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4.3 13
by Nancy Garden

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“A hard-hitting and eloquent look at the impact of bullying." –School Library Journal

New town, new school, new start. That’s what fourteen-year-old Gray Wilton believes. But it doesn’t take long for him to realize that there are bullies in every school, and he’s always their punching bag. Their abuses escalate until Gray


“A hard-hitting and eloquent look at the impact of bullying." –School Library Journal

New town, new school, new start. That’s what fourteen-year-old Gray Wilton believes. But it doesn’t take long for him to realize that there are bullies in every school, and he’s always their punching bag. Their abuses escalate until Gray feels trapped and alone. He has no power at all until he enters the halls of Greenford High School with his father’s semiautomatic in hand. Nancy Garden deftly explores the cruelty of bullying and its devastating effects. In this brutal, heartbreaking story, a school shooting shatters lives on both sides of the gun.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The Wilton family left Massachusetts for Connecticut after Gray, at 14, was twice suspended from middle school for carrying a knife to fend off bullies. Despite the fresh start at a new high school, Gray is immediately sicced upon again, this time by "the jock pack," and for no reason other than that they can. As the abuse escalates and becomes life-threatening, Gray's thoughts of revenge become an obsession. There's no one to turn to-teachers who witness harassment laugh it off as "boys will be boys," and Gray's gun-loving father has instilled in his son a feeling of utter worthlessness. Though absorbing, this "anatomy of a school shooting rampage" isn't totally convincing. Garden (Annie on My Mind) structures the narrative as a series of conversations between Gray, who at 15 is awaiting trial on murder charges when the story opens, and his attorney, whose occasional interruptions feel tacked on and disrupt the flow. The characterizations of the villains and especially Gray's father feel cartoonish (at one point he nearly says he'd choose the family dog over his son's life). Even so, plenty of readers will keep going to find an ending even more tragic than expected. No one learns anything. The victimized kid gets no help. Ages 14-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
In flashbacks through prison interviews with his lawyer, Gray Wilton talks about his life and what pushed him to take a gun to school and use it. Life at home is not perfect. Gray's father is insensitive, demanding, and borderline brutal. His mother, meek and ineffective, avoids all conflict. His older brother, Peter, is quietly supportive, but Gray's dog Barker provides him the most solace. At his new school, something about Gray has made him a handy target for the football bullies, Zorro and Johnson. Their harassment, supported by other football players, starts with name calling, pushing and shoving, and leads to vandalism, physical violence, and humiliation-and the death of Barker. A few teachers know, several students know, Gray's brother and girlfriend know, but no one stops these elitist bullies until Gray brings his father's gun to school. This book, like so many recent newspaper headlines, raises questions. Why are some youth easier targets than others? Why do some people need to humiliate? Why do so many-students, teachers, administrators, and parents-remain silent when they need to speak, scream out, and act to examine and change the environment of schools instead of pretending not to see the behaviors. In her acknowledgements, Garden thanks a teacher from a high school in Littleton, Colorado, for encouraging her to write this book. Garden presents readers with a well-written, thought-provoking novel that parallels reality all too closely. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, Harcourt, 304p., $17. Ages 12 to 18.
—C. J.Bott
Children's Literature
What causes a kid to bring a gun to school and shoot his classmates? The answer to this difficult question is explored in the story of Gray Wilton. Through first person narrative, the reader comes to know Gray, a short, pimply-faced kid who loves drums, archery, and his dog Barker. The story opens at a juvenile detention center and Gray explains to his attorney how it all happened. When Gray's family relocated to a new neighborhood, he was hoping it would be a fresh start. Gray was determined that Greenford High would be a new beginning for him. Instead, Gray is shadowed by his older, favored brother at home, and harassed at school. He quickly becomes a target as he was at his former school and is bullied relentlessly by older football players. Gray's only friend is tormented alongside him. Although a few students and his brother urge him to tell an adult, Gray's experience has led him to believe that the bullying will only get worse if he tells. Feeling unsupported at home or school, Gray graduates from carrying a knife in his sock to bringing his dad's gun to school. The results are devastating, and the reader will feel true sympathy for the characters who are caught in the line of fire, and for Gray. 2006, Harcourt, Ages 13 to 17.
—Mary Loftus
Michelle Sherer
