Monday, February 10, 2014

The Pact: Review and Giveaway

There once was a bully named Cheezy.  My friend and I called her this simply because we saw her eat cheese crackers (I think they were Cheez-Its).  She scowled at me, she picked on me, and she may have even punched me once or twice--probably because I was  skinny and didn't fight back.  I was in fourth or fifth grade at the time, and very shy.  I was too shy to tell an adult about her actions, and luckily they were infrequent.  But I know that for many children, sadly, bullying is much more frequent, and much more harrowing.  Published by Black Rose Writing in 2013, TLC Book Tours described The Pact in an introductory email as "middle grade fiction about bullying, wrestling, and boys".  I decided to read The Pact because I think the problem of bullying needs to be addressed and dealt with.  Written by Mitchell S. Karnes, a pastor and father of seven children, The Pact is the first book in a four-part series.

The Pact begins in 1989, and is the story of Scott Addison.  His father, David, has died, and he and his mom, Barbara, move from Iowa City, Iowa to the small town of Meadowbrook, Illinois.  Like most children his age, Scott wants to fit in at school, but he also wants to do what's right, which gets him into trouble with some of the tough boys.  On his first day of eighth grade at Lincoln Junior High School, Scott, who's 6'2",  defends a small boy, Paul Strickland, who's being bullied by some larger boys, Joe, Sammy, and Mark.  Scott despises bullies, and the first pact in the book is that he will protect Paul from them.  As a result of Scott's intervention, he and Paul become friends.  Later in the book, Paul introduces Scott to his older friends, Chris and Luke, who are in high school. 

"Scott couldn't wait for Friday.  He had a rough week  and couldn't seem to get anything off of his mind, from the visit of Mr. Knowlton to Joe's dad, and from Mrs. Largent's comment about weaknesses to Sammy's physical and verbal shots in the stairwell.  Life was crashing down around him, and Warriors & Thieves provided the only true escape for Scott."
~ The Pact, Mitchell S. Karnes

Scott is smart, and he's a strong wrestler.  But in spite of (and maybe also because of) his talents, life is difficult, and he "wrestles" with several serious issues.  Unfortunately, Scott is now a target of the bullies, who are resentful, mean, and merciless.  He was close to his deceased father, who was a renowned fantasy-writer and an excellent role model and teacher, and although his mother is loving and wonderful, Scott is having a rough time in some ways at his new school.  He wants to be a good person, but he's young and inexperienced, and he doesn't know how to handle the behavior of the school bullies.  (He later witnesses something that gives him insight into bullying behavior, and he's not sure what to do with this knowledge.)  Religion is also a part of this story (it's presented in a low-key manner, and most of the boys do not attend church), and Scott is conflicted because the youth minister, Rick, does not approve of the fantasy-game that he enjoys playing so much, Warriors & Thieves (which is prominently featured in the novel).  Throughout the book, Scott struggles to control his strong emotions, and he also needs to learn to control his physical strength, and to use it intelligently.

The Pact seized my attention firmly, and I read it quickly.  I learned quite a bit about wrestling, an ancient form of combat and a sport that requires both physical and mental skill.  Throughout the book, Scott gets into several dangerous situations and I must say that at times I thanked my lucky stars that I was not born a boy--too much fighting and risky behavior!  I think this short novel will appeal to children--especially boys--who often struggle with various things as they grow up, including bullying.  The Pact would be a good choice for a class in middle school, and would naturally lead to important discussions about bullying, and hopefully about the value of friendship and character.  I also think that fathers and sons would benefit from reading and discussing this book, which features different types of father-son relationships.  I look forward to reading the next book in this series, The Dragon's Pawn, which will be published in a few months. 

Terrific news!  The author is generously offering a giveaway for two copies of The Pact (U.S./Canada only).

  • To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment.
  • Were you bullied as a child?  Leave a brief comment about your experience for an extra entry. 
  • For another chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or let me know that you're already a follower.
  • For an additional chance, post about this contest on your blog, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter.

Enter by 5 PM PST on Monday, February 24.  Two winners will be selected randomly and announced on Tuesday, February 25. 

Special thanks to Lisa from TLC for sending me this book.  For an interview with author Mitchell S. Karnes, stop by YA Reads.  For more reviews of this book, please visit the other stops on TLC's blog tour for The Pact.

Thanks for reading!  As always, your comments are valued and welcomed. 


  1. As you've said, this sounds like a great read for middle school students. Bullying as we've seen in the news can lead to such tragic endings.

  2. It sounds like a very interesting book ! We have the same problems in France with bullying. A difficult problem with tragic endings : I agrre with Pat.

  3. I am captivated with this book. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  4. I was bullied many years ago and never told a soul. A boy waited for me and then started to manhandle me when I was young. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  5. Very nice review. I was never bothered by bullies. But I was in school in the 1950s and don't remember anyone be bullied, however, I'm sure it happened, we just never heard much about it. It was such an innocent time when I was a teen-ager. But my how things have changed since my schooldays.

  6. Great review, this sounds like a book I'd enjoy. And what a great cover.

    Thankfully I was never bullied at school which surprises me as I was the overweight quiet kid who though not academic tried hard - perfect bullying material from what I've been told.

  7. Great post on this issue and book.

    Indeed bullying is such a destructive thing in the lives of children I am heartened however that these days much attention is being given to the issue as evidenced by books like these. It seems that when I was in this age group there was not a lot of concern over this issue.

    I will bow out of the giveaway as I do not think that I know any children in the age group that this focuses on.

  8. I was bullied in the 7th grade until I pushed my tormentor to the ground, after which he stopped bothering me, thankfully!

  9. Sounds like a good book for its audience. My daughter's in 8th grade and they are trying to deal with bullying -they have a bi-weekly "class" that the kids all consider a joke. It's a shame, but I don't know what the answer is.

  10. The Pact sounds like a good read that addresses a very important issue. I was bullied in grade school and back then it was't considered a big deal. Nowadays, bullying is taken much more seriously, both verbal and physical bullying, and I think that's a great thing.
    Great review post Suko!

  11. Thanks for being a part of the tour!

  12. Glad to see there are more books out about bullying. No need to enter me in the contest. Nice review, Suko.
    Book Dilettante

  13. It's good that bullying is being addressed more these days but it's still not enough when we have kids committing suicide because of it. This book sounds quite good.

    Great review Susan but no need to enter me.

  14. I think this is a great book to read with my son.
    laurafabiani at videotron dot ca

  15. When I was about 8 or so, I remember there was a boy who would wait for me at the corner of my street and he was mean. One day I courageously stood up to him and then he left me alone.
    laurafabiani at videotron dot ca


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