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If I Ever Get Out of Here [Kindle Edition]

Eric Gansworth
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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A brand-new grand finale featuring all of the nonstop action, twists and turns that readers can rely on in a blockbuster Patterson page-turner. Hardcover | Kindle

Book Description

"A heart-healing, mocs-on-the-ground story of music, family and friendship." -- Cynthia Leitich Smith, author of TANTALIZE and RAIN IS NOT MY INDIAN NAME

Lewis "Shoe" Blake is used to the joys and difficulties of life on the Tuscarora Indian reservation in 1975: the joking, the Fireball games, the snow blowing through his roof. What he's not used to is white people being nice to him -- people like George Haddonfield, whose family recently moved to town with the Air Force. As the boys connect through their mutual passion for music, especially the Beatles, Lewis has to lie more and more to hide the reality of his family's poverty from George. He also has to deal with the vicious Evan Reininger, who makes Lewis the special target of his wrath. But when everyone else is on Evan's side, how can he be defeated? And if George finds out the truth about Lewis's home -- will he still be his friend?

Acclaimed adult author Eric Gansworth makes his YA debut with this wry and powerful novel about friendship, memory, and the joy of rock 'n' roll.

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 6-9–In 1970s upstate New York, Lewis Blake inhabits two separate universes: the reservation where he lives in poverty with his mother and uncle, and school, where the fact that he is American Indian (and his sardonic sense of humor) has made him an outcast and a victim of bullying. The seventh grader has begun to accept his status until a new kid shows up in his class. George Haddonfield grew up on air force bases around the world and doesn't seem to know or care about the divisions between the reservation kids and everyone else. Although Lewis and George bond over their shared love of the Beatles, George's friendly overtures to visit are constantly rebuffed by Lewis, who isn't sure if their tentative friendship will be able to withstand the jarring differences between George's home and his own. Can a love of rock and roll overcome all? Lewis's relationships with his mother, his uncle, and even his peers ring true and draw readers deep into his world. Life on the reservation is so vividly depicted that scenes set elsewhere, such as the air force base where George lives, feel a little flatly drawn in comparison. Nonetheless, the overall tenor and wry humor of this novel more than make up for its weaknesses.–Evelyn Khoo Schwartz, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DCα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

*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. Grades 7-10. --Thom Barthelmess

Product Details

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm glad I got this book August 19, 2013
If I Ever Get Out of Here took me back to the world-changing 1970s. This is a book for anyone who loves music from the seventies, the best music decade ever. And having a Native American as the protagonist adds extra depth and dimension to the story.

Lewis is the only Native American in the advanced track at his school. The other Indians may be proud of him, but he goes through the day in different classes and is friendless. He cuts off his braid in an effort to get the white kids to see him differently. The only result of that is his own feeling of loss.

But there is a new kid in his class, George a new transfer student whose father has recently been stationed at the nearly army base. The two become best friends through music, and the music of the 70s fills the book. The Beatles and Wings, Clapton, Queen, and Bowie are only some of the sounds that prove important during the two years the book covers. These were the days when vinyl was king, when there were no cell phones or social media, and "friending" someone meant spending actual face-to-face time with them. It was also the days when bullies used real weapons instead of social media. Lewis suffers under the blind eyes of both teachers and students who "blame the Indian" for anything that happens.

Those of us who remember the 70s understand Lewis' decision to use a form of non-violent protest to deal with the problem, even though he hurts himself in the process. He just want to get the message out to the world that he deserves to be safe inside school.

The book doesn't try to beat readers over the head with a history lesson. But watching Lewis and George explore their family's history may help today's teens better understand their own parents and grandparents.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully played! August 7, 2013
I received this ARC at a Book Expo in NYC. I cannot begin to tell you how surprised I was with the story. It kept me involved from beginning to end as I was riveted by the characters, the application of music and the time period. Yes, this particular time period was an interesting part of our history and I loved reading about the reality. I would recommend this book to any of my students!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
America--or any nation--celebrates moments and events in its history that show that nation in a good light. Noting those moments is important, but so is noting that there is not a single story within any nation. Not everyone celebrates those same moments. Some people have a different view of those moments.

Take, for example, the celebration of United States Bicentennial. In the opening pages of his If I Ever Get Out of Here, Eric Gansworth's protagonist looks down the street at his elementary school. He imagines teachers getting ready to celebrate the U.S. Bicentennial, and notes that the teachers would be puzzled that the celebrations would not be a priority on the reservation.

