I was intrigued by the plot summary of Alibi Junior High by Greg Logsted from the first time I read it, when the hardcover was released a couple of years ago, so I don’t know why it took me two years to finally read it. It more than lived up to my expectations; I really enjoyed this clever, well-written novel.
Thirteen-year old Cody Saron has lived life on the run. His dad is in the CIA, and he and Cody have been partners ever since Cody’s mom died when he was a baby. Cody has spent his entire life undercover with his dad, traveling all over the globe. Now he has his toughest assignment ever: to be a regular kid and attend public middle school.
Cody’s dad is in danger, so he sends Cody to live with an aunt he didn’t know he had in a small town in Connecticut. Cody can speak five languages and has a black belt in karate, but he knows nothing at all about normal adolescent life, as you can see in this scene from his first day of middle school, talking to his new neighbor at the bus stop:
The bus turns the corner and starts bouncing toward us. Albert looks at me strangely.
“What are you wearing?”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re wearing that to school?”
I look at my clothes. “What’s wrong with them?”
“Everything. The shorts are way too short, your socks way too long, and nobody tucks in their t-shirt. You’re dressed like somebody’s dad.”
“Really? Somebody’s dad? Um, how about the backpack?”
He gives it a quick look then just shakes his head.
I expected some good spy action in this novel – and there is some of that – but what I didn’t expect was the warmth and humor. Every kid (not just those with dads in the CIA) will relate to Cody’s struggles to just fit in and be like everyone else. That, of course, turns out to be disastrous, and things improve once Cody just gives up and is himself. And there is a great, pulse-racing climax, but this book is about so much more than action and espionage. It’s about family and friends and finding your place in the world.
244 pages, Aladdin (Simon & Schuster)