The way authors structure their books is sometimes jaw-dropping. So impressive that by the end you hug it tight, knowing it taught you something, or touched your life in some way. The Removed by Brandon Hobson is one of those books.


Throughout the book, Hobson uses the text structure of a parallel plot. Each chapter is narrated by a different character and the reader is taken on the journey with many characters to then come full circle at the end. This structure allows us to understand each character individually, but also together.


In The Removed, the family each character is a part of is struggling to accept and mend from a death in the family—their teenage son or brother Ray-Ray. Ray-Ray was killed in a police shooting, and his family has been grieving ever since. Throughout the book, you witness characters at their most vulnerable, rallying, and finding “home” again with each other.


Each year, the family holds a bonfire to celebrate The Cherokee National Holiday, and as it happens, Ray-Ray’s death on the same day. His mother, Maria, is determined to bring the family together during this tradition no matter what happens. She believes they need to reconnect physically together to heal spiritually and emotionally. This book takes us through the journeys of each character as they cope and work through this traumatic loss.


On page 87, a flashback is referenced by Sonja.


When Ray-Ray was still alive, in the summers we used to ride our bikes out to the river and swim. We splashed and wrestled in the water. I was only one grade ahead of him. We got along really well, and because he was my little brother, he was very protective of me. I remember once a group of boys from his school showed up when we were swimming in a shallow area. Some of the boys started teasing him about me, telling him I was pretty.


Mini Lesson:

Note: This lesson would be best fit while reading much of the book or a few chapters to have students understand the parallel plot text structure, but you could also pull an excerpt from a chapter like the one above that might use words that trigger a flashback, etc and complete the assignment anyway.


  • Look up and define different types of text structures. Examples include: flashback, flash forward, parallel plot, in media res, etc. Usually text structures manipulate the timing with the order of events. You could create a graphic organizer for students to take notes like the one below; the definitions are there for teacher use.



Character travels back in time through a memory or talking about their past

Flash Forward

Character travels into the future to predict what will happen later in the story

Parallel Plot

Two or more storylines happen at the same time; they might or might not intersect at the end

In Media Res

The reader is thrown into a situation or an event that has no buildup or context; many times it is an action scene and the reader has to figure out what’s happening because the author prepare them


  • Have students write an analysis paragraph about the text structure of The Removed by Brandon Hobson. Have the following as a part of their analysis:


  • Claim about which text structure was used and how it manipulated time.

Sentence frame: In the book “The Removed,” the author Brandon Hobson uses the text structure of __________________ to manipulate time through __________________________.


  • Two or more pieces of textual evidence cited directly in MLA format: author’s last name page number in parenthesis.

Example: The text said, “Quote word-for-word goes here,” (Hobson 25).


  • Reasoning after each textual evidence quote, explaining why that proves their claim about the text structure.

Sentence frame: This shows _______ because…


  • Conclusion: Wrap up your paragraph restating the claim in a new way or adding any other things you would like.


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Jennifer Epping is a high school English and journalism teacher in Des Moines, Iowa. She has a passion for reading, writing, and making lame jokes to her students just to see them laugh or roll their eyes. She just concluded her ninth year teaching. Epping graduated from Iowa State University with a BS in journalism and mass communication (2010) and BA in English Education (2013). She attended New York University’s Summer Publishing Institute (2010), and spent some time in children’s book publishing in New York.