4.6 33
by Michael Harmon

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There’s not much keeping Ian McDermott in Spokane, but at least it’s home. He’s been raising Sammy practically on his own ever since their mom disappeared again on one of her binges. They get by, finding just enough to eat and plenty of time to skateboard.

But at Morrison High, Ian is getting the distinct, chilling feeling that the

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There’s not much keeping Ian McDermott in Spokane, but at least it’s home. He’s been raising Sammy practically on his own ever since their mom disappeared again on one of her binges. They get by, finding just enough to eat and plenty of time to skateboard.

But at Morrison High, Ian is getting the distinct, chilling feeling that the administration wants him and his board and his punked hair gone. Simply gone. And when his temper finally blows–he actually takes a swing at Coach Florence and knocks him cold–Ian knows he’s got to grab Sammy and skate. Run.

Their search for the one relative they can think of, their only hope, leads Ian and Sammy across the entire state of Washington in the cold and rain–and straight into a shocking discovery. Through it all, Ian knows exactly what he has to do: protect Sammy, and let no one split up their family of two. Michael Harmon tells a nuanced and unflinching story of wilderness survival, the fierce bond between brothers, and teen rage–and redemption.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Readers will continue to cheer for this outsider who finds life’s deck stacked against him. . . . A must-read for fans of Chris Crutcher.”–The Bulletin

“[A] remarkable first novel.”–Kirkus Reviews

“Harmon compellingly renders wary, brittle Ian, particularly the tension between his admirable motivations and his self-destructive impulses.”–Booklist

“A marvelous debut.”–Kirkus Reviews

“Harmon knows the world of outsiders, and he writes in a dead-on true voice, both funny and tragic.”–Chris Crutcher

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.72(w) x 4.22(h) x 0.67(d)
750L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Tony Freemont can’t keep his mouth shut for longer than thirty seconds at a time because Tony is one of those guys where words come out in uncontrollable spasms. He looked at the cut of my ex-girlfriend’s bra through her gym shirt, and I could almost feel it coming.

“Dude, gotta be Victoria’s Secret,” he said, bending his head to my ear. Coach Schmidt’s eyes flicked our way, a big fist wrapped around a small blue paddle, but the Ping-Pong sermon continued.

I had no desire to talk to Tony Freemont about the cut of Veronica Jorgenson’s bra, because I’d seen that particular one without the shirt on over it, and even though we’re not together anymore and it burns a bit, my mouth stays shut about those things. Tony knows I still like her, too, and every chance he gets, he rubs it in.

Tony is a linebacker for Morrison High’s junior varsity football team, and Veronica is captain of the JV cheerleaders. He’s had a thing for her since we started school, and that she dated a guy, even for a little while, with four earrings and another in his eyebrow had him questioning the all-American qualities a Morrison High jacket bestowed upon a person unlike myself.

He nodded her way. “Skater boy wipes it again. Take a look at what you’re missing, dorko.”

I kept my eyes on Coach to avoid the push-ups I knew were coming if we got caught, but I almost couldn’t resist body- slamming him into the floor. Now wasn’t the time to teach Tony a lesson in manners, and anyway, I’d have half the JV defensive line after me if I did. “I heard your mom sticks a cork up your ass to shut you up, Tony. Did it come out?”

That closed his mouth for a few seconds, but it was too late. Coach zeroed in on us with those steel pop rivets for eyes and fell silent. Coach Schmidt is a two-hundred-thirty-pound stump of flesh with a head sticking out of the top of it, and aside from having to shave more than me, she’s the first, and only, female football coach the city of Spokane has ever had. She’s also the state women’s arm-wrestling champion four years running. Her eyes slid from us to Veronica, then back, as if she knew exactly what we were talking about. Just like Mom but with big biceps. “Did you boys have something to share with us today?”

