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Going Underground

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  584 ratings  ·  124 reviews
Del's not a bad guy. He's just a misunderstood criminal.

Seventeen-year-old Del is a good kid, but one mimro mistake three years ago was all it took to turn him into a social outcast. Now, with a criminal record, the only job he can get is digging graves-not exactly your typical after-school gig. But it's in the graveyard that Del meets the beautiful yet sad Livia, who does
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Meet Del. He’s a seventeen-year-old gravedigger with a secret. He owes his parents a debt of gratitude for the way they stuck by him during the worst of a terrible time. All of his childhood friends had to leave the state and scatter across the country just to escape the stigma that attached to them all … Del has few university prospects, because who’d accept a student with a criminal record? And he has regular sessions with a psychiatrist who is constantly asking Del to explain his anger.

But De
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
Going Underground is a provocative, topical and thought provoking novel exploring the issue of sexting and it's repercussions for one young man. Fourteen year old Del was popular, athletic and planning a career in medicine or law, until the exchange of risque texts with his girlfriend, Cory, blew his world apart. Now a few months shy of his eighteenth birthday, his dreams in tatters, Del is waiting for a chance to reclaim his life.

While media cases have focused on instances where an explicit ima
Steph Bowe
Things I was expecting this book to be:

1. On the cover of my copy there is a quote that says "Few will be able to look their cellphone[s] in the screen without a shudder and a 'what if...?'" - BCCB. Which made me incredibly excited, thinking that this would be a book about mobile phones taking over people's brains! Like The X-Files episode Blood (everything is an X-Files episode, and if it's not it will have been a Simpsons episode). I do so love technology controlling us and turning us evil (in
Who am I?
Why am I here?
What’s the point?

My name is Del Hartwick and I have a felony conviction. In the eyes of the law, I am a criminal. I can’t tell you it was right, but I’m not sure I was wrong. .. The law says it was wrong, so I have to accept that, but I would like you to know the rest of the truth. I am not what those charges say about me. I’m not anything like that.

My name is Cain Delano Hartwick, and I want a future.

Judge me on what I can do, and give me a chance.


Gaah! I
Alanna (The Flashlight Reader)
Oh my. Ohmyohmyohmy. This was a great book! I knew this would be good because of the content, but I had no idea how great it was going to be. I have to go ahead and put out there that the style of the writing in Susan Vaught's book Going Underground reminds me a lot of Chris Crutcher. (He is an awesome YA writer, BTW.) The story does alternate between the present-- Del's senior year-- and the past. It's not a choppy flip flop either; it flows really nicely. The only thing that would make it bett ...more
I liked the premise and this was very readable story. As a young adult book it was still thought provoking. I have had lots of conversations about the unfairness of statutory rape charges and that when two people are similar in age, they should both (not just the boy) be held accountable.

I wasn't quite sure that Del would be quite so guilty. I get that he'd be angry and that he would feel outcast, but I would have expected more righteous resentment (rather than guilt) over the issue. I understa
Having read the back of the book blurb and based on the cover, I wasn't sure how I would like this book. I mean the idea behind it is clearly something young adults should think about and understand the consequences of their actions in the eyes of the current laws, but how would it work as a story plot? Would it come off preachy? Or would it just be a back drop to an otherwise generic young adult novel about two kids in love? Since I hadn't read Vaught's work before, I had no idea what to expect ...more
Jolene Haley

I read this book in one day, in a matter of a few hours. I attribute most of this to the exquisite story telling of this author Susan Vaught.

I must say that originally, I was beyond drawn to this story, because the macabre side of me loves anything involving graves, cemeteries, and boys who live or dwell in them. But I wasn't prepared for how good this novel actually turned out to be!

Vaught does an amazing job portraying the voice of a teenage boy. I fell in love with Del, the protagonist, easil
Trisha W.
For what ever reason this book started off slow for me. And I am amazed now to think that it did because I really liked this book. It was only slow through the first chapter and a little of the second but then I started to really get into it and read it in one sitting. I actually stayed up until 11:30 last night just so that I could finish it and see how it ended.
One thing that I absolutely loved about this book was all the music. I am a huge music lover. I always have music playing if i'm clean
Once Upon
This is a book that parents HAVE to read. If you have kids, especially teenagers, then you must read this. I have to say that this really made me think about our legal system. Things are not always black and white and when it comes to sex offenders we often think of sick perverted people (adults) that do horrible things to someone else. Well, this was not the case in this book.

