Red Kayak

First Lines: After all this time, I ask myself: Was it my fault?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

I can easily say–and with certainty–that I never would have stumbled across this book if it wasn’t something my 7th graders will start reading next week.  I would have never had any interest in it based on the back cover.  Nothing about it would have captured my attention.  But seeing as I’m the teacher, it’s probably really helpful if I’ve read the book before my students have.

Brady, an 8th grader, loves his life in the Chesapeake Bay.  He loves hanging out with his best friends, J.T. and Digger…but bitter changes are ahead of them.  When a wealthy family, the DiAngelos, moves in next to Brady, Brady slowly befriends them.  Tragedy strikes when the DiAngelos’ kayak overturns in the bay, and Brady begins to wonder if it was really an accident.  When Brady discovers the terrible truth behind the kayak’s sinking, he’ll have to make choices…choices that may change everyone’s lives.

I didn’t have terribly high expectations going into this.  Some of my 8th grade students (who had read the book last year) didn’t have good things to say about it.  But I tried to just read it and enjoy it like I would any other book.

And really, I liked it.  It plays with actions and consequences more than a lot of books do.  Or, I guess, it focuses on a couple of actions and the entire book is about the consequences.  And I think it’s important for kids about this age to see how their actions, even seemingly small ones, can have awful results.

Brady was an entirely relatable character, even for me, someone ten years-ish older than Brady.  Brady really struggles with deciding what to do with what he knows, and he doesn’t always make the right decision.  I liked that.  It made him feel more real.  This book could have easily come off as moral and preachy to kids, but I didn’t feel that at all.  (Maybe my 7th graders will argue that.)

There were many different levels to this story.  While Brady was struggling with his issues, other things were going on.  His parents were dealing with some things, Brady witnessed the DiAngelos’ struggles, etc.  There was always something going on in the story and Brady absorbed it all.

So many lessons could come from this book, but I kind of loved that.  It was heartbreakingly tragic while still being entertaining.

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