Bibliographic information: Endgame. Nancy Garden. Harcourt, 2006. $16.99. 287p. ISBN-10: 0152054162.
Summary: Gray Wilton wanted a new life, a start over, for things to get better. He was tired of being bullied and picked on for reasons he could not understand. He was finally given a fresh start at a new school, but things quickly turn for the worst and it soon looks like things are not going to get better for Gray. Even though nobody knows him or anything about him, he is still picked on, by none other than the star football players that could do no wrong. Incident after incident, and Gray still holds on and thinks things will get better, until the bullies take it one step too far and causes Gray to finally reached his breaking point.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: 8th grade and up
Review: Uniquely written through the view-point of our main character Gray Wilton while he is telling his side of the story to his lawyer of what led to him killing several students at his school. Reading the story is like listening to a tape recording of his account. There are breaks in between his recounting where the lawyer asks him a question or you can “hear” the lawyer trying to sooth Gray when he become agitated. This adds great effect to the story. Throughout Gray’s testimony it’s not hard to feel for him and understand how he could have snapped. There is deep emotions spattered throughout the book that will keep you enthralled while also making you want to weep for the boy. Parent, teachers, and children alike should read this story so that they can better understand what bullying and negligence could do to a child.
Readers’ annotation: Sitting inside his cell, all Gray can see is hexagons. Six sides to a hexagon: son, brother, friend, archer, drummer, … murderer… Are these what make up Gray?
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book has many angles to it. It mainly covers bullying, that leads to a school shooting. But it also touches on abusive or neglectful parents and teachers. It would be a great book for someone who is being bullied and to understand that they are not the only ones who feel the way they do. Sometimes other people feel the urge to kill somebody else, too, but that does not make it a good idea. There are consequences, and it is best to talk to somebody about your problem, usually an adult.
Issues present: There is bullying, violence in the form of a school shooting, gun use, and abusive or neglectful parents and teachers. All of these things might make a parent or teacher not want their children to read this book, but it could be useful to somebody who it being bullied. They might read this book and think, “Oh, I’m not the only one being bullied.” They will be able to take the other kids situation and deduce that how Gray handled the situation was not the best way to go about it.
Booktalk ideas: Pg. 4: “Losers. Six sides to a hexagon…” till end of page. – Explains main character
Pg. 264: “Bells ring and I can hear kids going back and forth to classes…” to end of paragraph. – Good section that tells the climax of the story.
It’s a new town, a new school, and a new start for Gray, everything is going to be better this time. Or so Gray seems to think…
Genre or subject: Realistic fiction, bullying, abuse/negligence, school shootings.
Readalikes: Leverage by Cohen, Raider’s Night by Lipsyte, Hate List by Brown, Give a Boy a Gun by Strasser.
Author’s website: http://www.nancygarden.com/index.html
Awards and lists: A School Library Journal Best Book of 2006; a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age, 2007.
Links to reviews: School Library Journal: http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6332044.html
Why I chose it: I had never read anything about a school shooting before and thought that it would be interesting because I have always been interested in books about murders, by Anne Rule. This book seemed like it would hold some of the same appeal as Anne Rule does for me, but instead be fiction.