Book Title & Alexandra's Review

Breakout by Kate Messner

5th Grade and Up


Nora Tucker is looking forward to summer vacation in Wolf Creek–two months of swimming, popsicles, and brushing up on her journalism skills for the school paper. But when two inmates break out of the town’s maximum-security prison, everything changes. Doors are locked, helicopters fly over the woods, and police patrol the school grounds. Worst of all, everyone is on edge, and fear brings out the worst in some people Nora has known her whole life. Even if the inmates are caught, she worries that home might never feel the same.


What makes this story feel so real is the fact that it’s inspired by the real-life manhunt that took place when two inmates broke out of Clinton Correctional Facility in June 2015. First off, why is there a maximum-security prison right in the middle of a small town? How is that in any way safe? Read the Author’s Note at the end of this book to learn the whole story.


Instead of being written in a more traditional way (for example: a different character narrating each chapter), this story is told in a series of letters, poems, text messages, news stories and comics Nora collects for the Wolf Creek Community Time Capsule Project. The concept of all this being documented in a time capsule for people to read 50 years in the future is brilliant. Part of me wants to buy a copy of this book, keep it somewhere safe for 50 years, then read it again to see how much has changed since the book was written.


My favorite parts are Owen’s, Nora’s little brother, comic schemes on how he plans to trick and capture the inmates. To me, this is truly authentic to what a young child would do in this situation. I know this for a fact because when I was a kid and had watched Home Alone 1, 2 & 3way too many times, I was writing and drawing up plans to protect my house.


This story has more depth than I ever could have imagined. I don’t know how to explain this without giving away half the story but the only thing I could think and feel when reading certain parts in this story was angry that we still live in a society where people will look at you and only see bad racial stereotypes. I really can’t imagine what it must feel like to have people think you are trouble based on the color of your skin. Maybe someday in the future we’ll all evolve out of judging people by how they look and where they’re from. But if I’m being truly honest, I sort of doubt it (I know I’m not explaining this right but there’s so much going on in this book that it’s hard to keep everything straight).


How I feel on the subject of race can be depicted in the Frazz comic below:


In conclusion, a great story that should be required reading for middle school students.


This weeks’ Weird but True Fact about a Brazil Prison

A prison in Brazil uses geese as an alarm system – they honk at anyone roaming the grounds.

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