Racing the Past

Racing the Past

4.2 5
by Sis Boulos Deans
     
 

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A moving story about survival, recovery, and the power of determination.

There was something else driving Ricky as he sped down Ridge Road under that cloudless blue sky. "Everybody knows a Gordon’s middle name is Thief." The hatred and hurt rose up inside him. His stride lengthened. His arms pumped faster. He could feel the new-found fuel burning

Overview

A moving story about survival, recovery, and the power of determination.

There was something else driving Ricky as he sped down Ridge Road under that cloudless blue sky. "Everybody knows a Gordon’s middle name is Thief." The hatred and hurt rose up inside him. His stride lengthened. His arms pumped faster. He could feel the new-found fuel burning in his muscles. Today would be the day Ricky beat the bus.

"The best thing your father ever did was get himself killed."

Though he’d never admit it out loud, secretly Ricky Gordon agrees. It’s been three months since his dad’s fatal car accident, but Ricky is still haunted by memories of violent beatings and hurtful words. His mind won’t let him forget, and neither will the kids at school. And if Ricky gets into one more fight he’ll be in serious trouble.

The fights always begin on the bus. That’s where the kids corner Ricky, teasing him until he’s so angry that he hits back. There has to be another way to get to school. Ricky decides to try running.

At first the three-mile run is pure torture, but soon he begins to build speed and stamina. It’s not long before people notice his dedication and his talent. And finally he accepts the challenge that has been facing him all along: he will race the bus — and win.

Sis Deans has had a number of books published by small presses. She writes for children of all ages and for adults as well. She has won several regional awards, including the 1995 Maine Chapbook Award. Ms. Deans lives on a small farm in Maine with her husband and three daughters.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
According to PW, "This hard-hitting novel portrays the struggle of a smalltown 11-year-old to find self-respect and a sense of purpose after the recent death of his violent, alcoholic father." Ages 10-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
VOYA
Since sixth-grader Ricky Gordon lost his alcoholic, abusive father in a car accident, he, his mother, and his younger brother, Matt, have been trying to piece their lives back together. Ricky, stigmatized by his father's notoriety and the family's crippling poverty, must endure the school bullies to avoid drawing his exhausted mother into a confrontation with the assistant principal. To elude the bullies, Ricky decides to walk to and from school. Over the months he toughens, both physically and emotionally. Running and beating the bus becomes a metaphor for beating back life's adversities. Deans does a remarkable job of creating believable, sympathetic characters. Ricky's family is haunted constantly by the memories of the abusive husband and father. Ricky's approach to dealing with the bullies is practical and understated, springing from his own personal resources despite the fact that initially he feels powerless. His inner dialogue seems authentic and renders unnecessary any preaching from the author. All Ricky's relationships are crafted to reveal Ricky's generous nature and emerging maturity. This book will appeal to a variety of readers. Runners and other athletes will appreciate the fluid, almost poetic passages in which Ricky discovers the pain, joy, and freedom of running. Librarians will want to recommend this book to troubled teens trying to leave poverty or bad reputations behind and to readers who love to witness a compelling teen character come to grips with problems and overcome them through fortitude. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined asgrades 7 to 9). 2001, Henry Holt, 151p, . Ages 12 to 15. Reviewer: Christopher Finer SOURCE: VOYA, June 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 2)
Ricky, as a means of avoiding a bully, begins to run to and from school instead of taking the bus. At first, he struggles but eventually gains strength and speed. Ricky earns the respect of his peers by racing the bus and winning. This is a "easy" chapter book with a good message. There are, however, some "cuss words" scattered throughout and some descriptions of child abuse by Ricky's father. Here's a good book for encouraging discussion about persevering, overcoming adversity, and dealing with bullies. 2001, Henry Holt and Company, $15.95. Ages 10 to 12. Reviewer: S. Latson SOURCE: Parent Council, September 2001 (Vol. 9, No. 1)
Children's Literature
Two months after his abusive father's death, Ricky Gordon's life must take a different direction or his own chance of survival will be slim. Sitting in the principal's office for the seventh time in one year, he makes a pact with the principal that if Mr. Daniels won't call Ricky's mother, Ricky will not be in the office again. Once outside, Ricky wonders how he will ever accomplish his part of the bargain and never let himself be in the presence of Bugsie McCarthy, the sixth grade bully. His first step on this new path takes him off the school bus and on a three-mile walk home. Thus begins Ricky's daily routine—three miles to school and three miles home. His establishes a goal of beating the bus home before the end of school. The training engulfs Ricky, as he moves from rung to rung on the ladder of success. Others learn to value him as he learns to value himself. By the end of the book, the reader can hardly wait to see if Ricky accomplishes his goal. This coming-of-age, realistic novel contains some earthy language (not atypical for eleven-year-olds), but is a story filled with determination and great character development. 2001, Henry Holt, $15.95. Ages 10 to 15. Reviewer: J. B. Petty
School Library Journal
Gr 6-8-Growing up poor in rural Maine, Ricky Gordon, 11, is dealing with the death of his abusive, alcoholic father and the still-fresh loss of a neighbor who was a surrogate grandmother to him. To top matters off, he is tormented by the local bully. These events have left Ricky confused and angry. In order to avoid trouble with Bugsie on the bus, he starts to walk back and forth to school. Over time, he begins to jog and ultimately picks up speed. Long-distance running proves to be what Ricky needs, as he finds in the physical exertion an escape from his problems and a boost to his confidence. At the novel's end, Ricky has attracted the attention of the local track coach, stood up to Bugsie, and gained a greater understanding of himself. Not all of these disparate threads come together-understandable in a novel that is more of a character study than a tightly plotted story-and some readers may find the flashbacks confusing. Still, the author does a good job of capturing the often rough, cruel, and foul-mouthed world of early adolescents. Best of all is the portrait of Ricky-a boy who has been forced to face adult problems for years and who could easily slide toward the sad and wasted life exhibited by his father's family, but who has enough courage and decency to keep himself afloat.-Todd Morning, Schaumburg Township Public Library, IL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Many readers will want to give 11-year-old Ricky Gordon, the protagonist of this fast-paced novel, a reassuring hug. Life hasn't been kind to him or his family. A year before the story opens, his alcoholic, violent father is killed in an accident, leaving his wife and three children with a terrible legacy of debt, nightmares, fear, and bruises, both physical and emotional. As if this weren't enough for Ricky to contend with, he's hounded mercilessly by a particularly spiteful school bully with whom he constantly gets into fights. Ricky promises the principal to stay out of trouble and so vows not to ride the school bus anymore. Ultimately, he decides to attempt to outrun the bus to his home. Thus the stage is set for a daily routine in which Ricky builds up his speed, self-confidence, and renown throughout his entire rural Maine community. Ricky is a well-realized character and an endearing boy, a math whiz with a mission and a sense of purpose. So what if the ending is pat and a tad too good to be true? Readers won't mind. They'll think that, after all he's been through, Ricky deserves all the breaks he can get. (Fiction. 10-13)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781417746958
Publisher:
San Val
Publication date:
02/28/2005
Pages:
151
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

