Breakout by Kevin Emerson
Fourteen-year-old Anthony Castillo isn’t a bad kid – he’s just a little misunderstood, as are many young people these days. Also like many, Anthony finds an outlet for his life’s frustrations in music. Along with best bud and fellow eighth-grader Keenan, Anthony is looking forward to their school’s Fall Arts Night where their rock band, the Rusty Soles, are anxious to perform a new song.
When classmates start to hear the band’s latest tune, Anthony’s angst filled lyrics go viral. He may not have known it at the time but he eventually realizes that everything going on his life is now coming out in his writing. Dropping the F-bomb is kind-of-a big deal for an eight-grader but even more so if it is to be sung at the band’s big performance in front of the whole school. Thus begins the dilemma for the former “fat camp” kid who feels like he’s trapped under the ice in a frozen pond.
The author skillfully weaves a relatable teen narrative with references to snarky teachers, clueless (but loving) parents and video game obstacles that the main character compares his own struggles to. His biggest battle will be to decide whether to perform his band’s anthem with the lyrics he originally wrote (and felt) or to bow to the pressure of being the good kid that he’s expected to be.
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