Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 13 to 18
- Grade: 4
- Reading age: 9 to 10
Sixteen-year-old Zaine Wyatt has a lot to be angry about. His mother walked out of his life when he was 12, and he was kicked out of his Aunt Sarah's place by his uncle. After living on the streets and getting badly beaten up, he is back at Aunt Sarah's, but Zaine is still angry, afraid, and uncertain that he has a permanent place to live. When his mother breaks yet another promise to take him back, he flees to an empty art studio he has taken refuge in before. But now it is just a storage shed, and he vents his rage by trashing the place and injures the new owner as he flees.
Facing charges and a possible criminal record, Zaine agrees to participate in a restorative justice program to keep from being kicked out again by his aunt. Zaine works to fix the damage he has caused and helps the owner's disabled grandson Lucas get to and from school, but his attempts to stay on the right side of the law are challenged by a group of teens who want to recruit him into a gang. Can Zaine complete the restorative justice program and prove himself worthy of a home, whether with his mother or not?
About the author
Karen Spafford-Fitz grew up in an old limestone farmhouse near Kingston, Ontario where her early training as a writer involved reading thousands of books. In fact, it was impossible to walk across her bedroom without stubbing a toe on Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden, and her father's old Lone Ranger books.
Eager to read more, Karen studied English Language and Literature at Queen's University. She followed that up with a degree in Education and went on to teach elementary and junior high students for eight years. Two daughters and a move across the country later, Karen began creating her own stories for children and teenagers. Dog Walker is her first middle-grade novel.
When Karen is not writing in her Edmonton studio, she is often running with her rambunctious German shepherd, who helps Karen train for her next half marathon. Karen also enjoys speaking to students about the inspiration for her stories, the creative process and the writing life.
- Winner, Resource Links The Year's Best - Fiction Grades 7-12
"Push Back is an engaging read that will offer opportunities for discussion of the justice system."
CM: Canadian Review of Materials