by Tom Leveen


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Random by Tom Leveen

Who’s the real victim here? This tense and gripping novel explores of the consequences of cyberbullying.

Late at night Tori receives a random phone call. It’s a wrong number. But the caller seems to want to talk, so she stays on the line.

He asks for a single thing—one reason not to kill himself.

The request plunges her into confusion. Because if this random caller actually does what he plans, he’ll be the second person connected to Tori to take his own life. And the first just might land her in jail. After her Facebook page became Exhibit A in a tragic national news story about cyberbullying, Tori can’t help but suspect the caller is a fraud. But what if he’s not? Her words alone may hold the power of life or death.

With the clock ticking, Tori has little time to save a stranger—and maybe redeem herself—leading to a startling conclusion that changes everything…

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442499560
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: 08/12/2014
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile: HL560L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

Tom Leveen is the author of Random, Sick, manicpixiedreamgirl, Party, Zero (a YALSA Best Book of 2013), Shackled, and Hellworld. A frequent speaker at schools and conferences, Tom was previously the artistic director and cofounder of an all-ages, nonprofit visual and performing venue in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is an Arizona native, where he lives with his wife and young son.

Read an Excerpt


  • They’ve been pounding on the front door for more than an hour, which is exactly how long it took for Dad to make his famous garlic mashed potatoes. He’d slammed the masher down time after time, BAM! BAM! BAM! with his lips drawn tight as Mom took measured steps between the stove and sink while making Italian meat loaf.

    It feels like a last meal.

    “I just want to ask a few questions, Victoria!” this one reporter keeps shouting through our closed door. Her name is Allison Summers. I’ve never met her face-to-face, still don’t know what she looks like, but I know what she thinks of me, and what she made the rest of the world think of me. So she can stay out there and melt in the rain like the witch she is, for all I care.

    None of us inside speaks. We just do our routine jobs, but without saying a word. Normally Mom would be singing R.E.M. singles, or Dad would be reciting a stand-up routine from some dead comedian, or my brother, Jack, and I would be debating about whether or not Olympic athletes were “superhuman.”

    Tonight: a vast silence, like standing in an empty gymnasium.

    Jack, in particular, makes it a point to not even look at me. I’m not used to this treatment from my older brother yet, even though he’s been doing it for weeks. Mom and Dad are letting him do it too. That doesn’t make me feel any better.

    “Jack, where’s the green napkins?” I ask as he pulls down plates.

    He doesn’t even point. I can see his jaw muscles working as he clenches his teeth, making his deep, pitted acne scars look like pulsing lunar craters. Jack had cystic acne all through high school, and people always called him all kinds of terrible names, even up till he graduated last year. Krakatoa, Pus Factory. Even Zit Face.

    I never called him anything. He doesn’t seem to remember that.

    “Please, Miss Hershberger, this might be your only chance to set the story straight,” Allison-the-reporter calls, pound-pound-pounding on the door some more.

    “Check the other cabinet for the napkins, Tori,” Mom says. She tries to make it casual, as if there aren’t a bunch of reporters on our lawn in a light spring rain, but her voice is tight and strained.

    So I check the other cabinet, and there are the green napkins, just where I knew they’d be. I’d asked only to see if maybe Jack would forget he wasn’t talking to me and say something.

    With Dad’s potatoes done finally, we sit down around our small dining room table just off the kitchen. It’s more of a nook than a room. We eat here six nights a week. Even now. Mom tries to smile at me as she gestures to the meat loaf, urging me to serve myself first.

    “Victoria?” Allison Summers calls. “I’m on deadline. I’m filing a story tonight whether you talk to me or not, so you might want to think about telling people your side of things.”

    Another voice, male, shouts, “Have you decided on a plea?”

    Dad’s chair flips backward when he stands up. My stomach contracts and pulls me taut against my chair, and Mom drops a fork. Jack doesn’t move, just sits there staring at his empty plate.

    Dad races to the front door. I hear him fling it open.

    “Get off my property!” Dad shouts. “Now! Every single last one of you, out!”

    “Mr. Hershberger, I just want—”

    “Out! I’ll call the police on all of you, get out!”

    “Mr. Hersh—”

    “Go!” Dad roars, throwing a giant mother-F-bomb out with it. “You’re nothing but a bunch of bloodsucking vultures! Get off my property and leave my family alone!”

    I’ve never heard Dad swear before. Or yell. He’s a grumbler, not a screamer.

    “Thought we were supposed to ignore them,” Jack whispers, not lifting his eyes.

    “Easy for Mr. Halpern to say,” Mom says, her voice wrenching a bit tighter. “He’s probably having a quiet dinner.”

    I hear muttering at the front door, and a moment later it slams shut. Instead of coming back to the table, though, Dad stalks past us and goes down the hall and into he and Mom’s bedroom. Another slammed door twists my stomach again.

