Saturday, November 1, 2014

Nickel Bay Nick by Dean Pitchford

17465440Sam has been hanging out by the Nickel Bay railroad station breaking windows, it's not the first time that he has done something that can get him in trouble. Usually, it's things that eighth graders Jaxon or Ivy suggest, like stealing his dad's car to go for a ride. But, it wasn't really stealing cause Sam only borrowed the keys from his dad and Jaxon drove. Sam has his reasons for breaking the windows, when he was three and a half his mom moved away to follow her dream of being a Nashville star, at four he had a heart transplant, and now his dad's bakery isn't doing so well and they fight all the time over his dad's new girlfriend. Yet, the reason Sam's swinging rocks on Christmas is he found a wedding picture of his mom getting remarried. All the noise he is making causes the police to investigate, and Sam is quickly running away. He ends up in his neighbor Mr. Wells yard climbing up a tree trunk, only to be startled by a dog in the window. As Sam falls, he is drags lights, the rain gutters and smashes the decorations on the porch. Mr. Wells now wants Sam to work for him paying off his debt. Initially, it is cleaning up the mess he caused, but Sam soon learns that Mr. Wells has secrets of his own. Mr. Wells has been keeping track of Sam's crimes around the neighborhood and he uses this information as leverage to have him help with a special project. Mr. Wells it turns out is the infamous Nickel Bay Nick, a good Samaritan that gives out money each year in the town, but this year Sam will have to take over that role.

Sam is a very unhappy kid who at first glance comes off very unlikeable. He dines and dashes, helps his friend steal his dad's car and commits vandalism. His attitude down right stinks. Once he meets Mr. Wells, Sam has met his match. Mr. Wells has a file with all of Sam's bad deeds in it, he even knows all about Sam's family life and he isn't afraid to blackmail him to get what he wants. He puts Sam to task to redeem himself. I especially enjoyed the training and missions that Mr. Wells chooses for Sam to complete. The more tasks that Sam completes, the more he understands about giving selflessly to those around him.  He learns that he might have misjudged his father and comes to realize the true meaning of friendship.  Nickel Bay Nick has a very engaging plot, one filled with secrets and mysteries to solve, but also plenty of action and humor.  Pitchford also includes a very nice subplot of who Mr. Wells is and how and why he became Nickel Bay Nick.    

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