Exit Strategy by Lauren Allbright (review)
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Reviewed by
Allbright, Lauren Exit Strategy. Aladdin, 2017[176p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-4814-7912-7 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-4814-7914-1 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 4–6

Ross Stevens hasn’t even enrolled in his new middle school, but already he’s planning the epic performance that will signal his departure from it. The son of a single mom who is a bassoonist with a traveling theatrical company, Ross is accustomed to school hopping, and he is perfecting his skills at making a grand exit from Number Twelve with a memorable, suspension-worthy stunt—believing he won’t be around to serve the suspension. His grandfather takes a fall, though, and needs Mom’s help, so Ross is stuck in academic limbo longer than he anticipated. Since he has to deal with a science fair requirement, he chooses to investigate the concept of Funny, in practical preparation for his inevitable release. The old middle-grades chestnut of new-kid-struggles-to-fit-in gets a refreshing spin as Ross tries to apply scientific principles to funniness, even as he demonstrates (to readers, rather than to himself) that his past comedic successes have had more to do with luck and timing than his own deliberate agency. Content never fully adheres to the chapter headings, which follow the steps of scientific investigation, but the tongue-in-cheek graphs, tables, and diagrams with which Ross supports his narrative are as amusing as his predicament.

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