    At least the knocking has stopped. After a few more minutes I hear a couple of car engines start up and drive away from the front of our house.

    I let out a breath I didn’t know I’d been holding. Jack takes his napkin from his lap and tosses it on the empty plate.

    “Are you even sorry?” he says.

    I look up at him, blinking. These are the first words Jack’s spoken to me in weeks. So of course I screw it right up.

    “What kind of question is that?”

    “A simple kind,” Jack snaps. “Just answer it. Are you?”

    “Jack,” Mom says, “maybe now isn’t—”

    I’m too angry to let her even finish. I shout back at him, “Of course I am, Jack! God!”

    Mom says, “Kids, please . . .”

    Jack leans over the table, resting his forearms on the top. “Sorry you did it, or sorry you’re in trouble?”

    “What’s the difference?”

    Jack snorts and pushes his chair back. He stands up, takes one step, stops.

    “God, Vic,” he says. “I don’t even recognize you anymore.”

    I try to come up with something to shoot back and come up empty. Plus, I kind of know what he means. I haven’t felt much like myself.

    “Jack,” Mom says again.

    “I’ve got homework,” he says. “Might as well do some while I’m still enrolled.”

    “It’ll work out, Jack,” Mom insists. “Don’t overreact.”

    Jack shrugs sarcastically. “Maybe overreacting is exactly what we should be doing,” he says. He shoves his chair back under the table and goes down the hall to his room. He doesn’t slam his door, but it doesn’t latch quietly behind him either.

    I look at Mom. She’s rubbing her temples with two fingers each.


    Outside, a car passes by, going fast, it sounds like. Someone in the car performs a drive-by cussing, screaming out an open window before disappearing down the block.


    Mom’s forehead, already creased, tightens.

    “What, Tori.”

    “Um . . . nothing,” I say, and get up. “I’m not very hungry.”

    Mom doesn’t say anything. So I go to my room and close the door.

    Maybe I should just plead guilty tomorrow. Maybe that’ll make everyone happy.

