Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Ultra by David Carroll

Quinn has been called a superhero and a freak of nature. At age 13, he's an amazing distance runner.  His body doesn’t produce lactic acid He takes on the second-hardest challenge of his life when he enters his first ultramarathon: a grueling 100-mile, 24-hour-long race that will push him to the very limit of his endurance.

While Quinn struggles to go on — up a mountain and through the night, as his muscles break down and he begins to hallucinate — we learn why the ultra-marathon is only the second hardest thing he has endured in his young life. And maybe this devastating event from his past is exactly what Quinn has been running from .

Since I’m not a runner, and don’t have any desire to become one, I wasn’t sure how I would relate to this story.  But I did in several ways. First of all, most of the story is told using a TV interview format.  This technique really makes the reader feel like they are part of the audience.

The race took place over a 24-hour period, and in a forest.  I loved the setting, and pictured it to be in Northern Ontario (although that’s not where it took place).  But I think anyone who spends time in the woods will have their own vivid picture of where it happened.  Quinn faced many challenges, especially at night, but his best friend Kneecap, and his younger brother really supported him through texts and knock knock jokes.  I loved his relationship with his younger brother.  I love that Quinn wrote songs and sang them.  And I love that this story is not really just about a race.  It’s about how we deal with challenges in our lives, and how the people we love help us in unexpected ways.  The challenges may be physical, emotional, or both.  But when we are brave enough to face them,  we can do the impossible.  
I highly recommend this for intermediate students.  It would be a great lit circle title, since it lends itself to a lot of discussion.  

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