Just in Case

Just in Case

4.3 15
by Meg Rosoff
     
 

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Justin Case is convinced fate has in for him.
And he's right.

After finding his younger brother teetering on the edge of his balcony, fifteen-year-old David Case realizes the fragility of life and senses impending doom. Without looking back, he changes his name to Justin and assumes a new identity, new clothing and new friends, and dares to fall in love with

Overview

Justin Case is convinced fate has in for him.
And he's right.

After finding his younger brother teetering on the edge of his balcony, fifteen-year-old David Case realizes the fragility of life and senses impending doom. Without looking back, he changes his name to Justin and assumes a new identity, new clothing and new friends, and dares to fall in love with the seductive Agnes Day. With his imaginary dog Boy in tow, Justin struggles to fit into his new role and above all, to survive in a world where tragedy is around every corner. He's got to be prepared, just in case.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307533524
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
03/25/2009
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
334,991
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

The view is fine up here. I can look out across the world and see everything. For instance, I can see a fifteen-year-old boy and his brother.

1

David Case’s baby brother had recently learned to walk but he wasn’t what you’d call an expert. He toddled past his brother to the large open window of the older boy’s room. There, with a great deal of effort, he pulled himself onto the windowsill, scrunched up like a caterpillar, pushed into a crouch, and stood, teetering precariously, his gaze fixed solemnly on the church tower a quarter mile away.

He tipped forward slightly towards the void just as a large black bird swooped past. It paused and turned an intelligent red eye to meet the child’s.

“Why not fly?” suggested the bird, and the boy’s eyes widened in delight.

Below them on the street, a greyhound stood motionless, his elegant pale head turned in the direction of the incipient catastrophe. Calmly the dog shifted the angle of his muzzle, creating an invisible guyline that eased the child back an inch or two towards equilibrium. Safer now, but seduced by the fact that a bird had spoken to him, the boy threw out his arms and thought, Yes! Fly!

David did not hear his brother think “fly.”

Something else made him look up. A voice. A finger on his shoulder. The brush of lips against his ear.

So that’s where we start: One boy on the verge of death. Another on the verge of something rather more complicated.

In the instant of looking up, David took the measure of the situation, shouted “Charlie!” and lunged across the room. He grabbed the child by the cape of his Batman pajamas, wrapped his arms around him with enough force to flatten his ribs, and sank to the floor, squashing the boy’s face into the safe hollow beneath his chin.

Charlie squeaked with outrage but David barely heard. Panting, he unpinned him, gripping the child at arm’s length.

“What were you doing?” He was shouting. “What on earth did you think you were doing?”

Well, said Charlie, I was bored just playing with my toys and you weren’t paying attention to me so I thought I would get a better look at the world. I climbed up on the window which wasn’t easy and once I managed to do that I felt strange and happy with nothing but sky all around me and all of a sudden a bird flew past and looked at me and said I could fly and a bird hasn’t ever talked to me before and I figured a bird would know what he was talking about when it came to flying so I thought he must be right. Oh and there was also a pretty gray dog on the pavement who looked up and pointed at me with his nose so I didn’t fall and just when I was about to leap out and soar through the air you grabbed me and hurt me a lot which made me very cross and I didn’t get a chance to fly even though I’m sure I could have.

The little boy explained all this slowly and carefully, so as not to be misunderstood.

“Burr-dee fly” were the words that came out of his mouth.

David turned away, heart pounding. It was useless trying to communicate with a one-year-old. Even if his brother had possessed the vocabulary, he couldn’t have answered David’s question. Charlie did what he did because he was a dumb kid, too dumb to realize that birds don’t talk and kids can’t fly.

My god, David thought. If I’d been two seconds slower he’d be dead. My brother would be dead but I’d be the one shattered, crushed, destroyed by guilt and blame and everyone everywhere for the rest of my life whispering He’s that kid who killed his brother.

Two seconds. Just two seconds were all that stood between normal everyday life and utter, total catastrophe.

David sat down hard, head spinning. Why had this never occurred to him? He could fall down a manhole, collapse of a stroke. A car crash could sever his spinal cord. He could catch bird flu. A tree could fall on him. There were comets. Killer bees. Foreign armies. Floods. Serial killers. There was buried nuclear waste. Ethnic cleansing. Alien invasion.

A plane crash.

Suddenly, everywhere he looked he saw catastrophe, bloodshed, the demise of the planet, the ruin of the human race, not to mention (to pinpoint the exact source of his anxiety) possible pain and suffering to himself.

Who could have thought up a scenario this bleak?

Whoever (whatever) it was, he could feel the dark malevolence of it settling in, making itself at home like some vicious bird of prey, its sharp claws sunk deep into the quivering gray jelly of his terrified brain. He pulled his brother close, tucking him in against his body, pressed his lips to the child’s face.

What if . . . ?

He became enmired in what if.

The weight of it wrapped itself around his ankles and dragged him under.

2

A year earlier, David’s father had woken him with a shout.

“David, your mother’s home! Aren’t you interested in seeing the baby?”

Not really, David thought, burying his head in his pillow. I know what a baby looks like.