"Hey, look, it’s the Road Runner," sneered Bugsie. "Beep, beep."

Ricky continued with his stretches, hoping Bugsie would just leave him alone. It was too much to hope for.

"Check out the sneakers, guys," said Bugsie as he and his gang circled around Ricky. "Where’d you steal those from, Gordon? You couldn’t have found them in the church bin."

"Those are wicked nice," said Norman Calvert.

"Norr-mann," Bugsie said, giving his friend a warning look.

Norman shrugged. "Well, they are."

"I bet he ripped them off," said Bugsie. "Everybody knows a Gordon’s middle name is Thief. Half his relatives are doing time in Thomaston and the rest are on welfare."

Ricky got up slowly, the rage that lived inside him ready to explode. A month ago, he would already have been at Bugsie’s throat, but today he had a better weapon. "You think you’re so great? Race me. I’ll even give you a half-mile lead."

Meet the Author

Sis Deans has had several books published by regional presses. She writes for children of all ages and for adults as well. She has won several regional awards, including the 1995 Maine Chapbook Award. Ms. Deans lives on a small farm in Maine with her husband and three daughters.

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Racing the Past 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
* basic shower wuth closed off sections. For privacy or comfort. Every wasable item is chained down and no casuaklties shall occur. If so...one hr in the Death Room *
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
hondaciviv More than 1 year ago
The reason I loved this book is because it gets to the point and doesn't jump around. The characters are well described and it feels like you know them. When I read this book I felt like I was there with the characters. I think that the author also did a great job on the settings. The settings are spread out and not crammed in on one page. The settings play a key role to the story and the suspense. I though the theme of the story was "to never give up and follow your dreams."
Guest More than 1 year ago
if u like books that r descriptional read it u get so thrown the book i read it in 2 days and the whole time i was lovin it
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an excellent comming-of-age story sure to give hope to readers everywhere. It is something that we can relate to, and its realistic edge adds the affect only great books posess. Two thumbs up, a worth-while read!!!