Cover image for Breaking rank
Breaking rank
Randle, Kristen D.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Morrow Junior Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
201 pages ; 22 cm
Seventeen-year-old Casey has some of her preconceived notions challenged when she begins to tutor Baby, a member of a ganglike non-conformist society called the Clan.
Reading Level:
610 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 4.4 8.0 35267.

Reading Counts RC High School 6.8 8 Quiz: 19212 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



When Casey Willardson is assigned to tutor Thomas Fairbarin -- also known as Baby -- she approaches her task with great trepidation. Baby is a member of the Clan, a mysterious group of young men who do not talk to outsiders or participate in school. Baby and Casey's relationship is awkward at first, but soon they turn to each other. As the Clan drifts from it's mooring, Baby grows distant from his brother and the rest of the group that he considers family. As as Casey takes a step away from her own secure world, everything she counted on is turned upside down.

Kristen D. Randle has written a story that is absorbing and unusal, insightful and outspoken, about two teenagers whose lives become intertwined -- and a collision that forces them to make difficult choices.

00-01 Tayshas High School Reading List

Books for the Teen Age 2001 (NYPL)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 7^-12. When 17-year-old Casey Willardson agrees to tutor Thomas Fairbairn, family and friends think she's crazy--and in danger. After all, Thomas is a member of the Clan, the enigmatic group of young men that keeps its distance from outsiders, even in school. But as Casey and Thomas get to know each other, labels and preconceptions fall away, resulting in a deep understanding of shared human experiences and emotions, and ultimately a rewarding love that challenges both teens' long-held beliefs. This modern, insightful Romeo and Juliet story is a rare and notable contribution to the teen fiction genre. The alternating points of view and Randle's taut, poetic prose provide remarkable character depth and complexity. Thomas, in particular, is a fascinating character, whose conversations embody the joy of learning and incorporate the works of classic philosophers and writers in ways that may show readers the relevance and rewards of learning the masters. Gritty, smart, and realistic, the novel perceptively explores issues of religion, sex and sexual abstinence, peer pressure, and integrity with grace and compassion. Despite some religious overtones, there is no preaching here, only a well-communicated respect for making comfortable personal life choices, and allowing others the opportunity to do the same. A story of morality without judgment, this will encourage teens to look beyond appearances and deep within their own hearts. --Shelle Rosenfeld

Publisher's Weekly Review

For 12 years, the black-clad members of "the Clan" have slunk through school, driving teachers crazy by calmly refusing to work or to speak to anyone. But one day Thomas, aka "Baby" to his Clan fellows, clandestinely takes a placement test and is identified as gifted. Over her parents' objections, Casey, a good student friendly with the jock/cheerleader set, responds to the guidance counselor's request for her help and becomes Baby's after-school tutor. At first deeply mistrustful of each other, Baby and Casey gradually find a common bond and, unsurprisingly, a powerful mutual attraction. Their relationship sets in motion a chain of events that causes each of them to reexamine who they are, where they stand in their social milieus and how they will respond to their peers' expectations. The characterizations and group dynamics are compelling, the romance believable and the plot gripping as events come to a violent crescendo. Randle (The Only Alien on the Planet) is adept at conveying ingrained prejudices as well as the frustration and alienation that lead some youths to forsake the "straight" world for a more friendly and accepting one of their own making. A vivid, resonant contemporary tale. Ages 12-up. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-Thomas Fairbairn is Clan: one of a group of young men who dress in black, don't talk to outsiders, or participate in school. Flaunting Clan rules, Thomas seeks knowledge outside of his group and transfers into the honors program. Casey Willardson, an A student, is enlisted as his tutor and steps out of the security of her suburban in-crowd to help him. Both teens become renegades in the eyes of their peers; group conflict erupts as their friendship grows beyond books. Unfortunately, females are only seen as sex objects in the all-male Clan and Thomas's failure to consummate his relationship with Casey leads in part to his expulsion from the group. Casey's own beliefs are strained as Thomas challenges society and learns the costs of conformity. Reminiscent of The Outsiders and West Side Story, Randle's novel is compelling reading. Romance, gang in-fighting, and high school classroom and social scenes are realistically detailed. Predictably, the final fight between jocks and Clan occurs under the freeway bridge. Nevertheless, powerful writing and a suspenseful, action-driven story will grab teen readers.-Gail Richmond, San Diego Unified Schools, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.