But then they were in his room, grinning and making inane noises in the direction of a small, serene-looking creature with jet black eyes.

David sat up with a groan and peered at his new brother. OK, seen him, he thought.

“Of course he can’t see you yet.” His father, superior as ever. “Babies can’t focus properly for weeks.”

David was about to go back to sleep when he noticed the new baby gazing at him with a peculiar expression of calm authority.

I’m Charlie, said the new baby’s eyes, as clearly as if he had spoken the words out loud. Who are you?

David stared.

His brother repeated the question slowly, politely, as if to a person of limited intelligence. Who, exactly, are you?

David frowned.

The baby inclined his head, his face registering something that might have been pity. Such a simple question, he thought.

But if his brother knew the answer, he gave no sign.

This disturbed Charlie. Over the next few months, he tried approaching his parents for answers, but his father was always at work and his mother seemed strangely ill informed on the subject of her older son.

“He’s usually on time,” she would comment brightly, or “I wish he’d tidy his room more.” But nothing about who he was. And when she caught Charlie staring intently at David, she merely thought, How sweet. They’re bonding.

But they weren’t bonding. Charlie was comparing the David he knew with the Davids he saw displayed around the house in family pictures. The younger Davids looked cheerful and carefree; they held books or bikes or ice creams and gazed at the camera with expressions of trust. The younger Davids kicked balls, swung from trees, blew out the candles on birthday cakes. They had clear edges and cloudless eyes.

But the David that Charlie knew now was wavery and fizzy with nerves. The new David reminded Charlie of a birthday card he’d seen where the picture of a clown shifted gradually into the picture of a tightrope walker, depending on how you tilted it. Exactly when this transformation had begun, the child couldn’t say. According to the photos, his brother’s outline had begun to blur sometime between playing football at thirteen and losing his status as only child the following year.

Charlie had spent a good deal of his short life worrying about his older brother. Now he paused in the middle of playing Monkey Rides in a Car with Donkey to gather his thoughts. He saw that his recent attempt to fly had been a mistake. It seemed to have nudged his brother past some invisible tipping point and this filled him with remorse. Charlie wanted to make amends, to offer advice on how David could regain his footing. But he couldn’t get his brother to listen.

Or perhaps he was listening, but somehow lacked the capacity to understand. This worried Charlie most of all.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

Meg Rosoff was born in Boston and worked in publishing and advertising before writing How I Live Now. She moved in 1989 from New York City to London, where she currently lives with her husband and daughter. The author lives in England.
Meg Rosoff was born in Boston and lives in London. She is the author of How I Live Now and Just In Case

Meet Meg Rosoff, Michael L. Printz Award winner for How I Live Now, as she promotes her new novel, Just In Case.

Monday, September 18, 2006
6:30 p.m.
Barnes & Noble
267 7th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215
Call (718) 832-9066 for more information.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006
7:00 p.m.
Northport Public Library
151 Laurel Avenue, Northport, NY 11768
Call (631) 261-6930 for more information.

Thursday, September 21, 2006
7:00 p.m.
Barnes & Noble
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Call (718) 982-6983 for more information.

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Just in Case 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Now that I've finished reading JUST IN CASE and it's time for me to write my review, I'm having a hard time thinking of how to describe it. I've had the pleasure of reading HOW I LIVE NOW, Ms. Rosoff's Michael L. Printz award-winning book, so I began reading JUST IN CASE with high expectations. I wasn't disappointed, not in the least, and have high hopes for the awards this book will garner over the coming year. It's just that, now that I need to put it in words, it's difficult to describe just who, exactly, the main character in this story is--David Case, now known as Justin, or Fate? I guess the book could be summed up, quite easily, by the words (actually, by the alphabet blocks) of eighteen-month-old Charlie Case: "JUST IN CASE WHAT?" Or, possibly, by the photograph of Agnes, the style-maven with the pink hair, entitled "ANTHEM FOR DOOMED YOUTH."

Regardless of how you describe the story, you'll find yourself quickly immersed in the life and times of Justin Case. A teen on the verge of sixteen, David Case is irrevocably changed on the day he saves his baby brother from falling out of an open window. For those of us who are privy to his story, we would see two lucky brothers, one narrowly avoiding a long fall to his death, and one heroic for his quick thinking. For David, though, this break isn't a lucky one. No, this is just one more example of how Fate has it in for him. How can he get away, escape, allude Fate, trick it? He begins by changing his name to Justin, follows it up by becoming even more quiet and withdrawn than he originally was, and finishes it up with a new way of dressing, walking, and talking.

When Justin meets Agnes, she immediately takes him under her wing--and uses him for her own purposes, although Justin doesn't realize it at first. Justin is too busy dodging Fate, avoiding certain death, worrying about the ways that Fate can trick him into an early grave. As Justin survives day to day, with the help of Boy, his imaginary dog, and Peter, his not imaginary friend and fellow runner, Justin is unable to see that Fate is still following him, hot on his heels.