Del had a normal life. He was 14 years old and into sports and top of this class. He played baseball and had a sweet gi
It just goes to show you that expectations ruin everything. Lately, I've read a bunch of books that although I was super-psyched to read them when checking them out the library, turned out to be wholly disappointing upon actually reading them. Weird, right? So, in truth, I had no expectations regarding Susan Vaught's Going Underground. I liked the cover a lot. I'd heard some good stuff. But that was about it.

But man, it was really good. Not kick me in the ass stupendous but easily the best YA th
Cassie (Happy Book Lovers)
To begin with, I absolutely loved the fresh idea that Vaught came up with as a story plot. It had me from the description, already making me wonder what happened to Del and what caused him to be a felon. Vaught also wove a wonderful tale together using flashback chapters sporadically throughout the book. They were placed in exactly the right places, sometimes making me angry that it would switch so suddenly back to the present because I desperately wanted to find out what happened when Del was f ...more
Melissa (i swim for oceans)
Del never meant for any of it to happen. Neither did Cory. They were children, but they liked each other, and they decided that before they went too far too soon, they'd test the waters with photos of themselves. That one simple act sent Del's world spiraling into a dark abyss of beign a convicted felon and registered sex-offender. Years later, he's desperate to put the pieces back together, go to college and find a good job, but his past is still haunting him. Can he find peace with his past, m ...more
Del used to have a normal life. Back when he was still fourteen, he played sports, hung out with his friends and girlfriend, and listened to his parents. But now, at seventeen, everything’s different. He keeps his head down at school and there’s really only one person that he can truly call his friend. He knows he’ll never be able to get a job other than the one he has digging graves. He knows that no college will ever accept him as a student. The dreams that he used to have of doing things and ...more
One of the best books I've read this year, and it's one that would make such a good pairing with WANT TO GO PRIVATE? Del is a fantastic character and the story is heartbreaking. Oh how much I wanted him to succeed. It's rare I love a good character so much and want nothing more for them to succeed, but Vaught was so successful in eliciting these feelings from me as a reader. Does that make me sound crazy? Sometimes you want the good ones to have a rough road, right? This time, I didn't. Because, ...more
I really didn't care for this book. It is about a kid who commits a crime, unknowingly, a crime which isn't dramatically revealed until about halfway through the book. The book starts in the present and flashes back and forth three years in the past, which is when the crime was committed. The crime, sexting, was done without the character knowing what he really did wrong until after the fact. And while i do realize this is a social issue that many teens know nothing about, I got the feeling that ...more
Oliver H.
I thought this book was going to be something completely different based on the summary on the back of the book. When it says,"But one mistake three years ago was all it took to turn him into a social outcast," I immediately thought about him physically harming and even murdering someone.

(Spoiler Alert)

What I didn't expect was that something, that I find shouldn't get people into that much trouble, so minor could hurt his life so drastically. I think that sexting is a big deal in youth, but eve
Bruce Gargoyle
Ten Second Synopsis:
Mistake made in naïveté of early adolescence haunts grave digging, parrot wrangling boy next door type until girl next door type with a past helps to rewrite his history.

There's a lot to consider after reading Going Underground. For young people, there's the consideration of how choices made on the spur of the moment could have unexpectedly negative consequences. There's the consideration of how the law intersects with people's private relationships and whether this is a good
Going Underground is an interesting and atypical coming-of-age story about a boy who was forced to grow up way too early. Del and his girlfriend made what they thought was a responsible choice and he was punished severely for it because the powers that be considered it to be a felony. Vaught did a great job of getting you emotionally involved in this book as it was such a serious issue that devastated the lives of many. She built a solid plot, including many details that painted a complete pictu ...more
Sylvia Kendrick
May 28, 2015 Sylvia Kendrick added it
Recommends it for: teachers, mothers, teens, administrators
Excellent book for teaching digital citizenship. This book puts the consequences of a stupid decision into perspective for teens. It is easier to get teens to understand the potential consequences of their actions when concrete examples are given. Did you know that if you have a sex based felony on your record you are not allowed to apply to colleges without asking permission and explaining your crime? Did you know that sending or receiving a picture of your girlfriend's breasts could be conside ...more
So improbable that it's got to be based on a true story.
Provocative. Thought-provoking. Relevant.

Spoilers as I summarize and review.

