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Reality Check

Reality Check

3.8 25
by Peter Abrahams

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QB of the varsity football team. Passing grades in all his classes. Dating the hottest—and smartest—girl at school. Summer job paying more than minimum wage. Things in Cody's world seem to be going pretty well. Until, that is, his girlfriend, Clea, is sent off to boarding school across the country, and a torn ACL ends his high school football career.


QB of the varsity football team. Passing grades in all his classes. Dating the hottest—and smartest—girl at school. Summer job paying more than minimum wage. Things in Cody's world seem to be going pretty well. Until, that is, his girlfriend, Clea, is sent off to boarding school across the country, and a torn ACL ends his high school football career. But bad things come in threes—or in Cody's case, sixes and twelves—and the worst is yet to come. While limping through town one day, Cody sees a newspaper heading: "Local Girl Missing." Clea, now his ex, has disappeared from her boarding school in Vermont, and the only clue is a letter she sent to Cody the morning of her disappearance. With that as his guide, Cody sets out to find out what happened. Once in Vermont, he unearths the town's secrets—and finds out that football isn't the only thing he's good at.

Reality Check is another edge-of-your-seat suspense novel by the New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award-nominated author of Down the Rabbit Hole.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In the latest engrossing crime novel from Abrahams (Nerve Damage), Colorado football star Cody Laredo's junior year has gotten off to a dreadful start. After his girlfriend, Clea, is sent to a boarding school across the country (triggering a fight and a breakup), he tears his ACL during a football game and quickly spirals into a depression that leads to him dropping out of school. When he learns that Clea has gone missing, he decides to travel across the country to investigate. When he gets to Vermont, Cody meets Clea's new boyfriend, encounters a friendly cop and has run-ins with locals from the town and rich kids from the boarding school. Although clues often come too easily and coincidentally to Cody-Abrahams pushes hard to explain away the flaws surrounding the pivotal piece of evidence-and the "whodunit" is hardly surprising, Abrahams tells an exciting, fast-paced story. Cody and most of the teens he encounters-both out west and in Vermont-are complex characters with believable motivations and faults, plot issues aside. Ages 12-up. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Laura J. Brown
Readers looking for suspense will not be disappointed by this book! Cody Laredo is a typical high school jock. His favorite school activity is being on the football team, and his favorite day of school is the last day of the year. Cody really does not like school, but he does keep his grades up enough to stay on the team. He is a good player; the team needs him and he feels good about that. If only his home life were so pleasant. Cody does not get along with his dad very well. Ever since Cody's mother died, his father has spent more time drinking than with him. At least there is one person who loves spending time with Cody: his girlfriend Clea. Clea is smart, and she is the hottest girl in school. Her family is the richest in the town. Clea is crazy about Cody, and he feels the same way about her. However, her dad is not crazy about Cody, and he decides to send Clea to a boarding school in Vermont to keep them apart. This change causes Cody to think that he will never be able to give Clea the life she deserves, and he decides to break up with her the day she lives for Vermont. He still loves her, but decides letting her go is better for her. Cody is heartbroken. He decides to dedicate himself to football when the season starts again, since it is the one thing in life that he is good at. Then, the unthinkable happens. Cody is injured seriously and cannot finish the season. Just when Cody thinks things cannot get any worse, he learns that Clea has disappeared from her boarding school. Since Clea is his true love, Cody goes to Vermont to find her. In the process, he unearths more than he bargains for. This is a suspense thriller that readers will love. Reviewer: Laura J. Brown
School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up

Set in Little Bend, CO, and North Dover, VT, Abrahams's novel follows Cody, 16, who sustains a serious knee injury that leaves him on the bench during the most important recruiting year in his high school career. With no college scholarship in sight, he drops out of school. When his rich girlfriend, Clea, is reported missing from her Vermont boarding school, he drives East to find her and endangers himself in the process. Though not as complicated as Abrahams's adult novels, Reality Check is a solid mystery reminiscent of Carol Plum-Ucci's The Body of Christopher Creed (Harcourt, 2000) or Nancy Werlin's The Killer's Cousin (Delacorte, 1998). That Cody is a country boy and a dropout both complicate and inform his detective persona; the realization that "with the exception of football" he was wasting his time in school sends him "some message about a whole different way for him to look at things, to live." It is this "whole different way" that allows Cody-a fish out of water among wealthy Dover Academy students-to solve the mystery, though not before a red herring is revealed and a surprise villain is unmasked.-Amy S. Pattee, Simmons College, Boston

