In the opener of the Tribe trilogy, Spencer Pendleton welcomes the chance to start anew at Greenfield Middle School.
It’s an “overblown rumor” that he burned down his old school. Most of the school is still standing, minus a couple of classrooms. Now, though, he hopes to stay on the straight and narrow, with the help of his inhaler and latest meds. But on Day 1, he has his first confrontation with bully Riley Callahan and his Cro-Magnon cronies. On Day 2, Riley sends Spencer toilet diving. Then Spencer almost gouges out his teacher’s eye with a pencil, is involved in a cafeteria food fight and has a chat with the assistant principal. When he’s recruited by the Tribe, a mysterious “underground ring of runaways” hiding out in the school, he might have found a way to survive. But, though the Tribe is more than capable of doing battle with school bullies, Spencer realizes they’re a tyrannical clique in their own way, and he’s too independent-minded to be a loyal follower. He will have to find his own way to survive. The first-person narration effectively conveys Spencer’s internal struggles, and the clever “Ghost Stories” interspersed toward the end of the volume offer fascinating back stories for the Tribe’s members.
An engaging, over-the-top tale with much to say about how schools treat individuals and outsiders. (Fiction. 10-14)