Sunday, May 2, 2010

Review: Reality Check by Peter Abrahams

Reality Check
by Peter Abrahams
2009 HarperTeen
Hardcover Edition; 330 Pages
ISBN-10: 0061227684
ISBN-13: 978-0061227684
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Local Library

4 / 5 Stars

QB of the varsity football team.  Passing grade in all his classes. Dating the hottest - and smartest - girl at school.  Summer job paying more than minimum wage.  Things in Cody's world seems to be going pretty well.  Until, that is, his girlfriend, Clea, is sent off to boarding school across the country, and a torn ACL ends his high school football career.  But bad things come in threes - or in Cody's case, sixes and twelves - and the worst is yet to come.  While limping through town one day, Cody sees a newspaper heading: "Local Girl Missing."  Clea, now his ex, has disappeared from her boarding school in Vermont, and the only clue is a letter she sent Cody the morning of her disappearance.  With that as his guide, Cody sets out to find out what happened.  Once in Vermont, he unearths the town's secrets - and finds out that football isn't the only things he's good at.

My Thoughts
Peter Abrahams has an established reputation as a writer for adult mystery/thriller/suspense novels and has won critical acclaim for his unusual stories and characters.  He is also the national best-selling author of the popular Echo Falls series.  Reality Check is his first foray into the world of Young Adult literature, a page-turning mystery that combines young love with the struggles and the reality of growing up. 

Cody and Clea thought they had everything going for them. They were young, in love, she the smartest girl in the school, he the popular athlete, star of the football team, on his way to scoring an athletic scholarship.  Then, one day, she comes home with a B in calculus and suddenly, their world turns upside down as she is sent halfway across the country to study at a famous boarding school.  Cody's troubles follow him as he is injured on the football field with a career-ending injury and he struggles to cope, spiralling into a funk he doesn't know how to escape.  With failing grades, and little desire to achieve, he drops out and takes on a local job, figuring he has little to offer in the world of academia; he was a football player, not a scholar.  What I find sad about this situation, is that it has been played out so many times over the years.  So many athletes see athletics as their ticket to a better situation and when career-threatening injuries do occur, they are lost and often struggle adapting to the reality of their situation.  

When Clea goes missing, Cody finds a purpose in life and heads to Vermont in hopes of helping to find her.  He finds so much more than he expected and struggles to trust anyone around him.  Cody is surrounded by a world of wealth and influence, a world he knows nothing about.  Finding dark secrets, and enemies in places he thought he could trust, he finds himself in danger.  I found myself caught up in the events, as Abrahams is a brilliant writer, losing myself in Cody's thoughts and deeds.  I found myself cursing Cody, wondering at some of the choices he made, why he didn't tell certain people what he was doing, cursing when he told people too much information, totally caught up in what was going on in the novel.  I thoroughly enjoyed the voice Abrahams gave to Cody as I felt I was right there, feeling everthing with him.  I couldn't put the book down.

Abrahams wrote a page-turning mystery with many twists and turns, with danger lurking around every corner.   What I personally found more interesting than the actual story, was Cody's transition from a confused and struggling young man, to one who was more confident and who found his value in society.  His character was the only one I felt had any character development, which is one of the reasons I only gave the novel four out of five stars.  I also was not impressed with the ending, which I felt was rushed and didn't really tie up all the loose ends.  I was left feeling unsatisfied, and although I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the novel, I didn't like how I felt at the end of the novel.  Hopefully, there will be more stories featuring Cody in the future and some of these loose ends will be answered.  Other than that, Peter Abrahams is a gifted writer, and Reality Check is a riveting read.


  1. I'm a huge fan of Abrahams other works. I'll definitely be checking this one out as well. Great review!