The alpha male beast at Hiawassee Middle School goes by the name of Chase Ambrose.  He's callous, mean, self-centered and his reputation precedes him as he walks down the halls.  No one leaning over a water fountain is safe from a possible stitch or two from the local doctor.   His pranks are legendary and they have crossed the line into having a day in court before the judge.

It was only a few cherry bombs inside the school's grand piano.  Chase and his two buddies Aaron and Bear thought it would be a great prank but when the bombs exploded everyone in the auditorium was terrified and the young man at the piano was traumatized.  That meant going to court for the three boys and a sentence to community service at the old folks home.

That's only one of the things Chase did to build his reputation as a bully.  But, that was before he slid off his own rooftop and lost his memories as a result of a concussion.  As he wakes up, Chase doesn't even recognize his own mother.

It's an entirely new version of Chase who walks the halls of his school now.  Told by his doctor that he can't play football for this season, Chase looks around for something else to do and ends up joining the video club where all the losers are that he used to pick on.  His father is pushing Chase to get back in the game to keep the family reputation as superstars alive and one memory sticks in Chase's mind.... it's a girl....but he can't figure out who she is.

This is a whole new Chase...or is it?  Is he faking it?  Does he remember the secret of what he owes his old football friends?

Gordon Korman writes as though he just left the school cafeteria and he is on his way to football practice.  How will Chase turn out?  Can he make amends to the people he harmed?  Can you change your reputation?

The angst of middle school with the romances, the jockeying for social position, the power of social coolness are in the spotlight here along with Korman's trademark stand up comedy.  A slightly different tone and depth than most of his books but his flair for comedy never flags.

Tone:  slightly introspective; Humorous

Pacing:  Moderate; punctuated with humor

Characters:  Told from multiple points of view

Storyline:  Mix of action brought in by secondary characters and introspection by main characters

978-1338053777 Ages 8-12 243 pages

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge,


Chase's memory just went out the window.

Chase doesn't remember falling off the roof. He doesn't remember hitting his head. He doesn't, in fact, remember anything. He wakes up in a hospital room and suddenly has to learn his whole life all over again . . . starting with his own name.

He knows he's Chase. But who is Chase? When he gets back to school, he sees that different kids have very different reactions to his return.

Some kids treat him like a hero. Some kids are clearly afraid of him.

One girl in particular is so angry with him that she pours her frozen yogurt on his head the first chance she gets.

Pretty soon, it's not only a question of who Chase is--it's a question of who he was . . . and who he's going to be.

From the #1 bestselling author of Swindle and Slacker, Restart is the spectacular story of a kid with a messy past who has to figure out what it means to get a clean start.--from the publisher


“Bullying has become a national epidemic with nearly forty percent of youths admitting to bullying at one time or another. But new research shows that parental behaviors, attitudes and mental health can all influence a child’s potential for bullying. Most parents of children who have been victims of bullying often ask what they can do to protect their children from such harassment. However, new research suggests that the real question to address is how a parent can prevent their child from bullying other children.”

-- from “Is Bullying Behavior Due to Nurture or Nature?” (2011)





-- The Earls (1962)

“The light is harsh, fluorescent, painful. I squeeze my eyes shut, but I can’t keep it out. It’s an explosion.

Voices are babbling all around me. You can’t mistake the excitement.

‘He’s awake--’

‘Get the doctor--’

‘They said he’d never--’

‘Oh, Chase--’

I try to make out who’s there, but the light is killing me. I thrash around, blinking wildly. Everything hurts, especially my neck and left shoulder. Blurry images come into focus. People, standing and sitting in chairs. I’m lying down, a sheet over me--white, which makes the brightness even worse. I raise my hands to cover my face and suddenly I’m tangled in wires and tubing. A clip on my finger is tethered to a beeping machine next to my bed. An IV bag hangs from a pole above it.

‘Thank God!] The lady beside me is choked with emotion. I can see her better now--long brown hair, dark-rimmed glasses. ‘When we found you, lying there--’

That’s all she can manage before she breaks down crying. A much younger guy puts an arm around her.

A white-coated doctor bursts into the room. ‘Welcome back, Chase!’ he exclaims, picking up a chart on a clipboard at the foot of my bed. ‘How do you feel?’

How do I feel? Like I’ve been punched and kicked over every inch of my body. But that’s not the worst part. How am I supposed to feel when nothing makes sense?

‘Where am I?’ I demand. ‘Why am I in a hospital? Who are these people?’

The lady in glasses gasps.

‘Chase, honey,’ she says in a nervous voice. ‘It’s me, Mom.’

Mom. Doesn’t she think I know my own mother?

‘I’ve never seen you before in my life,’ I bluster. ‘My mother is--my mother is--’

That’s when it happens. I reach back for an image of Mom and come up totally empty.

Ditto Dad or home or friends or school or anything.

It’s the craziest feeling. I remember how to remember, but when I actually try to do it, I’m a blank. I’m like a computer with its hard drive wiped clean. You can reboot it and the operating system works fine. But when you look for a document or file to open, nothing’s there.

Not even my own name.

‘Am I--Chase?’ I ask.”

Eighth grader Chase Ambrose was the MVP on last year’s middle school state championship football team. After taking a header off his roof, and eventually awakening from the resulting coma, Chase Ambrose doesn’t recognize anyone, including his own face in the mirror. When he’s well enough to return to school, he doesn’t remember a soul. This makes for a fun, thought-provoking story of what it would be like to suddenly start from scratch, memory-wise, and begin interacting, as if for the first time, with family, friends, schoolmates, and teachers. A total reboot. The reawakened Chase develops interests and friendships that don’t match his pre-accident behaviors and relationships. The “new” Chase has a wholly different attitude about how one should treat fellow human beings.

RESTART is a unique, knock-your-socks-off bullying story. Before the accident, Chase’s best friends were Aaron and Bear, two linemen on the team. Together, the three have repeatedly proven themselves to be great football players and horrible human beings. They are responsible for torturing an endless number of their schoolmates. Chase’s half-sister, the four-year-old daughter of Chase’s father and stepmother, is terrified of him. Before the accident, Chase, Aaron, and Bear were serving community service hours at the Portland Street Assisted Living Residence for blowing up a grand piano at school while the school’s musical prodigy was in the middle of an Open House performance.

This is classic Gordon Korman. Chase Ambrose is a terrific character. I just finished a week of reading this book over the phone, cover to cover. My grandson was thoroughly engaged and protested every time I stopped reading. I loved it, sometimes laughing hysterically and sometimes choking up with emotion.  I also remain a big fan of Korman’s 2009 POP, which similarly involved football, but involved a sports-related brain injury as opposed to Chase’s accidental head-first-plunge-off-the-roof injury.

Recommended by:    Richie Partington, MLIS, California USA

See more of his recommendations:  Richie's Picks <

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