“No, ma’am.” I smiled because she was posed like a state arm-wrestling champion in a ballet class; the paddle midswing, her beefy arms frozen like an action figure. I was tempted to give the class an explanation of Tony’s preoccupation with Veronica’s boob-holders, but I didn’t. Coach Schmidt doesn’t like anything funny unless it has to do with cartilage damage, dislocated shoulders, or death on the playing field, and I’m already on her bad side for blowing off the sports program my freshman year.

She stared at me, then assumed a non–Ping-Pong stance before shooting daggers at Tony. He’s the mouth, so I figured I’d slide by. “And you, Mr. Freemont?” she said. “Do you have something enlightening to say?”

“No, ma’am.”

She pointed to the ground. “Push-ups.”

I bent to hit the floor, and Tony held up his arm, smiling. “Bad shoulder. Coach Thompson says I should take it easy for a few days. Strained it on the press.”

Coach Thompson is the JV football coach, so it looked like Tony had an out. Play a sport at Morrison, you got an out. Some way, somehow, it’s always different if you wear a jacket. On the other hand, if you wear ripped black cargos, Anarchy shirts, and secondhand Converse tennis shoes and pack a skateboard, you’re a social leper walking around with enough open sores to have every teacher grimacing like they have a bad rash. Coach Schmidt gave him a skeptical look. “See a doctor?”

He shook his head. “Just a strain.”

“Excused,” she said, letting him skate, then pointed to me. “Hit it, McDermott.”

Coach Schmidt believes the key to life is push-ups. It’s been rumored she once ordered the Coke machine in the cafeteria to pull down fifty for spitting out the wrong soda. Rumor also has it that the machine did them. She also believes the answer to every question in the universe is contained in motivational sports anecdotes. She pointed again to the lacquered wood floor when I didn’t hit it fast enough.

I started pushing up. Instead of going on with her instruction, she made the class wait for me to expend myself. Besides a bunch of Ping-Pong tables and a blue-paddle-holding gym teacher who looks like she could squat a semi-truck, there wasn’t much to look at, so the class looked at me. That’s the way Schmidt liked it, because her philosophy includes the idea that being bathed in the fire of public humiliation makes for stronger character.

Tony looked at everything but me as I tried not to embarrass myself any more than I had already, knowing what was running through my head but not stupid enough to say anything, either. The only thing strained on his big galoof body was his brain for thinking so quickly.

I felt sorry for myself while I did my push-ups, thinking about how convenient things seemed to be for students who play sports at this school. The gem of the city, Morrison is sports. College scouts come every year digging for talent, and the pedestal of sportsdom is the biggest buffer a kid can have against getting in trouble on campus. I did forty-six and couldn’t do any more, so I collapsed on the floor, staring at her feet. Even her ankles had muscles.

“More,” she growled, trying to bring out the disgraced competitor in me. “Come on, McDermott, reach deep and you’ll find it.”

My arms were wet noodles, and the only thing I could find by digging deep was a word Coach Schmidt would find offensive. “No,” I said.

She bent down, her fists on her knees. Coach Schmidt had a one-track mind, and that track is for everybody, whether they like it or not. A minor bump in the road and everything’s cool, but once you get on her list, she’s like a marine drill sergeant. She’ll bust your nuts until there’s nothing left or she’ll kill you in the process. I’m in the middle of a yearlong hell week. “How about three days’ detention?”

I stood. “Fine.”

