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.
THE OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS
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?
FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT DAN UNMASKED by Chris Negron
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Baseball and super heroes. Just the ticket to make Dan Unmasked a hit with the 8-13 year old reader.
- 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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.