Del and Cory are 14 and 13 respectively and think they're a bit too young for "real sex." Instead, they limit themselves to one naked picture each and touch each other three times. What happens next is any parent's nightmare. Del, at the 14 year old male is convicted of rape and child pornography. He goes to juvie, gts a probation officer, sees a court-ordered therapist, and registers as a sex offender. Now he can't get
Ana (Owl Always Be Reading)
This is a book that parents HAVE to read. If you have kids, especially teenagers, then you must read this. I have to say that this really made me think about our legal system. Things are not always black and white and when it comes to sex offenders we often think of sick perverted people (adults) that do horrible things to someone else. Well, this was not the case in this book.

Del had a normal life. He was 14 years old and into sports and top of this class. He played baseball and had a sweet gi
Lauren (Lauren Reads YA)
More reviews and bookish blog posts can be found on my blog!
Check out my full review of Going Underground with an excerpt, my favourite quotes, and more info.

(I don’t remember every single detail of the book exactly because I borrowed it, but I’ll try my best to write a review that will make you want to read it as well.)

Going Underground was good. That’s the right word to describe it. Good. Not awesome, not spectacular, not mind-blowing. Just good. It was beautifully written, refreshing, and ori
It was a little hard to wrap my mind around this book. It was completely different from what I had expected. I'm glad I didn't read the plot teaser on Goodreads or another site, because I just picked up the book and started reading without the foggiest idea what it was about. I liked going into it with a clean slate because the suspense kept me turning the pages.

After I had finished this book I couldn't decide if I liked it or not. It dealt with a tough subject I hadn't even heard about. My init
Alicia Papp
This novel opens with the main character, 17 year old Del, digging a grave and pondering his life in the 'deadzone' a place 'without life, without feeling, without air'. He has no prospects, despite still being at school and a good student, is not permitted to apply to college and the only job he can get is working for an alcoholic cemetery caretaker.

What could this boy, who was bright, funny and friendly, a child that any parent would be proud to call their own, have done that was so dreadful a
Mary McCoy
When Del was 14, a consensual sexting incident and an overzealous DA got him juvie, alternative school, probation, and a permanent spot on the state sex offenders list. Now, he's about to graduate from high school, and despite his straight As and clean nose, college and a career seem almost impossible. The only job he's able to get is digging graves at the local cemetery with only his pet parrot Fred for company. But then he meets Livia, who like Del, has tragedy in her past, and unlike almost e ...more
Reading Teen (Andye)
READ THIS BOOK!! If you are a teenager, the parent of a teen, or have a teen in your life in any way, READ THIS BOOK! It will scare you to death, make you want to scream and cry and hurt your heart. I hesitate to put too much detail into this review because part of my emotions were drawn from wondering what exactly had happened. The main character is Cain Delano Hartwick, who goes by Del. He is a 17 year old high school senior who is a talented athlete and good student. Del has a part time job a ...more
Del isnt your typical 17 year old. hes actually quite different. he has a job digging graves, his best friends a parrot, he can't use a phone or computer unsupervised, and he cant work up the courage to speak to a girl.the weird thing is that Del's life was perfectly normal. One might even call it pretty good. He had good grades, a wide group of friends, a beautiful girlfriend, and he was a baseball star. Until one day his life was snatched right out from under him. Going Underground by Susan V ...more
I try not to give away too many details about the books I read, as I don't want to spoil it for the readers. In this case I am going to give away more, because of the content, it's not going to be a book for everyone (although maybe it should be).

Del is 17, and when he was 13, he had a girlfriend who he loved. They didn't want to have sex, they thought they should wait, but they did send each other naked pictures of each other. When a teacher confiscates their mobile phones, the matter falls in
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astrology sign: Libra

favorite book: Harry Potter (all of them) and His Dark Materials
(all of those, too)

favorite song:I Will Follow You Into The Dark by Death Cab for Cutie

current pet total:12 if you don't count the chickens, peafowl,
turkeys, ducks, geese, pigeons, or guineas.

names of my schools:
Vanderbilt University (MS, Ph.D.)
University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) (B
More about Susan Vaught...
Big Fat Manifesto Trigger Freaks Like Us Exposed Insanity

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“Her lips taste like mint from toothpaste or gum, or sometimes like cherries or grapes from her lip gloss. She's soft when I hold her, with curves where my hands rest, and when I touch her I think stupid caveman things like, mine and totally mine—oh yeah, and all mine.” 17 likes
“Avoiding life, avoiding making any concrete plans for your life--that's just one way you're pretending you can keep bad things from happening to you again.” 10 likes
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