Neal Shusterman Stops by Oakdale for Book Tour: A Historic Moment for Oakdale High School


Georgette George

Neil Shusterman with Oakdale Juniors, Kadin Wetherholt and Megan Donovon.

Megan Donovon, Writer

On February 20th, Neal Shusterman visited Oakdale High School as part of the international tour for his recent novel, The Toll. As an award winning author and accomplished screenwriter, Shusterman proved to be a vital speaker to students interested in English-based fields.


An assembly, hosted by Oakdale’s librarians, was held in the auditorium for all those interested in attending the event. Additionally, other schools in the area, such as Catoctin High and Oakdale Middle, joined for the unique opportunity. 


At the beginning of the assembly, Shusterman announced that he would answer student questions for the entirety of the affair. Ms. Amy Murdoch, one of the librarians at Oakdale High School, voiced her appreciation:  “He tried to involve and connect with the students.” Each student had an opportunity to ask any questions they may have, whether regarding his stories or about writing in general.”


Ms. Renate Owens elaborated, “I was really happy also because not only did he answer every single question so well, so in depth, but the students asked really good questions.” 


Many students gave equally positive recounts of the experience: “It was amazing, he was very informative and kind. I had a lot of expectations going into it –because he’s my favorite author of all time– but he surpassed them all. It was such a great experience,” said Hayden Davis, a Senior at Oakdale and member of the creative writing club. 


The visit allowed students, like Davis, to get insight on a career in an English-based field. Aspiring writers were able to get advice and suggestions from someone successful at the craft. 


Ms. Owen remarked that this was quite beneficial, “I remember people asking questions about the writing process and when I looked at them during his response, they were really focused on him.” 


She continued to say, “I think him explaining all the drafts that it takes, and what he has to do was really helpful. It also, as he said and we all know, good writers are also great readers. I think it prompted people to read his books.” 


Comprehensively, the experience proved to be helpful for all those who were involved. Our librarians believe that this will hopefully allow for more such visits in Oakdale High’s future. 


Owens concluded by saying, “I think the fact that we had such a good experience, it would help with the next person who comes along.” To check out Shusterman’s work, visit the school or one of Frederick’s public libraries.