Summary: The Fort
Four eighth-grade buddies and a new tag-along (whom they’re reluctant to include) discover a posh underground bunker in the wake of a hurricane in their small town. CJ, Evan, Jason, Mitchell, and Ricky quickly begin to hang out at the fort for different reasons.
One of the boys is escaping an abusive step-parent, another is dodging his big brother and his bully of a friend, yet another loves to study there, while one just wants to stop hiding the hideout from his new girlfriend. When things get intense for the boys, their safe space becomes at risk of exposure — but maybe that’s the only way they can stay safe?
This was my favorite Gordon Korman yet — and I’ve read and reviewed quite a few! I loved all four boys and their storylines. CJ’s stepfather seems like the coolest guy and buys him cool gadgets, but secretly abuses him physically. Mitchell has OCD and his mom is struggling financially, so she can’t pay for his therapy sessions anymore. Evan and his big brother Luke live with their grandparents, but Luke has recently befriended a local bad influence. Ricky is the new kid who’s preparing to write magnet school exams (he’s super smart) and Jason is in love with his new girlfriend who believes in 100% honesty in relationships.
I loved the depth of topics covered in this story and the history introduced by the bunker, which was built during the Vietnam war. Interestingly, the mini-apartment (underground) was stocked with canned food that was still edible after years! There was also expensive silver cutlery and a VCR where the boys could game. Honestly, I wished I had something like that to escape the world too.
The story is told from the boys’ five perspectives, which I found enriching. It’s filled with a lot of tension, and some parts were tough to read (for me). Still, the entire thing is memorable and such a perfect story to be Korman’s 100th book!
Overall: The Fort
The Fort is a realistic, suspense-filled, and heartwarming middle grade book about male friendships, history, and domestic violence. This title falls firmly in the realm of upper middle grade books and tackles difficult topics with grace, heart, and humor. It’s a great example of using multiple narrators effectively. If you like Gordon Korman’s books (because they’re a whole category on their own), don’t miss this one!