corners of a troubled teenager's mind.

Author Notes

Janet Tashjian is the author of Tru Confessions , which was named a New York Public Library Best Book for Teenagers, and was hailed as a "reinvention of the diary format" in a Publishers Weekly starred review. She is also the author of the Redfeather Chapter Book Marty Frye, Private Eye , illustrated by Laurie Keller. Ms. Tashjian lives in Needham, Massachusetts, with her family.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-9. According to 14-year-old Monica's calculations, she spends 98.762 percent of her time obsessing and worrying about doing everything perfectly. And worrying often prevents her from doing, a problem in itself. Then she creates a game, Multiple Choice, which helps her make decisions. The new Monica is spontaneous; it's fun and liberating--at first. But when the game spins out of control, with near-tragic repercussions, Monica realizes she needs outside help. This eye-opening, multifaceted exploration of obsessive-compulsive disorder is effectively packaged in a creative, compelling story. Monica is an appealing, complex character whose behavior and thoughts are realistically and sympathetically portrayed; Tashjian's conversational prose, eye for detail, and quirky humor communicate Monica's inner difficulties and loneliness, and the snowballing events that ultimately lead to positive change. Similar in topic and approach to Terry Spencer Hesser's Kissing Doorknobs (1998) but appropriate for a younger readership, this insightful novel provides a deeper understanding of a difficult illness, the devastating emotional impact of targeting peers for being different, and the high price of high expectations. --Shelle Rosenfeld