Kirkus Reviews
After his adored ex-girlfriend Clea disappears from her ritzy Vermont boarding school, Cody-a working-class boy who, after a devastating knee injury, went from high-school football star to high-school dropout-travels to Vermont to find her, and becomes embroiled in a dangerous mystery. Cody may be from the wrong side of the tracks and have limited scholastic ability, but he possesses love, loyalty and his own kind of dogged smarts. The setup feels unnecessarily protracted, but once Cody arrives in Vermont, the thriller/mystery angle kicks in and the material becomes much more absorbing. After a series of nicely plotted twists and subterfuges, Cody ends up working at the Dover Academy, where he meets Clea's classmates, some of the school's staff and various locals, who may or may not have had a role in her disappearance. The climax is unexpected and not enormously credible, but it doesn't matter, because by that point readers will be frantically turning pages and fully invested in Abrahams's message of true love conquering all obstacles. (Mystery. 12 & up)
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) (Starred Review)
A fine thriller that is pitched to attract everyone from reluctant readers to sports fans to romantic idealists.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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13 Years

Read an Excerpt

Reality Check

Chapter One

Except for football Fridays, Cody Laredo's favorite day of the school year was always the last. Now, May 30, final day of his sophomore year at County High, he sat in the back row of homeroom, waiting for the teacher—a sub he'd never seen before—to hand out the report cards. As long as there were no Fs—even one would make him ineligible for football in the fall, meaning summer school, an impossibility because he had to work—Cody didn't care what was in the report card. He just wanted out.

"One more thing," the sub was saying. "The principal sent this announcement." The sub unfolded a sheet of paper, stuck a pair of glasses on the tip of his nose. "'County High wishes everyone a safe summer. Please remember . . ." And then came blah blah blah about alcohol and drugs, tuned out by some mechanism in Cody's brain, overloaded from having heard the same thing too many times. The sub thumbed through the report cards, called out names in alphabetical order, mispronouncing several. Cody was the only L. A minute or two later he was outside, crossing the student parking lot, warm sun shining down and the sky big and blue. Somewhere close by a horse neighed.

His car—a ten-year-old beater with 137,432 miles on the odometer, an odometer disconnected by the previous owner, one of his dad's drinking buddies—sat at the back of the lot, open prairie behind it and Coach Huff leaning against the fender.

"Hey, coach," said Cody.

"Close shave, son," said Coach Huff.


"Ain't opened your report yet?"

Cody shook his head. The coach alreadyknew his grades? What was with that?

"Waitin' for what, exackly?" said Coach Huff, a tall guy with a huge upper body and stick legs, varsity football coach and also teacher of health and remedial English. "Sign from above?"

Cody slit open the envelope with his fingernail, slid out the report card. U.S. History—C–; Algebra 1—C–; Biology—D; English—D–; Shop—B. D minus: close shave, no doubt about it. He looked up, feeling pretty good.

"Good thing Miz Brennan's a football fan," the coach said.

"She is?" Ms. Brennan was the English teacher, bestower of the D minus. Cody actually liked her, especially when she forgot all about whatever the lesson was and started reciting poetry, right from memory, something she did maybe once every two weeks or so. Somehow Ms. Brennan, an old lady with twisted arthritic fingers and a scratchy voice, had all this poetry in her head. Poetry in the textbook was a complete mystery to Cody, but in a way he couldn't explain, the murkiness all cleared up during Ms. Brennan's recitations, or at least he thought it did. Like: Screw your courage to the sticking-place / And we'll not fail. Cody was pretty sure he got that one, just from how she'd spoken the words, made his mind picture courage fastened deep to something that would never break, like a huge boulder. But he'd never seen Ms. Brennan at a football game.

"Either that," said Coach Huff, "or we're lookin' at a legit D minus. That the story? It's legit?"

Cody didn't know what to say, felt his face turning red.

"Just razzin' you, son. Nothin' wrong with your football IQ, that's for sure. We're all countin' on you in the fall." He pushed away from the car. The shocks squeaked and the whole body rose an inch or two. "Stay in shape this summer."

"I will," Cody said, thinking: Is there something wrong with my other IQ? Does Coach Huff think I'm dumb?

The coach got a squinty look in his eye. "Workin' with your dad?"

"Maybe," Cody said. His dad did landscaping in the summer. Landscaping wasn't bad, and Cody loved being outdoors, but he was hoping to find some other job, almost anything.

