New York Times bestselling author Michael Northrop captures the middle-school experience -- from the hurt to the hope -- in this powerful story of creativity in the face of cruelty.
If I did something risky now, something big -- it's almost like it wouldn't even be my fault. Almost like it might even work.
Ked Eakins is about to lose everything.
He's just discovered that his dad has gambled away their rent money. They're going to get kicked out of their home.
But Ked is determined to fight back. He hatches a plan to save their apartment by rebuilding a vintage minibike in his school's maker space, which he'll sell for a profit.
Still, the plan is a gamble of his own: Going to maker space forces Ked into the path of a school bully, who torments him about his progressive spinal condition.
Can Ked -- with the help of some unlikely new friends ???????-- find a way to fix the bike and save his family from going under before it's too late?
New York Times bestselling author Michael Northrop has written a powerful story a boy who ???????-- against all odds ???????-- decides to bet on himself and create something new from broken pieces.
About the Author
Michael Northrop is the New York Times bestselling author of the middle-grade adventure series TombQuest. He is also the author of On Thin Ice; Trapped, an Indie Next List selection; Plunked, a New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing selection and an NPR Backseat Book Club pick; among others. An editor at Sports Illustrated Kids for many years, he now writes full-time from his home in New York City. Learn more at michaelnorthrop.net.
Read an Excerpt
I drop my tray on the round, empty table in front of me. It clatters loudly. It doesn't matter. The volume in the cafeteria is at jet-engine level. Everyone is talking, everyone is joking. And anyone who was going to stare at me is already doing it.
I sit down alone. Everyone says we're never going to use most of what we learn in school. But some of it's important. Right now I'm thinking about math. I'm thinking about addition and subtraction all at once. I'm thinking about how everything you subtract adds up.
When Maps left our table last year, there were still three of us: Nephi, Danny, and me. We didn't even take it that personally. We all knew Maps was different. He was an instant star on the middle school teams. He had teammates to talk to and games to plan. And even when Nephi made his move to the makers' table, there was still Danny. There was still someone left. They were never leaving me alone. It was easier for me and, honestly, I think it was easier for them too.
They're not bad guys. At least I never used to think so. We all knew the deal: Things change. New classes, new teams, new schedules, and so yeah, sometimes that's going to add up to new friends and new tables. It was almost like a game of musical chairs: one less player each time. You just start up again with whoever is left.
But now Danny is gone. Subtract one, like every time before. But this time it leaves me with zero. Game over: not enough players.
Danny didn't do anything different than the others. He just did it last. He was my last friend from before, but now he has slipped away like a fish with no one to net it. I'm alone. It happened piece by piece and then all at once. Now, it's down to me and what's left of this sad, soggy piece of pizza. The table is big and round and white, like the beam of a spotlight. Like the number zero.
Welcome to the rest of my life, I think.
I hate this cafeteria.
And it hates me back.