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Skate 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Michael Harmon is one of the best new authors I have found. I read the book within two days, becuase I could not put it down. I recommend this book to any that like a good happy ending story and that is ful of suspence and is a good example. This book is a good example to teens and adultd that if you mess up in life its best to turn and face it and not run from it. Keep up the good work Michael. I can't wait until you write another hit.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found the book walking through my schools libary one day and i saw it picked it out and started reading. And it grabed me just like that. I just could not put it down. Its a great book I would recomened it for kids in 5th grade up to 12 grade and anyone really.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had just bought Skate two days ago and finished it today. I read it any chance I could because I always wanted to know what happened next. I would recommend this book to anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The young boys in this book are so real and so determined to make the right choices in their terribly mixed up world. I like that they are honest and not afraid to challenge things they think are wrong. I could not put the book down. This book is a must for parents, teachers, teens and really should be read in classes as an assignment. This new writer is so in to reality and solution. Please write more, Mr. Harmon.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! Couldn't put it down. I am a Mom to 5 boys, and they loved it too, even the 2 that 'hate' to read. The story is very quick moving and full of action. It is edgy and 'cool' without being offensive. And without being preachy Skate manages to teach about accountability and dealing with the failures that allow us all to become our best. Get this book for every kid on your list!! They will love it. I am just sorry there are no other books by this author available. Dr. JE
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I gtg
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok ill be in all night
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Im here
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A tall auburn haired girl with blue eyes walks in. She heard there was a skate tournament and she wants to check out the skater boys.
Awesome514 More than 1 year ago
Ian is an amazing character within a poignant story about coming to terms with our individual lives and taking control of who we want to be. Wonderfully done. This is a story that will stay with me.
PudgeJB More than 1 year ago
A few years ago back in high school (Colville High btw, about 75 miles North of Spokane, WA) I happened to be sitting on a library floor with a girl and happened to glance around and came across this SKATE that popped out at me for I really enjoy to skate and lose myself in it. Grabbed the book and lost myself in the fantastic story myself. It was great thinking I could partially relate to the guy in the story in the sense of rebellion against poor authorities. I quickly finished the book and had to tell my mom, a teacher in the near by school district, how I liked it. The book was a simple read, but I feel like high school aged kids will be able to have an easy relation with the character. In college I feel like I have lost the edge of reading, but I plan on getting back in to it over the summer with a nook tablet and will have to get this book as well with it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At first it started a little slow but it turned out to be an amazing book. Could not put it down and there are so many climaxes in the plot. Loved it and recommended to all ages not just teens
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sawol More than 1 year ago
I bought the book yesterday; on superbowl sunday, I read a bit of it then left to watch the game. At first I didn't think it was going to be too good to tell you the truth. Then I came home from work today and sat down on my bedroom floor next to my dog and started reading. I was home from work by four, reading by four thirty. I didn't stop reading except to let the dogs out untill almost en thirty when I finished the book. It may not be a really long book, but I never get sucked in like that. The only other book that has kept my attention so well was Gates Of Fire, and that is based on a true story about war, not a fictional character and his brother. This book was amazing. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone. I loved it.
XxXNessiRenaeXxX More than 1 year ago
i love this book i was bawling my eyes out when i read it! everybody should read this book cause Ian has a life that is full of hardships responsibility and brotherly love!and it reminds me of my mothers drug problem in the past and for some odd reason that i dont know it reminds me of my friend kyle. READ IT!!!
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Fifteen-year-old Ian McDermott already has a tough life: He's never really known his father, his mother is a drug addict and spends most of her time on the streets, and he is left caring for his younger brother, Sammy. What he needs from "the system" is some help; what he gets is placed on a list of kids who the principal wants out of his school as soon as possible. And, when he takes a swing at Coach Florence and breaks his jaw, he knows that the principal is going to get his wish. But, Ian cannot go to juvie--who will take care of Sammy? Their mom is out of the question, and if Sammy goes into foster care, Ian knows they will be apart at least three years, until Ian turns eighteen. There is only one option: They have to find their dad.

The last address Ian has for Samuel McDermott is in Walla Walla--quite a walk from Spokane. But they have no choice, so they hit the road before the cops can arrest Ian for assault. Through the cold, the rain, and many nights of hunger, the brothers trudge forward, dodging the authorities, determined to find their father. But, when they finally arrive, will the address prove to be their saving grace, or will their dreams be shattered in this impractical--maybe impossible--quest?

Michael Harmon's first novel hits the mark with its realistic portrayal of teen rage, drug culture, and the bond that exists between brothers. He manages to have his characters speak in voices that are both hilarious and heartbreaking, never taking the reader so far down that hope is lost, but also never reaching for solutions which render the story unbelievable: "Samuel McDermott or not, I was Ian McDermott, and the way I saw life was the way I'd live life" (p. 167).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago