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Breakout: 07/12/19


Breakout by Kate Messner was clearly inspired by the same prison break that led to Beth Kephart writing Wild Blues. That said, beyond the initial set up, this is a very different middle grade novel.

At the start of summer two inmates break out of prison near Wolf Creek. Nora Tucker puts aside her plans of swimming to use her journalism skills to find the escapes.

The narrative unfolds through a series of articles by Nora as well as diagrams, clippings, photographs, and interviews.

There are also prose bits from newcomer Elidee's point of view. She has had the bad luck of moving into town just before the prison break. She tentatively teams up with Nora but is far less enthusiastic about investigating.

Breakout fits into the road narrative spectrum as one of those tales where a threat comes to a town. The protagonists in this novel are middle schoolers. They are limited by what they can do, where they can go, and how late they can be out. That makes them marginalized travelers (66).

The destination is the rural (33) Upstate New York town, Wolf Creek. For Elidee and the escapees, Wolf Creek is a recent destination. For everyone else, it is a place to protect from intruders.

The route taken as recorded through maps and diagrams is an offroad (66) one. Both the criminals and the tweens who track them go by offroad methods. For the criminals it's to elude detection while they figure out how to get out of town. For Nora and friends, it's by way of tracking the criminals.

Put all together Breakout is the tale of marginalized travelers taking an offroad route through a rural town (663366).

Three stars

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