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Paranoid Park Hardcover – September 21, 2006

5.0 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up–As if his parents' impending divorce isn't stressful enough, the 16-year-old unnamed protagonist and self-described Prep skater dude writes a confessional detailing his remorse over his role in the gruesome death of a railroad security officer while hopping a train to Safeway to get beer. Also, he has fallen into an uneasy relationship with cheerleader Jennifer, who seems more interested in losing her virginity than he does. Nelson's natural-sounding teen speak authentically grounds this story in contemporary high school/skateboard culture. After deciding not to call the police immediately following the accidental homicide, it gradually becomes easier to justify continued silence, and simultaneously becomes harder to imagine coming forward to anyone about what happened. What finally moves him–and the plot–is the formerly pesky little girl down the street, Macy, now an attractive sophomore, who genuinely listens to him and cares enough about him to recognize his distress. She suggests that if he truly cannot tell anyone what's bugging him, perhaps he should at least write about it. Thus, this novel, which probes the cultural divide separating the narrator from the rough-and-tumble Streeters, examines the chasm separating moral responsibility from the eternal damnation of keeping a horrible secret. The story is less resolved than Michael Cadnum's Calling Home (Viking, 1991), but many teens will relate on one level or another to this teen's terrible dilemma.–Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Junior High School, Iowa City, IA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In a compelling voice, the 16-year-old narrator tells how he got into the mess he is in. He is heavy into skateboarding, so when he gets a chance to visit sketchy Paranoid Park, where the rougher element skates, he is so there. On his second visit, he jumps a train with a street kid. Waiting at the yard is a transit cop, who goes after the narrator with a fury enforced by his billy club. The boy fights back, hitting the cop with his skateboard, and then watches in horror as a train crumples the man. Now what? Nelson captures the confusion, fear, and despair that alternate with moments of normalcy as the kid tries to pick a path through this labyrinth. Readers will have a visceral reaction to this story, but on a literary level, they'll also appreciate Nelson's clever plotting and spot-on characterizations: the boy's parents' acrimonious divorce adequately explains how the kid escapes adult scrutiny, and his girlfriend, tediously eager to lose her virginity (mission accomplished), seems depressingly real. Nonstop page turning until the surprising conclusion. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile (September 21, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670061182
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670061181
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,412,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
PARANOID PARK is a dark and intense psychological thriller of a novel that puts a normal teen in a very difficult situation.

Written as a confessional letter, it starts after a fateful night at a Portland, Oregon skatepark known as "Paranoid Park." Paranoid is "an underground 'street' park, which means there are no rules, nobody owns it, and you don't have to play to skate." But Paranoid is also "kind of a street-kid hangout. There's all these stories, like how a skinhead got stabbed there once. That's why it's called Paranoid Park. It has a dangerous, sketchy vibe to it."

After going to Paranoid Park with his older friend Jared, the narrator (who remains unnamed throughout the book) is enthralled by the experience. Skating at Paranoid meant you were in the "big leagues." The boys planned to return to the skatepark together that weekend, but plans changed when a college girl invited Jared to a party. Still lured by the thrillride of Paranoid, the narrator returns on his own.

At the park, the narrator finds himself hanging out with a "streeter" named Scratch and a bunch of other street-kid types. Scratch tells stories about how he lived up and down the West Coast, hopping trains and living in bus stations. Somehow, our "prep" narrator gets talked into hopping a local train with Scratch and the evening turns into even more of an adventure. The fun stops abruptly when a security guard gets thrown in the mix and a teenage adventure becomes the cause of a crime.

With a dead body and no witnesses, the narrator is paralyzed with fear. What should he do? Who will he tell? Will anyone believe him that this truly was an accident?
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Format: Hardcover
The plot of this book is very simple. An innocent skater kid gets in a scuffle with a psycho security guard and accidentally kills him. That's when the tension starts. What should he do? He thinks his family is too screwed up anyway, to risk putting them through a possible murder charge. Plus no one was there, no one who could tell on him anyway. But what about his conscience? And what about the girl he loves? And how is he ever going to look people in the eye with the innocence he started his life with. This book asks some big questions and gives no easy answers. It is also a page turner that will keep you up long into the night. Nelson has an ear for dialogue that is so clear you will think he used a tape recorder. Great book to make you think.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wrong place, Wrong time, someone ends up dead... One mistake and nothing will ever be the same again, your world is turned upside-down in an instant. If you call the cops, you could be charged with murder, but you're just a kid... it was an accident and there are no witnesses... What would you do?

In PARANOID PARK a 16 year old skater kid in Portland gets himself mixed up in a very serious situation and finds he has no one he trusts enough to turn to for help. Author Blake Nelson does an excellent job taking the reader through this skater kid's story, by means of a confessional letter of sorts, as the guilt and confusion eats away at the youth and he struggles with how to deal with a situation that is way beyond what anyone his age (or any age for that matter) should ever have to face alone.

Not really a story a skateboarding story, PARANOID PARK is more a physiological thriller, wherein the characters involved happen to be skaters. This realistic and heartfelt tale is full of raw emotion and tough ethical questions that Nelson explores flawlessly and without judgment. Let's face it, being a teen is hard enough in itself, add to that family issues and an unfortunate and tragic twist of fate, it can be downright unbearable.
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Format: Hardcover
First of all, let me start by saying that I'm 25. I have to say that no story has ever made me feel quite the same as Paranoid Park. I've read the book and seen the movie, and I felt they both did the job extremely well. After I finished reading the book, I was amazed with how much the movie left out, but then again, the movie focuses more on the heavily introverted world that Alex falls into following the crime.

The way this story impacted me was shocking. I actually felt as if I had stepped into the shoes of the character, and when I finished, oh boy, I was definitely looking over my shoulder. This book literally made me see the world differently for at least the remainder of the day. It was also an easy and captivating read because the language is so simple, yet so effective. It almost demands you to listen and keep reading, which is how I ended up finishing it in two days. I felt like I had to know more of what was going on.

Throughout the entire book, I found myself wanting to jump inside and give poor Alex a much-needed hug. Everything that's going on with his family and his friends and how they have no idea what he did, but instead continue on with their own problems...it was really sad and intense, and you can't help but understand his view and feel that sheer panic with him.

It's vividly realistic and told from a teenager's point of view, which I think makes it extremely effective. It wouldn't be the same had it been written in third person. I can't say enough good things about this book. It's just...wow. The realism was stunning, the characters believable, and the plot itself sounds like it could be an actual news story.
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