When fifteen-year-old Gray Wilton enters the halls of Greenford High School with his father's gun, his world is forever changed. He is convicted of murder and given a life sentence without parole. Sitting in the detention center, Gray reflects on the months that went wrong. Trouble began with the occasional bully, bringing a knife to school, and then moving to a new city. Gray turns to his music, one love that he feels may save him from the turmoil. Things at the new school don't improve but take a devastating turn for the worse. Gray ends up making a decision that changes his life forever. Endgame takes a serious look at the issues of bullying and school violence. This book is appropriate for ages 14 and up and is strongly recommended to all educators.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Fifteen-year-old Gray Wilton is in juvenile detention, waiting for his murder trial. In a series of interviews, his defense lawyer slowly uncovers the gradual escalation of physical and emotional bullying that drove the sensitive, musically artistic kid to the point where he takes a gun to school and starts shooting. Reading the unfolding story is like watching a train wreck in slow motion: the tension is palpable, as is the sense of inevitable tragedy. Gray begins a new school year in a new town, hoping that the bullying he suffered in middle school will be a thing of the past. Almost immediately, he discovers that there are bullies at Greenford High, and they don't take long to find him. Teachers and administrators turn a blind eye to the harassment that he and his only friend, Ross Terrel, suffer at the hands of Zorro and the other ruling jocks. Constant hazing turns into ugly incidents of physical violence. The final blows come when Zorro and his buddies, during a joy ride, hit and kill Gray's dog, and then try to force Ross and Gray to perform oral sex in the gym showers. The ending provides an emotional punch that is difficult to forget. This is a hard-hitting and eloquent look at the impact of bullying, and the resulting destruction of lives touched by the violence. It reinforces the need to have adults in the lives of teens who not only see, but also take action against the behavior. Libraries that own Walter Dean Myers's Shooter (HarperCollins, 2004) or Todd Strasser's Give a Boy a Gun (S & S, 2000) will want to add this book as it provides an emotional depth that exceeds that of previous titles.-Jennifer Ralston, Harford County Public Library, Belcamp, MD Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Having gotten into trouble for reacting too violently to the bullies at his old school, Gray seriously hoped that things would be better in his new community. As he tells the tale to his lawyer, readers see that each thing in his life giving him confidence and support were gradually removed. Gray is excellent at archery, but Dad only seems to respect hunting with guns, and while Gray shows promise as a musician and drummer, that outlet slowly closes. Gray has friends, even a girlfriend for a while, but nothing lasts. Unable to confide in any adult or find any support in a system that idolizes jocks, Gray finally is pushed beyond his endurance. The viciousness of the bullies amps up as the story progresses, making clear how inevitable the explosion will become. While empathizing with Gray, the narrative also makes clear his culpability. Riveting. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.76(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Falco: Sam Falco interviewing Grayson Wilton, age fifteen, at South Juvenile Detention Center, case number 9872. Gray, I’ve told you about the tape recorder. Am I right that you have no objections to it? . . . Gray?
Gray: Yeah, okay. I guess. I don’t really care.
Falco: Okay. Thank you. So—I guess we might as well get started. Let’s see—okay, when did you move to Connecticut?
Gray: Last summer. August? Around the middle.
Falco: Go on.
Gray: What? Go on where? With what?
Falco: Well—how about your new place? What’s
the first thing you remember doing there? Unpacking? Exploring?
Gray: No. Mowing. I remember cutting the grass. Yeah, and counting . . .
One hundred and fifty­-­three steps, big ones, from the house to the street, and one hundred and seventy­-­five from side to side. That was our front lawn in Greenford, Connecticut, which my mother made me mow almost as soon as we moved into our new house. I guess that makes it twenty­-­six thousand, seven hundred and seventy­-­five square steps big.
           Mowing’s not too bad of a job, so I didn’t mind much, even though I was in a sort of bad mood about moving. Hopeful, too, though.
           I stopped counting and made up one of those whatchamacallits, you know, mantras? Gonna be better, gonna be better here; gonna be better, gonna be better here. That got pretty lame, though, so I stopped and tried to blank my mind, but now it kept wanting to go mow, mow, mow your—what? I couldn’t think of what. Not boat. Grass? Yard?
           By the time I’d run out of mind games and was pretty sweaty, this girl came over from next door carrying a dish, like a one­-­girl Welcome Wagon. She was like, “Hi, I’m Lindsay Maller, from next door. My mom made a casserole for you guys. You know, welcome to the neighborhood, welcome to Greenford, Connecticut, ­too.”