"Just remember—landscapin' don't replace liftin', so hit the gym."


"Upper body's important—put some zip on the ball."

"Why, coach? We never throw."

Coach Huff gave Cody a long look, then laughed, a single eruption of sound, close to a bark. "Sense of humor—I like that," he said. "Just remember there's a time and place for everything."

Coach Huff gave Cody a pat on the shoulder, started walking away. He met Clea Weston coming from the other direction, report card in hand, and nodded to her, but she didn't seem to notice. Her eyes were on Cody. The sun lit golden sparkles in her hair, and Cody thought: The whole summer ahead of us! And what did he have at this very moment? A full tank of gas.

"Let's ride out to Black Rocks," he said. Black Rocks was an abandoned quarry near the bend in the river, the best swimming for miles around.

"I got a B in calc," Clea said.

"Wow," said Cody. There were two kids taking calc in the whole school, Clea—a sophomore like Cody—and some brain in the senior class. No one thought of Clea as a brain. She was just good at everything: striker on the varsity soccer team, class president, assistant editor of the lit mag; and the most beautiful girl in the school—in the whole state, in Cody's opinion.

But a real person, as he well knew, capable of annoyance, for example. When Clea got annoyed, her right eyebrow did this little fluttering thing, like now. "Wow?" she said.

"Yeah," he said. He himself wouldn't ever get as far as calc, not close. "Pretty awesome."

She shook her head. "I've never had a B."

For a second or two, Cody didn't quite get her meaning; he'd scored very few Bs himself. Then it hit him. "All As, every time?"

She nodded.

"You never told me."

Reality Check. Copyright © by Peter Abrahams. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Peter Abrahams is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-five books, including the Edgar Award-winning Reality Check, Bullet Point, and the Echo Falls series for middle graders. Writing as Spencer Quinn, he is also the author of the Chet and Bernie series—Dog on It, Thereby Hangs a Tail, and To Fetch a Thief. He and his wife live in Massachusetts with their dog, Audrey.

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Reality Check 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cody is the quarterback of the football team, and he is dating the smartest and most attractive girl in the school, Clea. Football scouts are keeping an eye on him, and although his grades are quite low, he looks forward to one day playing college football. Things aren't great for long, though - Clea's father decides to ship her off to boarding school in Vermont. Cody injures his knee and can no longer play football. His grades are slipping, and Cody decides to just drop out of school and work. One day Cody notices a newspaper article about a missing girl. Clea is missing from her boarding school! Cody embarks on quest to find Clea and is determined to stop at nothing until he finds her. I don’t read a lot of YA mysteries, so I wasn’t sure if I would like this book or not. It turned out to be a fast-paced and engaging read. I liked how the author used letters and poems to give Cody clues as to what happened to Clea. I think it went a little too quickly at the end, though, and it felt a little rushed to me.  Cody was a likable character, and I couldn't help rooting for him. He learned some lessons about trust and love along his journey to find Clea, and I was left wondering what would happen to him after the story was over.  Overall it was an entertaining read, and I can see reluctant readers enjoying it. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Honestly, i dont get the hype about this book. The characyers are underdeveloped,nthe plot is all over the place and it never ties together, its way to predctable and the language is juvinile. Overall, bad book. I dont recomend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a really great book. I enjoyed reading and wasn¿t able to put it down. The thrill always keeps you intrested. The writer worked very well with keeping a balance between a sporty book at the begininng and a thriller at the end. I would recommend this book to teens looking for an easy read for a project in an english class.
eheinlen More than 1 year ago
This book was insanely slow. Nothing really happened until almost a 1/3 of the way through the book. In addition, I didn't find any of the characters likeable at all. I wanted to smack Cody upside his head throughout the vast majority of the book and Clea wasn't much better. The only redeeming quality was that the writing was fairly good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great booo. Really good and a great thrill. But a little heavy on the curse words though.
Jose Daniel Manrique More than 1 year ago
Very good book,keeps you on the edge of your seat! A must read book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book in one day. I couldn't wait for something good to happen to the main character. I won't ruin the ending by telling you if it happened or not.
jenrocks28 More than 1 year ago
i love the whole style of writting in this book its worth the time to spend to read this book i enjoy reading so iv've read alot of books and this one is good
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Alright. Thats fine. I gtg also. Ttyt. :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gtg bbt
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Should I trust the good or bad reveiws?