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Derailed
     

Derailed

4.7 4
by Jon Ripslinger
 

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Wendell “Stony” Stoneking is not one to worry. Everyone likes him. His girlfriend is gorgeous and very willing to please—anytime, anywhere. He is the star of his high school football team. And when he graduates, there’s a steady job in the gravel quarry waiting for him. Then he meets Robyn, a single mom with a dark past. Suddenly Stony is more

Overview

Wendell “Stony” Stoneking is not one to worry. Everyone likes him. His girlfriend is gorgeous and very willing to please—anytime, anywhere. He is the star of his high school football team. And when he graduates, there’s a steady job in the gravel quarry waiting for him. Then he meets Robyn, a single mom with a dark past. Suddenly Stony is more bothered than he has been in a long time—not only by the violence Robyn has endured, but by the danger she could put him in. For the first time, Stony reflects on his own life, his broken family, and the dizzying notion of a wide-open future. Evocatively set in rural Iowa, Derailed is the story of what happens when you open your eyes and start to care enough to risk everything.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA
Stony, high school senior and small town football star, might be ineligible to play because of a failing grade. Enter Robyn, his student tutor and an unwed mother, for whom Stony develops a crush. His marriage-minded girlfriend is obviously not happy. Add his guidance counselor, who tells Stony that he is smart enough to escape his small town and the quarry job that awaits him, like it did his father and grandfather before him. He merely needs to apply himself. Thus, three weeks into his senior year, Stony has an epiphany and decides to go to college. When Robyn's psychotic ex-boyfriend and father of her child is released from prison for raping her, he tracks her down and kidnaps their child as revenge. This book derailed from page one. It is difficult to care about the three or four weeks of Stony's trite life chronicled here. The story has everything: sex, drugs, vandalism, psychotic boyfriends, death of a younger sibling, alcoholic parents, unwed mothers. The author crams every issue into one book. Poorly written, his narrative contains phrases such as "ass-kicking convincingly" to describe a football game win. The dialogue is unnatural, characters are uninteresting, and the plot is predictable and unrealistic. Situations do not make sense, like Stony's brainy teammate Brian, who takes accelerated classes, being excited about enrolling in community college to play football. The only positive is that the book is an easy read. The positive does not outweigh the negatives, however. VOYA CODES: 2Q 3P S (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; Will appeal with pushing; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, Flux/Llewellyn, 258p., Trade pb. Ages 15 to 18.
—Ed Goldberg
KLIATT - Amanda MacGregor
Wendell Stoneking, or "Stony," knows what his future will be in his small Iowa town. After he graduates from high school in the spring he will get a job at the quarry, just like his father and his grandfather did. He'll probably marry young, have some kids, and hang out with the other quarry workers at the local bar. He is a major force on the football team, but his spot is in jeopardy when he finds out he may lose eligibility. Stony's trademark smile isn't enough to help him save his failing English literature grade. When he visits the guidance counselor, a potential new path is illuminated for him. What if there were more to life than just working at the quarry? What if Stony could pull his grades up not just to keep his spot on the team, but because he's a smart kid with a lot of potential? His new tutor, Robyn, also helps reinforce these ideas. Stony is immediately intrigued by her, especially when he finds out that she has a child. As he works to uncover pieces of her mysterious past, he makes significant discoveries about himself. The story takes a dramatic twist when Robyn's abusive and mentally unhinged ex-boyfriend shows up and kidnaps their son. Though the story often feels rushed, Rip-slinger's characters make this a page-turner. Stony, who initially comes off as a one-dimensional stereotype, is a surprisingly complex young man, a fact that reveals itself at just the right pace. The monotony of Stony's small town is conveyed well; the stifling feeling envelops every moment of action. With strong male and female main characters, Derailed will appeal to both sexes.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780738724577
Publisher:
North Star Editions
Publication date:
10/08/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Monday morning at school, after we won our third football game in a row, ass-kicking convincingly, I might add, Coach Maddox yanked me into his office in the boys' locker room.

It was near the end of third period.

He said, "Do you want to finish this football season or don't you?"

I let a smile break wide open across my face. In nearly every situation, a smile was my best weapon. Relax. Stay cool. Don't let stuff bother you--that was my philosophy.

