A friendship ripped apart.
An instant in which Connor Kaeden's life changes forever. . . .
From the Hardcover edition.
|Publisher:||Random House Children's Books|
|Sold by:||Random House|
|File size:||388 KB|
|Age Range:||14 Years|
About the Author
From the Hardcover edition.
Read an Excerpt
James kicked off his flip-flops and dug his toes into the grass. "So, Connor, what was it like?"
"What was what like?" We sat side by side on an overgrown soccer field. The sun was warm on my bare arms and legs.
"That night. Must've been pretty trippy, huh?
I laced my fingers together. "I dunno."
"Course you do. It had to've been an incredible rush in spite of the outcome."
I gazed at the goal box across the field, plucking idly at the grass with my left hand.
He nudged me with his elbow. "Speak."
"Ryan said it was like walking on fire. Almost like being God."
I paused, thinking, remembering. "No. It was sickening. I demeaned myself. I lost something I'll never get back."
"I dunno exactly. Something without a name."
"Do you want it back--whatever it was?"
Again I hesitated. James and I seldom shared our most private selves. "Yes, I do."
I watched my family from the other side of the glass. Because of the darkness outside and the bright lights within, they were unaware that I observed them. My father was helping Kathleen with her homework. When he gets involved, he always ends up straying off course and teaching stuff that has nothing to do with the assignment. It looked as though he was explaining cell division that night. I could see the drawing on the table.
My father is a chemist with the county's water department. His job is to maintain water quality in the local reservoirs. Occasionally he has to close one if the contaminant level is too high. A typical scientist, he breaks everything down into the most basic elements. He probably dreams in molecular structure.
Kathleen appeared to be listening to Dad, but I'd seen that look in her eyes often enough to know that her mind was elsewhere. I remember the day she was born. I was seven, and I'd spent the previous few months placing my hands on my mother's belly to feel the baby kick and roll. Kathleen's a dreamy little eight-year-old--always off on some adventure in her imagination. She picks out the quiet shadows in the boldest landscape; hears the delicate grace notes in the wildest concerto.
Trent sat on the floor putting new bearings in his skateboard wheels. He held a screwdriver in his hand and had the cordless phone tucked under his chin. I knew by the expression on his face he was bored. Trent's in ninth grade--just over a year younger than I am. He probably knows more about me than anyone else. We've shared a room and clothes and toys since we were babies.
My older brother, James, who'll graduate from high school in May, stood at the counter eating a grilled cheese sandwich before dashing off to his job at the DramaRama movie theater. As usual, his energy level was so high it was nearly visible.
My mother was chopping vegetables at the counter. A skillet of olive oil, onions, and peppers sizzled on the stove. She was deep in thought, her eyes distant.
Mom teaches English composition at the local community college. She's a fanatic about proper grammar. When she watches the news, she corrects every minor infraction by the newscasters. When a commercial uses an incorrect tense or subject-verb agreement, she totally flips, saying if the advertisers can't get it right how can we expect to have an articulate society. Sometimes we use double negatives just to see her reaction. What really drives her nuts is something James started: saying wit for with.
One night when we were eating dinner, Mom said, "James, I need you to help me wit the dishes." She was so straight-faced about it that it took a couple of beats before we realized she was only playing him.
James winked and said, "Aw, Mom, I was gonna play video games wit Connor. Can't Trent help you wit them?"
My name is Connor Kaeden. I am not sure how that helps to define me. Probably not at all. That name was given to me at birth. I share it with a grandfather I never knew.
People liked Daniel. He had a comfortable way of moving and talking. He hardly ever got embarrassed. Even when he did something totally stupid, he'd just laugh and move on.
Daniel was smart, too, even though he hardly ever made honor roll. He remembered stuff I would forget. Stuff like adventures we'd go on, but also the states and capitals we had to memorize in fourth grade, or the formula for photosynthesis, or the stats from the previous World Series.
Daniel and I were best friends ever since third grade, when we were on the same baseball team. I played shortstop with him behind me in center field. I was quick and agile. He could hit pretty good. Once Daniel caught a pop fly in center field and fired the ball to me at second. We made a double play and were heroes for a flash.
