The Way

by Joseph Bruchac

Cody LeBeau sometimes daydreams about being a hero. He imagines himself a ninja,... read more

Cody LeBeau sometimes daydreams about being a hero. He imagines himself a ninja, saving his classmates from terrorists. The reality is that he’s a small kid with big feet who doesn’t garner much attention unless it’s negative. Cody is genuinely interested in martial arts, healthful living, and the traditional Native beliefs of his Abenaki ancestors, and he gets little support for any of his interests at school (except from the librarian). When Cody’s Uncle John arrives to compete in a fight tournament at the casino where his mom works, it’s an opportunity for Cody to learn about martial arts firsthand. Uncle John integrates martial arts moves and philosophy with Native beliefs. It’s like a dream come true for Cody to find a teacher and to feel so understood. Joseph Bruchac’s high-interest, purposeful novel takes a gripping and unexpected turn in a story that also explores the serious issue of bullying. It isn’t Cody but two other high school students who show signs of increasing anger and isolation. Bullying at school, as well as violent home lives, push them over the edge, but reality plays out nothing like Cody’s fantasy in the chilling climax. Terrified Cody becomes a hero in the eyes of the world, but not through amazing physical feats. Instead, as he knows better than anyone, he was simply in the right place at the right time and able to put all the pieces together. It’s an experience that broadens Cody’s understanding of what a hero can be. (Ages 11–14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2008

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