You'd be surprised at the number of problems I'd ducked like that, though I admit more and more lately things were starting to irritate me. Like my girlfriend Mindy and the school system's new eligibility policy for athletes. But, still smiling, I settled my 195 pounds into the straight-back metal chair in front of Coach Maddox's desk and said, "Not to worry, Coach. I've got everything taken care of."

"You understand the new eligibility policy?" he said. He picked up a pencil and tapped the pointed end on his desktop. Tappity-tap-tap. He's fifty-five, well built. His craggy face twisted into a scowl as he sat across from me.

"Got to have a C-average to play," I said.

"No Fs." Tappity-tap-tap. "Even if you've got a C-average, but you've got an F thrown in, you can't play." Tappity-tap-tap.

"That's right," I said and gave a big grin. I was keeping a little secret from him.

He dropped the pencil on his desk and peered at me.

"Wipe that smirk off your face and tell me why, after three weeks of school, when I go around this morning to visit your teachers, does Ms. Oberhaus tell me you are failing American Lit?" He smacked the desk with an open palm, and the coffee cup next to his desk calendar jumped. "Tell me!"

I shrugged.

"She doesn't like me," I said. "And she's got this German accent, I can't understand her."

"Hell no, you can't understand her. Not when you sleep in class. She tells me you are doing the same thing in her class this year you did last year--when you failed. NOTHING!"

"Take it easy, Coach."

"Stony, last year the Tigers were a good team. Six and three. That isn't bad. This year we can do better. Conference champs, maybe."

"No doubt."

"State tournament berth, maybe."

"You bet."

"It's been eight years since we've been in the playoffs. The key is defense."

"We won our first three games," I reminded him, "and have given up only two touchdowns."

"And you've been spectacular. Averaging two sacks a game and ten tackles from your linebacker spot."

"I get lots of help."

"You've blocked four punts and two extra points. Caused four fumbles. Recovered two. Not bad."

I shifted my weight in the chair. I felt funny, the coach complimenting me like this, a very rare thing. "You got nothing to worry about," I told him.

"What happens to the defense when you're not eligible? Tell me that. Mid-quarter reports are out in two-anda-half weeks. You need at least a D in American Lit. Sixty percent."

"I can handle that."

"But Ms. Oberhaus says your average is thirty-eight percent. You don't read the assignments, write the journal entries, hand in your written work, or study for the tests. You don't do anything, Stony."

"I don't like that stuff, Coach."

"You think I like teaching coed PE? Hell no. But I do it. You understand what I'm saying?"

I shrugged.

"You're lazy, Stony. You got all kinds of potential, but you're lazy. You like math, don't you?"

"It's all right."

"You got an A in math. And you like Creative Foods." "We get to eat the things we cook."

"History. D-plus."

"Boring."

"Geography: C-minus. Damn near a D."

I finally said, "You don't have to worry about me and American Lit. I'm getting a tutor."

"I know. Ms. Oberhaus told me."

I blinked. I was a little disappointed. My surprise was no surprise at all. "A peer tutor," I said. "It's the HELP program--kids helping other kids learn. Ms. Oberhaus said I should try it."

"That doesn't mean you don't have to work, Stony. You still got to stay awake in class. Read your assignments. Hand in your papers. Pass your quizzes and tests."

"That's true," I said. "But listen, Coach. I'm supposed to meet this girl--Robyn Knight--in the library every day, seventh period, and she's going to help me."

"You still got to get your ass in gear."

"I'll get her to do my work for me," I said. "I won't have any problems at all."

"That isn't how it works, Stony."

But I smiled and said, "Wait and see."

With that I ducked out of Coach Maddox's office. He's a great coach, but he's a worrier, and he gets too emotional, especially on the sidelines during a game, whether we're winning or losing, pacing in front of the bench, yelling and screaming, pounding the air with his fists. Had he relaxed a little, he would have seen that I was perfectly capable of handling my American Lit grade.

 "I can't believe this!" Mindy said. Wide-set in an oval face, her eyes were large and dark. "Everybody's always trying to screw things up for us."

"I can't help it," I said. "If I don't get tutored I'm going to fail American Lit. Then I can't play football."

We were standing in the crowded hall in front of my locker, just after I'd come from Maddox's office. Kids were whipping locker doors open and digging for books, notebooks, pens, and pencils.

Mindy had nearly backed me into my open locker.

Only an inch away from me, looking up into my face, she stood with her hands balled into fists on her hips. She was wearing faded jeans and a loose yellow T-shirt.

