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December 12, 2008

Overdrive

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Overdrive

Author: Eric Walters

Page Length: 102

Reading Level: 2.8

Genre: Realistic Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: After receiving his license, Jake takes his brother’s car out for a spin with his friend Mickey. After cruising around town and stopping by the local hamburger joint, Jake and Mickey head for home. On his way there, Jake runs into a class-mate, Luke, from school. Luke verbally harasses Jake about having no friends and failing 9th grade. Upset, Jake street-races Luke for some distance. However, after decelerating from the race, Jake notices that Luke does not stop! Instead, Luke crashes into another vehicle that is carrying two passengers (one of which is pregnant). Jake and Mickey do not stop to help, yet head on straight for home.

Both Luke and the pregnant woman are transported to the local hospital. Even though both are expected to recover, Jake does not know this. Out of guilt, he visits Luke at the hospital only to find that Luke has no memory of the accident. Jake struggles within himself as to if he should tell the police that he was involved in the street-racing incident that led to the awful crash. Against the advice of his friend Mickey and with the help of his school guidance counselor, Jake decides to make the right decision and notify the authorities. 

REVIEW: This book did not start off well for me. Even though the main characters are male, the dialogue used appeared to be more appropriate for female characters. Beyond that, it just did not seem authentic for teenage boys.

I did, however, enjoy the ending where the story was not entirely resolved. We know what Jake has done (called the authorities) but the story leaves us hanging there with our imaginations left to create what might happen next.

There are several movies out that students may enjoy when it comes to street-racing. However, in general, this form of racing is illegal. The story is a good one in that it clearly shows the struggle that Jake is wrestling with when it comes to notifying the police. Life is about choices, and this story is a good example of such.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: voice, dialogue, choices, art of humor (see page 29), vocabulary – “Jaws of Life” (page 57), “gear heads” (page 31)

RELATED BOOKS: Fastback Beach by Shirlee Smith Matheson

MOVIE CONNECTIONS: “The Fast and the Furious” (2001), “2 Fast 2 Furious” (2003), “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” (2006)

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://orca.powerwebbook.com/client/PDFs/TeachersGuides/Orca%20Soundings/OverdriveGuide.pdf

http://auto.howstuffworks.com/jaws-life.htm

http://www.car-accidents.com/jaws-of-life.html

http://www.streetracersonline.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Street_racing

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Stratton

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