Thursday, April 28, 2016

Book Spotlight: Beneath by Roland Smith


Book Summary

Patrick has idolized his big brother, Cooper, all of his life. The two brothers are close but are very different. Pat is scared of many things, including tight spaces. Coop, on the other hand, has a love of exploring dark and deep places. Coop decides to start digging in his back yard and soon digs a tunnel through the neighborhood. During the dig, Coop hits a gas line and there is an explosion that injures Pat. Coop is full of guilt and decides to move away without saying goodbye to Pat. 

Fast forward a year...Pat receives a strange package from Coop. The package contains a voice recorder and a cryptic message. Coop never felt the need for technology, like most teenagers. Receiving a voice recorder from Coop shocks Pat but he follows his brother's directions and they begin communicating via recordings. Eventually Pat begins to worry about Coop and sets off on a mission to find him. In order to find Coop, Pat must overcome all of his fears...Can he do it??

My Thoughts

Beneath is a fascinating account of Pat's search for Coop and what happens when he finds him. Through Pat's narration and Coop's recordings, the book is written in a diary and epistolary format. Both points of view are woven into the story, which I find could be problematic for struggling readers. Luckily, the text formatting also switches depending on the point of view. It's important that struggling readers understand the format before the story will make complete sense. 

Pat is the true hero of this book. The reader sees him struggle to overcome his fears in order to save Coop at all costs. There is also a strong female character that goes on the journey with both boys. 

Once I added this book to my library and did a short book talk, my students could not wait to get their hands on it. Always a good addition when there is a waiting list to read it as soon as it gets to my library! 

With a Lexile of 610, this is a perfect book for struggling middle school boy readers looking for a book that reads quickly and is full of adventure. It has enough adventure to keep them on their toes, while still presenting a character with strong traits. Pat's character develops steadily over the course of the book and would be excellent to graph his change from the start of the book to the end of the book.

My favorite thing about this book is as crazy as it's premise seems, there are many things in the story that are well within the realm of possibilities. I am already screaming for a sequel!! 

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