Our team didn't win a lot but Daniel and I had fun. We walked to practice together, talking as if we were big leaguers. In the dugout, we'd spit sunflower seeds at the no parking sign we'd adopted as our target, or play endless rounds of rock paper scissors. On the field, we'd rag each other about strikeouts or fielding errors.
That was a long time ago. We don't play baseball anymore. Daniel doesn't play anything anymore.
From the Hardcover edition.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a very insightful novel about the ramifications of peer pressure and how a young man deals with the aftermath of a major personal tragedy. Perhaps Will, the "villain" of the piece, could have been less stereotypical and a bit more likable, but I found Conner's journey following the tragedy to be very realistic for the most part. I particularly liked the role of music in his life and the fact that he was able to work through some of his feelings of guilt, remorse, grief, anger, etc. by creating his musical composition--"Ladder of Glass." The book will get the reader thinking about some very difficult questions.
Why would anyone put a loaded gun to their head and pull the trigger, just hoping the barrel stops on an empty chamber? What crazy person would take that chance? Connor Kaeden finds the answer is not as straightforward as it would seem. When Connor's friends play Russian Roulette and disaster results, Connor struggles to understand how the tragedy unfolded. He also struggles to cope with the end results of his choices and actions.
Four boys. An abandoned rooftop. A gun. A game of Russian-roulette.
Connor Kaeden's life is changed forever. He and one friend are on probation. Another "friend" is in jail. His best friend is dead. What happens next?
Every one of Connor's relationships has been affected. His parents now question his every move. His younger brother won't even look at him. His older brother suddenly starts including him in his late-night escapades. His best friend's mother hugs him and tells him to visit anytime. Connor lives his days with constant reminders about what happened on that deserted rooftop, and the guilt that he should have done something to stop it.
With the help of his probation officer, Connor gets a job at a local hardware store hoping to earn the money to repay the fines and court costs his parents incurred. The work is satisfying and helps Connor with more than just money. Connor also finds relief when he resumes playing his violin. He often finds himself stopping work in the store's garden center to jot down a few bars of music that seem to express the turmoil in his mind. Basically, Connor tries to get his life back to what it once was. But is that even possible?
RICOCHET by Julie Gonzalez explores the emotional journey from tragedy to the gradual return of what might begin to pass for normal daily existence. This soul-searching, emotion-packed novel follows one young man and his family through the aftermath of one senseless act.
For anyone who has ever done something monumentally stupid just because they didn¿t have the courage to walk away from a group that was doing monumentally stupid things, this book says it all. The dedication to this book sets the tone for a touching story about a boy (Connor Kaeden) and his best friend, Danny. As with many high school stories, Danny makes a poor choice of friends. That decision takes him farther away from his friendship with Connor, but worse, it is a decision that proves fatal. Because Connor is with the group when Danny is shot, he finds himself on parole. His presence on that fateful night changes everything from his relationship with his parents and siblings to his place in the community. This book is written in bite-sized chapters that read a bit like poetry at times. Its ethereal dream sequences with an imaginary musical dragon lost me at first, but I¿m a persistent enough reader to tough it out. It does present an interesting opportunity for a literature teacher to discuss symbolism as the dreams of the dragon begin to transform parallel to Connor¿s self-discovery. It¿s an artistic book that doesn¿t have the grit of some of the other stories I¿ve read, but it manages to convey a maelstrom of emotions without resorting to the vehicles of profanity or sex to do so. It¿s a worthy addition to a Health curriculum that focuses on personal choices or a sociology or psychology course that analyzes the effect of mob mentality or peer pressure.
Ricochet, by Julie Gonzalez, is about a teen¿s tale of finding himself after his friend was shot on a dare. He must get over the tragic loss of one of his best friends while still having to relive it at home, school and in his dreams. He plays and writes music to help calm him down and forget about the problems he faces in everyday life. In the novel, he finds close comfort with his older brother, James, and grows closer with his father, while growing distant with his younger brother Trent. He gets a job at the local hardware store where he finds he can hide from the reputation he had gotten from the incident. Later he is falsely accused of stealing from the store and is fired. Because of his police record because of the incident, he is the main suspect. They find out that he really didn¿t do it and is given his job back. However, because of the incident, his reputation has forever been tainted.