Breakout by Kate Messner

Published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Image result for breakout messner amazon

Summary:  When the seventh graders at Wolf Creek Middle School are given the assignment to submit their writing to be put in the town’s time capsule, Nora expects to write about field day and the Fourth of July cookout.  But when two inmates escape from the prison housed in Wolf Creek, everything changes.  The story is told in texts, letters, news articles, and other materials mostly created by Nora, her best friend Lizzie, and new girl Elidee.  As events unfold, Nora begins to see that her town is not as idyllic as she first thought.  Elidee, an African American girl whose brother is in the prison, has experiences at school and in town that highlight some differences between being a black and a white resident of Wolf Creek.  By the time the two inmates are caught, Nora realizes that life will never be simple for her again…but that it has gotten a whole lot more interesting.  448 pages; grades 4-8.

Pros:  The different types of writing will keep readers moving quickly through the 400+ pages; all the girls’ stories, but especially Elidee’s, highlight subtle racism and white privilege and how it affects people of both races.

Cons:  The message sometimes overwhelms the story, and Elidee at times comes across as a bit too good and too “woke” to ring true for a 13-year-old.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.


One thought on “Breakout by Kate Messner

  1. I loved, loved, loved this book. I think the way Kate Messner allowed her main character, Nora, to awaken to the racism that existed in her home town was brilliant. Children who have not experienced racism firsthand can see through both Nora and Elidee’s eyes and I think it will be powerful. I expected to find the format distracting, but ended up enjoying it, particularly some of the light hearted comics and Lizzie’s parody articles. It also demonstrated Kate Messner’s genius with her “like” poetry and rap lyrics!


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