Restart by Gordon Korman | SLJ Review

redstarKORMAN, Gordon. Restart. 256p. Scholastic. May 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781338053777. POP

Gr 3-6 –What would it be like to forget your whole life, your family, your friends, and even who you are? After falling off his roof, 13-year-old Chase Ambrose learns the hard way that reinventing himself can be pretty hard, especially when his past is not what he wants for his future. Before his fall, Chase was a jock, captain of the football team, following in his father’s footsteps. He was also the biggest bully in his middle school, had made many students’ lives miserable, and was serving a community service sentence for the damage that his bullying had caused. Even Chase’s little stepsister was afraid of him. If it were up to his dad and his former best friends, Bear and Aaron, Chase would go right back to his bully-jock ways. However, the new Chase is a kinder, more sympathetic person who struggles with his past and becomes friends with his former victims. As he works with the video club geeks, he forms a relationship with elderly Mr. Solway. Korman juxtaposes Mr. Solway’s sharing of his Korean War memories with Chase’s search for his own past. Despite the strong antibullying theme, the story is never preachy or trite but thoughtfully presents questions about loyalty, identity, and the possibility of a new start in a way that appropriately fits the middle school setting. VERDICT A fresh approach to the familiar topic of bullying, kept credible by believable characters and events, with typical Korman humor and just the right touch of mystery. An excellent addition for all middle grade collections.–MaryAnn Karre, Binghamton, NY

This review was published in the School Library Journal May 2017 issue.

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