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4.3 3
by Eric Walters

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Jake has finally got his driver's license, and tonight he has his brother's car as well. He and his friend Mickey take the car out and cruise the strip. When they challenge another driver to a street race, a disastrous chain reaction causes an accident. Jake and Mickey leave the scene, trying to convince themselves they were not involved. Jake finds he cannot pretend


Jake has finally got his driver's license, and tonight he has his brother's car as well. He and his friend Mickey take the car out and cruise the strip. When they challenge another driver to a street race, a disastrous chain reaction causes an accident. Jake and Mickey leave the scene, trying to convince themselves they were not involved. Jake finds he cannot pretend it didn't happen and struggles with the right thing to do. Should he pretend he was not involved? Or should he go to the police?

Editorial Reviews

Sixteen-year-old Jake is lucky: he's got his driver's license. However, this freedom comes with a price—due to poor academic performance, he is repeating the ninth grade. Left behind by his former classmates, Jake spends his free time with Mickey, a fellow freshman. When his older brother loans Jake his car for a night on the town, Mickey sees this as a chance to pick up girls and drag race. Giving in to the pressure, Jake makes a poor decision that could have lifelong implications. Now he must do the right thing, as hard as it is. With its short chapters, easily defined conflict, and a main character who faces a tough and realistic decision, Overdrive, although written with teenage boys in mind, will be appealing to most reluctant readers. 2004, Orca, 102 pp., Ages young adult.
—Lisa Scherff
Aspiring mechanic Jake is elated when his brother loans him his souped-up Chevy on the first day of having his driver's license. The 300-plus horsepower goes to Jake's head, and he is goaded into a street race with his arch-nemesis, Luke. The Chevy dusts the Acura, but Luke does not know when to quit and plows into a SUV containing a man and his pregnant wife. Panicked, Jake drives away from the scene of the accident, encouraged by his passenger Mickey, who warns Jake to avoid trouble by keeping quiet about his "almost involvement." Inner turmoil ensues. The plot moves quickly-even the cover showing the arc of a speedometer edging past 80 mph/140 kmh, indicates speed. Part of Orca's new Soundings series for reluctant readers, this high interest, low reading level novel is simple, engaging, and well written. Characters have a slightly cookie-cutter feel-the wisecracking big brother, the mean teacher, the helpful adult mentor-and the length does not leave a lot of room for details, but it is still a satisfying read. The page count might appease some teachers who think that books with fewer than one hundred pages are not appropriate for grades six and up. Books from this imprint combine plots to which youth can relate and a moral dilemma that lends itself to classroom discussion. This particular title has more appeal for boys, and some of the vocabulary may be unfamiliar to those who are not car buffs. Pair with Shirlee Smith Matheson's Fastback Beach (Orca, 2003/VOYA February 2004), about car theft and repair. VOYA CODES: 3Q 2P M J S (Readable without serious defects; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2004, Orca, 102p., pb. Ages 11 to 18.
—Beth Gallaway
Children's Literature
You do not necessarily need the details of the consequences of an action but you should want to know if the character knows how to make the right choice. Eric Walters ends his story with the central narrating character, Jake, making a major decision. Jake is a ninth grader for a second year and the only ninth grader to get a driver's license. He takes his friend, Mickey, on his first drive. Jake gets himself into a short street race. Jake's competitor crashes into a turning car at an intersection. Jake swerves and barely misses the accident. He reluctantly continues going, taking Mickey's advice that he does not have to go back to the accident because he "didn't do anything." Jake struggles with his conscience and imagined consequences, as he hears sirens, sees lights flashing in his rear view mirror, and goes home. This short, eleven-chapter book will involve readers from page one. It would be a good addition to the library or a classroom collection and a great book for teachers or librarians to read to a class for journalizing and/or discussion. 2004 (orig. 1957), Orca Book Publishers, Ages 12 to 16.
—Charlotte M. Krall
Canadian Book Review Annual
“This story illustrates the power of peer pressure and how easy it is for good people to make bad decisions. No doubt teens, especially boys, will be able to relate to the events in this story. Recommended.”
CM Magazine
"Walters captures the heart and spirit of the 16-year-old first time driver through Jake, the stereotypical teenage boy, who wants to be cool and drive a cool car...This is more than a story about street racing; it is about responsibility and accepting the consequences of one's actions. It is a story about growing up. Highly recommended."
Resource Links
"This book is slim, though it manages to look quite grown-up in its appearance. And the ending certainly opens the way to further thought and/or discussion."
CD Syndicated
"This is a gutsy, admirable attempt to provide a viable counter argument to the blinking lights of brain-dead video games and dimwit movies. This is perhaps the most effective employment of the reflective medium of print; an introduction to the internal voice of conscience, cause and effect and consequences. Walters has a disarming, empathetic way with his story. He understands the rhythms of an adolescent's speech; the id-driven energies behind their motivations."

Product Details

Orca Book Publishers
Publication date:
Orca Soundings Series
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Sales rank:
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

"We have to get out of here. There's nothing we can do. Besides, there are already people there to help and to call the police. There's nothing we can do but get in trouble."

I hesitated.

"Go! Get out of here!"

I got the car moving. I had one eye on the road in front and the other on my rearview mirror, trying to see the accident. I saw flashing red lights behind me in the distance. For a split second I took my foot off the accelerator. Then I pressed down harder, picked up the speed and took a quick left turn.

Meet the Author

Eric Walters began writing in 1993 as a way to entice his grade five students into becoming more interested in reading and writing. At the end of the year, one student suggested that he try to have his story published. Since that first creation, Eric’s novels have all become best-sellers and have won over eighty awards. Often his stories incorporate themes that reflect his background in education and social work and his commitment to humanitarian and social-justice issues. He is a tireless presenter, speaking to over 70,000 students per year in schools across the country. Eric lives in Mississauga, Ontario, with his wife and three children.

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Overdrive 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous 9 months ago
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Heidi_G More than 1 year ago
Ninth-grader Jake is the first in his class to get a drivers license. He older brother lets him drive his car and Jake is involved in a street-racing accident. Jake struggles to do the right thing while being led down another path by his best friend. The teen voice in this story is authentic, the emotions real. A great read for teen boys.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In the book Overdrive, there are tons of secrets that involve teenagers, and school. They are careless by involving themselves in high speed race. This book appeals to me because I will be driving soon. My opinion on this book is that if you like racing and action then read this book.