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Fastback Beach
By author: Shirlee Smith Matheson
Selling Points: cars, street racing, peer pressure
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Pub Date: Sep/01/2003
Lexile Level: HL620L
Fry Reading Level: 2.9
Pages: 128
Fiction Ages 12+
Price:  $9.95
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At the turnoff to Fastback Beach, Spider stomps the brakes and the car fishtails. He straightens it but we've passed the turnoff, so he cuts a U-turn in the middle of the highway, laying rubber that smokes around us. Then we're on the gravel trail leading down to the beach.

Below us, white in the moonlight, stretch miles of sand. This is a perfect place for drag racing. Spider steps on it and the car jumps ahead. I put my hand down for balance and brace as we hit a dune and become airborne.

Miles Derkach is in trouble. Along with two friends, he stole a car and went joyriding. When the dust clears, he is all alone and his friends have left, leaving him to take the blame—and the punishment—while maintaining his silence. Placed on probation and sentenced to community service, Miles begins working for a man who after suffering a stroke and not being able to drive, has kept his beloved hot rod under wraps in the garage. Seeing a chance to learn more about cars and pursue his dream of becoming a mechanic, Miles helps to restore the car. When the hot rod is stolen and Miles is the prime suspect, he realizes that he must confront his friends and stand up for himself.
Canadian Book Review Annual - January 1, 2004
"Knowledgeable car buffs will enjoy Matheson's auto-laced language...Recommended."
KLIATT - January 1, 2004
"A likeable hero, appealing to more than just the mechanically inclined who will be steered toward this book."
Resource Links - January 1, 2004
"This is a good pick for boys who are reluctant readers. From the starting lap through to the finish line, it will rev up their enthusiasm."
CM Magazine - September 1, 2003
Fastback Beach does a superb job of illustrating the struggles teenagers go through when there is a conflict between what they believe is right and what their friends are doing. This is the story of an adolescent becoming an adult, making decisions, and dealing with the consequences of his actions. Highly Recommended.”


CCBC Our Choice, commended  CA  2004


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Teen fiction for
reluctant readers

Key Features:
Short, high-interest novels
Contemporary stories
Compelling characters
Linear plots
Ideal for Lit Circles
Ideal for Independent Reading

Teaching Resources:
Teachers' Guides
Resource Guide
Accelerated Reader selections
Lexile levels

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