By Gordon Korman

Published: 2017

Word Count: 59,925

AR Level: 5.1

AR Points: 9.0

What happens when a school bully gets a second chance? When Chase Ambrose falls off a roof and gets amnesia, he’ll have to start over. But will he be able to come to terms with the type of person he was before his accident? Will his new friends in the video club ever really accept him? These are the fun and important questions that Korman’s Restart presents to us.

Why reinventing yourself is tough

The story begins with a main character whose brain has been wiped clean. He can still talk, write, and do the things he needs to do. But his memory of himself and other people doesn’t exist. What Chase finds is that he doesn’t care so much for his “friends,” two bullies who enjoy making other people’s lives miserable. And he really enjoys hanging out with the kids from the video club, even though his old self didn’t treat them all so well. So when Chase finds out just how awful he used to be, can he really restart a new life? Or, as his memories return, will he go back to being the person he was before? Told through the narration of a fun cast of characters, this story is hard to put down.

Why this story resonates with readers

We’ve all been there. We’ve known a bully, been a bully, or been bullied (or maybe all three). Maybe none of us has known someone quite as awful as the pre-amnesia Chase, but this book really brings a question home that all readers will want to contemplate: What would you do if you had a chance to start over or make amends? Or, would you be willing to give someone a second chance if he or she changed?

What writers should know

This story shows a certain sophistication required from middle grade readers. Adults may sometimes downplay the challenges that come with being in middle school, but talking down to readers will never win you any hearts. Use Korman’s pacey style to inspire and push your own writing to be the type of story middle grade readers will value for both it’s entertainment and authentic value.

Learn more about the book here.

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