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Skateboarder Josh Lowman witnesses one of the best skateboarders in town (the local bully) commit a crime. For days he agonizes over whether to tell anyone. Meanwhile, his friendships with a fellow skater (who is debating whether to drop out of school), a beautiful girl in his class (who loves to read, and seems to like Josh), and a cool math tutor (a college student who skates) slowly steer him toward a new kind of courage.

Josh has a mesmerizing narrator's voice; he rattles off a vacuous Valley-speak while slowly coming into his own, intellectually and morally. There is a hint of Holden Caufield about him. Vivid descriptions of skateboarding throughout the book will keep any skateboarder glued to the page. And a plot that rolls ahead constantly will maintain the reader's attention, while intermittently sneaking in a few lessons from English and math class, which serve to advance the story. (References to math in skateboard ramp design; plus small epiphanies from Lord of the Flies, Antigone, and Of Mice and Men.) Josh starts out as a school-hating dude and slowly comes around to seeing that he can skate and be smart . . . and a decent person.

Vertical will be loved by kids and by parents and teachers.

160 pages, Paperback

First published September 11, 2012

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Janet Berend

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Displaying 1 - 6 of 6 reviews
2 reviews3 followers
October 19, 2012
I'm an English teacher and we're always in need of great books for reluctant readers, especially the boys. This book is perfect for them. The protagonist is relatable to a lot of kids--hates school and loves skating. The book is visually friendly-- not too long and larger print so it doesn't intimidate. But this is no simple skate story; the story and writing are great. The book explores moral issues with depth and clarity while zipping the story along with enough authentic skate imagery and such a solid authentic voice that it'll keep them hooked. Books authentic enough to keep kids reading while still pushing them to think are so so so hard to find. I can't recommend this one enough.
Profile Image for Athena.
102 reviews1 follower
March 30, 2023
Read this for work. It has the stamp of approval from the teenagers for being “real”. I just have a lot of positive emotions associated with the book now so 5/5 for the conduit that was this book. 🙏🏽
Profile Image for Heidi.
2,638 reviews52 followers
October 4, 2013
I ended up liking this book a lot more than I thought I would considering it's about an activity I know little about. I mean I've seen plenty of skateboarders, but I know little about the different moves and equipment and such. But the author does a good job describing the different moves and there is even a glossary at the end of the book defining the skateboarding terms that she uses throughout the book. The book felt real to me in terms of skater terminology and culture, but once again I am no expert.

Josh is a likable character with a typical teenager's disdain for school. He would much rather be skateboarding with his best friend Brendon. Although there is a cute girl in his English class, Josh wishes his parents would get off his case about his grades. And then there is the whole seeing someone steal from a car and what if anything he should do about it. And when the thief starts bullying him and Brendon goes along with it, Josh just doesn't know what to do. He doesn't want to be a squealer, but when Lenny goes to far, Josh must decide if he has the courage to do the right thing or not.

I appreciated how the author provided Josh with parents who cared enough to discipline Josh when he let his grades slip to low. Too many MG/YA books have absentee or troubled parents, it was refreshing to read one that didn't. I also liked Josh's English teacher and math tutor who provided good mentors for a confused Josh. I also enjoyed how the author worked in some real math and literature in a believable way. And Josh's reactions are so believable I almost laughed at times and then I sighed and rolled my eyes instead at these boys who think they can spend the rest of their lives skateboarding.

Overall, a refreshingly current read with believable characters, real issues, and an interesting plot that is appropriate for both middle grade readers and young adult readers. Also a good read for reluctant readers who are really into skateboarding.
Profile Image for The Styling Librarian.
2,170 reviews194 followers
July 19, 2013
Vertical by Janet Eoff Berend – Realistic Fiction, High School and up- I became nervous quite soon after beginning this book. First off, the book was told through the perspective of a high school boy, Josh, obsessed with skateboarding, hating high school, and pretty negative about life in general. Josh had a best friend who didn’t see quite redeeming. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to connect and appreciate this character. Boy, I was wrong. I soon got past my apprehension, started picking up and understanding skateboarding terms a little better (found out there was a glossary in the back of the book AFTER completing the book), and grew to appreciate the character development of Josh. There were many poignant characters that helped this boy grow over time and learn to stand up for himself and think for himself. I would love to see this book in the young adult book partnership where books are identified and partnered with a classic counterpart. Vertical could be partnered with a few classics but the one the Josh’s class studied and I could see a smooth connection to was Antigone by Sophocles. I highly recommend this book to high school readers.
Profile Image for Tanya.
327 reviews7 followers
April 20, 2014
A real quick one! This would be good for reluctant readers, especially males who are into skating. It uses teen skater lingo well and manages to sound like an actual teen. I did feel like there could have been more, but it does have a solid beginning, middle, and end. The main character is a kid you would want to have.
Profile Image for Misty.
35 reviews4 followers
November 16, 2012
I have to say I really liked this book, and I can't wait till my son is a year or 2 older. I know he will benefit from reading this book!!!
Displaying 1 - 6 of 6 reviews

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