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ChaseR: A Novel in E-mails

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In Michael J. Rosen's funny, provocative novel, a reluctant move to the heart of hunting country spurs a lonely teen's obsession with e-mail and Top Ten lists--and a passion for animals that takes on a life of its own.
Fourteen-year-old Chase Riley has just moved with his parents from Columbus, Ohio, to a farmhouse in the country. It's only sixty miles from civilization as he knows it, but it may as well be on another planet. For starters, there's the biblical plague of seventeen-year cicadas, making a collective noise as loud as a subway train. But that's nothing compared to the awesome appearance of deer, everywhere, pausing majestically in the woods or, more often, tagged and strapped to hunters' cars.
A case of culture shock has Chase seeking refuge at his computer, blasting off droll commentary for hours on end to his sister at college and his buddies back in town. He's promised his parents he will MAKE AN EFFORT, but it's hard to find friends in a place where everyone's eager to go out and shoot something. The only consolation is watching his dogs run free on their rural acres--until a freak accident changes everything. And that's when Chase begins devising The Plan.

160 pages, Hardcover

First published April 1, 2002

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About the author

Michael J. Rosen

111 books26 followers
Rosen's Website should provide all this and more. It's http://www.fidosopher.com.
Nonetheless: Michael J. Rosen is an American author and illustrator with over 120 books of fiction, nonfiction, humor, picture books, poetry, and more. With a strong interest in nature and animals, reflecting his animal behavior degree from Ohio State University, Rosen resides within a peaceful crease of Central Ohio with his pack of animal companions that include 2 small koi ponds he helped build on the 100 acres he shares in the foothills of the Ohio Appalachians. An avid dog lover, he was inspired by Chant, his newest Australian stumpy-tail cattle dog, which led to the creation of his newest book of fiction, The Tale of Rescue, which will be released in October 2015. With an MFA in poetry from Columbia University, Rosen also showcases his skills and talents in other projects such as The Maine Coon’s Haiku: And Other Poems for Cat Lovers (2015).

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Displaying 1 - 19 of 19 reviews
Profile Image for Julie Morales.
341 reviews1 follower
March 30, 2020
This book was kind of hard to get into, maybe because of the way it was written, but if you could follow along with that, it was a good story. This book is written in the form of emails from Chase Riley both to his friends, and as newsletters written periodically to friends and acquaintances back in Columbus.
The Rileys move from the city to a 90-acre farm about 60-some miles from Columbus, so Chase goes through an extended period of culture shock. He has difficulty making friends, there's nothing to do but farm chores, and there's a lot he has to get used to, not the least of which is the fact that country folk apparently don't think twice about shooting someone else's dog if the dog is on their property.
Chase is an animal lover--particularly dogs, but now that he's in the country, he's also become the champion of the neighborhood deer. Hunting season is utterly apalling to him, and he's looking for ways to deter the deer, so he can sabotage neighbors’ tree stands.
Then he gets better acquainted with Jeff, one of his neighbors and a classmate. He realizes that even though his family might not be rich, they're much better off than some families, and some of those families really do depend on the deer they hunt for their meat. He still can't stomach the thought of hunting, but now, he's not so sure sabotaging their hunting grounds was such a good idea. How was he going to undo that one?
This book was good, in that it did portray well what teenagers go through when moving to such a different area. You get to hear in Chase's own words what those struggles are like. i'm not sure I really liked this book, but it wasn't terrible.
Profile Image for Suzanne Dix.
1,313 reviews56 followers
April 7, 2019
What a completely interesting format! Chase has recently moved from city-life in Columbus, OH to the countryside with his parents and two dogs. Chase is struggling with this sudden change and reaches out to friends through email messages. This epistolary format is a perfect platform for Chase's great sense of humor and his hilarious use of emoticons to mock country life (the cicada emoticons were a particular favorite!). Starting at a new middle school is a painful adjustment as is Chase's first experience with hunting season. One of Chase's dogs is shot (thankfully just a small flesh wound) and this solidifies Chase's anti-hunting beliefs. This is a difficult stance to take in this area of Ohio and Chase begins to feel further and further out of his element. His emails become darker and more paranoid though he continues to try to use humor to cope. His emails work as an opportunity to vent about his frustrations and fears and readers can see that Chase feels that his life is out of his control. Eventually Chase's one-man crusade against hunting comes to a (non-violent) end as he gains a better understanding of who some of his neighbors are and how meagerly they live.