Publisher's Weekly Review

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is the subject of this clever first-person novel from the author of Tru Confessions. Teenage Monica obsesses "98.762 percent" of the time. She invents little rituals to ward off bad luck; she can't bear it when things aren't neat and even; she plays endless word games in her head. Trying to stop the mental processes that she knows are killing her spirit, she invents a multiple choice game to relieve her of some of her compulsive behaviors. She gives herself four choices for a given situation (A through D), then draws a Scrabble tile out of a pouch which determines the course of action. But while at times the choices liberate her and uncover her creativity, at other times they call for her to act unkind and irresponsible. She finds she cannot stop the game, loses her best friend and puts a child's life in danger. Help is on the way in the form of a free-spirit guidance counselor, and Monica learns to share her feelings with friends and family. Even better than the satisfying conclusion, though, is the delicious fun of Monica's magical thinking and wordplay. Her brainy creations start each chapter: "TROUBI'MLE/ (I'm in trouble)," she writes. Anagrams are her specialty: "I PITCH MOLECULE/ becomes/ UPHILL ICE COMET/ becomes/ MULTIPLE CHOICE." Less intense than Terry Hesser Spencer's Kissing Doorknobs, this energetic, enjoyable problem novel is a must-read for wordsmiths. Ages 10-14. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-9-Monica Devon is a perfectionist and a worrywart. Fellow students find her eccentric, and her mother is driven to despair by her excessively fastidious behavior, such as her need to transfer Styrofoam beads from one beanbag chair to another so that the chairs are evenly balanced. She chants the mantra "This does not count" to negate mistakes, and in times of stress, she constructs anagrams in her head. To shift her focus from daily worries, the 14-year-old creates a game called Multiple Choice, in which she fabricates a task for herself with four options to complete it. This self-destructive game takes over her life, causing her to lose her best friend and climaxing when the child for whom she is baby-sitting falls from a window and nearly loses his eye. Finally, in the wake of the near tragedy, her parents hear her cries for help. The history of Monica's problems is glossed over with brief mentions of her making herself ill studying for exams the previous year and spinning her lock three times before opening her locker. Monica's parents and teachers seem to accept or ignore her erratic and unusual behavior until disaster strikes. Anagrams and word games interrupt the flow of the narrative. Readers who are themselves compulsive may relate to Monica's dilemma. Those looking for a more realistic, detailed portrait of obsessive-compulsive behavior should read Terry Spencer Hesser's Kissing Doorknobs (Delacorte, 1998).-Alice Casey Smith, Sayreville War Memorial High School, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Multiple Choice By Janet Tashjian syndetics rebuild fake co name ISBN: 9780805060867 Multiple Choice I'M THE WORLD (I'm on top of the world!) I wish my brain were a toaster. That way I could use it when I wanted to, and when I was done, I could pull the plug and shut it off. The reason I'm thinking about this is that I've just finished conducting a very important experiment. And after weeks of compiling and analyzing data, I have come to a scientific conclusion. 98.762 percent of my time is spent obsessing. About what? Everything. Saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, wearing the wrong clothes ... I've been professionally obsessing for as long as I can remember. I'm sure everyone obsesses; it's just a matter of degree. But is it normal to constantly think about the word you got wrong in a spelling bee back in fifth grade? (The word was mediocre --I still can't say it out loud.) Is it normal to stare at the broken globe in your geography class as if it magically got fixed since the last time you stared at it three minutes ago? To obsess that the girl sitting next to you in English is thinking about how your socks don't matchyour pants? My scientific experiment proved that I am spending 98.762 percent of my life analyzing my life. I daydream about how carefree my life would be if I could shut my brain off like a toaster. No wearing special socks on days I have tests (black for history, blue for math); no fighting with the cafeteria ladies about slopping the food on my plate according to color (green does not go next to orange; I'm sorry). A world where I breeze from one activity to another, not worried about committing some critical error that sends the entire planet screeching to a halt. I can't help but smile at the thought. My utopian toaster world is interrupted when Mr. Bergeron asks us to write an essay off the top of our heads about three items we would put in a time capsule for the next millennium. I come up with an answer--television, a stone from the Berlin Wall, penicillin--but most of my time is spent trying to figure out what he expects (and how he's going to grade us, of course). I approach his desk to ask him specifically what he's looking for, but he just smiles and tells me to do my best and not worry. (Excuse me, Mr. Bergeron. Perhaps I should share the results of my recent experiment with you. Ah, never mind.) After that sad excuse for a pop quiz, my best friend, Lynn Kelly, and I walk to my locker. She blows the tips of her index fingers as if they're smoking guns. "Was that the easiest test or what?" How can I tell her that my stomach is churning, that I can barely breathe, all because I'm petrified that Mr. Bergeronwill think my answers are stupid? I try to explain as best I can without sounding like a weirdo. Lynn waits patiently for me to finish. "I wrote about the Simpsons, candy corn, and strawberry lipstick," she says. "I defy anyone to tell me those aren't three good items for a time capsule." Then she looks at me and takes pity. "You have got to stop torturing yourself, Monica." Tell me something I don't know. I spin the lock clockwise three times before dialing the combination. I check the jacket of my book. Purple/history /third period. I feel myself yawning already I used to worry that Ms. Emerson would catch me not paying attention and bark out a "MONICA!" in front of the whole class. But I realized last week after Joey DeSalvo took off his shoes and clipped his toenails while she lectured about the Emancipation Proclamation that the chances of her singling me out are thin. While most of the class catches up on sleep, I continue to obsess over Mr. Bergeron's quiz. Should I have chosen the computer instead of the television? Will he think I'm not serious enough? And how about something from World War II, the Holocaust, even? And I didn't mention anything about architecture or music ... . I take out my notebook and try to take my mind off my mind. My notebook is filled with word games, puzzles, and other personal musings. I turn to the page labeled GOOD QUALITIES/FLAWS. Three of my good qualities are listed: reliable, intelligent, and dependable (which may bethe same as reliable, now that I think about it). But the list of flaws overflows from one page to the next. The four remaining flaws on the last page bother me; I erase them and copy the whole page over so all the flaws fit on one sheet. I count the lines--twenty-six of them. Worry too much, perfectionist, not creative, obsessive ... the list goes on. It makes me wonder if my mother doesn't have a point--that I'm too hard on myself. Although I suppose that's just another flaw to add to the list. I doodle the phrase WHAT IS MY PROBLEM? across the top of the page. I move the letters around--juggle them like balls, scramble them up until their meaning has changed. Eventually I come up with SWAMPY BIRTH MOLE, WISPY MARBLE MOTH, and PHIL MYER'S WOMBAT. I've been playing these word games for years, but in Mr. Bergeron's class this week I learned these jumbled-up words are called anagrams. I must admit, it's something I'm quite good at. At first, I used to just move letters around, like REILRESBEUB or SLUBBREREEI for BLUEBERRIES. Then I began finding words inside BLUEBERRIES, like BEE and RISE and LIE. Gradually I found words that were true anagrams for BLUEBERRIES--RUBBER ELSIE and REBEL BRUISE. Soon the words hidden inside other words began to jump out at me--the letters moved around in my mind, waiting to be transformed. OCEAN became CANOE, LADIES becameIDEALS, HALITOSIS became LOIS HAS IT. But my grandpa is truly amazing; he can do even the long phrases in his head. I haven't gotten that good yet, but I am pretty fast. It's just habit from doing them with him for so long. It's a semi-meaningless skill, similar to how Lynn can rewind or fast-forward a cassette tape and stop it at the exact song she's looking for. Cool, but not too practical. It's like I'm afraid I'm missing something if I leave the words alone. If I just write CANOE by itself and don't try to wring it out and go deeper, I might be missing some meaning, some hidden message, some ... I don't know ... revelation meant just for me. I scramble up the letters of the word OBSESSIVE to see if I can find a way to escape from it. All I come up with is EVE IS BOSS. Not much of a cure there. Now Ms. Emerson is babbling about the weather conditions during the War of 1812. I write down I AM TRAPPED in my notebook and spend the next twenty-five minutes rearranging the letters. I come up with TAMPA PRIDE, MAD ART PIPE, and ADMIT PAPER until I finally settle on DAMP PIRATE. I draw a picture of a girl with an eye-patch and a wooden leg, wearing a striped shirt. She is standing on the deck of a ship, drying off from a wave that has soaked her through. Instead of a telescope, she's using a kaleidoscope to scan the horizon. But of course, she can't see the place she's looking for because she's too busy gazing at the small world in herhand--empty colors changing, changing, changing, going nowhere. I shiver in my seat at how much that sounds like my mind. So right then and there I make a vow. I, Monica Devon, fourteen-year-old worrywart, do hereby solemnly swear to stop obsessing, to stop trying to be perfect, to stop trying to be ... me. MULTIPLE CHOICE. Copyright © 1999 by Janet Tashjian. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address Square Fish, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010. Excerpted from Multiple Choice by Janet Tashjian All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher. Excerpted from Multiple Choice by Janet Tashjian All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.