I’m not a big fan of multiple viewpoints in books. I don’t mind two alternating narratives, but beyond that it breaks up the flow of the story for me. Gordon Korman though is the master of this technique in writing. His new novel includes seven first person viewpoints scattered among thirty chapters.
Here’s the real truth—I loved this story. It is a perfectly constructed plot. What if the most feared bully in a middle school accidentally falls off the roof of his house? The result might bring quiet redemption for his victims. But Chase Ambrose wakes up in the hospital with a severe case of amnesia. He can’t remember the total jerk he was before the fall.
This sets up the plot as Chase has to navigate learning about his past and decide if he wants to be the old Chase or the new more understanding one. The hardest part is becoming friendly again with the boy he tormented. His bullying caused the boy to switch schools.
It’s an honest look at how a few kids can make life miserable for others. Read it, discuss it, and savor in its healing powers.
PUBLICATION DATE: 2017 PAGE COUNT: 256
FULL PLOT (From SCHOLASTIC PRESS)
A boy who’s been a bully and hanging out with the wrong friends gets a new start after a memory-loss-inducing accident. But can someone really change who he is, or will the old him merely come back over time? #1 New York Times bestselling author Gordon Korman harkens back to his No More Dead Dogs days in this stand-alone that takes a tone more serious than you’ve ever seen from him before.
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: RESTART
- The thoughts and feelings of the bullied characters and how they come to grips with the new nicer Chase Ambrose.
- Mr. Solway, the nursing home war veteran. He’s not given his own chapters for reflection, but his voice comes out through the eyes and ears of others.
- Yes, there is even humor scattered across the pages—mostly form Brendan (a former victim of the bullying) who is always chasing after the set-up for his next You Tube video.
- Chase the bully is the star on the football team pre-accident and the star of the video club after the accident. Such delicious irony.
- This is one of Korman’s most beautifully written stories… Period.
I can’t help asking. “What did you do? To earn the medal, I mean.”
I can still only see one eye, but it’s impossible to miss the flash of impatience. “I stood on my head and spit nickles. Listen, smart guy, when you get to be my age, you don’t always remember the details of every single event in your life. But I don’t expect a young punk like you to understand that.” He closes the door.
Old people are supposed to have wisdom, but Mr. Solway is definitely wrong about me.
I’ve already forgotten more than he’ll ever know.
When I was two years old, I wanted to be a dog when I grew up. I don’t actually remember this, but my parents tell me that I used to eat dinner under the table in preparation for this career. Good thing I wound up a writer. I never could have gotten into the union. (See more at Gordon Korman’s website.)
Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Click on the comments link below.
Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.