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The Way

by Joseph  Bruchac

Published by Darby Creek, 2007
156 pages
ISBN: 158196062X

Ages 11-14

Cody LeBeau sometimes daydreams about being a hero. He imagines himself a ninja, saving his classmates from terrorists. The reality is that heís a small kid with big feet who doesnít garner much attention unless itís negative. Cody is genuinely interested in martial arts, healthful living, and the traditional Native beliefs of his Abenaki ancestors, and he gets little support for any of his interests at school (except from the librarian). When Codyís Uncle John arrives to compete in a fight tournament at the casino where his mom works, itís an opportunity for Cody to learn about martial arts firsthand. Uncle John integrates martial arts moves and philosophy with Native beliefs. Itís like a dream come true for Cody to find a teacher and to feel so understood. Joseph Bruchacís high-interest, purposeful novel takes a gripping and unexpected turn in a story that also explores the serious issue of bullying. It isnít Cody but two other high school students who show signs of increasing anger and isolation. Bullying at school, as well as violent home lives, push them over the edge, but reality plays out nothing like Codyís fantasy in the chilling climax. Terrified Cody becomes a hero in the eyes of the world, but not through amazing physical feats. Instead, as he knows better than anyone, he was simply in the right place at the right time and able to put all the pieces together. Itís an experience that broadens Codyís understanding of what a hero can be.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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