  • Customer Reviews

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    Random 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This books plot has captured similar content to whats going on in the news right now but this book was written WAY before this occured
    alyssayuri More than 1 year ago
    Random is one of the quickest reads I had. I wasn't even expecting to be done so soon. it's that type of book that you want to keep reading because every chapter seems to be a cliffhanger, and you just want to know what's going to happen next plain and simple. The book is set in just a few hours... around eight hours to be exact (yes, I counted). though (about) ninety two percent of the book is in a phone call, it speaks so much volume. just the plot and as you read along carries so much weight on how serious and relevant this book is. Personally, it's quite crazy to see one of the perspectives of the bully. I was bullied when I was a kid and I always wanted to know if they ever thought about the consequences of their actions. and this book can definitely let you see more than just a glimpse. if there's anything i dislike about this book is I wanted to read so much more about what happens next to Tori and also to the other people who actually did the intense bullying. such tremendous writing. i love the message the author wants to convey. and this book just definitely speaks volumes for me. *read this book for free at rivetedlit.com
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Erica08 More than 1 year ago
    The storyline is haunting and so unexpected. loved every uncomfortable minute of this book
    BuriedUnderBooks More than 1 year ago
    Not guilty doesn't mean you're innocent. That tagline says a lot about the story in Random, the concept that you can be guilty in a sense even if not technically speaking. In this case, Tori can't admit to anyone, much less herself, that her own behavior contributed to the conditions that led a classmate to commit suicide. Tomorrow morning, she'll be appearing before a judge to enter a plea to the charges against her; her parents are trying very hard to keep the family on an even keel but Tori's brother, Jack, cannot bring himself to forgive what she has done or her attitude since. Attitude is the crux of the problem because Tori is completely oblivious to the pain she caused Kevin, the boy who started high school alongside her with some hope and a good deal of apprehension, or perhaps it would be better to say she's just about as shallow as a person can get. Sure, she's upset about what's to come tomorrow but not because of what happened to Kevin. She's upset because (1) she's being blamed, (2) her so-called friends, the people she was trying so hard to impress, are not reaching out to her and (3) everybody's being mean to her, taking away her computer, making her use an old cellphone that only makes phone calls, talking about her to the press. In short, Tori is living in a poor-pitiful-me world. Then comes the call from a stranger, the call that will demand much of Tori. Tori is a very interesting character, largely because she's so self-centered, so focused on what's happening to her with very little concern for the people around her. When Jack tries to tell her how he felt abandoned by her when school was tough for him, she doesn't get it. She also doesn't get that Noah, her only remaining friend, cares a great deal for her or that Andrew, the guy on the other end of the phone call, might do something terrible if she can't stop him. Actually, she does get that last part but she's mostly concerned about how it will look if she's connected to a second suicide. Andrew himself is an enigma. Is he really about to commit suicide or is this a setup meant to harass Tori? At one moment, I empathized with him and, at the next, I thought he was really dicey, someone not to be trusted, then I'd bounce back the other way again. Jack, on the other hand, had my sympathies all along. He was a victim in more than one way and I truly understood why he felt as he did about his sister. The real class act here is Noah, a boy who clearly cared about Tori and wished her well, a boy who would go to great lengths to make things a little better for her. Noah is a character I could love. Will Tori finally understand why she's in trouble, what she did to Kevin, or even just grow up a little and become a decent human being? The answers may or may not come but the tale of her very long night is worth putting up with this girl. I'd never read anything by Tom Leveen before but he has a new fan because he made me look just a little bit below the surface.
    Book_Bite_Reviews More than 1 year ago
    I enjoyed reading Random. It was very different and refreshing to hear from someone elses point of view, especially the bully's, but there were some flaws. I found Tori to not be the most impactful or remorseful bully. Tori didn't play the biggest part in causing Kevin's suicide, but she should still be at least remorseful about it. I also found the ending to be kind of bland and too neat. I wanted to cry or be super at peace with what happens, but I wasn't. I was ok with the ending, but it just could have been more. Overall I'm still very happy that I gave it a shot and I recommend others at least giving it a shot. I just wanted more.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Random was a book I happened to pick...well....at random. I was drawn in by the cover and further intrigued by the description. I can say that it didn't disappoint. Random goes into some of the current events that have been raised as issues by numerous people, It deals with the aspect of bullying, a touch of homophobia, and suicide.  Random makes it interesting by making it in the perspective of the bully instead of the bullied. The main character can get frustrating with her thoughts on everything, but in my opinion it just gave it a sense of realism. The writing style is well executed and easy to follow. The use of facebook chats to separate chapters was clever and it helped with understanding the story as it went. There is a twist towards the end that one might pick up on, but honestly took me by surprise. The only thing I wished it did better was sum up the ending a bit but overall it was a great read. After I read it, I wanted to pick it up and read it all over again.
    Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
    It’s random, the caller says when she picks up the phone. Tori knew she wasn’t supposed to be talking to anyone but she was intrigued by the phone number. She was hoping it was one of her friends, one of her school peers reconnecting with her as they have casted her aside when things with Kevin got complicated. The caller on the phone, could this be real? He’s considering suicide and she’s his lifeline, but why Tori? Tori believes it’s a joke considering she goes to trial tomorrow but as she slams the phone down, she reconsiders her split-second decision. Reconnecting this life-line, she redials. As she talks to the teen on the phone there are times I wonder who exactly is helping whom as they connect. The caller gets Tori to talk about the trial and Tori tries to defend her view of cyber-bullying. Tori believes since she only made a few comments she doesn’t feel it is a crime. Just hearing her talk about the issues puts everything into perspective. Whether she said anything or not, sometimes it is not just the words that do the most damage but the actions of the people involved. Their conversation was desperate at times, frantic and uncertain and then later the conversation relaxes; this high and low in their conversation was like riding a rollercoaster. I was losing my interest, my excitement and my path for how this book was going. Tori was literally driving me crazy, I just couldn’t connect with her. The ending, there was twist that put everything into perspective and it bought back the validity I was looking for. I was going for a 3 star review but the ending gave it a 3.5 star.
    Kaylexanna More than 1 year ago
    I haven't read many other YA books on the topic of bullying, and I think it's an important topic to cover. I was also intrigued that this particular title is told from the point of view of the bully, but in a way, it was also very frustrating, because Tori clearly doesn't feel any remorse or feel like she was in the least responsible for what happened to someone she used to consider a friend. I couldn't understand that at all, and I will admit that I had a REALLY hard time with that over the course of the story. I won't say how things turn out for Tori or if her attitude changes, but this was something I really struggled with over the course of this book. Tori was very ME ME ME, and I hated it. While I had a very complicated relationship with the main character of Random, I really enjoyed this book from a writing standpoint, and I liked the concept of the story. I also liked how the book showcased the way Tori's actions affected her family. I thought that showed at least one side of the repercussions of what Tori had become involved with, even if Tori herself didn't seem affected in a lot of ways. Overall, I enjoyed this despite my issues with Tori, and I think that it's worth giving it a shot! I'm definitely looking forward to reading more of Leveen's books in the future.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    He need som milk
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I literally read this book randomly jk i didnt read thos at allll o---l:::::::::::> >
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    &#9856 &#9857 &#9858 &#9859 &#9860 &#9861 &oslash &odot &otimes
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I dont know herbs! Thats why this is a MED CAT den.