           I knew she was trying to make conversation, but I was worried she’d be able to smell me from ten feet—no, wrong, back to counting: ten steps—away, so I just told her my mom was inside and went back to counting and mowing. By the time I was done I was really thirsty, so I went in to get a drink and I saw the girl was sitting at the kitchen table with my brother, Peter. Mom was handing out Cokes and I wanted to get one, too, but I was still sweaty and the girl was right there. I was trying to decide whether to go in anyway or get some water from the bathroom when I heard Mom say, “So, you must be—what? ­Sixteen?”
           “Yes, sixteen,” the girl said.
           “Peter’s seventeen and Grayson—Gray, my other son—is fourteen. I don’t suppose you have a little brother?”
           “No, sorry,” she said. “A sister, Joni. She’s eight.”
           “Too young for Gray,” Mom said, “even though he’s small and young for his age.” She dropped her voice almost like she knew I was there. “You know—immature.”
           Well, how could I go in then? I could feel my face getting red and my sort­-­of bad mood getting really bad. I forgot about being thirsty, and I really wanted to bang on my drums, which is what sometimes helped when I was mad. But my drums weren’t set up yet and I couldn’t get at them anyway, so I ran back outside, shoved the lawn mower into the garage, and rummaged in the U­-­Haul for my target and bow and arrows, thinking, Damn, why’d she say that about me being small and immature? Can’t my own mother tell I’m not done growing? Jemmy—he was my best friend back in Massachusetts—grew a lot that year all of a sudden, and when we moved, his mom was still kidding about how she had to keep buying him new jeans.
           Then I said to myself, Chill, Gray. Gonna be better, gonna be better here, remember? Hey, maybe my zits might even go away this ­year.
           Yeah, in my dreams.
           Dad never did really come right out and tell the truth about why we had to move to Connecticut. What he said was it’d be an easy commute into New York City to his new job. But he didn’t have to get a new job. There wasn’t anything wrong with his old one. He’s some kind of supervisor at a business­-­machine company. That’s what he did at his old job, too, so what’s the big difference? “More money, guys” was what he told us, though, and he gave my brother, Peter, one of his chip­-­off­-­the­-­old­-­block punches. “More money for college for my Number-One­Son.”
           Maybe you noticed that he didn’t say anything about his Number-Two Son. See, I was the real reason for the new job and the move, and the reason both Mom and Dad seemed to be waiting for me to screw up again, and the reason why we never had any fun as a family, all four of us, anymore.
           We used to do stuff on weekends, like a normal family. The zoo, hikes, museums. We even went to Disney World when I was little. That was fun. Neat rides and stuff. And we once all stood outside the fence at this little racetrack and watched ten races from there because kids weren’t allowed inside where there was betting going on. But we bet each other, and I won a dollar.
           No more, though.
           But things’ll be better here, I told myself. I’m gonna change. We all are. Mom’s gonna stand up to Dad more, and Dad’s gonna stop getting on my case, and Perfect Peter’s gonna make a mistake once in a while, and I’m gonna stop making mistakes. Change for the better, you know?
           I tried to feel it in my—bones, I guess. Isn’t that where people are supposed to feel things like that?
           Like that’s really possible!
           I’d found my archery stuff by then, and my dog, Barker—he was a brown and white springer spaniel—was looking at me from where he was sitting in the driveway. He stretched his front legs out and sent his rump up like dogs do when they want to ­play.
           “Come watch me shoot,” I told him. I lugged the target to the backyard and set it up. “Let’s go get us some bull’s­-­eyes.”
           I did get some, too, and Barker watched, grinning like he always did. He’d tried to chase my arrows a couple of times back when he was a puppy, but as soon as he saw that they pretty much always went into the target, he stopped. And this time was no different. By the time Dad drove in, back from whatever had sent him to the hardware store, there was a whole cluster of arrows sticking out of the center of the target. I felt better, ­too.
           “You oughta move that target back some, Gray,” Dad called almost before he was all the way out of the car. “Make it harder for yourself.”
           That was it. Nothing about the bull’s­-­eyes. No “Nice shooting” or “Way to go, kid,” like he used to say. As soon as he’d told me to move the target, Dad lumbered into the house, carrying a paper bag of whatever he’d dashed out for.
           Okay, so then my mantra about things getting better did a nosedive out of my head and I slammed my hand against the target, nearly knocking it over and making Barker look up from the sun patch he was snoozing in. As I started to yank the arrows out I heard Peter yell, “Hey, don’t wreck it!”
           My big brother—people say he looks like Dad and I look like Mom—came out the back door, gave Barker a pat on the head as he passed, and then slapped me on the back. He’s like, “Wow,” as he examined what was left of the arrow cluster. “Have to start calling you Robin Hood.” He pulled out the rest of the arrows and handed them to me. “How about a run? Mom says we’re going out for dinner. We’ve got time to explore. Although,” he said, sort of wagging his head at the street, “it looks to me as if there’s not a whole lot to see.” He slapped me on the back again. “C’mon anyway. Let’s go change.”