We'd been going together two years, and I didn't know how to tell her I thought we both needed a change.

"What about our plans for seventh period?" she demanded. Though she's dark complexioned, her face was turning red.

"Don't get excited."

She smelled of cigarette smoke and of the spicy perfume I'd bought for her birthday.

I said, "I'll meet this girl the first couple of times and get her to do my homework. Then maybe I'll see her once or twice a week. We can still skip seventh period a few times." The thing is, Mindy worked practically every night after school at McDonald's, and I had football practice. This meant we didn't have much time for each other during the week. Unless we could skip seventh period and grab a few minutes to make out.

Lockers banged shut up and down the hallways as kids cleared out, diving into classrooms.

I shifted my books in my arms. "We're going to be late."

"What's this tutor's name?"

"Robyn Knight. Know her?"

Mindy shook her head of reddish brown hair, and her lips turned pouty. "She better be ugly."


Meet the Author

Jon Ripslinger (Davenport, Iowa) is a writer and a former high school English teacher. He was a participant in the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop and is the author of several published short stories and two other novels for young adults.
Jon Ripslinger (Davenport, Iowa) is a writer and a former high school English teacher. He was a participant in the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop and is the author of several published short stories and two other novels for young adults.

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Derailed 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Wendell "Stony" Stoneking's life is about football, his girlfriend, Mindy, and weekend parties. His future plans include marrying Mindy, having kids, and probably working at the local stone quarry like his father and his grandfather. Most of his time is spent at football practice, making out with Mindy, or helping his mother in the family bait and tackle shop. Everything seems to be moving along nicely until his American Lit grade threatens to plummet below acceptable standards for football eligibility.

Robyn is the tutor assigned to help Stony raise his Lit grade. They work together in the library during seventh hour and things begin to change. Stony finds that maybe with a little effort American Lit is not that difficult. He finds that Mindy is jealous of Robyn and ends their relationship. Stony also discovers that he wants to know more about Robyn. What little he's learned is that she lives with her sister and brother-in-law, and that she has a kid.

Life for Stony begins to get complicated. The tutoring and his improved grade in American Lit have opened up possibilities for his future. Maybe college would be an option instead of a "going nowhere" job at the stone quarry. Although he loves his mother and father, Stony realizes that the life they have is not what he wants. All of a sudden Robyn and her son, Logan, have set Stony's sights on a different horizon.

Ripslinger's riveting story draws the reader into the growing relationship between Stony and Robyn. There are more complications to Robyn's life than meet the eye, and they create a dramatic situation that draws the book to a fast-paced conclusion. This book will appeal to teen boy and girl readers alike. It's well worth checking out.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wendell 'Stony' Stoneking's life is about football, his girlfriend, Mindy, and weekend parties. His future plans include marrying Mindy, having kids, and probably working at the local stone quarry like his father and his grandfather. Most of his time is spent at football practice, making out with Mindy, or helping his mother in the family bait and tackle shop. Everything seems to be moving along nicely until his American Lit grade threatens to plummet below acceptable standards for football eligibility. Robyn is the tutor assigned to help Stony raise his Lit grade. They work together in the library during seventh hour and things begin to change. Stony finds that maybe with a little effort American Lit is not that difficult. He finds that Mindy is jealous of Robyn and ends their relationship. Stony also discovers that he wants to know more about Robyn. What little he's learned is that she lives with her sister and brother-in-law, and that she has a kid. Life for Stony begins to get complicated. The tutoring and his improved grade in American Lit have opened up possibilities for his future. Maybe college would be an option instead of a 'going nowhere' job at the stone quarry. Although he loves his mother and father, Stony realizes that the life they have is not what he wants. All of a sudden Robyn and her son, Logan, have set Stony's sights on a different horizon. Ripslinger's riveting story draws the reader into the growing relationship between Stony and Robyn. There are more complications to Robyn's life than meet the eye, and they create a dramatic situation that draws the book to a fast-paced conclusion. This book will appeal to teen boy and girl readers alike. It's well worth checking out. **Reviewed by: Sally Kruger, aka 'Readingjunky'
Guest More than 1 year ago
sure, it had football. but it was amazing. such real scenes and feelings you feel like you're witnessing all of it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this was one title i picked up randomly because it was one of the only new releases that was in paperback and sounded promising. hey, it may have a football background, but don't be discouraged if you're not into football like myself. it's a great book with a steady plot that will make you want more at the end.