by Greg Logsted
Thirteen-year-old Cody Saron has spent most of his life traveling and working with his CIA-agent father. After narrowly surviving an assassination attempt, Cody is sent to live with his aunt in the U.S. for the duration of the mission, and he enrolls in a regular junior high school. He quickly discovers how ill-suited he is to the ordinary school and gets in fights with bullies, idiot teachers, and ordinary kids who think he's weird. While dealing with school, he also notices that someone is watching his house. Eventually, he and his aunt are kidnapped by mobsters, then rescued by his father, who has been using Cody as bait to flush out the enemy. Cody finishes his year at the junior high.
Arrival Cody arrives in an unnamed city by plane, and is picked up by his Aunt Jenny -- he has been sent there by his father, a CIA agent, for safekeeping. He is nervous and watchful and uncomfortable, and is deeply distressed when his aunt admits she is not carrying a gun. On the drive from the airport, Cody dreams of a bomb blast in Santiago, where he was working with his father.
Recognition Cody wakes at Aunt Jenny's house -- a cottage behind a larger one belonging to a Mrs. Wheeler. There's a party in progress celebrating the return of her son, Andy, from Iraq. When kids set off some firecrackers, Cody throws himself to the ground. So does Andy, and as they get up again their eyes meet in recognition of their common reaction.
Shadows and Stars A week later, Cody is settling in, but he still can't sleep without doing a search of the cottage grounds first. One night, while out, he hears the snap of foliage. He hides. It's Andy. He's unable to find Cody, but before going inside he calls to him, telling him that he's impressed with his skills and that the two of them should talk.
Pancakes and Bad Pennies Aunt Jenny forbids Cody from going outside at night anymore. She wonders if Cody is worried about school, but he isn't, for he has college-level English and math skills, two black belts, and can speak five languages. But at the bus stop he is cut dead by a girl on a cell phone, and Andy's brother, Albert, informs him that he's "dressed like someone's dad." That's when he realizes he's in a for a new world.
Small Sliver of Seat All the seats are taken when he gets on the bus, and he is forced to sit next to the girl with the cell phone. When she refuses to move over, Cody takes her phone and threatens to chuck it out the window. She moves over, but spends the rest of the trip calling him names and spilling perfume on him.
Bend and Blend At school, Cody gets off on the wrong foot with the security guard, the assistant principal, the teachers, and other students because he is blunt and honest. He sees and falls in love with a pretty girl -- Renee Carrington, who is a klutz.
Threading a Needle with Words Cody works out some of his frustrations in the back yard on a makeshift gym bag. Andy notices and comes over to offer advice.
Import and Export Andy takes Cody to his basement gym. They talk -- Andy about his father, who disappeared when he was a teen -- and then they work out with Albert. Cody tells a little about his day's frustrations.
Camouflage The next day Cody is in a better set of clothes, thanks to Albert. During gym he angers the hyper-belligerent coach by deliberately screwing up.
Damaged But Not Broken Cody learns a little more about Andy while helping him get ready for a job interview. He gets a brief phone call from his father. He tells Aunt Jenny about the bomb blast in Santiago.
Eyes When Renee leaves her notebook in class, Cody returns it to her. Her talk is daffy, but she ends confessing she left it so he'd have an excuse to finally talk to her. In gym, Cody's locker has been doused in perfume. After class, he protect a fat kid and knocks out six bullies.
The Machine Cody is pulled out of class by the hysterical assistant principal and taken to the nurse's office, where the five bullies are being helped. Cody denies doing anything, and the bullies back him up, saying they hurt themselves in a game. Privately, Cody and the lead bully become friendly, and Cody agrees to teach the guys some martial arts moves.
Matadors Cody wakes at sounds from outside. He slips out, hides in a tree, and watches a man in black move through the woods with a high-powered rifle. After the man disappears, Cody sees Andy moving in pursuit. He waits in the tree to see what happens next.
The Silent Suit Over breakfast, Aunt Jenny tries to get Cody to talk. She frees him up enough that he confesses to liking Renee Carrington.
The Running of the Mice The bus ride to school is fraught. Stories about the gym fight have spread, and everyone is terrified of Cody. It doesn't help that he's decided to wear an Armani suit to school. One kid -- a lowlife scum named Troy -- starts hanging out with Cody. While walking through the hall, Cody accidentally bumps into Renee. She yells at him and says she doesn't want to be friends with someone who beats up people for fun.
Urban Legend In history class, Renee continues to ignore Cody and refuses to hear him out. When talk turns to the science lab, and the "hundreds" of mice the teacher has in it, Cody leaves. When he returns he's cut all over his hands; when the bell rings, the students find the hallways covered in scurrying mice.
Drawing Patterns in the Dirt Andy lets Cody and his new friends train in his basement gym, and he helps Cody teach them some moves. Afterward, he and Cody talk while jogging. Cody reveals his past; Andy tells him his dad is not CIA, but a rogue freelancer. He and Cody wind up on a double date with Renee and her big sister; Renee is much friendlier since the mouse incident.
Vortex Kids -- including Cell Phone Girl -- are friendlier to Cody, and they start showing up over the next few days in ties and even suits. Cody begins asserting himself with the more bullying teachers. Renee asks Cody to hang out with her and Andy and her sister so that the latter two will see more of each other. Cody goes to ask his aunt if he can get pizza with them, and finds her tied up. He is then captured by two intruders who drive them to a warehouse. Andy bursts in after a few hours, and they all tie up the bad guys. Then Cody's dad bursts in, lots of confessions are made and stories straightened out, but on their way out Cody gets shot.
Awake Cody is in the hospital for awhile, but he's okay, and then he goes home and all his friends from school are waiting for him.
Opening Day Flash forward by six months, and Cody is recovered and at a baseball game with his aunt and friends.
Review: "Alibi Junior High (review)"