Walker & Company
Andy is the janitor's son, an outcast, a nobody. Then the rumor starts-that Blake has a gun in his locker. In a moment of misguided hopefulness, Andy steals the keys from his dad and opens up Blake's locker, hoping that finding the gun will change his own status. But the gun isn't there and Andy remains an outcast. When an unlikely friendship develops between the two loners, Blake shares most of his secrets with Andy, including the gun. But there's one secret that worries Andy more than anything-the date circled on Blake's calendar. Does Blake have something planned? Something that Andy can prevent? In a fascinating look at how teens deal with the now constant threat of school violence, debut author Ryan G. Van Cleave provides a unique, emotional perspective on how it feels to be the one who can prevent a tragedy.
Why I Read This:
It was a novel-in-verse. I couldn't resist. Also, it counts for my 2011 YA Debut Author Challenge.
Right from the start of this short novel-in-verse I was entranced by it. Unlocked had a low key vibe with a fast pace feel. How is that possible? I'm not quite sure. But that's how it went.
Andy is a likeable character. He is also a character that has flaws and a skewed perception on life. Yet, he is one that I felt many, including me, could relate to. Andy is a social outcast, the janitors son. He is just enough on the fringe to have no friends when school begins, but also known enough to get on the wrong side of people and be bullied. I am sure we have felt bullied at one point or another, even just for a moment, just a little bit. So I felt telling the story from Andy's viewpoint was a great decision on the part of the author, which made the story feel very genuine.
Andy's friendship with Blake, the kid who everyone, teachers excepted, suspect of bringing a gun to school, was a pleasant surprise that I wasn't expecting. Here's where this book surprised me even more. I was thinking this book was going to be all about a school shooting. However, this is really just as much a book about friendship and the possibility of a shooting. We never really get to know Blake's intentions with the gun - and I like that. Everything is from Andy's perspective and although he questions Blake's motives, is never really sure what the right thing to do is. I like that too.
Even though Unlocked is different than I expected in some regards, it was just as I expected in others. It is a book that deals with the difficult issue of school violence. It therefore deals with bullying, vulnerability, friendship, the ability we all have to overlook certain unpleasant happenings around us, and also the hope, that we can all be better than we sometimes are. An engaging and discussion worthy read for students, teachers, and parents alike.
I read a library copy.