This is a great "historical" look at life before wi-fi and cell phones and text messaging! Grades 7 and up (some mild swearing and a few questionable emoticons).
Profile Image for Becca shybookstagramer.
421 reviews17 followers
October 6, 2021
This novel was quite boring and just felt like a diary. It was one-sided emails and I think it would have been more interesting to have seen both sides. I was unable to connect to the main character and I didn't feel like he made any character development. If he did, it was very little.
Profile Image for Peacegal.
9,788 reviews87 followers
May 15, 2011
For the YA set comes this quick-paced, surprisingly nuanced look at hunting and rural animal welfare issues. I wasn’t especially a fan of the “novel in e-mails” format of Don’t Shoot, but then again, I’m not an eighth grader.

The protagonist is a 14-year old named Chase, who has recently moved from urban Ohio to a rural part of the state. Early on, he notices his family’s values differ from his new neighbors’ in regards to animals. Not surprisingly, companion animals are among the first he notices.

It’s clear that Chase’s family considers their two dogs part of the household. They adopted their dogs from shelter in the city, and Chase still keeps in contact with a shelter worker via email. He describes the pet situation thusly:

I don’t think there’s anything like a shelter nearby, but there is an animal control person and a dog pound in the county seat. … He runs a picture of some adoptable dog in the Beaver Creek Beacon each week, but I don’t know how much good that does. From what I can tell, free puppies and free kittens signs are everywhere. You wouldn’t like it, Carolyne. Plenty of beagles and hunting dogs are kept outside in pens. I see dogs tied out by their doghouses—all day and night. There aren’t a lot of fences to keep dogs safe. The fields are full of cats, just having litter after litter.

So early on, we get a sense of Chase’s humane values, so it’s no surprise that he isn’t thrilled when he learns of his classmates’ behavior toward wildlife. Chase describes a conversation he had with another teenager, who had spotted a coyote earlier that morning:

He says, “Lord that animal was so beautiful, I only wish I’d had my gun with me.” Here he’s all amazed and inspired talking about this creature, and how the coyote was just gazing calmly back at him, and then…he’s sorry he didn’t blast the thing between the eyes? New law in the country: If it’s beautiful, shoot it. HUH?

Chase gets a taste of this firsthand when one of his dogs, Bonner, comes home with a bullet wound. He has been fired upon by persons unknown, and whether it was accidental or intentional is never discovered. Afterward Bonner becomes very fearful at the sound of gunfire and other loud, sudden noises. Chase is, of course, shocked and angered at the harm done to his dog. A discussion with his dad reveals some of the ways our law has failed companion animals. Not only is it perfectly legal to shoot a dog who is running livestock or threatening property, but

Dad said the court would only award you the “replacement cost” of the dog. Like the $45 we donated to the shelter for Bonner—45 bucks! That can’t be the way the law really works.

Chase delves further into the hunting issue. After examining the impressive and costly array of hunting gizmos available to stack the deck against the hunted animal, Chase muses, “OK, everybody, tell me why this is a sport.”
I quite liked this line, which will ring true to all of us folks who live in deer huntin’ country:

Try having breakfast to the tune of something being shot. It makes me nauseated.

Like many 21st-century students, Chase then turns to the Internet to study the debate, and lists a fairly comprehensive list of arguments about hunting, both pro and con. Chase’s own beliefs are challenged when his family and friends disagree with his convictions, and he encounters a poor family that really does seem to rely upon the meat from the animals they shoot.

I was a bit fearful that this last revelation would steer Chase away from his beliefs, and things would come to a pat and disappointing ending. However, thankfully, he hangs onto his humane values while at the same time realizing that he can’t do much about hunting in his community other than posting his family’s copious property against it. Those hoping for more radical action may be a bit disappointed by this, but it’s far more realistic than all of those paperbacks that have children staging a sit-in and shutting down an entire industry.

