If I ever get out of here A novel with paintings

Eric L. Gansworth

Book - 2013

Seventh-grader Lewis "Shoe" Blake from the Tuscarora Reservation has a new friend, George Haddonfield from the local Air Force base, but in 1975 upstate New York there is a lot of tension and hatred between Native Americans and Whites--and Lewis is not sure that he can rely on friendship.

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Review by Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Lewis Blake is bright and scrawny and the only kid from the Tuscarora Reservation tracked with the brainiacs at their county junior high in upstate New York. For the duration of sixth grade, he was invisible, but when burly, polite George Haddonfield arrives on the Air Force base and shows up in their seventh-grade class, Lewis might have found a friend. The boys bond over girls and music (the Beatles, Paul McCartney and Wings, and Queen it is the 1970s, after all), slowly letting their guards down, but when a vicious, well-connected bully sets his sights on Lewis, their friendship is sorely tested. Gansworth, himself an enrolled member of the Onondaga Nation, explores the boys' organic relationship with generosity and tenderness and unflinching clarity, sidestepping stereotypes to offer two genuine characters navigating the unlikely intersection of two fully realized worlds. All of the supporting characters, especially the adults from Lewis' beleaguered mother and iconoclastic uncle to George's upright father and delicate German mother, and a host of teachers and administrators who look right past the daily violence perpetrated on Lewis are carefully, beautifully drawn. And although Gansworth manages the weighty themes of racism and poverty with nuance and finesse, at its heart, this is a rare and freehearted portrait of true friendship.--Barthelmess, Thom Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Set in the mid-1970s, adult author Gansworth's first novel for teens introduces Lewis Blake, a seventh-grader who lives on the same impoverished Tuscarora reservation in New York State where the author himself grew up. Ever since Lewis's alcoholic father took off, the boy has been raised by his overworked mother and Vietnam vet uncle. A couple of years earlier, Lewis's smarts landed him in the local junior high, off the reservation, but fitting in has never been an option. He lucks out, however, when Air Force brat George Haddonfield arrives in town and picks Lewis as his new best friend. Although their backgrounds couldn't be more different-George has lived in Germany and Guam, while Lewis sees the rez as his past, present, and future-they bond over a shared love of the Beatles and Wings, as well as making music. Although the plot takes time to get going, as a bully stirs up trouble for Lewis, readers will appreciate the teenager's sharp insights into being an outsider and Gansworth's intimate knowledge of the prejudices and injustices inherent to Lewis's life. Ages 12-up. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-The year is 1975. Lewis Blake, a slightly built teen from the Tuscarora Indian Reservation, is enrolled in advanced classes at high school. Lewis suffers racist stereotyping and bullying from students and some teachers. When he meets George Haddonfield, the boys find common interests in music, especially the Beatles, but Lewis is wary of befriending someone off the rez. George, likewise, is reticent because, as a military "brat," he moves frequently from base to base. Reservation life is depicted as having close family ties and social customs inaccessible to outsiders. George wants to break through, but Lewis's shame blockades their attempts at true friendship. Meanwhile, Evan Reininger, a notorious bully, pursues Lewis relentlessly, managing to evade authorities at every instance. The plot crescendos during a massive blizzard, when characters must face their ineluctable realities. Teen popularity and academics serve as a backdrop to the conflicts in this tale of barriers, identities, and trust. The author's narration is authentic, with Paul McCartney and Beatles song titles providing clever chapter headings. Gansworth manages an artful weave of social complexities representing reservation and "white" cultures with subtle humor to ease the tension. A full discography is provided for music fans. A worthy addition to fiction collections.-Robin Levin, Ft. Washakie School/Community Library, WY (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review

Brainiac Lewis Blake, the only Native American student in an all-white class of "smart kids," feels invisible until a new boy, George, arrives -- and he makes a friend. The boys' friendship is framed by their mutual love of music, the Beatles in particular. Lewis is a shy teen, not outgoing or brash, so Gansworth's rather flat, monotone voicing works well as the listener dives into Lewis's inner life. Gansworth turns on a "reservation accent" when voicing Lewis's uncle Albert, and he offers variations in tone for other characters, including a slight German accent for George's mother. At times uneven (one can almost hear the different session days in the voice), this is still a worthwhile recording of a well-written story. angela j. reynolds (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

It's 1975. Lewis lives in abject poverty on the reservation. His favorite band, the Beatles, has broken up. He's the only Indian in the class for smart kids. And he's in middle school. Times are tough. When George, a military kid, arrives, the two bond over their mutual appreciation of music. Lewis shares select pieces of his life with George. However, he struggles to avoid revealing the true nature of his life on the rez. Things deteriorate for Lewis when he catches the attention of a school bully who makes his life miserable. Forces of nature eventually compel Lewis to face everything: the bully, what he is hiding and his own shame. Lewis' desire to move between cultures, and his difficulty doing so, will resonate with readers of many backgrounds. The action in this book builds slowly, providing readers with the context to understand the distrust that makes Lewis reluctant to fully commit to a friendship with George. Some readers may not be enthralled by the extensive exposition and sometimes-stilted dialogue, but those who stay with the story to the end will find their hearts touched by Lewis, George and their families. Gansworth's debut for young people is a worthy exploration of identity and friendship between middle school boys who live in different worlds. (discography) (Historical fiction. 11-14)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

From IF I EVER GET OUT OF HERE: Evan landed on my back and began whaling on my face and head. My quickest instinct was to protect my glasses. I was wearing a welfare pair and we would in no way have the cash to get them fixed if they were broken. Once I had my glasses in hand, I spun backward and slammed us against the lockers. This was hard enough to drop Evan, but not hard enough to get him to reconsider his decision to target me. "Truck!" he yelled, hitting me more rapidly. "This little freak is actually fighting back! What's he thinking?" "Better teach him a good one, Evan," the helpful Truck said. "Come on, they announced that we got to go back to homeroom." Evan delivered one last kick to my butt as I put my glasses on. "Yeah, summer's almost here, but we got a whole long year ahead of us for that lesson," Evan said. "Can you believe it? Fighting back?" Excerpted from If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric L. Gansworth All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.