JUST IN CASE is the story of David, who becomes Justin, who melds into a boy that simply wants to make his own choices in life, rather than having it mapped out for him in advance. It's the story of Agnes, who wants to fix Justin, but in the end doesn't even truly understand the ways in which he's broken. It's the story of Charlie, an abnormally bright child who wishes his brother could forgive himself. It is, most of all, the story of Fate, and Fate's wicked sense of humor.

Although it's hard to put JUST IN CASE neatly into a category, I can highly recommend it nevertheless. Once I started this story, I was unable to put it down until the very last word--and even then I was still entranced by Justin Case and his battle with Fate. This book is definitely one worth reading.
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harstan More than 1 year ago
Infant Charlie Case is just learning to walk when he enters his older brother¿s room. Fifteen year old David is not paying attention to his much younger sibling who climbs precariously on the sill of the open bedroom window. Charlie watches a bird fly by as he teeters on the ledge. A greyhound sitting outside nudges him back a bit until David happens to look up panicky he pulls Charlie off the windowsill.------------ However the brush with death shakes David to the core while Charlie cannot understand why his brother prevented him from flying with the birds. David begins to see death and disaster on every corner as he begins to comprehend and personify Fate. He decides the only way to beat Fate in the game of personal mortality is to change one¿s identity as Fate will seek to harm David Case, but not Justin Case and alters his image accordingly. However, accompanied by a greyhound that no one else sees, his efforts prove futile as he realizes with each next step he takes ¿This is how the world ends¿ even as photographer Agnes Bee turns him into the symbol of 'doomed youth'.-------------- JUST IN CASE is an insightful allegorical look at life and all it offers through Justin¿s efforts to avoid what he believes is everyone¿s Fate: death. With Fate providing observations on life and death, parents hide in the sand to avoid the issues their teens face. Readers who appreciate a deep thought provoking parable will enjoy Justin Case¿s efforts to survive but not live his life.-------------- Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really really loved Meg Rossof's first novel, 'How I Live Now'. I wasn't expecting the same thing, but her style is almost completely different. It isn't at all like reading the same author. While the detail is similar to her previous book the reading felt blurred and sort of like watching or reading the last Lord of The Rings without having seen or read the first two books before it. I found myself NOT ABLE TO FINISH this novel and skimmed through the last fourty pages to see what was going on. Justin Case is whiny and annoying - an unlikeable fellow past the first several chapters. The idea that he is paranoid about Fate - while intriguing at first - is annoying and repetitive. The book had little changes in it from the very beginning. You basically read about how suckish he is and how he needs a therapist, until he gets drunk and then is joyous for whatever reason. It's dissapointing and tiring to read. Meg Rossof is a wonderful author, but this is an UNWONDERFUL book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Now that I've finished reading JUST IN CASE and it's time for me to write my review, I'm having a hard time thinking of how to describe it. I've had the pleasure of reading HOW I LIVE NOW, Ms. Rosoff's Michael L. Printz award-winning book, so I began reading JUST IN CASE with high expectations. I wasn't disappointed, not in the least, and have high hopes for the awards this book will garner over the coming year. It's just that, now that I need to put it in words, it's difficult to describe just who, exactly, the main character in this story is--David Case, now known as Justin, or Fate? I guess the book could be summed up, quite easily, by the words (actually, by the alphabet blocks) of eighteen-month-old Charlie Case: 'JUST IN CASE WHAT?' Or, possibly, by the photograph of Agnes, the style-maven with the pink hair, entitled 'ANTHEM FOR DOOMED YOUTH.' Regardless of how you describe the story, you'll find yourself quickly immersed in the life and times of Justin Case. A teen on the verge of sixteen, David Case is irrevocably changed on the day he saves his baby brother from falling out of an open window. For those of us who are privy to his story, we would see two lucky brothers, one narrowly avoiding a long fall to his death, and one heroic for his quick thinking. For David, though, this break isn't a lucky one. No, this is just one more example of how Fate has it in for him. How can he get away, escape, allude Fate, trick it? He begins by changing his name to Justin, follows it up by becoming even more quiet and withdrawn than he originally was, and finishes it up with a new way of dressing, walking, and talking. When Justin meets Agnes, she immediately takes him under her wing--and uses him for her own purposes, although Justin doesn't realize it at first. Justin is too busy dodging Fate, avoiding certain death, worrying about the ways that Fate can trick him into an early grave. As Justin survives day to day, with the help of Boy, his imaginary dog, and Peter, his not imaginary friend and fellow runner, Justin is unable to see that Fate is still following him, hot on his heels. JUST IN CASE is the story of David, who becomes Justin, who melds into a boy that simply wants to make his own choices in life, rather than having it mapped out for him in advance. It's the story of Agnes, who wants to fix Justin, but in the end doesn't even truly understand the ways in which he's broken. It's the story of Charlie, an abnormally bright child who wishes his brother could forgive himself. It is, most of all, the story of Fate, and Fate's wicked sense of humor. Although it's hard to put JUST IN CASE neatly into a category, I can highly recommend it nevertheless. Once I started this story, I was unable to put it down until the very last word--and even then I was still entranced by Justin Case and his battle with Fate. This book is definitely one worth reading.