One concern of mine is that Don’t Shoot plays into the argument that caring for animals is a “city slicker” issue for those who “don’t know about life in the country.” While indeed, it does sometimes take an outside to look at ingrained “traditions” with a fresh perspective, people who care about animals are present in rural areas just the same as they are in urban centers.

Another concern is that there is a smattering of language that may keep Don’t Shoot out of the hands of students under the junior high level.
Profile Image for Graceann.
1,166 reviews
February 22, 2012
Chaser is a teenage boy who is uprooted from his urban life and moved to the countryside right in the heart of cicada season. During a series of witty emails updating his friends back in the city and his sister away in college, Chaser details the culture shock of being miles away from anything he's used to, and suddenly being surrounded by people who earn their living from the land, either by raising corn or other crops, or who depend on hunting to supplement their food supply.

I don't know that Rosen quite captures the voice of a teenage boy - the character seems more insightful and adult than can be believable. Perhaps that has to do with the fact that Rosen himself is a writer with more than 40 books to his credit, and he seems, in general, to be an insightful and extremely adult person. It's hard to recapture how we were as kids, once we no longer ARE kids.
Profile Image for Katherine Anderson.
4 reviews2 followers
August 24, 2010
I picked this one up because I quite like written-by-correspondence books, although this didn't turn out to be one of those. Only the title character's emails are shown, leaving the reader to fill in the gaps. It was ok, a quick read, although it was a bit "yay, everyone's a winner!".

One other point: read 8 years after its 2002 publication, the constant inclusion of elaborate emoticons in this book was more than a little annoying. Congratulations, you made an ASCII representation of a cicada. There are no prizes to be won however by filling two whole pages with it.

Hey, it was fine. The cover is nice. Read it at the library.
Profile Image for Rachel Grover.
685 reviews3 followers
December 15, 2013
This book was a cute, quick read. It is told through emails that Chase sends to his friends and sister, who is at college. The reader must infer quite a bit of the plot line through these emails. Would I have my library buy a class set of these novels? No, but I would recommend for the pseudo-reluctant reader because it's short, the main character is funny, and many boys will be able to relate to this main character and his issues when the family moves to the country from the city.
Profile Image for Shannon Burgess.
16 reviews3 followers
June 18, 2010
Good thing I bought this used on amazon. My original intention for this book was to see if it was good enough to use in English class to show alternate forms of writing. However, in addition to the protagonist being extremely corny, there definitely was not enough action to use this in class. I only suggest this if you live in a small town and think hunting and cicadas are riveting.
Profile Image for Ariane.
6 reviews1 follower
January 15, 2013
cute story about a boy who moves to the countryside and is terrorized by cicadas and the shooting of dear.
was a good, easy, very fast read with a different plot but nothing spectacular.
i liked the fact that it was written in emails but i really got the impression that Chase sometimes tried to hard..
learned a lot of new smileys though. :)
<:3 )-------
Profile Image for Megan Anderson.
Author 8 books35 followers
June 28, 2015
I liked the non-traditional format and I think my kidlings would get a kick out of it (though, some of the faces were difficult to parse). That being said, I feel like this novel tried to do too much--the moving subplot along with the hunting subplot and the poverty subplot all seemed very rushed and not fully explored. Still, I think it would be a good conversation starter.
Profile Image for MJ.
1,762 reviews9 followers
December 9, 2008
Fiction—Quite good
Did his parents ask 14 year old Chase if he wanted to move to the boonies? No, they did not. Read Chase’s emails to his friends back in Columbus and his sister away at college.
Profile Image for Stephanie A..
2,303 reviews62 followers
January 5, 2013
It amused me because it actually reminded me more than once of my friend's experiences moving from the suburbs to the country. And yep, emoticons, email, and elaborate ASCII images were all the rage at the time.
Profile Image for Chris.
1,118 reviews12 followers
May 8, 2014
I agree with the previous posters who used phrases like "corny" and "trying too hard" to describe this book. I usually like books written in correspondence form, but I found it very annoying that we only get to see Chase's e-mails and not the responses.
2 reviews
July 9, 2013
This book is funny. It's in email form, too. This book also reveals what it's like to move from the big city (Columbus,OH in this case) to the countryside.
Displaying 1 - 19 of 19 reviews

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