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by Sis Deans

Age Range: 10 - 13

Pub Date: May 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-8050-6635-7
Publisher: Henry Holt

Many readers will want to give 11-year-old Ricky Gordon, the protagonist of this fast-paced novel, a reassuring hug. Life hasn’t been kind to him or his family. A year before the story opens, his alcoholic, violent father is killed in an accident, leaving his wife and three children with a terrible legacy of debt, nightmares, fear, and bruises, both physical and emotional. As if this weren’t enough for Ricky to contend with, he’s hounded mercilessly by a particularly spiteful school bully with whom he constantly gets into fights. Ricky promises the principal to stay out of trouble and so vows not to ride the school bus anymore. Ultimately, he decides to attempt to outrun the bus to his home. Thus the stage is set for a daily routine in which Ricky builds up his speed, self-confidence, and renown throughout his entire rural Maine community. Ricky is a well-realized character and an endearing boy, a math whiz with a mission and a sense of purpose. So what if the ending is pat and a tad too good to be true? Readers won’t mind. They’ll think that, after all he’s been through, Ricky deserves all the breaks he can get. (Fiction. 10-13)