Title: Linked

Author: Gordon Korman

Publisher: Scholastic

ISBN: 9781338629125

Publication Date: 2021

Will prolific kid-lit author, Gordon Korman, ever run out of ideas? I reviewed his book, The Hypnotists, in this post on my old website and included Ungifted in my SciWhy article Science in Middle Grade Fiction. But those are just a few of many great titles by Gordon Korman, who keeps finding new ways to bring new ideas to young readers… and the books just keep getting better!

I was drawn to Linked because I’m working on a middle grade mystery set in a small town. In my book, it’s a series of wildfires that shake things up in a fictionalized version of my own hometown. In Linked, it’s someone sneaking into Chokecherry Middle School and spray painting a swastika on the wall.

The mystery of who vandalized the school unfolds through chapters with alternating points of view. There are three central seventh grade characters:

  • Michael, a forgetful kid and Art Club president, discovers the hate crime.
  • Dana, an outsider who moved to Chokecherry so her dad could study dinosaurs bones identified in the area, originally the only Jewish student in the school.
  • Lincoln, a popular prankster that goes by “Link” (son of a realtor who wants to turn the town into Dino-Land) who ends up exploring his identity.

After three weeks of tolerance education–which all the students have trouble tolerating–another swastika appears. And then another. As more appear, the town’s history of KKK activity comes to the surface and the mystery deepens.

Suspects are identified and more points of view are introduced including a vlogger who puts Chokecherry on the map for all the wrong reasons. The students start a paper chain–inspired by the Paper Clip Project–that gives the book its title.

I won’t go into any more detail for risk of giving too much away. I’ll leave you with this final quote from Michael. It’s also mentioned in the author’s note which includes a list of resources.

Maybe it shows that tolerance is more about the journey than the destination. A paper chain can be done when it hits a certain number of links. But tolerance is a project you always have to keep working at.