Looking for a high interest/low level reader for teenagers? Do they love skating?
I have the book for you!
Vertical by Janet Eoff Berend is a wonderful novel about a teenage boy whose life revolves around skating. While the text is short with only 122 pages, the main character shows remarkable development and the book captures your attention completely.
The book opens with Josh, the main character, talking about skating. As someone who has personally never stepped on a skateboard, the text is readable without prior knowledge. However, teens who love skating will be impressed that there is a book written specifically in their language.
This book is a roller coaster. Within the first 20 pages, Josh witnesses a burglary. "No one likes a rat" though, so he keeps quiet. As the book progresses, Josh finds himself falling out of touch with his best friend who is making questionable choices, navigating the school world, and of course—skating.
Throughout the book, Josh is constantly introspective and walks the reader through each emotion and action he makes. The author does not waste time on minor details though, except when it comes to skating. In these scenes the reader feels as if they are in the skate park with Josh.
There is also a violent twist toward the end that I didn't see coming. Josh gets seriously hurt by another kid while his friend simply stands by and watches. It is a graphic scene, but it helps move the plot to a conclusion. Plus, it forces Josh to make a tough decision that he wouldn't have been able to make at the beginning of the book.
I don't think a library can ever have too many sports books for their teens. If this is an area where you are constantly getting reader's advisory questions, then definitely add this book. This would also be a great book for English teachers to add to their classroom libraries. The book includes a glossary of skateboarding terms and discussion questions at the end.
Vertical by Janet Eoff Berend is available now!
Review copy provided by author.