I like tidy books—especially when my family and house aren’t. Good morals. Tight endings. Families you wish would adopt you. Or you could adopt. But, regardless of how satisfying tidy books are, they don’t necessarily change readers.
Last Fall, I discovered and binge-read five Gordon Korman messy, middle-grade novels. We leave some characters on a better—but still rocky—path.
My favorites were Restart and The Unteachables because they explored what I have long believed. Bullies and other wounders are unaware of the damage they inflict. After thrusting their swords and exiting the stage, they forget those left behind—bleeding people with wounds that may leave lifetime scars.
In Restart, Chase has amnesia after falling off a roof. Why does his four-year-old stepsister scream when he is near, and classmates avoid him? As his memory returns, he is appalled at the bully he used to be.
In The Unteachables, teacher-of-the-year Zachery Kermit was shunned and relegated to the worst assignments after an eighth-grader’s folly. After twenty-seven years, Mr. Kermit’s former student learns the consequences of his behavior and wants to make amends.
Although the themes are serious, the creative plots and memorable characters entertain.
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