If you saw someone die right in front of you, what would you do? Run? Scream? Pull out your cell and dial 911? Or would you go home and pray no one ever found out you were there? The terrified narrator of Paranoid Park does exactly that—see, he wasn’t supposed to be hanging out at the notorious skate park, and he certainly wasn’t supposed to be hopping trains and joy-riding into the old freight yards. But he was and he did. So he was there when the freight yard security guard who tried to chase him tripped and fell under the deadly wheels of the train. Our boy takes one look and runs for the hills. Now he is consumed with fear and guilt. Did anyone see him? Will he be blamed for the man’s death? Has he ruined his life forever? As you read the choices the unnamed narrator makes, you can’t help but put yourself in his shoes: what would YOU do? Loosely based on the Russian classic Crime and Punishment, this white-knuckle nailbiter was an especially popular title with the 8th grade boys at my school this year. And don’t miss Paranoid Park: the movie, directed by Gus Van Sant, out in spring ’08.
Paranoid Park by Blake Nelson