Knowing that Gansworth pokes at that celebration might turn you off. You might think that his book is an anti-American screed.

Rest easy. It isn't. It also isn't one of those 'eat your veggies' kind of books...

It is, however, a rare but honest look at culture and how people with vastly different upbringings and identities can clash. And dance. And laugh. Gansworth informs readers about cultural difference, but he doesn't beat anyone up as he does it.

Within children's literature, there's a metaphor about how literature can be a mirror or a window. For some readers, the novel is a mirror of the reader's own life. For another reader, the novel is a window by which the first reader can peer in and see what someone else's life is like. Gansworth's debut novel is more than a mirror or a window.

Reading If I Ever Get Out of Here, I sometimes felt it was a mirror. As a Native kid meeting non-Native kids from really different communities than my own, I identified with the things Lewis went through.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read- a book that invokes memories! September 8, 2013
By Bill W
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I heard an interview with the author on Indian Nation Radio and was intrigued enough to buy this book. I'm very glad I did. As a kid of mixed native descent and one who grew up in the 70's, this book spoke volumes to me. It took me back to places, both good and bad, that I lived and reminded me of things I had long forgotten about. This is supposedly is a book written for young adults or teens, but I think it is a book that can be enjoyed by everyone- whether you have any native bloodline or not. Even if you were just a kid who enjoyed the rock of the day, this walk down memory lane will surely have you smiling.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching and Insightful January 22, 2014
If I Ever Get Out of Here is everything a coming-of-age story is supposed to be - heartbreakingly realistic, funny, touching, inspiring and unforgettable. Readers will love Lewis. He is smart, witty, socially awkward, ambitious, and desperately lonely. Lewis is an outsider. He loves his life on the Tuscarora Indian Reservation, but his love of learning and the Beatles is seen as weird by most of his peers. The reservation school convinced his mother to send him to the white school in town so he could be in the accelerated academic program, but at the white school he is bullied, ostracized and subjected to the prejudice and racism of his classmates, teachers and the administrators. When a new kid arrives, Lewis decides to make friends before the newcomer's opinion of him is poisoned by his classmates. George and Lewis quickly become best friends. Brought together by their love of the Beatles and Queen, Lewis and George quickly realize they come from very different families and cultures. It is fun to watch Lewis try to learn the odd customs of the super straight laced, buttoned-up air force family of George, and equally fun to watch George try clumsily to get himself included in Lewis' life on the reservation. Both families become better and stronger because of the friendship between George and Lewis.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
I'm usually skeptical reading certain books for a class. However, our class being comprised of music, biology, math,history, and physical education majors, we were able to have... Read more
Published 13 days ago by GreenTrombone
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great story. I admit to knowing nothing about life ...
This is a great story. I admit to knowing nothing about life on a Reservation, and this was eye-opening. I was really interested through the whole story. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Nikki
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming coming of age tale
While I'm not a Native American like Lewis, the middle school narrator at the center of the story, I could relate to him as an outcast. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Michele Heine
4.0 out of 5 stars Cultural Diversity
I recommend this book to all ages. An important lesson in understanding where each other has come from; where each one of has been raised, the family we are born into and the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Gail A. Maddox
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommend this book for its exploration of bullying, identity...
The image of a head wanting release is held together through the power of music on the cover of Eric Gansworth's first young adult novel. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jamieson Haverkampf
5.0 out of 5 stars Shows incredible insight into reservation life and race relations...
It is 1975, and Lewis desperately wants to fit in with his 7th grade classmates. Tracked into the smart classes of his junior high, he is separated from his reservation friends and... Read more
Published 4 months ago by SunshineRose
5.0 out of 5 stars Authentic, compelling YA novel
A seemingly authentic depiction of the life of a teen on an Indian reservation in the 70's, this well written novel explores the stigma and challenges Native teens face in schools... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Dr. W. C. kasten
5.0 out of 5 stars This book gives one cause to look at both a ...
This book gives one cause to look at both a historical and contemporary perspective of people who don't fit in, especially because of forces outside of their control.
Published 7 months ago by Elaine
4.0 out of 5 stars Heartfelt, Bittersweet and Realistic
A very good read, realistic in it's peek at Rez life. I found it sometimes funny sometimes sweet, sometimes heartbreaking and more often then not I found it bittersweet. Read more
Published 7 months ago by YodaWay
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read dealing with bullying and being different
4.5 stars
There was so much to take out of this book and I think the most powerful statement I walked away with, was to be proud of who you are, stand tall because no matter... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Live Outside
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