Friendship is one of the greatest gifts for any child. Something many take for granted including Daniel Summers, the endearing protagonist in DAN UNMASKED. Dan’s guilt is enormous since he feels responsible for his friend Nate’s accident and subsequent coma.

The initial chapters, led by Dan’s first person narration, explore a deep connection the two boys have for each other. This includes their devotion to a super hero comic book series, a shared love of baseball, and how they know each other so well it’s like they can read each other’s thoughts. And then a freak accident happens during their baseball practice and both their lives change in an instant.

The length of this new contemporary MG is a bit long (368 pages), but it’s because a lot of side plots need space. For starters there are baseball games still to be played without their star pitcher, how to help Nate’s grieving younger brother, and enter the mysterious author of the Captain Nexus comic book. Added to the mix are Dan’s father who is so busy with work he seems not to notice Dan anymore. After Dan learns coma patients often benefit with talk from family and friends, he decides to write a comic book and read it to his bedridden friend.

It’s how all of these mini-plots come together that make a heartfelt statement about grief, family, and friendship. You may be seeing this title in many children lit awards this year.


Whether they’re on the baseball field or in Nate’s basement devouring the newest issue of their favorite comic book, Dan and Nate are always talking. Until they’re not.

After an accident at baseball practice, Nate’s fallen into a coma. And if Dan ever wants to talk to Nate again, he’s got to take a page out of his hero Captain Nexus’s book, and do whatever it takes to save the day.

But heroes have powers—and without Nate, all Dan has is a closet stuffed with comics and a best-friend-shaped hole in his heart. There’s no way a regular kid can save the day all on his own. Right?


  1. The baseball game chapters put you in the heart of the action. Teamwork is essential, but also remembering the one person missing on the mound becomes more apparent by the the last out of the final game.
  2. Ollie is Nate’s younger brother and his gift is art. He adores his older brother and it takes new friends and old to pull him out of his depression.
  3. Dan’s wishful thinking that he can save his friend is exactly how middle graders would act. But If I do this and this then everything will be okay doesn’t always work. It takes maturity of an inner voice for Dan to see things differently.
  4. Baseball and super heroes. Just the ticket to make Dan Unmasked a hit with the 8-13 year old reader.
  5. An ending I loved in the hospital room with beeps and monitors declaring nothing has changed for Nate. But Dan must find the courage to face his friend once more and express his true feelings. You’ll be saying WOW after reading the final page.


Chris Negron grew up outside Buffalo, New York, where he spent a huge chunk of his childhood collecting comic books and loving sports. But it was the hours of playing Dungeons and Dragons in friends’ basements that first gave him the dream of one day writing his own stories. That dream kept him company through college at Yale University and years of programming computers for big companies. Dan Unmasked is his debut novel, and he now lives outside Atlanta with his wife, Mary. Visit him at www.chrisnegron.com. Find Chris on Instagram or on Twitter.

Blue Slip Media has offered a giveaway of DAN UNMASKED for one lucky U.S. Resident. Leave a comment and I’ll draw a winning entry on August 1st. Good Luck!


I received an ARC in exchange of my honest review.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Tanya says:

    I can think of several students that would love to read this one!

  2. Natalie Aguirre says:

    I’m excited for this too and am featuring Dan on my blog in a few weeks. I’m glad you liked it so much and am sure some other MMGM bloggers are going to love it. I’m going to let someone else win this though because my TBR list is really out of control right now.

  3. Susan Wroble says:

    Great review — both the multiple plotlines coming together and the need to communicate with those who can’t respond make me want to read this book!

  4. I ordered a copy already, but glad to see you featuring this title!

  5. Haven’t seen this book yet, but I like realistic fiction. Don’t see many stories about a coma, brain injuries etc. that occur during sports. I’m guessing, because you don’t give the injury away. I love the story is from Dan’s POV and show how a teen deals with a freak accident, his relationship to his friend and his family. You have me curious about the ending. Excellent review!

  6. This sounds like a unique and clever plot combining hobbies that many middle-graders enjoy — sports, comic books. I enjoyed learning in the author’s bio about his love of sports and comic books. Thanks for featuring this interesting new arrival for MMGM! :0}

  7. Diane T says:

    I would love to win a copy of this heartfelt sounding new novel. Plus my family are baseball fans.

  8. Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    This sounds like a great, unique book! The combination of subplots sounds like it makes for an interesting story. I’ll pass on the giveaway, but thanks for the excellent review!

  9. Danielle Hammelef says:

    I enjoy books that feature sports and this one sounds like so much more to bring out all the emotions. Thanks for featuring this book and for giving one of us the chance to win a not-to-miss-out-on read.

  10. Jenni says:

    When I was in elementary school, a friend’s sister was hit by a car and in a coma for several weeks. It was very traumatic for me at the time, and a book like this would’ve helped. Thankfully, she made a full recovery
    The love of comics and making a book for his friend make this stand out.
    It’s also nice to see a book about male friendship, which seems to be rare in MG lit. Thanks for featuring this!

  11. Looks good! Although that page count seems high to me. But sometimes a book might need it.

  12. I just finished reading this and really enjoyed it, so I was very happy to see you did, too. Thanks for helping to get the word out on this interesting story. And please don’t count this in your giveaway.

  13. I imagine that kind of guilt would be so devastating to a kid that age. I love any book with baseball, but this one sounds especially good. I will be looking for it. Thanks for your review.

  14. Pingback: The 2020 GOLDEN CUP AWARDS | Always in the Middle…

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