Copyright © 2006 by Nancy ­Garden
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or
transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including
photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system,
without permission in writing from the ­publisher.
Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should
be mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc.,
6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887­-­6777.

Meet the Author

NANCY GARDEN (1938-2014) was the acclaimed author of Annie on My Mind, one of the first young adult novels to portray a lesbian relationship. She also wrote Endgame and three dozen other novels in a writing career that spanned several generations. She lived in Massachusetts.

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Endgame 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
224perweek More than 1 year ago
This is a very disturbing book. The bullying that takes place is all too real. There are no happy moments to speak of in this story. The ending is heart breaking.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a Freshman in high school and my mom got this book for me. It is the best book that I ever read. I know how Gray felt because I was bullied in 5th grade. I wish Nancy Garden would write more books like this. It's hard to find books for guys that keep our interest like this one did.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was very interesting. It captures your attention and leaves you wanting more. There's never a spot where I thought I could stop reading, it kept me wanting to read on. Usually with books it takes me awhile to read them, not because I'm a slow reader but because I'm not interested or get bored. I believe everyone can relate to this book because at one point or another in everyones life they have/will be bullied no matter who they are.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Endgame is about a boy named Grayson Wilton whose only friends are his dog and a boy he meets on the the bus. The story begins with Gray being questioned and asked to give his side of the story, and as much detail to testify that he was innocent. Throughout the book, Gray and his friend are bullied and made fun of. Though this hurts both, they try to hide by pastimes like playing games, but it doesn't last long. Soon, Gray and his friend are caught with no way to escape, and Gray's getting ideas of what to do about it. He begins to think about taking his dads special new pistol. Endgame is a book that I really enjoyed I'm enveloped in the twists and turns of this book. I enjoyed the book and was so stuck to it that I finished in one whole day. Even after reading it, I could read it again and again. I would mostly recommend to people who are bullied, or seem to be bullied. I also recommend this book to any of those of any other age who witness the heinous crimes of bullying to such a degree. Endgame, along with other related books can teach us to help prevent children from committing suicide, cutting of any sort, and most of all, to prevent occurrences such as previous shootings at schools. Schools have the most active amounts of bullying, these books will help 'mostly' adults and other peers to understand what is happening to those who are thought different, weird, or special. No one should have to go through what many others have already gone through. Help the misunderstood.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm a sophomore and this book changed the way I talk and act around 'outsiders.' I think that Endgame is a great inspirational book for high school students and adults. I like this book because it taught me that making fun of people is not right. This book also taught me what kids that get bullied for no reason feel like. This book taught me this because the main charachter Gray got bullied and brought a gun to school. This book will be a great inspiration to you. I hope you read the book it is well worth it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Endgame is amazing and it is well written. Just like Gray, I have a perfect older brother, a mother who is to afraid to speak up, a father who is overbearing and has extremely high expectations and my dogs are my salvation. Reading this book was a very positive experience for me, however it also sent the message ¿give up, no matter how hard you try it will always backfire.¿ That is not a message you want to be sending to depressed teens. It also shows kids that no one will help you. Teaching kids to be responsible and solve their own problems is good, but sometimes being responsible means asking for and accepting help. Kids, drinking paint isn¿t the best idea and bullies don¿t usually run over people¿s dogs. Parents, depression is a serious issue with today¿s kids. Don¿t push it aside saying ¿That¿s just kids¿ or ¿it¿s normal.¿ Yes, it is normal, but that doesn¿t make it good. Depressed teens, unfortunately, the reaction of Gray¿s father and teachers is not uncommon. Just keep fighting and scream for help at the top of your lungs until someone hears you and acts on it. It took me four years, but I finally succeeded. Remember, you aren't alone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Grey Wilton is a freshman at a new high school. He is a drummer and an archer. His life has been far from perfect. His dad wishes he was never born, his brother is perfect, and he is torched by bullies at high school. Nancy Garden did a great job making you feel like you are in the book, like you are Grey getting bulled, beat, and rejected. One day grey had a band concert and his dad already old him if he takes his own drums that something would happen to them. His dad beat him over it until Grey's mom came in and broke up the fight and let him take is drums to school. Later that nigh he found them trashed head punctured and symbols cracked. In my opinion that is what led to the unforgettable and shocking ending. The book Endgame is an exiting thriller. There are drums, guns, action and drama. If you are a drummer and you like action then ¿Endgame¿ is the exiting book for you. Even of you are not a drummer then Endgame will still put you in shock for the rest of the day because of the terrible and plot twisting end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ok, i just finished this book and it was so......blah. The plot didn't really make sense. The author wants you to feel bad for the main character, Gray Wilton, because he's a total geek. A reader shouldn't have to feel bad for some dude b/c he's weird. The ending was pretty sweet tho. But you could tell Gray was going to bring the gun to school. Gray was just a weird character who was jealous of his cooler older brother. This book wasnt one of my favorites at all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book shows how kids in high school and middle school can really cause anger- and possibly danger. Two parted- the present and the past story come together to make this book one that makes you think.