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Greetings from Savannah, GA: An Introduction to “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" High School Lesson

written by: Sarah Degnan Moje • edited by: Carly Stockwell • updated: 9/23/2013

Murder, mystery, voo-doo... "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" is a non-fiction work that is sure to capture the interest of your students. Suited for mature students in grade 12, this book brings up plenty of issues for you to discuss with your class.

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    midnight-in-the-garden-of-good-and-evil John Berendt’s critically acclaimed non-fiction travelogue Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is one of those books that has something for everyone.

    With the educational transition to the Common Core Standards beginning nationwide, more and more emphasis is going to be placed on reading and teaching non-fiction to high school students. When educators who teach 12th graders are looking for a work of non-fiction that captures student interest and gets them excited about reading, they need look no further than this fast paced, tongue in cheek account of a Northern writer becoming immersed in southern culture and even, southern murder.

    The book is many things, a mystery, a legal thriller, an eerie introduction to voodoo, all cloaked in the wide eyed and slack jawed responses of our author, who has never been to anyplace quite like Savannah, Georgia. His immersion in the Gothic nature of the town is complete when he is intrigued by his neighbor, millionaire Jim Williams and becomes even more fascinated when Williams is charged with the murder of his lover, Danny. To say anything else would be to spoil the book.

    This book does contain openly homoxesual and trasngender characters, which may raise some questions for your class. The next lesson in this series addresses this in more detail. Before teaching the book you will want to receive permission from school administrators, and parents, as well as alert department heads in your school.

    Attached are two power point presentations, both geared toward capturing student interest before they have even opened the novel. Once you review the people, places and things they will meet between the pages of the book, they will be peering ahead to see how it all plays out. Use the power points, hand out the first reading assignment and be prepared for a stellar class discussion the next day.