Monday, February 26, 2018

ReStart by Gordon Korman

Welcome to MMGM! The day I focus on middle grade books. Today I am reviewing ReStart by Gordon Korman.

The Story-
Chase Ambrose  wakes up in a hospital with total amnesia after falling off his roof. As he struggles to fit back into his life he learns that he wasn't a very nice person. Students at school avoid him, his buddies encourage him to bully others, and one kid even moved away because of the trauma Chase caused him. With no memory of his past, Chase struggles to find himself. He doesn't want to be seen as a bully, and he is finding other interests than football.

Now Chase has to decide who he is going to be in the future. He has the chance to redo his life, make-up for past wrongs, and even befriend those he before bullied. However, when one has such a torrid past, it tends to catch up with you. Can Chase be forgiven and can he forgive himself?

My Thoughts-
Great book! I love that it tackles the question about inherit good. Chase, a horrible bully before, is granted a tabala rasa, a blank slate. He no longer has his father fueling his pride or his friends following his every command. He is immediately good. He looks at the world and sees areas where he can serve others and enjoy the company of friends regardless of circumstances. Korman tells such a fine story of forgiveness, bravery, and goodness.

I like that we start the story from Chase's perspective. The reader sees him awaken and realizes he has no idea who he is or what happened, but then the chapters begin to switch to other kids perspectives and as they react to Chase, the reader is able to see the horror of Chase's past and the effect his bullying once had on those around him. Those same kids are now slowly becoming his friends, and the reader is able to see a clear contrast between the old and new Chase.

The parts told from Chase's POV allow us a glance into his true heart. You watch as he struggles within himself to deal with his past and his fight to now be the person he wants to be. I really feel the author chose well in allowing the reader into several student's POV's. It just makes the whole story richer and full of life.

The middle school setting is familiar, though I found some of the situations to be older than a 13 year-old would deal with. Sometimes it felt like we were in high school, but overall the story hits the mark. I think the interesting question that stays in the reader's mind is what if Chase does get his memory back? Will he still be the friendly guy he has become? These questions sat in the back of my mind as I read, and though we don't officially get a full on return of memory, the story plays out in such a way that this new, nicer Chase seems to be the guy that will stay around. In the closing chapter, we get a look through Brendan's eyes (one of the boy's Chase used to bully) and we see him notice Chase in the hallways sometimes looking gray and shocked. The conclusion being that occasionally a small memory slips in that makes Chase sick, but he has to learn to deal with his past while heading toward his future.

Like I said, this is a great book full of meaning and deep thoughts. I think it is one every child should read and I'm giving it 5 stars!


  1. I adored this book, too. It's certainly Korman's best work to date. Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. Wow! This is a book I would like to read. My question is what circumstances caused Chase to be a bully in the first place -- was he bullied by a family member etc? And, would the past influence his future if it continued. This is a great discussion book.

  3. Wow. I really need to read this book. I have read something else by this author and remember liking his writing. I will definitely check this out.