76 pages 2 hours read

Gordon Korman


Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2017

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Summary and Study Guide


Restart is a 2017 novel by best-selling children and young adult author Gordon Korman. Korman, who published his first book while he was in middle school, has written over 80 novels which have sold more than 28 million copies. In Restart, Korman returns to his roots, delving into the perspectives of various first-person narrators to examine the conflicts, relationships, and significant issues often faced by middle schoolers. The print edition became a New York Times best seller, and the audiobook won the Audible Audie Award for Multi-Voiced Performance.

Plot Summary

After a very brief initial scene in which the narrator describes falling, the reader is transported to the hospital room of a very confused 13-year-old boy. His confusion balloons when he does not recognize anyone in the room with him. Strangers, who turn out to be his mother and his brother Johnny, inform him that he is Chase Ambrose. He has fallen off the roof of his two-story house. The physician, Dr. Cooperman, relates that Chase suffers from acute retrograde amnesia. Though he can speak, think, and move normally, he has no memory of people or events from before waking up in the hospital apart from an image of a little girl in a blue dress.

Nothing seems familiar to Chase, neither on the ride home with his mother nor when he sees his house. He is surprised by his overbearing father Frank, who slaps him on his dislocated shoulder. He meets his young stepmother Corinne and stepsister Helene, both of whom are cool toward him. His father is most concerned about when he can play football again. Upstairs, Chase encounters many mementos of his athletic prowess. The previous year, he finds, he was the captain of the Hiawassee Middle School Hurricanes, state football champions.

Korman frequently switches narrators, one of whom is Shoshanna Weber, the twin sister of Joel Weber. She expresses that, during the previous year, Joel was bullied by Chase and his friends Aaron and Bear. For example, Chase and his friends set off cherry bombs in a piano while Joel performed for an assembly. Their treatment of Joel was so blatant that other students began to bully him too. Joel’s parents sent him to Melton Conservatory, a music-based boarding school, which he hates. Shoshanna hates Chase despite his accident and rumored amnesia.

Chase expresses anxiety about returning to school, where everyone knows him yet he knows no one. His friends Aaron and Bear greet him with painful roughhousing. They admit skepticism about his amnesia. Dr. Fitzwallace, the school principal, takes Chase to his office to offer support; there, Chase sees newspaper photos of himself and his father as football heroes.

Chase notices that many of the students and faculty view him with fear and distaste. Even his encounters with his stepmother and stepsister reveal their distrust. He discovers that he and his two friends were sentenced to community service at a retirement home because of the piano explosion.

Brendan Espinoza is another narrator. Chairman of the video club, he becomes desperate for assistance filming a YouTube video and asks Chase to help. While filming Brendan riding a trike through a carwash, Chase enjoys himself and bonds with Brendan, who eventually invites Chase to join the video club. Shoshanna is outraged about the invitation. The club debates whether total amnesia means Chase could become a better person. When Chase is asked by Ms. DeLeo, the teacher, to take videos of the sports teams, Shoshanna baits and heckles him.

Chase accompanies Aaron and Bear to the Portland Street Assisted Living Residence, where they perform community service. Because of his injury, Chase is excused from these duties but goes with them anyway. He discovers that his friends are insolent to the staff members and disrespectful of the residents. He meets Mr. Julius Solway, a veteran who received a Medal of Honor.

Kimberly Tooley narrates the chapter in which she introduces herself to Chase. She has had a crush on him for years and uses his amnesia to facilitate a closer relationship. She watches Chase prevent a football player from bullying Brendan, provoking a wide range of reactions in everyone who witnesses the encounter.

Chase reflects on the changes happening around him. He befriends the video club members and grows distant from the football team. He bonds with Solway, who—like Chase—suffers from amnesia and cannot remember the events leading up to the Medal of Honor, which is lost. Though Shoshanna hates him, Chase suggests she interview Solway for her entry in the National Video Journalism Contest. They work cooperatively, surprising Shoshanna and alienating Aaron and Bear. Chase suspects Bear and Aaron of stealing the Medal of Honor.

Kimberly, whom Brendan adores, joins the video club to be closer to Chase. Chase and Shoshanna bond through their work with Solway. When Shoshanna’s parents discover her developing relationship with Chase, they are outraged. She convinces them Chase has changed and talks them into allowing Joel to return to Hiawassee. Joel’s dislike of Melton makes him willing to return. Though he is extremely fearful of being bullied, he insists that Shoshanna quit protecting him.

Though his memory is largely absent, Chase gradually learns the extent of his bullying. He is surprised that the Weber family allows him to work with Shoshanna in their home. When the video with Solway is shown to the entire school and roundly praised, Aaron and Bear decide they must force Chase to choose between them and his new friends in the video club.

When Brendan films an elaborate video in the school’s orchestra room, Aaron and Bear burst in and spray him and Joel with fire extinguisher foam, causing significant damage. Alerted by Kimberly, Chase rushes in to help. Struggling with Bear over an extinguisher, he accidentally hits Joel, causing a black eye. Chase, Aaron, and Bear go to the principal. Aaron says he and Bear smelled fire in the orchestra room and put it out. Faced with escaping blame or getting into deeper trouble, Chase backs up Aaron’s story. Ms. DeLeo banishes him from the video club, whose members now believe he lied about his amnesia and plotted revenge against Joel.

Brendan discovers a video of the music room fiasco that proves Chase’s innocence. He invites Joel, Shoshanna, Kimberly, and Chase to his house to see the clip. En route, Chase serendipitously realizes he had been on the peak of his roof when he fell. Climbing to the top of his house, he finds the Medal of Honor, realizing he was the one who stole it. Chase takes to medal to the retirement home, where Aaron and Bear, who want the medal for themselves, are doing community service. The video club kids hear where Chase is going and rush there to see him. The elaborate confrontation ends in the hallway in front of Solway’s room, where Chase reveals the stolen medal and confesses that he stole it.

Chase, charged with stealing the Medal of Honor, shows up before the judge who sentenced him to community service. Chase is astonished to see the courtroom full of students and teachers from Hiawassee. He assumes they are present to testify against him. Instead, they all want to testify that he has changed for the better. The last witness is Solway, wearing the Medal of Honor, who convinces the judge to drop the charges.