Page Count: 180
Age Range: 14 and up
Paranoid Park is the story of a 16-year-old skateboarder named Alex who, after spending an evening at Portland’s underground skate park, accidentally kills a security guard while trying to hop a train with a local “streeter” kid. Alex spends the rest of the book holding onto his secret, running through all the possible scenarios in his mind, whie the local police department investigates the guard’s death after originally ruling that there was no foul play involved. Meanwhile Alex deals with the rest of his teenage drama, with his parents getting a divorce and his girlfriend deciding that it’s about time they took the next step and lost their virginity together. Will he let his secret slip? Who could he even trust to tell if he wanted to? How can he possibly lead a normal life with such a dark past to haunt him?
This is a pretty penetrating look at a teenager holding on to a very dark secret while trying to navigate the path of high-school drama. The writing is fairly simple, the conversations short and blunt, and the first-person style doesn’t overcomplicate the narrator’s thoughts or emotions. If you’re looking for a darker book about what it’s like for a confused high-schooler dealing with more than he can handle, this is a great book for you. (The author has described it as “Crime and Punishment” for young adults. Also, it was made into a pretty gritty movie.)